New converged architectures are working their way down from hyperscale datacenters to mainstream deployments. Keeping flash close to the processor has always been the best way to reap low latency and high throughput advantages, and the rise of the server SAN is inevitable as flash spurs the migration of data into the host machine. Unfortunately, flash in the server can also create underutilized and isolated pools of storage capacity and performance. Hyperscale giants have the ability to create custom architectures, but the majority of environments require an easily deployed solution.
HGST has tackled the challenges of deploying flash with a holistic approach that focuses on innovative software offerings enabling full utilization of the flash resource. Through the functionality of FlashMAX Connect software, and the speed of RDMA, HGST products can extend their performance and capacity advantages beyond the host server and provide high availability and replication (vHA), sharing (vShare), and caching (vCache) to multiple servers and clustered applications. This helps vastly accelerate existing SAN architecture, or can even remove the need for a SAN.
The FlashMAX II is a mature product with an established history of reliability in the field. A visit to the Virident/HGST site reveals news of large-scale deployments with heavyweights such as LinkedIn, integration with leaders such as Gridstore, and a library of case studies. HGST is also constantly refining product features and compatibility, such as the recent announcement of the Oracle Validated Configuration for Real Application Clusters (RAC).
The FlashMAX II comes in a small HHHL form factor and packs impressive densities up to 4.8 TB. While the FlashMAX II doesn't deliver market-leading performance metrics, it is competitive with other solutions and focuses on performance in real-world applications.
When comparing results from our testing we have to mention the caveat that the SLC-powered P320h is not really a competing product for either of the MLC PCIe SSDs. The P320h was included as a frame of reference for SLC products. As much as we love SLC, the economics do not work for the majority of mainstream applications. We will focus on the two MLC competitors for our performance breakdown.
The FlashMAX II led in 4k random write workloads in comparison to the Micron P420m, but fell behind in read performance. In our mixed random workload testing the FlashMAX II led the P420m with a tighter and more consistent latency envelope. The P420m took the lead in sequential read activity. The FlashMAX II had an advantage in sequential write operations, which would be useful during replication tasks, and with mixed sequential workloads, the FlashMAX II delivered a convincing win.
The strength of the mixed workload performance was a bright spot for the FlashMAX II, and led to wins in OLTP, Email Server, and File Server workloads, while the P420m leveraged its random read speed to win the Web Server workload. We also noticed a propensity for the FlashMAX II to lead at lower loadings and queue depths. Overall, the FlashMAX II delivered great performance and consistent latency.
The only dark spot on the FlashMAX II is the three-year warranty period, nearly all competitors offer a five-year warranty period. Some might balk at the minimal host system overhead, but for most users the latency and software benefits enabled by the SCM architecture offsets the system requirements. The FlashMAX II features very competitive endurance and has an abundance of comprehensive and easy-to-use management tools.
The most impressive aspect of the HGST FlashMAX II is the wealth of software features that allows the FlashMAX to deliver SAN-like capabilities at microsecond latencies. HGST remains fiercely competitive with their fab-enabled competitors through their feature-rich software and management utilities, meriting the TweakTown Best Features Award.
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