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EMC World: Flash Projects X And Thunder Get First Showing

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Projects X and Thunder get their first outing with some impressive specs quoted by EMC

EMC has given away a little more detail on two of its major flash initiatives – the Project X all-flash array and the Project Thunder server-side box.

There has been plenty of fuss around Project X, which is the code name for the XtremIO technology the storage giant bought this month.

Dr Josh Goldstein, marketing and product management at XtremIO, took to the stage at EMC World to talk about what the technology could do. He claimed there was the potential for unlimited IOPS, noting boxes would easily work together for scale-out.

For green fans, Goldstein claimed a Project X array would have a minimal data centre footprint, whilst integration should be easy thanks to the fact that there’s no tune-in required. “It’s completely affordable,” he said, noting that XtremIO boxes are made up of lots of commodity components.

Goldstein claimed the kit would take just 20 seconds to provision a petabyte of data. It can offer 150,000 write IOPS, with read at over 300,000 IOPS. The technology can do both at the same time too, at over 180,000 IOPS. With eight boxes, it can push out over 2.3 million IOPS.

There’s a VDI play too, with the ability to boot hundreds of Windows images in seconds.

Thunder comes after lightning…

Project Thunder, a box that contains flash cards hooked up to servers, made a first public performance too, although not in the chassis in which it is set to appear, potentially before Christmas. Dan Cobb, from the EMC flash business unit, said COO Pat Gelsinger would “like an early Christmas present and he seems like he’s the kind of guy who gets what he wants.”

The box on show could hold between one and 10 1TB flash cards, with a 40 Gigabit Ethernet capability and the ability to use a 56Gbps InifiniBand connectivity, EMC claimed.

Cobb said Project Thunder boxes were aimed at high-frequency applications. It has been carrying out testing in three different environments. One is with a media distribution company that “is looking for high bandwidth” at 16Gbps. “For them, it is a great way to monetise their digital assets,” Cobb said.

The second use case was inside a business looking for more transactions, whilst the third was on a traditional IT site, which “wanted to push the boundary”.

There have been questions over how Thunder and X would work together, as well as how they would complement EMC’s flash PCIe card, VFcache, which was previously known as Project Lightning. But EMC remained tight-lipped on those issues.

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