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SSD can nudge NAS performance -- but no magic bullet

SSD can nudge NAS performance -- but no magic bullet

SSD can nudge NAS performance -- but no magic bullet

As servers and networks become faster, it is imperative to provide high-performance storage units that complement rather than constrict the rest of the system. Texas Memory Systems, Inc. has been manufacturing high performance storage systems for the DOD for over twenty years.

Recently, TMS has brought this fast technology to the storage SAN market and now to the NAS market with the announcement of the NAS-250. With two fast Gigabit Ethernet ports, TMS says the NAS-250 accesses its files in microseconds instead of milliseconds (for disk based NAS). Since the NAS-250 incorporates fast memory access techniques for its data storage, TMS claims both Gigabit Ethernet ports can service over 40,000 storage requests per second.

The NAS-250 is targeted at customers who need higher performance from their storage and storage networks. "The majority of existing NAS filers offer limited cache," according to Woody Hutsell, marketing director, Texas Memory Systems.

"Our objective is to provide a stand-alone solid state disk for enterprises that have already committed to NAS or want to accelerate their teams that are using file servers," said Hutsell.

But achieving that isn't simple. Hutsell says the company's objective was to have the system generally available in December 2001. "While we have a system that we can ship, we have decided to make more revisions before declaring the system as generally available," he said. Furthermore, he notes, the NAS-250 will be quite a bit slower than TMS's Fibre Channel based RamSan-210.

Nancy Marrone, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group, Inc., Milford, Mass., says because they are using high performance solid-state disk in their NAS 250 product, the performance will be better than using standard disk. However, she warns, "like any other vendor they will be limited by the TCP/IP interface and therefore they will not get the same performance as they do with their solid state RAM/SAN 210 solution, which has Fibre Channel interfaces."

Furthermore, she notes, they are predicting that the NAS 250 will perform at 40,000 IOPs, but this is predicated on having a high performance TCP/IP interface perhaps even a TOE (TCP/IP Offload Engine) card.

Still, Marrone adds, "There is no question that just based on their disk performance, they will be faster than standard NAS appliances when they release."

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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.

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