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The smallest, the A220, offers 16TB of raw storage and 700,000 random read IOPS, with a street price of about $125,000. The intermediate A250 offers 48TB raw and 900,000 IOPS, while the top of the range A270 offers 96TB raw and 1,000,000 IOPS. The difference between the models comes down to the number of drives included: an A250 can for example be upgraded to an A270 with the addition of a 30-drive pack.
The company claims that the array offers an effective capacity of five times the usable capacity — up to 384TB for the A270 — using data reduction services included with the array, such as compression and deduplication. Other services include snapshots, replications, encryption (due Q2 2016) and thin provisioning. For the A270, the price per GB should work out to under $1.50 (using effective capacity once data reduction techniques have been applied).
What's unusual about the A series compared to HDS's other flash arrays — and some competing products — is that data deduplication and compression can be turned on or off to provide differing balances of storage efficiency and performance.
HDS's A series will likely go head to head with all flash arrays like Pure Storage's FlashArray//m arrays. But in terms of storage density, the A series has the edge: Pure's //m20 comes in a 3U chassis, offering up to 40TB raw and 120+TB effective capacity. The higher end Pure //m70 offers up to 136TB raw and 400+TB effective capacity, but in a much larger (5U - 11U) physical size.
Another all solid state storage array that the A series will go up against is EMC's XtremIO. A 1 X-Brick XtremeIO system has a usable capacity of about 16TB and an effective capacity of about 100TB, but packaged in a comparatively large 6U chassis.
Performance-wise, the //m70 offers up to 300,000 32k IOPS according to Pure's specifications, while XtremeIO's X-Brick system offers 150,000 IOPS, calculated as 70 percent read, 30 percent write, 8k blocks.
While solid state storage provides far higher performance than spinning disks, and the capacities of the largest individual solid state storage devices are comparable with the highest capacity spinning disks, it's important to be clear that the price differential between solid state storage and spinning disk storage is still very large.
"I steadfastly maintain that HDD and SSD gigabyte prices are unlikely to cross for a very long time" says Jim Handy, a solid state storage expert and semiconductor analyst at Objective Analysis. "Historically, a gigabyte of NAND flash has cost between ten and twenty times as much as a gigabyte of HDD.
"Our current projections call for NAND price per gigabyte to reach 4.4 cents in 2019," he adds. "I would expect for HDD to still be 1/10th to 1/20th of that price. Most likely 1/10th, since we expect for NAND flash to be in a significant oversupply at that time and will be selling at cost."
He adds that if HDD prices continue to remain at around $50, then a 2019 HDD price of 0.44 - 0.22 cents per gigabyte (1/10th to 1/20th of the price of NAND flash) would imply an average HDD capacity of 11-23TB. That's not unreasonable considering that vendors including HGST and Seagate already offer 10TB helium-filled drives.
And as long as spinning disk storage is one tenth of the cost of solid state storage, enterprise HDD usage will remain significant. Whenever revenues of SSDs do finally match revenues from HDDs, solid state storage will still only account for 10 percent of the total capacity sold.
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