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How flash technology is transforming data centers

Brian Cox, senior director of marketing at SanDisk, explains how flash technology, in many forms, is changing data centers for the better.

"If you look at what's in the data center today, whether it's the servers, the networking gear, the storage arrays, they're made up of different components," Cox said. "Most all of those are chip-based -- the processors, the memory, the networking -- but the storage infrastructure is still a mechanical device. It's a hard drive on a spinning platter designed back in the 1950s. It's the one last bastion of the architecture that hasn't moved forward. We need everything to run at chip speed in order to get the application performance that people are looking for."

As prices for solid-state drives fall, more companies are seeing a use for new flash technology in servers. Compared with traditional spinning disks, solid-state drives offer faster access.

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"We're seeing huge benefits into applications like virtualization. You're not tied into varying I/O patterns that the hard drive just can't deal with -- the I/O blender effect. It's not a problem for a solid-state drive. It loves random access, random reads, random writes. It's built for that," Cox said.

But, it's not just about better storage IOPS. Solid-state storage uses less power and generates less heat than traditional hard drives. Those benefits will ultimately make flash technology the standard in data centers, he said.

"Over time, it's going to go beyond the need for speed, and the other attributes that are inherent with flash will come to the forefront. So, we'll see that savings in power and cool. But we'll also shrink the size of the devices so we can get more packed into these data centers to handle the onslaught of big data growth," Cox said.

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