5 things you need to know about flash storage

Storage

by Joe Curtis| 11 June 2014

What’s the fuss with flash? Pure Storage spills the beans.

The all-flash storage market is set to hit $1.2bn in revenue by next year, according to IDC, with a compound annual growth rate of 58.5%.

So what is it? And what's all the fuss about?

Pure Storage's director of marketing, Luanne Dauber, explains.

"Without wanting to give you a long and boring history lesson, let's quickly take things back to the beginning. Flash memory was named just that because its read/write speeds reminded its inventors of the flash from a camera. Known as a solid state storage device, it has no moving parts, which allows it to be quicker, quieter, and more resistant to physical shock.

"On the more technical side, it's actually a type of non-volatile memory based on the logical circuit called a NAND gate. Non-volatile means that the memory cell retains its data even when the circuit receives no power.

"Flash memory comes packaged either as solic state drives (SSDs), packaged stand-alone ICs, or even as bare dies."

Data Retention

A lot of people don't know it, but flash cells lose their charge over time. They can also get worn out as you erase and re-write to them. For enterprise storage, suppliers should be able to explain what they do to refresh data over time to account for the loss of charge to the flash cells. Whether using SSDs or packaged chips, some explanation of error detection - and correction (called ECC) should be in the conversation.

Endurance or programme/erase (P/E) Cycles

Endurance is the shelf life of a flash cell. As stated, flash cells get worn out as you erase and re-write to them, eventually resulting in device failure. The more you write to a cell, the weaker it becomes. There are optimisation techniques to regulate the rate at which your flash wears out. Wear levelling, the process of distributing writes over the flash blocks, is one of these.

 

 

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