SSDs Hitting New Highs

A new round of SSD technology is about to hit the channel, marking steady progress for a device that only a few years ago was deemed not worthy of complicated enterprise environments.

By Arthur Cole | Posted Nov 18, 2010
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A new round of SSD technology is about to hit the channel, marking steady progress for a device that only a few years ago was deemed not worthy of complicated enterprise environments.

Hitachi drew most of the headlines this week with the new Ultrastar device, built on Intel's 34 nm SLC NAND flash design. The drive delivers up to 535 MBps throughput in capacities ranging from 100 Gb to 400 GB. It includes a 2.5-inch 6G SAS and a 3.5-inch 4G Fibre Channel interface, the former delivering the 535 MBps and up to 46,000 IOPS. It also features a new drive controller and firmware that handles error correction and wear-leveling -- enough to let Hitachi provide a five-year warranty that should cover upwards of 35 petabyes of random writes.

For those looking to add Flash capacity directly onto existing servers, however, the new tachION drive from Virident Systems can now provide 800 GB on a single PCIe slot. The drive is designed to handle heavy workloads with an improved capacity for sustained performance; low power consumption; and on-card, Flash-aware RAID capability for added data protection and recovery. As a low-profile, single-card solution, it's not difficult to imagine a typical 2 RU server suddenly outfitted with more than 3 TB of high-speed storage.

Equally impressive is the new WarpDrive SLP-300 from LSI. Also a low-profile design, the drive fits on an 8x PCIe 2.0 slot and can provide sustained throughput of 1,400 MBps as well as 240k/200k read/write IOPS. The drive uses the LSI SAS2008 6G SAS controller capable of RAID configuration and a new set of software drivers that simplifies integration and management. It is also directly bootable and does not require an external power supply.

Despite these advances, penetration of SSDs into enterprise settings remains relatively low, and research firms like iSuppli don't see widescale deployments any time soon. The company notes that even if SSD use triples in the next year as expected, that would still set penetration at less than 2 percent. That's primarily due to the fact that only a fraction of today's data load requires the kind of fast access and delivery that SSDs provide. In the enterprise, at least, capacity is still king.

This shouldn't cause too much consternation in SSD circles, however. Data center environments are expected to rapidly transition from today's siloed architecture to advanced virtual and cloud environments in which networking speeds and data delivery will be the dominant factor. SSDs have a unique ability to increase throughput even while cutting down on network hardware.

In a world where success depends not on how much data you can crunch at one time but on how quickly you can move it from place to place, SSDs will likely prove invaluable.

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