In case you didn’t have enough abbreviations in your life, The SSD Guy brings you the headline above, with the promise that the news below is really interesting: HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technology, but now a division of WDC – Western Digital Corp.) has brought out a new line of 12Gb/s SAS SSDs based on MLC flash. These are a part of the UltraStar line.
Whereas HGST’s first-generation UltraStar SAS SSDs used SLC flash, the new SSDs are based on 25nm MLC flash but offer the same warranties as HGST’s prior generation. Even so, performance for the new SSDs is significantly faster than that of their SLC-based predecessors, with no reduction in wear or lifetime specifications.
These SSDs are the first to support Continue reading
How sensitive are they? Well, I have seen some overblown claims from SSD makers that shock will cause HDD head crashes. I am not sure that I believe such claims, but I certainly do believe that an HDD’s actuator (the read/write head mechanism) can be shaken away from its track, causing a Continue reading
One of the best arguments to use an SSD is also one of the most difficult ways to sell anything. This is the Total Cost of Ownership, commonly abbreviated to “TCO.”
TCO has been used as an argument for buying anything from compact fluorescent bulbs to Jaguar automobiles.
The argument usually revolves around an item whose initial price is higher, but which has lower ongoing (or operating) costs, and when these costs are combined, the higher-priced item proves to cost less to own over the long run. In the case of a compact fluorescent (CF) bulb, the bulb may cost $7, versus $1 for an incandescent bulb, but it consumes 18 Watts compared to the 75 Watts consumed by the incandescent bulb it replaces. In addition the CF bulb lasts ten times as long (10,000 hours vs. 1,000 hours.) This works out to a savings of 470 kWh – or about $50 – plus $3 in bulb costs. Continue reading
At last week’s International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) Shuhei Tanakamaru, a researcher from Japan’s Chuo University, detailed a scheme to reduce MLC SSD bit error rates (BER) by 32 times over conventional techniques. The approach used an impressive combination of mirroring, vertical and horizontal error correction, and a deep understanding of the most likely kinds of bit errors flash will experience.
This is a very novel and well-conceived technique that may find industry adoption in future SSDs.
The steps included in the paper are used in addition to the Continue reading
Given that you have used all those other forms of improving SSD wear that we have discussed so far, but you still don’t find that this is enough, what do you do next? Well a few SSD controllers go one step further and manage some of the inner workings of the NAND flash chip itself.
If that sounds like a significant undertaking to you, then you clearly understand why so very few controllers take this approach. The information used to perform this function is not generally available – it takes a special relationship with the NAND flash supplier – and you can’t develop this relationship unless the NAND supplier Continue reading
One way that SSD controllers maximize the life of an SSD is to use feedback on the life of flash blocks to determine how wear has impacted them. Although this used to be very uncommon, it is now being incorporated into a number of controllers.
Here’s what this is all about: Everybody knows that endurance specifications tell how much life there is in a block, right? For SLC it is typically 100,000 erase/write cycles, and for MLC it can be as high as 10,000 cycles (for older processes) but goes down to 5,000 or even 3,000 for newer processes. TLC endurance can be in the hundreds of cycles. Now the question is: “What happens after that?”
In most cases individual bits start to Continue reading
SSD-watchers have expressed some concern over the last few years that SSDs cannot be manufactured using advanced NAND flash process geometries. This is because these parts have lower endurance and a larger number of bit errors than NAND made using less-advanced processes – the tighter the process, the shorter the flash’s life, and the more errors it will have.
Fortunately these concerns seem to be Continue reading
Over provisioning is one of the most common ways that SSD designers can help assure that an SSD has a longer life than the flash’s endurance rating would support. If an SSD contains more flash than is presented at its interface, the controller can manage wear across a larger number of blocks while at the same time accelerating disk performance by moving slow operations like block erases out of the way of the SSD’s key functions.
Many people like to compare wear leveling to rotating a car’s tires. In this vein, think of over provisioning as having a bunch of spare Continue reading
On 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
Write amplification plays a critical role in maximizing an SSD’s usable life. The lower the write amplification, the longer the SSD will last. SSD architects pay special attention to this aspect of controller design.
Unlike the other factors described in this series this is not a technique that extends flash life beyond the 10,000 erase/write cycles that one would normally expect to result in a failure, but it is very important to SSD longevity.
Write Amplification is sufficiently complex that I won’t try to define it in this post, but Continue reading