Seagate Intros New Pulsar SSDs, Says MLC Technology Ready For Enterprise

Seagate introduced the Pulsar.2 MLC (multi-level cell)-based SSDs with capacities of up to 800 GBs, and the PulsarXT.2 SLC (single-level cell)-based SSDs with up to 400 GBs of capacity, said Rich Vignes, senior enterprise product line manager for the company's SSD products.

SSDs can be divided into two primary categories 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.

MLC has over time become the dominant technology in enterprise as well as client SSDs, Vignes said.

"Two years ago, the industry simplified the MLC vs. SLC language too much by saying MLC equals client and SLC equals enterprise," he said. "But only about 3 percent of total NAND memory is SLC. If SLC equals enterprise, then SSDs will remain a niche market. The SSD market will expand. But for that to happen, MLC technology has to go into the enterprise."

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Seagate's MLC technology stems in part from a joint development project with Samsung that combines Seagate's advanced error correction, error handling, and management with Samsung's media management, Vignes said.

The Pulsar.2 is the first implementation of the joint Seagate-Samsung technology, Vignes said. It is available in capacity points of 100 GBs, 200 GBs, 400 GBs, and 800 GBs, and can handle over 10 full-drive writes per day and up to 15,000 TBs of data writes over its lifetime, Vignes said.

"This is not based on consumer NAND," Vignes said. "This isn't something you can order off the open market."

Seagate also introduced the PulsarXT.2, a series of SLC-based SSDs available in 100-GB, 200-GB, and 400-GB capacities. They can handle 35 full-drive writes per day and up to 25,000 TBs of data writes over its lifetime.

Both drives feature a mean time between failure time of 2 million hours, and carry a three-year warranty from Seagate, Vignes said.

Even though Seagate feels MLC technology can be used to build enterprise-class SSDs, it is still important to offer SLC-based technology, Vignes said.

"Some customers think only SLC is appropriate for enterprise drives," he said. "This is a reflection that the entire market isn't going to flip in one generation. But if we do our job right, soon SLC will no longer be needed in enterprise drives."

The Pulsar.2 and PulsarXT.2 drives are expected to ship next quarter, Vignes said.

Seagate on Tuesday also introduced new drives in its Savvio 2.5-inch enterprise hard drive line.

The Savvio 10K.5 drives feature capacity points of up to 900 GBs with a choice of 6 Gbits per second SAS or 4-Gbps Fibre Channel interfaces.

The Savvio 15K.3 drives are Seagate's highest-performing hard drives, and feature 15,000-rpm performance in 300-GB or 146-GB capacities.

Both are rated 2 million hours MTBF, and carry 5-year warranties. Both are available to Seagate's OEMs. The Savvio 10K.5 drives are expected to ship to Seagate's channel partners this quarter, followed next quarter by the Savvio 15K.3 next quarter.

Seagate also unveiled the Constellation ES.2 hard drives featuring capacities of up to 3 TBs. They are shipping to OEMs now, and are expected to be available to channel partners later this month.