IBM chooses MLC-based SSDs for its midrange, high-end arrays

STEC nabs first OEM to use its enterprise MLC technology in high-end storage systems

IBM has selected STEC solid state drives (SSDs) based on consumer flash memory for use in its midrange and high-end storage arrays, the maker of SSD technologies for OEMs said today.

STEC said IBM has qualified their SSDs for use in its DS8800, DS8700 and Storwize 7000 storage systems, which were announced last month .

Through the use of virtualization technology, IBM's modular storage arrays can scale from 12 to 240 drives and incorporate capacity on the back-end from competing vendor arrays.

Today's announcement marks the first major reseller to adopt STEC's multi-level cell (MLC) SSD for use in a high-end storage system.

"This represents a lot of hard work put into introducing MLC SSD into high end storage media," said Scott Shadley, a technical marketing manager at STEC.

The IBM DS8800, DS8700 and Storwize V7000 are all equipped to optimize the use of SSDs with IBM's System Storage Easy Tier feature, which uses performance monitoring to move only the most active data to tier zero SSDs.

Traditionally, midrange and high-end storage system vendors have only used single-level cell (SLC) based flash memory because of its natively higher endurance. SLC NAND stores just one bit per cell versus two by MLC, which gives if vastly better endurance than the latter NAND flash technology. SLC typically can sustain 10 times the number of write-erase cycles as MLC NAND flash, giving about 100,000 write-erase cycles.

But while SLC performance is higher, so is its cost.

By using MLC-based SSDs, STEC can offer twice the capacity - up to 800GB per SSD - at 25 per cent to 30 per cent less cost, according to Shadley.

STEC is among a growing number of vendors who have adapted MLC flash for enterprise-class SSD products.

Last month, Israeli start-up Anobit Technologies announced Intel lead a group of investors who backed its MLC-based Genesis technology . OCZ, Pliant Technology, Samsung and Micron have also announced enterprise-class SSDs based on MLC NAND technology.

Enterprise MLC SSD, or eMLC as vendors now call it, uses less expensive flash memory but adds cache, special firmware for write amplification, error correction code (ECC) and the like, in the controller, and wear-leveling software in order to evenly spread data writes across the media to increase the reliability and performance of their products.

As the SSD software becomes more sophisticated, the reliability and performance levels of MLC-based drives are creeping closer to that of SLC-based products. Shadley said the company's ZuesIOPS MLC SSDs have the same five-year warranty as its SLC-based products.

The ZeusIOPS MLC drives, available in capacities of 600GB or 800GB, can handle intense workloads of up to 10 writes per day for over five years without limiting performance, the company said.

STEC's SLC-based SSDs are only offered with up to 400GB capacities.

STEC's ZeusIOPS MLC SSDs are available with a 6Gb Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) or 4Gb Fibre Channel interface.

The STEC eMLC-based SSDs use its CellCare bit management and Secure Array of Flash Element (S.A.F.E.) ECC technology to extend endurance and reliability.

"This type of collaboration effectively lowers the cost of SSD integration, without compromising performance, and paves the way for further SSD adoption across the enterprise." Manouch Moshayedi, STEC's CEO, said in a statement.

While STEC will place more emphasis on marketing MLC-based SSDs in the future, Shapley said its SLC-based flash products will not be obsolete anytime in the near future. The company will continue to carry those products for customers who request them for years to come, he said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags IT industryIBMstoragestorage hardware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucas Mearian

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?