Violin Memory brings in $20M as Toshiba buys stake

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The Register and Dow Jones are both reporting today that flash memory maker Violin Memory, with whom I talked from the show floor during SC08, has raised additional cash and an investment from Toshiba

In January Violin announced a new round of funding and said it had raised $16.63m of a $26.91 equity offering. It now says it raised more than $20m in March. That suggests Toshiba has made an investment of at least $10.3m. Violin’s initial round of funding in 2007 brought in around $10m and there were other funding rounds in 2008 and 2009.

Violin has previously said it will bring out flash product with HDD-class pricing. Toshiba partners with SanDisk, which has 4-bit multi-level cell (MLC) technology patents. The more bits there are in a flash cell the cheaper flash memory is on a per-GB basis. However increasing the bit level in MLC memory tends to lead to slow writes and reduce the working life or endurance of the memory. It adds to the complexity of the flash product controller, which has to ensure a fast write speed and adequate working life. That is Violin’s expertise.

At SC08 Violin was talking about their new 2U flash memory appliance that scaled to 4 TB but presents as a disk system to your compute environment. At the time the company was reporting early wins with database customers, and were looking to expand into HPC, particularly those with applications in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research where users need to rapidly move through very large quantities of data.