Pure Storage preps QLC flash storage array – analyst

Pure Storage could spring a 4-bit flash surprise on the industry next month, and attack nearline disk storage boxes.

This week, Aaron Rakers, a senior analyst for Wells Fargo, hosted investor meetings with Pure Storage’s chief architect Rob Lee and Matt Danziger, head of investor relations.

Pure did not discuss its product roadmap in the meetings but Rakers told subscribers: “We believe Pure could intro’ QLC NAND support for their arrays at the upcoming Pure//Accelerate end user conference in mid-Sept.”

He thinks Pure will use ”QLC to expand its TAM (total addressable market) into workloads that are not currently addressed – e.g. opportunities in second-tier storage applications; deepening encroachment vs. 7200 rpm enterprise HDDs.” 

Blocks & Files thinks Pure Storage QLC array will spark mainstream QLC flash adoption by the storage industry.

QLC SSDs are here. QLC arrays should follow

In May 2018 Pure Storage said the Flash Array //X system was ready to support storage-class memory (SCM) and QLC flash.

Pure Storage debuted the FlashBlade in 2016, making it pretty much the first all-flash array vendor to bring out a flash box for unstructured data workloads. Now it could be among the first to bring out a QLC (4bits/cell) flash box and use it for secondary data, attacking nearline 7,200rpm disk drive boxes.

Nearline or secondary data storage is dominated by disk drive arrays using 8TB-16TB hard disk drives spinning at 7,200rpm. Current TLC (3bits/cell) flash SSDs are too expensive for this workload, costing 10X – 20x more per TB than disk.

However, QLC flash changes the price differential . This adds another bit to TLC flash cells, increasing capacity by a third and lowering the $/TB cost.

Storage array costs could go down with the use of QLC flash, opening up the general nearline storage array market to flash boxes.

Vendors, such as Intel, Samsung and Toshiba are introducing QLC SSDs.

Startup VAST Data introduced the first QLC flash-based array in February 2019 but they do not feature in mainstream enterprise storage array product lines.

That could soon change.

Blocks & Files believes Western Digital could also introduce a QLC flash tier in its 2-tier IntelliFlash arrays and Toshiba could use QLC NAND in its partner-built KumoScale arrays