Client SSDs

What’s In My SSD? SLC, MLC, or TLC?

SLC, MLC, or TLC?Someone recently asked The SSD Guy if there is a way to determine whether an SSD is SLC, MLC, eMLC or TLC.

I found it a little odd to be asked this, since most vendors tell what kind of flash they use in an SSD’s specifications, especially if it’s SLC.

Not finding it there then the next thing I would look at is the price.  Raw SLC NAND flash now sells for about 6-10 times as much as its MLC counterpart, so an SSD with a price of around $1/GB is likely to be MLC and one that sells for around $10/GB is probably SLC.

TLC SSDs are really rare.  There is the Continue reading

Comparing Samsung’s Planar and V-NAND SSDs

Samsung 3D V-NAND Press PhotoSamsung recently introduced  its 3D V-NAND-based 850 SSD which, according to The Tech Report, uses the same MEX controller as the company’s 3-bit planar SSD, the 840, introduced last year.

Samsung said in its keynote speech at the 2013 Flash Memory Summit that V-NAND consumes an average of 27% less power and runs at least 20% faster than its planar counterpart in an SSD application, all while providing ten times the endurance.  It’s only natural to assume that this would allow designers to produce a V-NAND SSD that would significantly outperform its planar NAND counterpart.

The SSD Guy had an opportunity to review Continue reading

SanDisk: We’ll Upgrade Your PCs For You!

SanDisk Tech Assisted Refresh (STAR)In a move that The SSD Guy wishes he had thought of for himself, SanDisk has begun to help corporations upgrade their fleets of notebook PCs by replacing their HDDs with SSDs.

SanDisk calls this program STAR for: “SanDisk Tech-Assisted Refresh”.  According to the press release: “Through the STAR program, SanDisk relieves IT departments of having to manage all aspects of upgrading corporate laptops such as, endpoint inventory analysis, employee service scheduling, system upgrades, data migration, daily progress reporting, post-upgrade analysis and support.”

SanDisk points out that PCs slow down with disk utilization and software updates, lowering users’ productivity.  Often faster storage can solve that problem.

This is not an altogether new Continue reading

Why Aren’t SSDs Popular in New PCs?

Fry's Electronics PC adFor the past decade I have been asked when SSDs will overtake HDDs in the PC market- when will more PCs ship with an SSD than with an HDD?

My usual reply is: “Never!”  I then go on to explain that two factors work against this ever happening.  The first is the fact that SSD prices are unlikely to ever match HDD price per gigabyte, which is the subject of a few posts on The SSD Guy, the most recent appearing HERE.  The second reason is that most PC buyers find SSDs unappealing when they are shopping for a new PC because of the price difference between an SSD and an HDD of the same capacity.

There are six Continue reading

Video: A Brief History of SSDs

Pogo Linux Video: A Brief History of SSDsErik Logan of Pogo Linux sent me a link to an amusing & informative video he and his company put together called A Brief History of SSDs.  In the video Erik (pictured) tells of Pogo Linux’ experience with SSDs.

The company has a lot of hands-on SSD experience: Pogo Linux ships servers and storage and has ramped SSD shipments (as a percent of all drives) from single digits three years ago to the point where SSDs now account for 31% of all drives they ship.  Erik shared with me that: “Sorting through the Continue reading

Big New HDDs Indefinitely Postpone SSD/HDD Price Crossover

HGST's 10TB Shingled HDDEarlier this month Western Digital’s HGST division invited The SSD Guy to a launch of a number of products.  On the HDD side there were:

  • 6TB air HDD, HGST’s last air-filled enterprise HDD
  • 8TB helium HDD, an incremental upgrade of last year’s 6TB helium HDD
  • 10TB shingled helium HDD (pictured)

I view these as very solid evidence that HDD costs will continue to stay an order of magnitude cheaper than SSD costs, thwarting the price-per-gigabyte crossover that others have been predicting for years.

In fact, since my last post on the price crossover in 2011, very little has changed.

It’s safe to assume that the HDD industry will Continue reading

How Big Can an SSD Get?

