Seagate shipped 46.3 million disk drives during the quarter, up 14 percent over the previous quarter, but down some four percent from the previous year. Still, Seagate CEO Steve Luczo is a happy camper: "The company has returned to its operating model well ahead of our expectations of six months ago and now expects to sustain gross margin of 22-26 per cent.”
Seagate is confident enough in it’s financial position to start a more aggressive push on its line of Solid State Drives (SSDs). These SATA-interfaced SSDs will be targeted initially to businesses, particular in the broad volume server market. Seagate is not looking at SSDs as replacements for hard drives. In fact, Seagate will be promoting it’s new single-platter 2.5-inch drive, which sits a mere 7 mm high, for upcoming ultra-thin notebooks, such as the Dell Adamo XPS.
After a flurry of activity in the solid state drive market, it's been comparatively quiet the past few weeks, but we finally have some new developments to report. As you may recall, the controllers used in SSDs can have a significant impact on performance, and Micron thinks it has a winner on its hands with its just-developed JFM612 NAND flash controller chip.
Micron's first controller ran into some pesky performance problems, some of which they fixed with the JMF602B controller. But the initial hiccups left the door open for competitors to step in, like Indilinx did with its Barefoot controller. Like Barefoot, Micron's new chip is able to use 32nm flash chips, which helps lower the cost of SSDs.
After a few initial issues with the new controller, DailyTech reports that Micron has finally begun mass producing JFM612 chips. The first SSDs to utilize them will be Active Media with the launch of their Predator-X7 series. Along with Micron's new controller, the Predator-X7 will come with 128MB of DRAM cache to eliminate any chance of stuttering, and boast sequential read and write speeds of up to 230MB/s and 180MB/s, respectively.
Six months ago, the the Predator-X7 would have been a real barn burner, but it's tough to get too excited over 180MB/s writes anymore. However, more SSDs built around Micron's new controller are on the way, and you can probably expect these to give today's offerings a run for their money.
The most obvious and common reason to avoid any SSD solution presently is certainly price. Compared to rotational-magnetic state drives, solid states offer far better performance for most server environments, but prices were keeping them out of the server closet.
However, as datacenters continue to find the need to grow (due to the software-as-a-service movement, cloud server environments, etc) they are finding that the overall power consumption and thermal capabilities of SSDs may be worth the cost.
MySpace recently revamped their server outfit with SSD technology and managed to cut hardware costs by 60 percent simply by using SSDs. It was undoubtedly an expensive move, but what they spent in hardware they’ll make up for in infrastructure savings. The SSD units they used will save them 50 percent on power, and 80 percent in cooling.
Super Talent and Toshiba today announced a new range of co-branded SSDs called the UltraDrive DX. The official press release was largely dedicated to UltraDrive DX’s twin-layer encryption. It features password encryption as its first line of defense and hardware data randomization technology as the second.
“As the first Toshiba co-branded SSD on the market, UltraDrive DX features a Toshiba controller and Toshiba’s MLC NAND flash memories. The DX provides superb security and reliability features combined with cutting edge performance in both read and write speeds,” said Joe James, director of marketing at Super Talent.
OCZ on Monday announced its latest Z-Drive PCI-Express SSD, the m84. Unlike previous Z-Drives, the m84 doesn't target enterprise users and instead is intended for the 'mainstream' power user crowd.
"The OCZ m84 Z-Drive is the newest addition to our line of PCI-E solid state drives and is designed to offer consumers a high performance yet aggressively priced solid state solution," said Eugene Chang, Vice President of Product Management at the OCZ Technology Group. "While the previously released p84 and e84 Z-Drives were intended specifically for enterprise applications, the m84 delivers much of the same performance but at a price point that is competitive with standard SSD drives. This is the first time that such a high performance PCI-E based SSD that is optimized for media editing, gaming, and workstation productivity, has been so within the reach of power users."
The m84 comes built with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND and a bootable internal RAID 0 configuration. OCZ says users can expect read speeds up to 750MB/s and write speeds up to 650MB/s, at least in the 256GB model. Other capacities include 512GB and 1TB, with both of the higher capacity models improving read and write speeds to 870MB/s and 780MB/s, respectively. All three boast sustained write speeds in the neighborhood of 600MB/s.
