Enterprise PCIe Flash Storage at <$0.01/GB per year…really? Yes, really.

JB Baker, ScaleFlux VP of Marketing, gives an overview of how the CSD 2000 Data Scale Edition leverages ScaleFlux’s technology and QLC NAND to deliver extremely economical PCIe Flash storage for the enterprise and data center deployments.

We get it.  DevOps, Business Analyst teams, Data Scientists, Database Administrators & Architects and basically anyone with “Data” in their title or job description wants faster access to ever-increasing amounts of data.  On the other hand, all of you out there responsible for buying the media to store all this data are challenged by the costs of deploying petabytes of Flash to meet these demands for “fast Big Data.”  Enterprise SSDs (particularly NVMe SSDs) still sell for north of $0.20/GB.[1] 

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the combination of 2 factors steadily reduce the cost per gigabyte of enterprise data stored on NAND:  (1) NAND density increases from new nodes and (2) bit-storage density increases from the transitions from Single-bit-per-cell (SLC) to 2-bit (MLC) to 3-bit (TLC).  Now, 4-bit-per-cell (QLC) is gaining traction.  Each increase in bits-per-cell density comes with a diminishing multiplier on the density per die (MLC = 2x SLC; TLC = 1.5x MLC; QLC = 1.33x TLC).  So, each new bit-per-cell density does less and less to help reduce the cost for the NAND vendors and the price to the SSD buyers. 

Additionally, each new density has brought new challenges with endurance, performance, and latency.  Advances in SSD controller technology and understanding of how much endurance is really needed allowed the industry to readily overcome these challenges in the SLC-to-MLC and MLC-to-TLC transitions.  But, QLC’s native attributes, particularly around its endurance, raise more concerns about its viability for all but the most read-intensive workloads.

With the shrinking contribution of bit-per-cell density to overall cost reductions and the concerns about QLC, how can we keep making it more affordable for you to keep up with your company’s growing demand for more capacity of fast storage?  

ScaleFlux has focused on innovations in not only the SSD/CSD controller and acceleration chip, but also the software and firmware on the Flash Translation Layer (FTL) – the mapping between the logical address of the data and the data’s physical location on the NAND – to reduce the cost of storing each byte of data and to offset the endurance and performance challenges of QLC.  We go into much more detail throughout our website on how the use of built-in, transparent compression works and how our Variable-Length Mapping (VLM) FTL is necessary to take full advantage of the compression.  So, I’ll keep it brief here.  This combination allows users to multiply the effective bits-per-cell by up to 5x… which translates directly into cost reduction of up to 80%.  Additionally, the compression plus VLM FTL significantly improves drive level performance and extends the endurance of the NAND.  In comparison to the spec sheet of a leading Data Center NVMe QLC drive, the ScaleFlux QLC drive can achieve over 6x the random write performance[2] and over 3.5x the endurance[3] – levels that exceed the other vendor’s TLC specs, by the way.

Given this info on capacity extension, performance and market pricing, the ScaleFlux drives can deliver high-performance PCIe Flash storage for enterprise and data center deployments for less than $0.01/GB per year.  For the purposes of this calculation, let’s take that $0.18/GB that I noted in the opening paragraph.  That translates to <$0.04/GB per year for 5 years with an ordinary drive.  With the ScaleFlux drive able to store up to 5x as much data, we can potentially slash that cost by up to 80%.  Using a more conservative 3x capacity extension gets us to that magical $0.01/GB per year!  We have dozens of customers whose testing shows 3:1 or better compression ratios for their data. 

Contact us with any questions or to schedule a call to go deeper on how ScaleFlux QLC SSDs can help you.


JB Baker has over 20 years of experience in enterprise storage products and is currently VP of Marketing for ScaleFlux.


[1] Based on a May 2021 review of publicly available pricing for 7.68TB and 15.36TB NVMe SSDs from leading vendors.

[2] Based on FIO benchmarking of sustained performance with random writes of 4KB IOs.

[3] Based on measuring endurance with 3:1 compressible data and user capacity extended to 2x physical capacity.