Vendors Target Enterprise, Mobile Apps With SSDs

hard drive

Samsung, Toshiba America, SanDisk, and start-up pureSilicon, this week unveiled either their first entries into the SSD market, or their latest versions of existing products.

They join an ever-longer list of storage vendors hoping to make solid-state drive technology ubiquitous this year.

The drives generally come in a standard 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch hard drive form factor, and feature one of two types of memory technology.

The first is single-level cell (SLC) memory technology, in which one bit of data occupies one cell of the flash memory, making them optimized for performance and data reliability.

Sponsored post

The second feature is multilevel cell (MLC) technology, in which four bits of data occupy one cell of the flash memory. This allows for greater capacity than SLC-type drives. However, performance of MLC-type drives, while much higher than that of traditional hard drives, drops compared to that of SLC-type drives.

Among those who are expanding their SSD line is Samsung Electronics, which Tuesday unveiled its first enterprise-class solid-state drive aimed specifically at high-performance applications.

Samsung's new SS805 2.5-inch form factor SSDs offer 100-GB capacities, and read data sequentially at 230 MB per second and write sequentially at 180 MB per second. This SLC-type SSD features an 8-channel controller, improved NAND flash, and new drive firmware, all of which were developed by Samsung. The drive also includes technology to allow all data in the process of being stored within the SSD to be preserved in the event of a power outage.

The new drives use 1.9 watts of power in active mode and 0.6 watts in idle mode, compared to between 8 watts and 15 watts in the active mode and 1 watt to 2 watts in idle mode for traditional 15,000-rpm drives, Samsung said.

The new 100-GB solid-state drives are expected to ship this quarter, Samsung said.

Toshiba America Electronic Components, Irvine, Calif., this week expanded its SSD line into the enterprise storage market with the company's first SLC-type SSDs.

The new drives, expected to sample this quarter and ship next quarter, are expected to ship with 50-GB and 100-GB capacities. The 2.5-inch form factor drives will feature the serial attached SCSI (SAS) interface, Toshiba said.

Other enterprise-class features will include dual-ported SAS redundancy and non-volatile cache, Toshiba said.

Prior to this, Toshiba already unveiled MLC-type SSDs in 64-GB, 128-GB, 256-GB, and 512-GB capacities, all of which the company said are expected to ship this quarter.

PureSilicon, a Clifton, N.J.-based storage startup, used CES to show its new Nitro series of SSDs.

The company is aiming at high-density SSD requirements with its flagship product featuring 1 TB of SSD capacity in a 2.5-inch form factor enclosure. The new 1-TB drive features MLC-type memory and a 300-MB-per-second SATA interface.

The company also introduced several other SSDs in 32-GB, 64-GB, 128-GB, and 256-GB capacities. These drives are available in both SLC and MLC memory versions.

All the drives have a data transfer rate of 300 MB per second, with sustained reads at 240 MB per second and sustained writes at 215 MB per second. When active, the drives consume 4.8 watts of power, compared to about 0.1 watt when idle.

Prior to the new releases, pureSilicon in October unveiled its Renegade series of SSDs with built-in hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption based on the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS). The Renegade SSDs also comply with MIL-STD-810F, a military standard that requires the SSD to sustain reliable operation in rugged environments.

PureSilicon's new Nitro series SSDs are slated to ship in the third quarter. Its Renegade SSDs are expected to ship in limited quantities this quarter and in volume next quarter.

SanDisk, Milpitas, Calif., used CES to unveil a new generation of SSDs aimed at the netbook market, as well as for POS terminals, printers, ATMs and other applications.

Those drives, the SanDisk pSSD SSDs are available in capacities of 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB, and include a SATA interface and a 2.5-inch form factor. However, instead of a standard drive enclosure, they come in a circuitboard format for embedding in computing devices.

SanDisk's Gen 2 pSSD drives, slated to be available in February, 2009, are built using the company's 43-nanometer MLC flash memory in partnership with Toshiba.

There has been a flurry of activity in the past 12 months or so as storage vendors start looking seriously at the potential of solid-state drives in the enterprise market.

Hitachi GST and Intel said in December that they have agreed to jointly develop enterprise-class solid-state hard drives. They are collaborating to develop drives featuring SAS and Fibre Channel interfaces aimed at the enterprise data center market, and plan to have drives in OEM qualifications early next year.

Intel in October introduced a line of solid-state drives based on the SATA interface for the server, workstation, and storage system market. Those 32-Gbyte drives followed the introduction earlier last year of solid-state drives for the PC and notebook market.

Other vendors, including Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba and SanDisk, are also offering solid-state hard drives.

On the OEM side, Sun Microsystems late last year said it would begin to offer solid-state drives in its new Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems, part of Sun's Open Storage platform under which it aims to help customers build high-performance storage products using commodity components.

Sun follows EMC which early last year introduced solid-state drives as part of its Symmetrix array line.