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Pillar insists it's not putting Intel SSDs 'in the ditch'

A Pillar executive responding to a Computerworld report that the vendor is “kicking Intel’s SSD to the curb” says Pillar is still considering Intel as an SSD supplier for future releases, while confirming it switched to STEC drives for its Axiom SSD bricks.

Bob Maness, Pillar’s VP of worldwide marketing and channel sales, says Pillar pitted Intel and STEC drives against one another in a qualification process, and “STEC finished first.” In March, Pillar said it would ship Intel SSDs with its Axiom systems but Maness says Intel’s X25-E SSD caused timeout errors with the Axiom controller during multiple concurrent write operations. He said two companies are still working on fixing.

Earlier this year, Intel issued a firmware update to its X25-M consumer SSDs for performance issues due to data fragmentation. Intel executives said at the time that the glitch did not apply to the X25-E.

Pillar also recently swapped out its storage controller processors from Intel to AMD, which Maness said was the result of a similar “first come, first serve” process of qualification. “For most vendors, this is the way they operate with components suppliers,” he said.

Maness said Pillar has used Intel processors in earlier iterations of Axiom and will continue to keep up with its products. “We have had an ongoing relationship with them,” he said. “We’re not putting Intel in the ditch.”

A bigger question for Pillar as it refreshes Axiom with 2 TB drives as well as the SSDs, is whether it will be PIllar’s or Sun’s midmarket storage product lines left in the proverbial ditch by Oracle, whose CEO Larry Ellison is Pillar’s primary investor.

Maness, not surprisingly, says Oracle will pick Pillar. “If you look at the Sun storage product line, you can assume, in my opinion, they probably won’t continue the OEM relationships based on margin,” he said.

He was referring to Sun’s 9000 product line, a rebranding of Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)’s USP high-end disk arrays, as well as the 6000 and 5000 series it rebrands from LSI.

That leaves the Sun 7000 series, or Amber Road, in Pillar’s competitive sights. “Sun servers are already being put in the midst of the Oracle stack,” Maness said, referring to this week’s announcement of Exadata 2. “But they haven’t talked much about storage. Maybe that’s because Pillar is a superior storage product.”

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