Two companies in the IP video distribution space are taking flash memory technology to a higher level. This week Massachusetts-based Verivue introduced its new media distribution switch, the MDX 9000 with flash. Swedish VOD server company Edgeware also incorporates flash.

The MDX integrates servers, storage, networking and applications into a unified platform, according to Verivue’s announcement. Its storage subsystem is based on flash memory technology with no moving parts.

"Our system is really a network switch with built-in direct connection to a flash subsystem," said Tom Rosenstein, VP of product marketing at Verivue. "We’re really a network element inside the network."

One big benefit to flash-based storage is energy savings. "The hard drive is the last remaining computer device that’s still mechanical," said Rosenstein. "In the streaming media world, they’re becoming less practical. A lot of operators are running out of rack space and power."

It’s also nice that flash is cheap. "It’s under $1 a gigabyte," said Rosenstein.

Verivue is targeting its new product at video providers who want to deliver their content to more devices, many of which require an IP protocol. The MDX supports both user datagram protocol (UDP) and transmission control protocol (TCP) simultaneously.

Verivue plans to make the MDX 9200 (the first in the MDX series) available in second quarter 2009. Its chassis can operate from 20-200 Gbps, supporting from 2-24 TB of storage, including interface options of 10 GigE or 1 GigE.

The company is targeting cable operators, telcos and even online players such as Google and Yahoo. Verivue has partnered with ARRIS for distribution. For more on ARRIS’ recent announcements, click here.

Edgeware, a competitor to Verivue, also relies heavily on flash memory for many of the same reasons – energy efficiency and lower maintenance with no moving parts.

"I would say that we (Edgeware and Verivue) play in a different category than others that claim to be using flash," said Joachim Roos, CEO of Edgeware. "It’s one thing to have a generic computer platform where you just substitute some of the hard drives for flash memory drives. That’s what everybody else has been doing. You have to dig much deeper – an architecture play. That’s what it takes to get performance out of flash memory."

Edgeware offers two IPTV products: its WebTV server using TCP and its Orbit 2x using UDP.

In 2008, the Nordic tier 1 telecom operator TeliaSonera deployed the Orbit 2x for on-demand video. Each Orbit 2x hosts up to 3 TB of storage and is capable of streaming 20 Gbps.

"The reason we have a 20 Gig product is because it’s the sweet spot that fits in so many applications," said Roos. "We think instead of having one large box in a few places, it’s better to have smaller boxes in more places, stacked on each other if necessary."

Roos said TeliaSonera also uses its Web TV product.

Verivue and Edgeware aren’t the first VOD companies to have incorporated flash-based memory in their portfolios. In March 2008, SeaChange introduced the Broadcast Flash Memory Library (FML) 200. In June 2007, Concurrent introduced its MediaCache 1000 product based on rack-mount flash storage.

Motorola’s B-1 video server distinguished itself early on for its solid-state technology. Motorola agreed to acquire the B-1 from Broadbus in July 2006.

– Linda Hardesty

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