HGST upgrades Flash Acceleration hardware and software products

HGST, a division of longtime disk drive manufacturer Western Digital, announced updates for two products in the application acceleration market. FlashMAX III is the latest generation of half-height, half-length PCIe accelerator cards designed for high performance enterprise and hyper-scale environments. This is the product line originally developed by Virident for large service providers, telcos and social media companies, before being acquired by HGST last year.

Available in capacities from 1.1 TB to 2.2 TB, the PCIe Gen 3.0 FlashMAX III delivers 2x the performance/price of the previous generation. More specifically it provides 540K IOPS in a 100% read environment and 200K IOPS in a random, mixed read/write environment, with sub-30us write latencies.

Its vFAS Adaptive Scheduling algorithm helps to optimize flash access and ensure consistent performance. FlashMAX III also features end-to-end data path protection, advanced ECC, secure erase and power fail protection. In addition, the FlashMAX product line includes some innovative software options including FlashMAX Connect that enables the pooling of local flash volumes between servers and the support of active-passive failover capability for HA environments.

ServerCache 4.0 is the latest release of HGST’s caching technology, originally developed by VeloBit (acquired by HGST in 2013), for Windows and Linux environments. It supports write-through and write-back caching for single server implementations. The company claims it outperforms the competition by 35% due primarily to better deduplication, using sophisticated algorithms that consider block similarity, block content and block positioning in the data reduction process.

This increased data reduction (2.5x effective compression) means smaller SSDs and less CPU overhead are required for a given application. It also improves the cache hit rate which drives better performance. ServerCache can also run in RAM-only mode, providing cache performance benefits without SSDs, and features a cache warming capability that provides full cache performance on system reboot. Both ServerCache 4.0 and FlashMax III are available separately and as part of an application acceleration bundle.

StorageSwiss Take

Both of these innovative products had impressive performance specs in their own right before joining HGST and these upgrades represent more of the same. Together, with the acquisition of SSD manufacturer sTec, this leader in disk drive technology is demonstrating their commitment to becoming a leader in the NAND flash market as well.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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