An SSD Designed For The Data Center

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What a difference a year can make. At this time in 2011, Samsung had no branded SSDs of its own, seemingly content to supply memory and SSD-drive storage controllers as an OEM. Today, the memory giant is supplementing its low-cost, high-performance solid-state drives for consumers, launched last year, with the SM825 Data Center Edition, a series of SSDs with features designed specifically for the data center.

In November, the CRN Test Center reported that the Samsung 830 SSD, its latest model at the time, delivered twice the speed for the same price or less than the 470 model we tested the previous May. And while Samsung has not yet released pricing for the SM825, we can report that its data transfer performance exceeds that of the 830 by more than 50 percent when tested using the same fixture and methodology.

To better endure the write-rewrite cycles typical of enterprise applications, Samsung's SM825 Data Center Edition boasts a total bytes written (TBW) rating of 7000 (standard SSDs are rated at around 60 TBW). For testing, the company sent the CRN Test Center a 200GB model; it's also available in 100GB and 400GB models.

The SM825 stands out in terms of throughput and I/O performance too. The 2.5-inch SATA 3.0 SSD is rated to deliver sustained rates of 35,000 input-outputs per second (IOps) and up to 260 MBps. In reality, the drive lived up to those specs, and in some cases exceeded them.

To test the new Samsung drive, we fired up our six-core Intel Core i7-based test fixture, which centers on an Intel DX58SO Extreme motherboard with 4-GB, 1333-MHz, DDR3 memory running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate N. As always, we used IOMeter to measure transaction processing and data throughput performance using an optimization methodology that gradually increases the number of pending IOs per target until performance no longer increases.

When testing the SM825, the best performance was seen at a setting of 40 pending IOs per target; maximum performance was observed with sequential reads. For throughput, performance peaked with 32K chunks of data; for transactional performance with 4-byte chunks. Performance fell off as randomness was increased. Peak throughput was 213 MB/s and a sustained rate that exceeded 200 MBps. For transaction processing, the SM825 delivered a peak of 51,491 IOps and a sustained rate of around 48,000, easily exceeding its rated 35K.

Inside the SM825 is Samsung's triple-core ARM-based multitasking drive controller, an array of 30nm-class toggle DDR NAND flash memory, cache power protection and AES 256-bit encryption. And although the SM825 conforms to the 2.5-inch form factor, don't plan on stocking extras of the data center drive for use in laptops; its 2x height will scuttle such ideas. The drive measures 3.9 x 2.75 x 0.6 inches and weighs about five ounces.

The Samsung SM825 Data Center Edition SSD is available now in 100GB, 200GB, 400GB capacities. Pricing was not disclosed.

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