The new flash technology of QLC or Quad Level Cell is leading to very high capacity flash devices that have applicability in archival storage or content repositories that are primarily read access. Currently at 96 layers, QLC devices are a solution different than the flash devices used in primary storage systems. The usage opportunity in archival storage and content repositories has led to this technology being termed “archival flash.” This seems to be an apt name that connotes the primarily read access.
Major vendors such as Toshiba, Samsung, and Intel will most likely be the first vendors delivering the archival flash devices. Other flash device vendors may see the large opportunity as well and focus on delivering their own devices. Archival flash devices are projected to have very large capacities, in the 100 TB range. While there is a current 100 TB SSD available from Nimbus Data, it is not using QLC and may not have the much lower cost of the newer technology.
The large capacity is warranted given the primary use for storing archival data. Some in the industry remember the issues in primary storage when disks increased in capacity and the concern about rebuild times. Those familiar with the protection from device failures used in object storage systems, the most likely systems to use archival flash, will understand how the circumstances are different. Device failures are protected with information dispersal algorithms and erasure codes within a node. Node failures, which can be a second order device failure protection, are protected with N+1 node protection using data distributed across those nodes. A site is protected with either replication or geographic dispersion, adding another level of protection to the immutable data stored in object storage systems.
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