Skyera Launches Flash Storage Solution at $3 per GB


by MATT GALLAGHER, Red Herring

Skyera launched Skyhawk this week, a series of enterprise solid-state storage systems that effectively eliminate the price barrier to solid state storage technology. At $3 per gigabyte, or as low as $1 after compression and deduplication, the technology makes solid state-storage an affordable realistic technology with 30 to 50 times the response time of traditional storage.

The company manages such cost efficiency through a half-depth 1u form factor that powers 44 terabytes of high performance storage with very low latency.

Skyera is the brainchild of CEO Radoslav Danilak and Chief Architect Rod Mullendore, who both helped launch SandForce, which revolutionized the storage industry by offering a flash controller to the market that effectively increase flash memory endurance by 10x. Following SandForce’s acquisition last year by LSI for a cool $400 million, the two went back to the drawing board, figuring 10x is good, but 100x might work even better.

“To launch a new revolution, you can’t have incremental improvements in this technology,” Danilak told Red Herring. “We had to throw everything out and start from scratch.”

The speed was achieved by designing and integrating all components in the technology stack, including the flash controller, RAID controller, storage blades, communication bus and network interface.

“Our system-aware RAID controller provides the reliability of RAID-6 with a third fewer writes to the flash memory,” said Tony Barbagallo, Skyera’s VP of Marketing. “This is just one of several technology advancements that contribute to the 100 times life amplification.”

Comparatively, SLC based systems cost $20 to 25 per native GB and allow 200 to 300 thousand writes, eMLC costs $7 to 9 per native GB and allows 20 to 30 thousand writes, while typical cMLC costs $3 per native GB but allows only 2 to 3 thousand writes. Skyera’s approach allows cMLC flash storage at 100 times the life expectancy, enabling the low cost $3 per native GB but with up to 300,000 writes over a five year time period.

With those kind of metrics, “it’s open season for us,” Danilak said. “The entire $20 billion storage system market is completely up for grabs.”

Plenty of naysayers have told Danilak this approach is completely replicable by competitors. Let them come, he said. He has the talent to take them on. On top of the technology, Skyera also boasts a solid team with deep innovative history in the science of solid-state storage. Skyera’s COO Frankie Roohparvar formerly served as head of development for Micron and has more than 425 granted patents in Flash. Ken Takeuchi, who developed the world’s first multi-level cell NAND flash memory in 2001, sits as an adviser to the board.

The company has $6.35 of seed investment from an undisclosed investor, and is working on raising a Series A.

The Skyhawk technology was first available through an early access program in the third quarter of this year. The company plans to hit the market in the first quarter of 2013.

The company will demonstrate the new technology at the Flash Memory Summit this Aug. 21 to 23 in Santa Clara, Ca.