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Sun Microsystems, a leading maker of servers, said on Wednesday that it would use solid state drives (SSDs) in several lineup of its machines to boost performance, cut power consumption and reduce cost of ownership.

“Flash SSD is the most exciting innovation to happen to system and storage design in over a decade. By mid-2009, it will be in the majority of servers and deliver more capacity than DRAM and far greater overall system performance and energy efficiency. This technology will completely change how server and storage infrastructure is designed and deployed in enterprise data centers,” said John Fowler, executive vice president of systems group at Sun Microsystems.

With the recent explosion of data that needs to be processed efficiently and immediately accessible, companies of all sizes are looking to open source storage solutions that work with general purpose hardware. Flash-based technology enables these customers to immediately increase application performance and save on energy costs compared to traditional Fibre Channel hard disk drives (HDDs). Solid state drives will also enable greater system utilization and scalability that will decrease server and storage sprawl in already maxed-out data centers.

According to Sun, SSDs provide three times better performance at one-fifth the energy consumption of traditional spinning hard disk drives offerings, which is completely true, if not to keep in mind that solid state drives cost considerably more than traditional HDDs.

Sun believes that in the storage industry, 2008 will prove to be a pivotal tipping point for flash technology, as the performance and reliability along with the price of SSD is expected to be more attractive than Fibre Channel hard drive technology. Enterprise-class Fibre Channel hard disk drives have only exhibited a 40% year-over-year price decline in the last decade, while the flash SSD price per gigabyte continues to fall between 50% and 70% annually.

Sun is already shipping Solaris ZFS software optimized for SSD technologies through the OpenSolaris community and is the first major systems vendor to add an end-to-end flash-based disk product line to its portfolio.

Sun said that its SSDs are optimized for MySQL database and other leading applications. These solutions leverage open source platforms and communities to increase the performance of data intensive applications and deliver the industry’s best value by cutting down power consumption. The integration of Solaris ZFS in Open Storage systems, Sun’s industry standard servers and Sun services sets Sun apart in the industry. These solutions are “flash Ready” today so customers can easily, simply and cost-effectively scale their infrastructure as required and ensure data is securely stored and accessible 24/7, Sun said.

Sun did not reveal how it plans to address the fact that every bit of flash memory can only be recorded for a limited amount of times. Back in the days consumers who needed flash for data storage developed special software applications that counted the amount of times every bit was used and eliminated potentially faulty bits.


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