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Flash Fails 5 Ways, Says Alibaba

R&D manager at Alibaba's cloud service discusses how to streamline hardware and software to make more efficient use of flash.

Datacenters are hungrily eating up flash memory -- and feeling some indigestion. An R&D manager from China's Alibaba cloud service gave a frank talk on the pains it is experiencing in a keynote at the Flash Memory Summit here.

Among the top issues, flash vendors need to reduce cost per GByte, lower power consumption and latency, and increase reliability, said Wu Peng, a chief technologist in Alibaba's datacenter group.

A lot of flash products offer mean time between failures of many hours and warranties that last for years. "But actually we encounter a lot of degradation in performance specs so we are seeking more stability and certainty in life cycle performance," Peng said.

Despite the issues, flash is making its way into datacenters. Last year Alibaba bought at least 1% of the world's enterprise flash memory, and its use is growing.

Alibaba started exploring flash five years ago. It now uses all-flash databases and significant amounts of flash in its content distribution networks and app severs. The e-commerce company hit records last year of completing 188 million transactions in 24 hours and 15,000 transactions/second.

Read the rest of this article on EE Times.