Hitachi GST Intros Enterprise MLC SSDs, Says Western Digital Acquisition On Track


Hitachi GST is continuing to follow its product release roadmap with the planned shipping of a new family of MLC Flash-based SSDs despite the company's pending acquisition by Western Digital.

Hitachi GST's new Ultrastar SSD400M is a series of SSDs with 200-GB and 400-GB capacity points and a 6-Gbps SAS interface.

The Ultrastar SSD400M SSDs feature multilevel cell (MLC) Flash technology.

SSDs have been traditionally divided into two primary categories depending on the technology of the Flash memory on which they are 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.

However, new SSD controller technologies are adding increased performance and reliability characteristics to MLC-based SSDs, making them much more acceptable for use in enterprise applications and driving down the cost of enterprise-class SSD storage devices.

The new Ultrastar SSD400M SSDs leverage much of the SLC technology Hitachi GST introduced as part of a joint development program with Intel, said Ulrich Hansen, director of market development for Hitachi GST.

That technology, including jointly-developed controllers combined with Intel NAND memory, gives the new SSDs enterprise-class capabilities, including the ability for the 400-GB version to handle 7.3 petabytes of data writes over its lifetime, Hansen said.

"So on the average, you can write 10 times the capacity of the drive each day for five years," he said. "This endurance is quite attractive if you calculate it over five years."

The read performance of the new Ultrastar SSD400M SSDs is similar to that of the company's SLC Flash SSDs, as is write performance for some applications, Hansen said.

The new SSDs also feature a mean time between failure (MTBF) rating of 2 million hours, which is comparable to Hitachi GST's SLC Flash SSDs, he said.

Western Digital in April said it plans to acquire Hitachi GST in a deal worth about $4.3 billion. Hansen said that the two companies are still awaiting regulatory approval, but expect the deal to close during the fourth quarter of this year.

In the meantime, Hitachi GST will continue with its existing product roadmap, and may unveil new hard drives by year-end, Hansen said.

The new Ultrastar SSD400M SSDs are currently being qualified by storage and server OEMs, and are scheduled to be in distribution next month,