IBM’s Storage Specialists Set Speed Record for Solid-State Drives

IBM Outlines Strategy Around the Business Value in Solid State Technologies

by Anton Shilov
09/04/2008 | 02:19 PM

Engineers and researchers at the IBM Hursley development lab in England and the Almaden Research Center in California have demonstrated groundbreaking performance results that outperform the world’s fastest disk storage solution by over 250%. IBM has demonstrated, for the first time, the game-changing impact solid-state technologies can have on how businesses and individuals manage and access information.


The results were achieved using Flash solid-state technology coupled with IBM’s highly scalable storage virtualization technology. Under the codename “Project Quicksilver”, IBM achieved groundbreaking results in transferring data at a sustained rate of over one million Input/Output (I/O) per second – with a response time of under one millisecond (ms). Compared to the fastest industry benchmarked disk system Quicksilver improved performance by 250% at less than 1/20th the response time, took up 1/5th the floor space and required only 55% of the power and cooling.

Performance improvements of this magnitude can have profound implications for business, allowing 2-3 times the work to complete in a given timeframe for classic workloads, enabling tremendous efficiency for time sensitive applications like reservations systems, and financial program trading systems, and creating opportunity for entirely new insights in information warehouses and analytic solutions.

IBM is driving a comprehensive approach to leverage solid state storage, which is an emerging enterprise technology that has no moving parts, thus eliminating many of the access delays associated with electro-mechanical disks. Technology leadership for IBM is rooted in 15 consecutive years of U.S. patent leadership, unmatched by any competitor in the world today. IBM continues to develop, integrate and optimize solid state storage into the broad range of applications, middleware, operating systems and hardware in their storage and server offerings, well beyond a simple replacement of disk.

“The ultimate benefits of solid state will require software, management and systems capabilities – with IBM being uniquely positioned, with its deep research and development capabilities and broad product and services experience, to unlock that potential,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM System Storage.

As an example, IBM's first to-market implementation of solid-state drives for select IBM BladeCenter servers has been available since June of 2007, enabling customers to experience enhanced reliability. The ongoing cross-IBM initiative promises significant energy savings and dramatic I/O performance improvements. Additionally, by deploying automated management capabilities, IBM is creating fully integrated information infrastructures that can deliver significant customer benefit.

“IBM is integrating this technology with systems and applications so that companies can achieve real business value from solid-state disk. Quicksilver is a significant step forward in this comprehensive systems strategy. This is not about replacing today’s hard disk drive with a new form factor, this is about having a complete, end-to-end systems approach - and that’s not something EMC, HP or Sun can match,” added Mr. Monshaw.

IBM has a decades-long proven track record in system innovation including the memory chip, the hard disk drive and the relational database. IBM Research has developed breakthrough data center provisioning technology that automatically understands and balances the utilization of diverse storage components in the information infrastructure, including solid-state storage. Additionally, to get the most value from high performance system resources in storage, IBM Research patented key technologies that help maintain required quality-of-service for higher priority applications.

Quicksilver is part of IBM’s focus on leveraging new and emerging systems technologies to deliver advanced data center capabilities and business value to customers. IBM is committed to develop solid state storage to create real-world uses across a broad range of applications, middleware, and systems offerings.