OCZ: Three Solid State Storage Products in Three Weeks

OCZ's PCIe Z-DriveSSD maker OCZ has been on something of a tear recently, introducing three new solid state storage products in three weeks:

  • Two weeks ago the company introduced the Z-Drive R4 CloudServ PCIe SSD, designed for the data center, in single-card capacities ranging from 300GB-16TB.  This product can transfer data at multiple gigabytes per second rates to deliver over a million IOPS.
  • Last week saw the introduction of the OCZ-SANRAD VXL enterprise storage accelerator, after OCZ’s January acquisition of SANRAD.  This product is flash cache acceleration software for VMware ESX and Citrix Xen virtualized environments that allows Continue reading “OCZ: Three Solid State Storage Products in Three Weeks”

UCSD – Future SSDs Will Lack Performance

UCSD Chart Showing Write Latency Increases with Increasing SSD Capacity over TimeAt last week’s USENIX conference UCSD researcher Laura Grupp presented a paper that attracted a lot of attention.  The paper, which had a somewhat misleading title: The Bleak Future of NAND Flash Memory predicts that NAND-based SSDs of the future: “may be too slow and unreliable to be competitive against disks of similar cost in enterprise applications.”

Continue reading “UCSD – Future SSDs Will Lack Performance”

Fast New Intel SSD: The 520

Intel's 520 Press PictureIntel has announced a new SSD for the Enthusiast/Gamer market.  Intel’s fastest drive to date, this SSD, formerly known as “Cherryville” but now called the 520, is the first Intel SSD to use a SandForce/LSI controller and is made using Intel’s own 25nm flash.

Intel worked with SandForce for  a year and a half to produce an SSD that met Intel’s rigorous standards, and made hundreds of changes to SandForce’s firmware.  Users of SandForce controllers can differentiate their SSDs through the addition of features in the SSD controller’s firmware.  Intel did this by tapping into its expertise in end-to-end data protection (something the company learned when working with Hitachi to introduce that company’s Intel-based enterprise SSDs) while harnessing Intel’s deep understanding of its own NAND flash and of the I/O needs of the PC.

End-to-end data protection is not a trivial feature: Continue reading “Fast New Intel SSD: The 520”

Standards for SSD Endurance

The Grand Canyon - An Extreme Example of WearSSD endurance is an important concern that stands in the way of SSD adoption in a number of data centers.  Since flash is new to the enterprise (and computing systems are a new market for flash) important issues including wear specifications still need to be hammered out.

Until flash SSDs started experiencing adoption in standard computing environments, nobody really anticipated the difficulties that would arise from flash’s inherent wear-out mechanism.  Most flash manufacturers erroneously believed that Continue reading “Standards for SSD Endurance”

How Will Thai Floods Impact the SSD Market?

Map of ThailandIn early November The SSD Guy published a post that argued that Thailand’s floods would not make much difference to the SSD market.

Since that post not only has the argument gone less in favor of SSD adoption (thanks to a high level of HDD finished inventory, some changes in shipping practices, and a heroic effort from Thailand’s HDD makers and the Thai people to overcome this disaster) but the promotional efforts in favor of SSD adoption have become stronger.

Objective Analysis has spoken since the floods with a number of companies who either produce HDDs or HDD sub-assemblies, or consume HDDs, and this is what we have found:

Victorinox’ Terabyte-in-Your-Pocket

Victorinox 1TB SSDAt The Consumer Electronics Show this week, Swiss army knife maker Victorinox introduced a one-terabyte SSD in a form factor similar to a fat Swiss army knife.  Yes, that is right – a terabyte of NAND flash in your pocket.  The company tells us that the device’s dimensions, including the connector, are a scant 52x18x10mm.

Some of the other features include the use of an eSATA connector (to allow the product to be plugged into either a SATA port or a USB socket), AES256 encryption (any army would like this), and a bi-stable LCD to tell how much free space remains on the device.

But let’s look at the difficulty of building a 1TB flash SSD in such a small space:

Continue reading “Victorinox’ Terabyte-in-Your-Pocket”

SandForce: The Cloud needs Different SSDs

SandForceOn Monday December 13 SandForce introduced SSD controllers designed specifically for cloud computing applications.

You might wonder what is so different about cloud applications that they need an SSD controller of their own.  SandForce makes some interesting points:

  1. Cloud applications need low latency
  2. Cloud computing centers, like client SSDs, need a lot of capacity at a very low price Continue reading “SandForce: The Cloud needs Different SSDs”

New Seagate Hybrid Drives: 2x the Flash, 2x the I/O Speed

Seagate's Momentus XT Hybrid HDDSeagate has just announced an upgrade to the company’s Momentus XT hybrid HDD family.  Seagate announced in August that the company had already shipped over one million units of its first generation Momentus XT since its May 2010 introduction.

For those unaware of what a hybrid HDD is, the short answer is that it’s a way to get HDD capacities and SSD speeds at a price marginally higher than that of an HDD. Continue reading “New Seagate Hybrid Drives: 2x the Flash, 2x the I/O Speed”

SSDs and Caching

IBM: Effect of Data Placement on SSD EffectivenessOne of the SSD Guy’s favorite subjects is caching and SSDs.  This is because I wrote a book on processor caches in the early 1990s, and the advent of SSD caches in storage systems hearkens back to the technology detailed in that book.

Caching works well whenever there are two layers in the memory hierarchy since the fast expensive layer can replicate data in the slow inexpensive layer to accelerate the processor’s performance. Continue reading “SSDs and Caching”

SSD Fast Erase

All the NAND chips in an SSD can be erased simultaneouslyAn interesting feature that exists in many SSDs is the ability to quickly erase all the data on the device.  The military is especially interested in this feature because it helps prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

For example, let’s say your helicopter crashed when on a mission to assassinate the leader of a major terrorist organization.  If the HDD or SSD inside the cockpit was recovered by that organization the data might be extracted to help undermine future missions. Continue reading “SSD Fast Erase”