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This week we have had two announcements about extreme (and I mean extreme) high performance storage arrays that follow the same basic approach. What they have in common is that they both use solid state (Flash) memory with a twist.

Oracle announces the Exadata Storage Server v2 their new Sun built OLTP Database machine and makes a point of slating SSDs. Oracle’s Flash is located in compact PCi cards slotted into the storage servers themselves. Exadata offers extreme performance levels of up to 1M IOPS but is only usable by an Oracle Database.

Violin Memory’s 1010 storage appliance is configured with up to 62 Flash Violin Intelligent Memory Modules (VIMMs); VIMMs support 32GB or 64GB of SLC (Single Level Cell) flash memory in a package that supports up to 4 TB and offers 250K IOPS as a general storage device.

Neither use Solid State Disks (SSD), because neither have a legacy of high performance fibre disks to support and don’t need the interface compatibility that SSDs offer. Using flash via SSD means sending all of the data up and down a serial interface, through a SAS controller. Both Violin and Oracle have recognized that Flash doesn’t necessarily mean SSD.

Game changed again.