Stephen E. Arnold: IBM’s Flash Memory

Advanced Cyber/IO
Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

Prediction for IBM January Announcement

Folks at the Register have been reading the signs and believe they know what big announcement IBM plans to make at its Infrastructure Matters virtual event on January 14th. “IBM Flashy January Announcement: Wanna Know What’s in It?” predicts the launch of data centers with all-flash memory. That would be one way to combat storage latency. What makes writer Chris Mellor so sure? Several clues led to the prediction. First, Mellor points to an SEC filing in which Netlist is sewing Diablo and SMART Storage for allegedly using its DIMM tech. The filing revealed that IBM is planning to introduce ULLtraDIMM to the market in one of its X-Series servers in January. If the filing is accurate, that would add around a terabyte of flash alongside a server’s main memory, cutting access time in half. Then there’s a blog post from Woody Hutsell, who found himself working in IBM’s FlashSystems division after Big Blue bought up his former employer, Texas Memory Systems. According to Hutsell’s post, IBM plans to introduce flash arrays to cover both high-end and efficiency markets; the post hints at a connection to the January announcement. If those leads aren’t enough, a simple look at the speakers IBM has lined up convinced Mellor that his suspicions are correct. He writes:

“Looking at the three featured speakers at the event we see:

*Adalio Sanchez, General Manager, System x

*Alex Yost, VP, IBM PureFlex, System x and Bladecenter

*Michael Kuhn, Vice President and Business Line Executive, Flash Systems.

“With these three speakers highlighted, your Vulture thinks we are going to be told about IBM X-Series servers fitted with ULLtraDIMMs, other servers fitted with FlashSystem PCIe Flash Adapters, and a new line of Flash System arrays that will feature in-line deduplication and other data management functionality. They will be IBM’s response to Pure System’s arrays, EMC’s XtremIo, NetApp’s EF550 and coming FlashRay, and Violin Memory’s 6000 and 3000-series products. “The Flash Adapters are IBM’s response to Fusion-io and the many other PCIe flash card vendors such as LSI, Micron and Violin. “The ULLtraDIMM X-Series servers will be an industry-first and give IBM an edge over Cisco, Dell and HP in the server game.”

So, is IBM ready to move into the all-flash realm, or is our “Vulture” on the wrong trail? We will find out soon.

Cynthia Murrell, January 08, 2014

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