Enterprise big wigs have a new solid state drive (SSD) series to choose from, Toshiba's new MKx001GRZB family. Toshiba's latest SSDs come built on a 32nm manufacturing process and sport enterprise grade single-level cell (eSLC) NAND flash memory, whereas most desktop SSDs use multi-level cell (MLC) chips.
The new drives also boast a 6Gb/s Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface, up to 510MB/s sustained reads, up to 230MB/s writes, and random sustained read and write IOPS of 90,000 and 17,000, respectively.
Toshiba's shipping its new SSD family in 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB capacities, each of which the company says is designed for ease of integration into new or existing tier-0 enterprise storage systems and designs, including servers, direct-attached storage, and network-attached storage.
PC enthusiasts already know the benefits SSDs bring to the table, but as it turns out, these flash-based drives are pretty awesome for consoles, too. To prove it, Beyond3d.com forum member "Phil" shoved a Corsair F120 SSD into his PlayStation 3 and fired up Gran Turismo 5 "since it allows a big chunk of the game to be copied onto the hard drive."
According to Phil's numbers, the SSD had a tremendous impact on load times, often cutting down the time spent waiting for a race to begin by half. Loading GT5 took 55 seconds with the stock hard drive, which was reduced to just 29 seconds with the SSD. Similar results were seen when loading the London track, in which the SSD cut the load time from 39.47 seconds to 19.26 seconds, as well as a handful of other tracks.
"Is it worth it? Not for me -- not for that price. Perhaps when SSDs become a cheaper, I may get one cheap one day for the PS3," Phil says. "I'm also not sure how optimized the PS3 file system is for SSD usage and how long such a drive would live. No way really to benchmark this, sadly."
Valid points, and it's worth mentioning that not all games are as hard drive heavy as GT5. Still, initial results are impressive, and we can only imagine how much better they would be if Sony (or Microsoft or Nintendo) built a console specifically designed to take advantage of SSDs.
Would you be willing to pay more for a console using SSDs, or do these gaming boxes cost enough as it is?
Until prices come down, there isn't a whole lot for solid state drive (SSD) makers to do other than flesh out their lineups with additional capacities. That's what Corsair has done (again) with its Force series, today announcing the addition of 90GB (F90) and 180GB (F180) models.
"Corsair's Force series of SSDs have become extremely popular with enthusiasts and gamers, and with these two new capacities we can offer our customers greater flexibility to choose the capacity that best suits their budget," stated Thi La, VP of Memory Products at Corsair. "The 90GB and 180GB capacities neatly fill the gaps in the current family, which now ranges from 40GB all the way to 240GB."
Built around the Sandforce SF-1200 controller, Corsair rates the latest additions at up to 285MB/s read and up to 275MB/s write speeds, with a 4K random write throughput of up to 50,000 IOPS.
Samsung wants the world to know that its new enterprise solid state drives (SSDs) with built-in hardware encryption are the shiznit, or to use plain English, they boast government grade AES 256-bit encryption.
"Faster and more secure than its predecessor, our new corporate-focused SSD is the only one with self-encryption built on TCG's Opal standard that's available on the market today," said Jim Elliot, Vice President, Memory Marketing and Product Planning, Samsung.
By Samsung's estimation, a lost or stolen notebook ends up costing a company $200 per lost record. Samsung's SSDs include always-on hardware encryption with the data encryption and user authentication taking place in the drive controller rather than being stored in software. According to Samsung, its self-encrypting SSDs also perform 2.4 times higher than an SSD with software encryption and 3.7 times higher than an HDD with software encryption.
Kingston has announced the launch of its first USB 3.0-certified external solid-state drive. According to the company, the drive is aimed at PC enthusiasts, prosumers and professionals. And just to make sure that there is no doubt about the target demographic Kingston has lent the famous HyperX badge to the drive. When paired with a USB 3.0 compatible device, the HyperX Max External USB 3.0 drive is capable of a read speed of up to 195MB/s and a write speed of up to 160MB/s. The company will begin selling the drive in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities in December. However, it hasn’t disclosed any prices.
"The HyperX MAX 3.0 External USB 3.0 Drive follows the tradition of Kingston's HyperX enthusiast DRAM family providing users with premium quality and extreme performance," said Andrew Ewing, USB product manager, Kingston®. "In addition to portability and speed, users will be pleased with the durability of this drive. Its Flash memory-based architecture is designed for the rigors of mobile use."
Market research firm iSuppli is the bearer of bad news, that is if you're rooting for solid state drives (SSDs) to knock their mechanical brethren from the storage throne. According to iSuppli, even though SSDs made some inroads into a handful of influential segments, they aren't likely to replace HDDs in key storage sectors anytime soon.
