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Virident FlashMax II MLC PCIe flash card hits 2.2 TB

Virident Systems releases 2.2 TB FlashMax II PCIe solid-state card with up to 2.2 TB capacity; the Virident FlashMax set to compete with Fusion-io.

Virident Systems Inc. today unveiled the second generation of its FlashMax solid-state storage server PCIe cards, which more than double the capacity of its multi-level cell (MLC) NAND device.

Shiva Shankar, Virident's director of product marketing, said the PCI Express (PCIe) Virident FlashMax II series announced today includes models with both MLC and single level cell (SLC) flash. But going forward, the card series will focus on NAND MLC flash storage for its cost benefits, he said.

The first Virident FlashMax card was introduced in November 2011. The company's first generally available product, the tachIO, was only available in an SLC version when it shipped in 2010.

Virident FlashMax II MLC cards are available in 550 GB, 1.1 TB, and 2.2 TB capacity half-height cards. The SLC flash cards are available with 550 GB and 1.1 TB of usable capacity. The first rev of FlashMAX cards maxxed out at 800 GB usable capacity.

Like the earlier Virident FlashMAX cards, FlashMAX II uses the company's vFAS software to reduce latency and optimize wear-leveling to improve the reliability of MLC flash.

Shankar stressed the product's predictable sustained performance, and claimed the MLC card can generate 200,000 IOPS using real-world workloads, while the SLC version can handle 325,000 IOPS. "That is what customers can really do," he said.

Shankar said Virident has more than 50 customers, and is working with large storage and server vendors on OEM deals or partnerships to help compete with the likes of Fusion-io, Micron, LSI, STEC, OCZ and Sandisk. Virident has potentially powerful allies among its strategic investors. Its $21 million funding round, which closed last November, included investments from Cisco, Intel and a storage vendor that did not want to be identified. Industry sources familiar with Virident said that EMC is the storage vendor.

David Fruin, the director of engineering for Vail Systems, a network service provider and Virident customer, confirmed Shankar's performance claims with the two 1 TB (800 raw usable) FlashMax MLC cards running his customer care database on 2U Dell servers. Vail Systems processes more than 48 million billing records daily, Fruin said, and the initial Dell direct-attached storage (DAS) disks were bottlenecking the read access he needed to handle customer service calls.

"We maxxed out our spinning disk setup as much as we could," Fruin said. "We were running into problems with speed."

Fruin said he chose FlashMax over Fusion-io cards because of Virident's superior "price-performance," and his testing found the Virident resulted in marked improvements. He said his database response time dropped from an average of 5 seconds to 500 milliseconds in some cases. According to Fruin, Vail Systems can now put twice as much capacity on its customer service databases without performance impact.

Virident FlashMax II will be generally available next month. Pricing starts at $6,000.

(Senior news director Dave Raffo contributed to this story).

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