The PureStorage FlashBlade is a custom designed NAS system that scales by adding additional blades that contain both the processing function and NAND flash storage modules. With a unique design, PureStorage has brought a NAS system to market that does not rely on commodity components. Object storage support was subsequently added to FlashBlade.
FlashBlade is a storage system for unstructured data, currently supporting file access using the NFSv3 and CIFS/SMB 2.1 protocol and object access with S3 protocol API. At some point in the future, protocol support for CIFS/SMB 3.0 will be added for NAS support.
The FlashBlade is a new design and relatively recently delivered. Features such as replication or snapshot are not currently available. The initial usages for FlashBlade will be for acceleration of unstructured data storage with expanded use as features and protocols are added. PureStorage cites big data analytics and genomics as early usages.
There are up to 15 blades in the 4U chassis with a minimum of 7 blades. Data is protected using a RAID 6 parity (called erasure coding) distributed across blades. Two capacity blades are available, a 17 TB blade and 52TB blade. Each blade contains a single processor, flash memory chips, a flash controller, DRAM, NVRAM, and an FPGA used for data movement and encryption. Blades are interconnected using an internal Ethernet switch called a backplane fabric running a custom protocol with aggregate bandwidth of 2.6TB/s. The switch is part of a backplane card that connects to each blade through high-density connectors. There are dual fabric manager processors connected to the switch card that manages data distribution and I/O balancing as well as providing the external network connections using TCP/IP and NFSv3.