By the time 2010 comes to a close, SSDs will have tripled their penetration rates in both the enterprise server and desktop markets. Sounds impressive, but even after tripling up, SSDs still will only account for 1.7 percent (enterprise) and 1.2 percent (desktop). Even among notebooks, where SSD penetration is the highest, these drives will account for 2.3 percent of the storage market.
"SSDs will continue to make inroads into these three target markets (enterprise, desktops, notebooks) from 2009 to 2014 -- each segment proceeding at its own rate, but all showing an unmistakable pattern of growth," iSuppli notes. "Yet, SSDs pose no threat at all to the dominion of HDD. While SSD shipments will reach 7.2 million units in 2010, HDD shipments will total a mammoth 662 million."
As always, the roadblock for SSDs is price. According to iSuppli, the OEM cost of a 256GB notebook SSD in October was nearly $400, compared to a 320GB notebook HDD that sells for less than $50.
"All told, iSuppli does not expect SSD to threaten HDD dominance in the overall PC, server, and storage markets within the next five years," iSuppli said.
Slowly but surely, solid state drive (SSD) pricing continues to come down, and according to DigiTimes, Intel and A-DATA in particular have been making concerted efforts to reduce the cost of entry. In the second half of 2010, the two firms have dropped prices by about 10-15 percent.
Meanwhile, hard drive makers have been flirting with price increases for mechanical HDDs so far in the fourth quarter. As DigiTimes tells it, most of the major players -- Hitachi, Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital -- have reduced capacity in Q4, which so far has resulted in 4-5 percent price increases among 500GB models.
Then again, HDDs have come down in price so much in recent years that a fourth quarter bump will hardly register on the radar. Much more noticeable is what's going on in the SSD industry, with Intel having recently slashed the prices of its X25-M Generation 2 line, and even Micro Center getting in on the action with a second gen 64GB SSD built around the SandForce 1200 controller for $100.
OCZ Technology is on a roll. While most consumer SSD manufacturers are content to just slap the latest controller and some NAND into a 2.5-inch enclosure and call it a day, OCZ has been pumping out innovative products, from top-of-the-heap SATA SSDs to the blistering-fast (and stylish) USB 3.0 Enyo drive. Now it has introduced the RevoDrive, a PCI-E SSD in capacities from 50GB to 480GB. Though it’s not the first PCI Express SSD (Fusion-io’s been making enterprise-level PCI-E SLC devices for years), it is the first bootable consumer PCI-E SSD. OCZ claims the RevoDrive can hit up to 540MB/s reads and 450MB/s writes, which sounds like nonsense. But is it?
When Apple recently updated its MacBook Air family of ultraportables, it switched the range entirely to solid-state storage for the speed boost flash memory provides. But it went against the grain by opting for an onboard storage solution, as opposed to the conventional way of wedging it all into an SSD enclosure. This was done in order to make the Air even more ethereal than before.
In fact, the Blade X-gale ultra-thin SSD modules are reportedly same as the ones inside Apple’s ultraportable notebook. According to MacRumors, not only do both come in identical capacities (64GB, 128GB, and 256GB), but also have the same part numbers. The Blade X-gale drives are capable of a maximum sequential read speed of 220MB/s and a maximum sequential write speed of 180MB/s.
"Delivering a product that enables superior user experience in a smaller footprint is the ultimate goal," noted Scott Nelson, vice president, Memory Business Unit, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. "The density of MLC NAND enables the creation of smaller form factor high density storage solutions, and Toshiba, as the technology leader for NAND storage solutions, will continue to innovate in this space."
OCZ pushed the SSD speed limit with the release of its RevoDrive PCI-E solid state drive earlier this year, and now the company looks to shift to an even higher gear with its new RevoDrive X2.
"The original OCZ RevoDrive SSD was designed to be the first high-performance, bootable PCI-E SSD solution and has become a popular choice for demanding computing applications that require faster, more reliable storage," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology. "Building on the success of the original design, we are excited to introduce the RevoDrive X2, which delivers both increased performance and capacity, making the RevoDrive X2 a viable option for a wide spectrum of applications that include professional graphic design, multimedia rendering, and workstations."
Side-stepping the SATA II bottleneck, the RevoDrive X2 plops into a PCI-E x4 slot to deliver up to 740MB/s read and writes, and up to 120,000 IOPS. Part of that is achieved by using an onboard RAID 0 design, though the X2 also employs four -- yes, FOUR-- SandForce 1200 controllers versus two in the original, OCZ says.
The RevoDrive X2 is available now in capacities ranging from 100GB to 960GB.