STEC Makes Solid State Strides


Solid state drive maker STEC (NASDAQ: STEC) has come up with a way to make enterprise-class SSDs cheaper.

STEC announced last night that it has begun shipping samples to OEMs of lower-cost multi-level cell (MLC)-based ZeusIOPS SSDs that the company says have been "optimized to meet the stringent demands of enterprise storage and server applications."

STEC expects the new drives to cost about 40 percent less on a per GB basis than the SLC-based drives that EMC (NYSE: EMC) has been selling like hotcakes.

The new MLC drives "achieve previously unattained reliability levels" for the lower-cost SSD technology, the company said. The drives will be offered with 6Gb enterprise SAS and 4Gb Fibre Channel connectivity and in 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors, with capacities up to 800GB. The drives are expected to be shipping in volume by early 2010.

STEC said it uses high-performance flash controller technology and advanced flash management algorithms to wring enterprise-grade performance and endurance from MLC technology.

Analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis said the MLC drives "will most certainly be an important factor in enterprise deployments."

Handy said he was at a conference yesterday "where there was a panel of people who denied that MLC would ever be a factor in the enterprise. I found this strange, since Fusion-io has been shipping MLC to the enterprise for six months now. Of course, two years ago, a number of people denied that MLC would ever be used in SSDs at all. Today, nearly all commercial-grade SSDs are MLC."

STEC also unveiled the third generation of its SLC-based ZeusIOPS, in 6Gb SAS and 4Gb FC versions, with 80,000 IOPS random read and 40,000 IOPS random write performance. The six-gig version delivers transfer speeds of 550MB/s read and 300MB/s write, while the 4-gig interface offers transfer speeds of 380MB/s read and 300MB/s write.

STEC did not provide performance figures for the MLC-based versions.

The company also announced that its server-oriented MACH8 IOPS SSDs are now integrated and shipping into several versions of IBM's (NYSE: IBM) System x servers.

For more information on STEC's SSD technology, visit

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