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Thinking Flash For 4K Media Storage?

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By Dave Frederick, Senior Director, Media and Entertainment, Quantum.

Becoming ever more affordable, flash storage is the shiny object attracting lots of attention. Uniting fast access times with high durability, flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) offer an appealing alternative to the spinning disks traditionally used for file-based media storage in applications requiring high performance.

The rapid increase in 4K capture and production is fueling particular interest in flash as a catch-all solution for storage of higher-resolution content. However, in examining the competing demands of cost, data rate and stream count on storage choice, real-world testing data shows that flash isn't always the most appropriate storage medium for media facilities' differing 4K workflows.

After extensive performance characterization across a variety of formats and frame rates, some assumptions about the benefits of flash for 4K workflows are being confirmed, while others are being debunked. For example, the performance differences between compressed and uncompressed formats are dramatic. These results, combined with stream counts and relatively small capacities, will have media professionals rethinking their approach to flash for 4K.

In short, flash is an exciting addition to the array of storage media options available today, but it deserves the same scrutiny as any other storage medium being considered to enable a new or extended 4K workflow. Media facilities must dig into the details of this workflow, identify its performance requirements, and determine the configuration – flash, hybrid flash-disk, or disk – that will address these needs while delivering the best dollar-per-stream metrics.

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