Fusion-io had the PCI-e flash card market all to themselves for the longest time – but no more. Texas Memory Systems, a stalwart in the DRAM-based SSD market, has announced a new product, the RAMSan-20, a 450 GB SSD on a full height, full length PCI-e card.

With 450 GB of usable single level cell (SLC) flash onboard, the company is aiming at enterprise-class users who put a premium on reliability and availability. SLC is typically spec’d at 10x the writes of cheaper multi-level cell (MLC) flash. Like Fusion-io, TMS provides a thin block-device driver.

With an ~$18k list price, the RAMSan card isn’t for gamers. But the large capacity offers a lot of go for servers large enough to drive it at 120k random reads. That should appeal to the TMS customer base and reseller channel.

The StorageMojo take
This won’t be the last PCI-e flash card announcement this year – expect another tomorrow. And maybe next month. The obvious rightness of putting flash on PCI-e has several vendors panting to get to market.

Vibrant competition will develop this year. Given the economic tide the ability to make a paid-for server act like a new and bigger server will be very attractive. In 3 years we’ll all be wondering “how did we manage before flash card SSDs?”

Courteous comments welcome, of course. I shot a complimentary video of TMS president Woody Hutsell discussing flash and DRAM SSD last year. I’ve done some work for Fusion-io, including this video 4 months ago. Both worth a look.