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NetApp upgrades flash, high performance E-Series arrays

NetApp unveiled a controller and memory upgrade to its EF all-flash array system today, less than a week after EMC finally made its XtremIO flash platform generally available.

The EF550 replaces the EF540 that NetApp launched in early 2013. George Kurian, NetApp’s executive VP of product operations, said the vendor’s other flash platform – the FlashRay – will go into beta before the end of the year but won’t be generally available until 2014.

NetApp claims the EF550 delivers more than 400,000 sustained IOPS, around 100,000 IOPS more than the EF540. The new system uses 800 GB multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs, and scales to 96 TB in a 24u enclosure. A base system holds 12 or 24 drives, and can scale to 10 12-drive enclosures or five 24-drive enclosures.

NetApp claims it has shipped more than 550 EF540 arrays this year. “We believe that puts us in the number one or two market position for all-flash arrays,” Kurian said.

NetApp likens the performance of one EF550 enclosure to that of two full racks of traditional spinning drives. Kurian said database and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) acceleration are the major use cases for the EF flash platform.

Unlike the FlashRay, which will have a new operating system designed specifically for flash, the EF550 uses the same SANtricity operating system as other E-Series systems. During NetApp’s earnings report call last week, CEO Tom Georgens said the EF series “should lay rest to the canard” that flash storage systems need new disk controller technology to work.

The EF5400 was part of an E-Series launch that also included the E2700 for remote offices and the E5500 high performance midrange system. Those block storage systems replace the E2600 and E5400. The E2700 supports 12 Gbps SAS and can scale to 768 TB with 4 TB drives. The EF5000 supports 16 Gbps Fibre Channel along with 10-Gig Ethernet iSCSI and InfiniBand and can scale to 1.5 PB. The E2700 and E5500 can support SSDs for hybrid configurations.

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