It’s been almost five years Nimbus Data unveiled its $40,000, 100TB Exadrive 3.5-inch SSD.
Now Pure storageone of the stalwarts of AFA (All Flash array) storage, has announced plans to build a 300 TB flash drive within three years.
Pure CTO Alex McMullan showed a chart Blocks & Files (opens in new tab) that reveals Pure’s plan to launch a 300 TB DFM (Direct Flash Module) by 2026, putting it way ahead of 40TB hard drives is expected to launch that year.
Now a DFM is not your usual SSD; you can’t take one and fit in workstation or business pc.
Instead you have to buy a whole system and they are not cheap. Pure Storage launched its FlashBlade//E on March 1, 2023, and while it only costs $0.20 per GB, the minimum purchase order is a whopping 4 PB (or $800,000), not your usual portable SSD, or NAS for that matter.
Pure says though the new offerings are more expensive compared to HDD Alternatives, FlashBlade//E uses much less power and space, is up to 20x more reliable, generates less than one-sixth of the e-waste and has 60% lower operating costs.
The Race to Petabyte
The newly launched product uses 40 x 48TB DFMs per chassis (working in pairs to get to 4PB). 300 TB DFMs would bring the total capacity to 12 PB, an almost seven-fold improvement that can be achieved by hoping that companies like Samsung and Solidigm increase the number NAND layers to about 500.
Other ways to increase capacity include increasing the physical size of DFMs and moving to PLC (Penta-layer cell), the successor to regular QLC, a technology currently being tested and likely to be rolled out in 2023 .
However, one thing is certain: hard drive vendors are struggling to keep up with the speed of solid state storage development. Seagate has yet to (officially) roll out its 22TB Exos X22 hard drive (it’s out in the wild but unannounced) and there’s no sign of that elusive 26TB hard drive Toshiba promised in its 2022 financial year (one that is about 29 days ends). ). Western Digital is the only hard drive vendor to ship 22 TB drives in bulk, with the 26 TB drive being the largest hard drive currently available for the data center alone.
Extra high capacities will further reduce SSD prices per TB, while increasing the average capacity of an SSD. 2TB is currently the sweet spot for consumer-grade SSD and with prices likely to fall below $0.04 per GB. Right now, the cheapest new hard drive by capacity is a 14 TB enterprise drive priced at $0.14 per GB, about a third of the lowest priced SSD.
While the technology embraced by Pure Storage – i.e. having real SSDs – will survive in the corporate world, writing could be seen hanging on the wall for both discrete RAM and SSD in the consumer/end-user/client market with economies of scale and performance gains that dictate that memory and computing power must be closer.
And based on what we’re seeing in the market (AMD’s recent announcement and the Apple M1/M2 series), it’s only a matter of time before we see storage in the box or dying.