EMC announces Project Lightning

EMC today outlined an aggressive strategy designed to accelerate the adoption and innovative use of flash storage technology in information infrastructures. Flash memory stores and retrieves data an order of magnitude faster than mechanical hard disk drives and requires dramatically less power.

According to EMC, it has shipped nearly 14 petabytes of flash capacity in storage arrays since 2010, more than anyone in the industry. Half of all EMC Symmetrix VMAX high-end storage systems and EMC VNX unified storage systems ordered now incorporate flash capacity.

At EMC World today, Pat Gelsinger, EMC President and COO, Information Infrastructure Products detailed a multi-faceted strategy that is designed to further drive adoption of this technology, lower costs for customers and dramatically speed storage and application performance.

“EMC’s flash strategy is all about making the shared IT infrastructure more efficient and dynamic. Placing the information on the right media at the right time and placing the information closer to the processor at the right time provides the highest levels of performance and also the highest returns on investment because all of the resources are fully utilised. The key to this is EMC’s FAST software that adds a level of intelligence based on usage to automate the movement of the data through the I/O stack and, most importantly, ensures the integrity of that data,” he said.

The strategy includes a new PCIe/flash-based server cache technology– code-named “Project Lightning” – due later this year that will move data closer to the processor to dramatically accelerate performance. Integrated flash in the server as cache and as storage in the array, combined with EMC FAST software, creates a single intelligent I/O path – from the application to the data store. The result is a networked infrastructure dynamically
optimised for performance, cost and availability and significantly more reliable than implementations relying on flash as direct-attached storage in the server.

EMC plans to design, test and qualify MLC-based SSDs for enterprise-class applications and incorporate them into EMC systems later this year, making enterprise flash storage more affordable.

EMC has sold and delivered several all-flash Symmetrix VMAX arrays to customers with extremely demanding I/O workloads. Later this quarter, all-flash Symmetrix VMAX arrays will be offered as a standard configuration option.

According to Gelsinger, Lightning will be available in the second half of 2011 and will go into beta sometime during the middle of the year. EMC later this year also plans to introduce a new all-flash configuration of its VNX unified storage system that will enable support of more virtual servers and more intense workloads.

To help facilitate these projects, EMC has created a dedicated Flash business unit to identify and exploit new market opportunities, new technologies and create and manage strategic partner and supplier relationships.

Sathya Mithra Ashok is reporting live from the EMC World 2011 in Las Vegas.

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