IBM announces $1B investment in flash memory R&D IBM announced plans on Thursday to invest $1 billion in flash memory research and development and launch a series of systems that will use solid state drives. At an event in New York, IBM’s Steve Mills, head of IBM’s software and systems division, said Flash is at a key tipping point and IT will see all-solid state data centers sooner than later. Corporate servers have struggled to keep up with the substantial growth in data use from smartphones and tablets. IBM believes there is a solution in flash memory, which is faster, more reliable, and uses less power than a traditional hard disk drive. The $1 billion investment will be put to use in research and development to design, create and integrate new flash-based products in its expanding portfolio of servers, storage systems and middleware. "The economics and performance of flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications," said Ambuj Goyal, IBM’s general manager of systems storage. "The confluence of Big Data, social, mobile and cloud technologies is creating an environment in the enterprise that demands faster, more efficient, access to business insights, and flash can provide that access quickly." IBM also announced the availability of the FlashSystem line of all-flash storage appliances. Sprint Nextel will be installing nine of these storage systems at its data center, becoming one of the first companies to adopt IBM’s flash-based model. As part of its commitment to flash development, IBM said it plans to open 12 Centers of Competency around the globe, which will allow customers to run proof-of-concept scenarios with real-world data to measure the projected performance gains that can be achieved with IBM flash products. "Clients will see first-hand how IBM flash solutions can provide real-time decision support for operational information, and help improve the performance of mission-critical workloads, such as credit card processing, stock exchange transactions, manufacturing and order processing systems," IBM said in a news release.