Storage Startups Add Enterprise Reliability To Entry-Level SSDs


Two startup storage vendors, Anobit and OCZ Technology Group, this week introduced technology aimed at increasing the performance and reliability of entry-level SSDs to provide an alternative to enterprise-class modules.

Both Anobit and OCZ are using new controllers to give enterprise-class capabilities to solid-state drives based on MLC technology in an attempt to make them as reliable as possible and gain similar performance of more expensive SLC-based SSDs.

There are two types of SSDs, depending on the technology of the Flash memory on which it is built. Some SSDs feature single-level cell (SLC) memory technology, in which one bit of data occupies one cell of the flash memory, making it optimized for performance and data reliability. Other SSDs feature multilevel cell (MLC) technology, in which four bits of data occupy one cell of the Flash memory for greater capacity.

Anobit, of Herzeliya Pituach, Israel, on Tuesday unveiled its first product, the Anobit Genesis SSD series, which use the company's own Memory Signal Processing technology to give MLC-based drives a write endurance rating of over 50,000 cycles.

That rating is the same as SLC-based SSDs, and far greater than the endurance rating of 3,000 cycles for 90 percent of the MLC-based SSDs currently on the market, said Gilad Engel, Anobit's vice president of business development.

The other 10 percent of MLC-based SSDs may be tested with an endurance rating of 10,000 cycles, but are priced higher, Engel said.

For enterprises, getting the 50,000 cycle rate is important, as an enterprise drive can be expected to store about ten times its actual capacity over five years with all the reads, writes, and deletes, and to do so with fully random, non-compressed data.

Anobit increases the endurance cycle rating of MLC-based SSDs to equal the rating of SLC-based SSDs via its Memory Signal Processing.

Anobit's MSP improves the reliability and performance of the NAND-based memory used to build SSDs with Error Correction Code and proprietary signal processing algorithms, Engel said.

"We are providing the first MLC-based SSDs with the enterprise-class endurance of SLC-based SSDs," he said.

Samples of the new drives are already shipping to OEMs for qualification in their storage arrays, and are expected to be available in quantity starting late this year or early next year, Engel said.

Engel said pricing for the company's Anobit Genesis SSDs when they are released will be about the same as standard MLC-based models. Currently, MLC-based SSDs cost about $1.58 per GB of capacity, compared to $6.75 per GB for SLC-based SSDs. The MSP technology adds a negligible cost to the MLC-based SSDs, he said.

OCZ on Monday unveiled its new Deneva series of SSDs which combine an SSD processor from Saratoga, Calif.-based Sandforce with MLC drives.

The combination results in new enterprise-specific SSDs which include emergency power loss protection and ECC protection.

OCZ said the new Deneva SSDs offer a mean time between failure (MTBF) rating of 2 million hours.