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SanDisk upgrades PCIe flash storage with its own NAND

SanDisk switches from Micron NAND memory to its own in latest version of PCIe flash technology acquired from Fusion-io.

SanDisk Corp. this week introduced its latest PCIe flash storage application accelerator memory cards, integrated with the company's MLC NAND flash technology for I/O intensive workloads.

SanDisk claims its NAND improves price-performance by a factor of four compared to the previous generation.

The new SX350 and SX300 series offer a capacity from 1.25 to 6.4 TB, providing between 225,000 and 340,000 random read IOPs and 345,000 to 385,000 random write IOPs. The cards also have an updated virtual storage layer (VSL) for direct memory access and reduced latency.

The underlying PCIe-based flash hardware for the new memory cards is based on technology that SanDisk obtained from its $1.1 billion Fusion-io acquisition in mid-2014. The SX350 are designed for applications such as high performance computing, data analysis, VDI and seismic data processing.

With this release, SanDisk switched from using Micron NAND technology to its own. SanDisk claims its NAND improves price-performance by a factor of four compared to the previous generation.

"All the memory is moving from Micron to SanDisk NAND," said Robert Callaghan, senior marketing manager for SanDisk's enterprise storage solutions. "The SanDisk NAND gets up to 61 percent lower costs per gigabyte than the ioDrive2 generation. We own the NAND so it will be more cost efficient for our customers."

SanDisk also is making available a Mezzanine series of offerings designed specifically for servers from Hewlett-Packard and Cisco alongside FlashSoft software bundles that combine caching software and flash memory hardware in a single offering.

Jean Bozman, director for infrastructure at analyst firm Neuralytix Inc., said by owning its own NAND SanDisk won't experience supply constraints. According to Bozman, this is the first time the product has SanDisk NAND.

SanDisk is counting on the new products to reverse a downward trend in its PCIe flash business. SanDisk reported earlier this month that revenue for last quarter decreased 12 percent from last year. CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said part of the problem was that customers were switching from server-based PCIe flash storage to less expensive SATA SSDs. He said he hoped the new PCIe flash cards would help solve that problem.

"We are seeing a substantial portion of the PCIe [market] moving to lower cost solutions using enterprise SATA SSDs," Mehrota said during their earnings call.

SanDisk has been the market leader in PCIe flash storage since its acquisition of Fusion-io.

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