Hybrid HDDs

IBM Adds Server-Side Caching

IBM's FlashCache Server-Side Caching SoftwareIBM today announced its FlashCache Storage Accelerator, a software product that supports flash caching in a broad range of systems.  FlashCache operates over three families of IBM servers (System x, BladeCenter and Flex System) and a variety of flash types to accelerate any back-end storage, including non-IBM storage arrays.

Although the cache’s data is dynamically updated to match the random workloads of virtualized systems (i.e. to accelerate VMware), it also improves the performance of Windows and Linux environments.

The cache uses a Write Through policy to solve a number of Continue reading

White Paper: Using Flash as Memory

DRAM, Flash, and HDD HierarchyToday NAND flash is being shoehorned into HDD formats simply because it is persistent – the data doesn’t disappear when the lights go out.  This approach fails to take advantage of NAND’s greatest strength – its low cost relative to DRAM – and this prevents it from fully meeting the needs of most data centers.

Since 2004 NAND has been cheaper than DRAM, and today its price per gigabyte is an order of magnitude lower than that of DRAM.  NAND is cheaper and slower than DRAM, and HDD is cheaper and slower than NAND.

A role better suited to NAND flash technology is Continue reading

Diablo: Flash Belongs on the Bus

Diablo TechnologiesDiablo Technology has just introduced a new set of DIMMs that put flash memory right onto the DDR3 memory bus.

I can already hear readers saying: “Wait!  You can’t do that!”  Well, you’re right, but the new module comes awfully close to that by putting the NAND behind an ASIC that interfaces between the DDR3 bus and the NAND.

Why do this?  Quite simply because you can get more “Bang for the Buck” by adding NAND to the system once you’ve reached a certain DRAM size.  The Diablo “Memory Channel Storage” (MCS) approach supports the addition of terabytes of NAND at the loss of Continue reading

OCZ Launches Database Accelerator

OCZ ZD-XL GraphicOCZ has just introduced a new software/hardware combination aimed at accelerating the performance of Microsoft SQL Server.  The OCZ ZD-XL SQL Accelerator combines a custom PCIe SSD with caching software optimized for the SQL Server workload.  The company boasted that this product won the “Best of Interop 2013″ award, a distinction certainly worth crowing about!

How does this product differ from standard caching software?  OCZ tells us that the key elements required to Continue reading

Webinar: Flash Best Practices

I had the opportunity to participate in a round table webinar covering the best practices for solid state storage on July 18.  The hour-long session (including Q&A) can be replayed at BrightTalk.

In this round table webinar entitled Best Practices for Solid State Storage Implementation storage analyst Tom Coughlin moderated three of us, Radoslav Danilak of Skyera, Esther Spanjer of SMART Storage Solutions, and The SSD Guy (Yours Truly) in a Continue reading

SanDisk Upgrades FlashSoft Cache

SanDisk's FlashSoft Enterprise Caching SoftwareSanDisk has rolled out a new revision of its FlashSoft server-side enterprise caching software that includes multiple improvements over the prior versions.  The new release adds:

  • Support for multiple SSDs of mixed sizes and types
  • Concatenation of two or more SSDs into a single caching volume
  • SSD mirroring for “Safe Write-Back” caching
  • A maximum cache size increase from 1TB to 2TB
  • 2,048 accelerated objects can be stored in each cache, up from the earlier release’s 255

The company prides itself in the ease with which the software and a server-side SSD can be added to a system without otherwise changing its storage architecture.

With the “Safe Write Back” feature the FlashSoft software has been upgraded Continue reading

Seagate Upgrades Hybrids, Phases Out 7,200RPM HDDs

Seagate's New SSHD FamilySeagate made two important statements on two successive days – March 4 and 5: First, the company disclosed plans to phase out its 7,200 RPM 2.5″ notebook HDDs, and second, Seagate announced a new line of Momentus XT hybrid hard drives, which the company calls: “Solid State Hybrid Drives” or “SSHDs.”

Are these two announcements related?  Well, The SSD Guy thinks they are!

Higher-RPM HDDs help to accelerate disk accesses by a small percentage while a hybrid can boost speeds significantly.  According to Seagate, Continue reading

Apple’s Fusion Drive – An SSD Cache for the Macintosh

Apple's Chart of Fusion Drive Performance for the new Mac MiniOn October 23 along with the highly-anticipated announcement of the iPad 4, Apple rolled out new Macintosh computers that for the first time in an Apple product pairs an SSD with a conventional HDD to get the best combination of capacity, speed, and price.  The company calls this its Fusion Drive, not to be confused with Fusion-io’s highly-regarded products.

The SSD Guy did not attend the announcement, and there is little on the Apple website.  I contacted Apple, and they don’t have very much detail to share at this time.  This is important to note, since Continue reading

Toshiba Announces its Hybrid Drive

Toshiba's New Hybrid DriveNow that we have seen announcements of hybrid drives from Western Digital and Seagate, Toshiba arrives with a formal announcement of the product that was on display at last month’s Flash Memory Summit.  Two 2.5″ Toshiba hybrid drives are starting to sample at 750GB and 1TB capacities.  Both have 8GB NAND caches, 6Gb/s SATA 3 interfaces, and 5,400RPM spindle speeds.  They are both built using 32nm SLC NAND, Toshiba’s “generation before last” technology, preceding the 24nm and 19nm nodes shipping in high volume today.

More importantly, both are 9.5mm in height, a thickness that renders them difficult to incorporate into the 18mm maximum thickness of the smaller Ultrabooks – a notebook form factor that Intel is heavily promoting.

How is this whole market Continue reading

Seagate Updates Hybrid Drive

Intel/Seagate Demo of RST System Using a Hybrid HDDAt the Intel Developer Forum Intel showed Seagate‘s updated Momentus XT Hybrid Solid State Drive in operation.  The new drive is only 7mm thick, significantly thinner than the 9.5mm Momentus XT that the company has been shipping for the past 2 years.

This is significant because the 13mm target thickness of the Ultrabook platform is extremely difficult to achieve using a 9.5mm drive, yet the performance specification of the Ultrabook requires the use of NAND flash, either in the form of a full-blown SSD, an HDD with an additional cache SSD, or a hybrid drive.  Of the three choices, Continue reading

Contact

Jim Handy
Objective Analysis
SSD Market Research
+1 (408) 356-2549
Jim.Handy (at) Objective-Analysis.com

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