Cost Pure Storage FlashBlade//E vs HDDs

Pure Storage announced a new FlashBlade//E product for enterprise and data center applications, claiming that this product is cost competitive with hard disk drives (HDDs) with a lower operating cost. Let’s look at this product in more detail. The FlashBlade//E will also be available with the company’s Evergreen//One Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) subscription, offering pay-as-you-go on-premises storage.

Pure Storage was an early player in the flash memory-based storage industry. The company was founded in 2009 by John Colgrove and John Hayes and operated in stealth mode until 2011 with the announcement of its first products. The company went public in 2015 with products using its own flash data center storage hardware using consumer flash memory in the company’s DirectFlash modules. The company’s FlashBlade products focus on unstructured data, the FlashArray//C using quad level cell (QLC) flash memory and its high-end NVMe FlashArray//X.

In early March 2023, Pure Storage announced its FlashBlade // E which it claims has a competitive acquisition cost compared to hard disk drives (HDDs) and has a lower operating cost than HDD-based storage systems . Pure says this product is priced at less than $0.20/GB with three years of service and starts at 4PB and scales from there. Pure Storage builds its own DirectFlash flash storage modules, which are packaged in a box that provides connectivity, compute capacity, cooling, and hardware mounting for these storage modules. The system is shown below and the company says it will be available by April 2023.

Let’s look at the prices of HDD storage products compared to flash storage products. Yesterday, TrendForce spot prices for 3D TLC NAND were between $0.07 and $0.09/GB ($70-90/TB, down from last year). A quick check on Amazon for prices of 18-20TB Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR) enterprise and data center hard drives revealed prices of $0.013-$0.022/GB ($13-$22/ To, note that volume purchases of these hard drives would likely be cheaper). This is the size of hard drives commonly used in data centers today.

The difference between these spot prices for flash and hard drives is 6.9 to 3.2X. The lower end of this range will give an idea of ​​the minimum price difference for digital storage components. Another component of the total cost is the bill of materials for the rest of the storage system.

SSD prices for enterprise and data center applications have recently been 5-10 times higher than HDD prices for enterprise and data center applications. If available with the lower price range of flash memory (3.2 times higher), Pure Storage’s FlashBlade//E would be more compelling than older flash-based storage products to replace HDDs for some applications.

However, larger capacity hard drives are coming which should offer considerable reductions in the cost of hard drive storage with wider availability this year for WDC’s 22TB and 26TB shingle magnetically recorded (SMR) hard drives. and the introduction of Seagate hard drives over 30TB using heat-assisted magnetic drives. registration (HAMR) this year. By volume, and assuming good yields and similar manufacturing costs, a 30TB hard drive would cost about 2/3 the price of a 20TB hard drive. Using the range of $0.013 to $0.022/GB ($13 to $22/TB) for current drives, this would result in HDD prices of $0.0058 to $0.015/GB ($5 to $15/TB).

Flash prices are lower now because demand is down, but their prices vary based on supply and demand. If demand increases, flash prices will also increase. Thus, if HAMR drives are successfully introduced in volume this year, or if the flash memory market recovers, the acquisition price of hard disk storage versus flash memory storage could again revert to differences. 5 to 10 times. Time will tell us…

However, SSDs can offer lower operating costs than HDDs, which Pure Storage advertises for the FlashBlade//E product. The company claims that the FlashBlade//E consumes up to 5 times less power than the hard drive-based systems it would replace. The company says this advantage increases as the size of the storage system increases. The company also claims that their flash-based storage has 10 to 20 times the reliability of hard drive storage systems.

Pure Storage also offers its products on-site through direct purchase or on an a la carte subscription model. This mimics subscription models for popular public cloud services, making the cost of storage more of an operation than a capital expense.

Pure Storage offers its FlashBlade//E digital storage array at an attractive price and with a la carte subscription options as well as direct purchase. The company claims that its products consume 5 times less power than HDD storage systems with 10 to 20 times greater reliability.

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