Dell first OEM to bring TLC NAND flash drives to market

Intelligent placement technology in Dell’s SC array technology helps Dell get the new drives to market first – at street prices of $1.66/GB for all/flash and $0.58 for hybrid – which are raw storage, not deduped.

Travis Vigil Hi Res 300Dell has become the first storage array vendor to announce adoption of the new Mainstream Read-Intensive SSDs, based on Triple Level Cell (TLC) 3D NAND technology, in its SC storage arrays. The same suitability of Dell’s SC Series architecture to these drives which helped Dell get it to market first, also gives Dell SC advantages the company says competitor products won’t have when they are available.

“We think it’s a pretty significant announcement that we will be the first storage vendor to support these drives,” said Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage. “In addition to being the first to announce support, we can use these drives in ways that others cannot because of the intelligent placement technology in our SC technology.”

Dell SC’s intelligent data placement lets different types of flash storage – SLC, MLC and TLC – be deployed efficiently in multiple tier architectures.

“The tiering architecture, the foundation, was made exactly for this scenario,” Vigil said. “The Compellent architecture was designed to put in data right when you had different write and read sets, so it was made to handle these different types of flash. The difference becomes the level of write endurance, which is something that other vendors won’t have when they are also able to offer these drives.” Vigil also estimated that the cost savings from the fact the SC can use multiple types of flash in a flash-optimized configuration was upwards of 25 per cent.

The efficiency in the use of the TLC, combined with the inherent effectiveness of the TLC itself, allows Dell to double the SC array flash density, offering up to 90 terabytes of raw flash capacity per Dell Storage 2U array. This lets customers support twice as much data in the same space.

It also drives down costs, significantly.

“We have chosen the SC4020 chosen to highlight this, and we are able to offer all-flash solutions for as low as $USD 1.66 per GB street price, and as low as 58 cents per GB for hybrid flash, Vigil said. “These claims don’t include any dedupe or data reduction factor at all, so we are able to offer a lower cost for our raw capacity versus the deduped cost of any of the six leading storage vendors. We are still the lowest, even doing that.”

Vigil said that Dell expects this new price point level for flash will mean the end for 15k and 10k RPM drives.

“We have seen an acceleration of flash attached from the low single digits to nearly 60 per cent since the last firmware changes, with the primary configuration being a little flash and a lot of 7.2k RPM drives, and the second one being all flash,” he said. “But even with this increase in adoption, customers still deploy 15k and 10k RPM drives. We think the introduction of TLC, which has the same price for capacity as 15k drives, will make flash make sense for them, and make the 15k and 10k less attractive to customers. It’s another inflection point in where the industry is going.”

Vigil said that the channel partners who they have talked to about the TLC have been very positive.

“The fact we are quoting raw storage, not deduped, has opened a lot of eyes,” he said. “It provides a differentiated solution for Dell partners.”

All Dell Storage SC Series arrays – the SC8000, SC4020 and SCv2000 – will begin supporting the new Mainstream Read-Intensive flash drives, based on TLC 3D NAND technology, are available in capacities up to 3.8 TB. Dell SC Series arrays will begin supporting them in August. At this point in time, they are only available on the SC Series because of its particular architecture.