SSD circuit board - courtesey of Intel Corp.Someone recently asked The SSD Guy to guess what would be the largest amount of flash that could be fit into an SSD’s case.  This sounded like a fun problem, so I did a “Back-of-the-Envelope” estimate to try and figure it out.

First of all, I would judge by this post’s picture that you could get no more than 20 chip packages (4 x 5) on one side of a PC board for a 2.5″ SSD.  That’s probably an optimistic estimate.

If you ignore the controller that would allow you to squeeze 40 packages onto a single circuit board.

Certain high-capacity SSDs use a “Butterfly” design to fit three circuit boards into a single 2.5″ HDD housing.  With three 40-package circuit boards you could fit 120 chip packages into the 2.5″ HDD housing.

Today’s densest flash chip stores 128 gigabits or 16 gigabytes.  Samsung and SanDisk can stack 16 of these chips within a single package, making a 16 x 16 gigabyte or 256 gigabyte package.  SanDisk just announced a 512 gigabyte SD Card that doubles Continue reading

SanDisk’s 3-Bit SSD, the Ultra II

SanDisk Ultra II SSDSanDisk has just introduced the Ultra II SSD, an upgrade of the company’s original Ultra drive. The new device is being promoted as a 28 times faster HDD replacement that offers faster boot-up, longer battery life, and shock resistance, in an approach that appears to be a throwback to the early days of SSDs where the point was to sell the technology rather than the product.  Although the press release shows sequential read & write bandwidth numbers of 550 and 500MB/s, neither the press release nor the online product literature even mention IOPS or other measures that are now commonly used to compare one SSD against the other.

SanDisk does tout the fact that this SSD uses Continue reading

Making Data Destruction ABSOLUTE!

SecureDrives' photo of fractured NAND flash chipsA very unusual press release crossed my desk last week.  London-based SecureDrives has introduced a 2.5″ self-encrypting SSD that takes security one very large step further by physically destroying the flash chips within the SSD by remote command.

The flash chips are actually fractured, as is shown in the accompanying photo, which SecureDrives sent me to illustrate.  Click the thumbnail to enlarge.

SecureDrives calls its product the SDSRDD which is short for Secure Drive SSD, Remote Data Destruction.

My first concern was that the product used some sort of explosive.  The company put me at ease by explaining that the fracture process uses a rapidly propagating shock wave via a patented technology.  They said that the fracturing process creates no safety issues at all.

The destruction command is initiated through a GSM receiver internal to the SSD.  When destruction is required (i.e. the drive is lost or stolen) the SSD’s rightful owner sends a user-defined message or phrase to the drive from any phone in the world.  The drive flips the encryption key and then fractures the NAND flash and security processor.  The drive then returns a confirmation message to the phone.  The destruction process is executed in milliseconds.

Readers may recall a post that I published two years ago about an external SSD from Runcore that over-writes the data in the SSD via a GSM command.  The Runcore product uses over-writing, which can take minutes to perform, rather than a self-encrypted drive which is effectively erased in a few milliseconds.  The Runcore product also differes because it does not physically damage the flash, and, as an external drive, it cannot be incorporated into a notebook PC’s housing as can the SecureDrives product.

It seems that secure SSDs are getting increasingly sophisticated over time.  I eagerly await hearing about the next imaginative step designers will take to make their SSDs more secure.

OCZ: Bankruptcy Certain, Outcome in Question

OCZ Corporate HeadquartersOn Wednesday OCZ announced that its bank accounts had been seized by one of its creditors and that the company would file for bankruptcy, but it did not commit on which of two courses of action it would take:

  • To file for bankruptcy and sell itself as an ongoing business to Toshiba
  • To file for bankruptcy and liquidate

If the company is sold to Toshiba the bankruptcy court will require an auction to be held to assure that the price that Toshiba pays is the best price that the company can get.  This means that there is still the possibility of another company actually acquiring OCZ.  Although Seagate was rumored to be interested there are certainly others who are also preparing bids.

OCZ has good technology and a loyal retail customer base, but one year ago Continue reading