A startup called Schooner Information Technology emerged from stealth mode today with the announcement of two new products featuring smaller, cheaper, faster servers built using flash memory chips. The Menlo Park, Calif. startup has also raised $15 million in a first round of venture funding, according to VentureWire.

Schooner says it’s targeting the data centers of social networking sites and cloud computing companies, among others, because it’s crucial for them to store and retrieve their data efficiently. With its flash memory, as well as its Intel multi-core processors, it claims that it can deliver eight times the performance of a traditional server while occupying one-eighth the space and using one-eighth the power. That lowers the total cost by about 60 percent, Schooner says.

The two products announced today are the Schooner Appliance for MySQL Enterprise (for databases built using the MySQL system) and the Schooner Appliance for Memcached (for the memory system to speed up data retrieval). Both products are currently in trial mode, with a general release scheduled for the third quarter of 2009.

The company competes with a solution advocated by flash chip design firm Virident, which announced an alliance with flash chip maker Spansion (which filed for bankruptcy protection). Virident aims to replace dynamic random access memory chips with flash memory in data center applications. Virident also announced today it has a new allidance with Numonyx.

Schooner’s launch followed funding announcements for two other flash memory companies: $47.5 million for Fusion-io and $15 million for Pliant Technology. In Schooner’s case, however, the round actually closed back in October 2007. CMEA Capital and Redpoint Ventures participated equally in the financing.

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