Dell leads $51.6M investment in flash storage startup Skyera

Skyera, the startup that is bringing the cost of Flash-based storage down by using consumer-grade chips, said it has closed $51.6 million in Series B financing led by Dell Ventures(s dell). The deal, announced on Thursday, included participation from other strategic investors and is Skyera’s second round.

It’s also a huge amount of money, but Skyera is riding a wave of interest in solid state storage, which is both faster and consumes less power than traditional hard drives. But Flash-based SSDs are also more expensive than hard drives on a per gigabyte basis — which has limited their use to places where companies can’t afford not to pay for faster performance.

As my colleague Barb Darrow noted in a profile on Skyera last year, the company brags that it can achieve a $3 per GB cost which is still pricier than a hard drive but less than what Fusion-io(s fio) recently announced with its latest NAND flash card product. Fusion said it could achieve per GB prices of around $3.89. From Barb’s profile:

To get to cheap flash enterprise storage, Skyera uses inexpensive Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash, but found a way to do it to prolong the lifespan of the media. It is able to use high-density sub-20-nm MLC flash because its controller dynamically adjusts as the medium ages to reduce damage over time.

The funding will be used to integrate next-generation flash memory chips produced at 20 nanometers into Skyera’s product as well as boost sales.

As for Dell, which is setting itself up to be the provider of hardware for webscale and cloud vendors with its DCS division, investing in SSDs makes absolute sense, especially if there are ways it can integrate Skyera’s technology more deeply in its gear. For Skyera, having Dell as an investor might help it build out a lucrative sales channel.