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EMC: DSSD box will melt your face

Amid all of the financial numbers and strategy talk at the EMC Strategic Forum Tuesday, the vendor gave a detailed description of the first product that will spring from its 2014 DSSD acquisition. The target ship date for the flash appliance is late 2015.

The DSSD system is a 5u direct attached storage box that uses proprietary PCIe flash modules to connect to multiple servers. Data moves from the flash module to the application server through a PCIe fabric. Each system has 36 flash modules with ports on the back to connect up to 48 servers.

DSSD founder Bill Moore uncovered the appliance on stage at the Forum in New York, and showed off its parts.

“PCI was not built for a shared fabric,” Moore said. “We built the world’s largest PCI shared fabric in the back [of the system].”

Moore said the advantage of shared storage is that it will improve performance and eliminate bottlenecks of the traditional PCIe approach that connects one server to storage. DSSD appliances will pool capacity as well as performance, he said.

He added that DSSD engineers have taken customer NAND chips and controllers and designed their own flash module. He said the custom modules built with EMC firmware gives the box 10 times the performance and five times reliability as using the same NAND as competitors.

Unlike most of today’s all-flash arrays that are designed for block storage, the API-based DSSD product is built for big data applications such as Hadoop, Cassandra, Hive, mongoDB and memSQL.

On a day when EMC hyped all of its products – including those of its VMware and Pivotal companies – its execs saved their most lavish praise for DSSD.

Here’s how EMC Information Infrastructure CEO David Goulden introduced Moore’s demo: “What if we could give you something that was competitive on price points with dense and low-cost flash systems? What if it was orders of magnitude faster? Not hundreds of thousands of IOPS, but millions of IOPS. And what if the latency was a 10 of other systems … we’re talking a few microseconds.”

Moore added, “There are three metrics for high performance – eye-watering, face melting and head exploding. This is bridging the gap between a face-melting and head-exploding appliance.”

Fortunately, we have at least six months to ice our faces and hold our heads to prepare for the DSSD appliance.

Other products EMC teased during the event included a software-only version of VNX that is in beta; new VCE Vblocks including ScaleIO storage, VMware NXS software-defined networking and eventually DSSD systems; and a VMware EVO: Rack system under the VCE brand. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said EMC will be the first EVO:RACK partner, with an announcement at VMWorld in August. EVO:RACK is a rackscale version of VMware’s VSAN hyper-converged storage that is now available in smaller EVO:RAIL bundles.