We’re finally out of the woods. After nearly a year in which the Intel X-25M was virtually the only solid state drive on the market not to suffer from severe latency during sustained random writes, the past few months have brought us sweet relief in the form of new SSDs with stutter-less memory controllers from such manufacturers as Samsung and Indilinx. This month, we tested the 128GB Patriot Torqx, which uses an Indilinx “Barefoot” memory controller and 64MB DRAM write cache to end the stuttering problem once and for all.
Right out of the box, Patriot impresses with the thoughtful inclusion of a 3.5-inch tray adapter for its 2.5-inch drive. It’s just a simple sheet of pot metal with screw holes and rail mounts, but it’s appreciated. The drive enclosure itself is all brushed-metal—black on top, silver on the bottom—and screws into the adapter easily.
While Super Talent is busy readying its RAIDDrive, OCZ today announced it has begun shipping its PCI-Express based Z-Drive. This is the same drive that was being discussed at CeBIT earlier this year, and like Super Talent's version, OCZ's model looks to leave behind the confines of the SATA bus for wider pastures on the PCI-E interface more suitable for the ultra fast flash memory.
"Traditional enterprise storage technology typically requires overly complex infrastructures as well as costly maintenance, and is often unable to deliver the level of performance required by OEM applications," said Ryan Peterson, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "The new OCZ Z-Drive is an all-in-one high performance plug-and-play bootable PCI-E solid state drive that addresses these challenges head on, and meets the demands of the complete range of enterprise storage and data access requirements."
Sporting an internal RAID 0 configuration, OCZ says its SLC-based Z-Drive can top out at 800MB/s reads and 750MB/s writes, whereas the MLC-based version trails just lightly behind at 750MB/s reads and 650MB/s writes. Both versions also look to consume less power than traditional hard drives.
While OCZ did say the drives have started shipping, it did not announce a price or expected availabilty date.
TGDaily has found out that Super Talent plans to start shipping its first PCI Express RAIDDrive SSDs in early October, so you may want to hang on for a few more weeks if you're currently planning a dream machine build. Why is that? Because these purportedly stupid-fast drives are being designed to thrash the throughput bottleneck in your PC's storage subsystem and leave the SATA bus bandwidth limitation in the dust.
"The PCIe Gen. 2.0 x8 interface used by RAIDDrive SSDs supports 4GB/s bandwidth, more than ten times that of the SATA-II 3Gbps bus, and five times greater than the not yet available SATA-III bus," a Super Talent spokesperson told TGDaily. "Currently, there is no other way to achieve the same performance, except via Fusio-IO - but that costs approximately $10,000 for equivalent speeds."
Super Talent, meanwhile, is targeting a price point below $1,000 in hopes of appealing to both gamers and enterprise users, the spokesperson added. Three versions will be made available, including:
RAIDDrive GS: Aimed at power users and gamers, supports RAID 0 or 5, uses MLC flash, and available in capacities up to 2TB
RAIDDrive ES: For enterprise servers, supports RAID 0 or 5, fits in a 3U rack mount chassis, uses SLC flash, and available in capacities up to 1TB
RAIDDrive WS: Geared towards workstation users, supports RAID 0 or 5, uses SLC flash, available in capacities up to 1TB
Assuming it lives up to the hype, would you drop upwards of $1,000 for a super-speedy SSD configuration?
Despite the deluge of solid state drives (SSDs) that have inundated the market place this past year, desktop consumers still remain hesitant to adopt the pricey technology when mechanical hard drives offer more storage space for less scratch. But what about on the enterprise side?
Silicon Valley startup Pliant Technology says it can save businesses big bucks with its Enterprise Flash Drives (EFDs) when combined with traditional HDDs. To prove its point, Pliant points to a typical enterprise application performing 640,000 transactions a minute on an 18-terabyte database. According to Pliant, that would normally require about 1,000 small-capacity disk drives to achieve faster access and higher performance, which would take up 40 rack-mount shelves. All told, the final bill would come to $450,000, plus 16,000 watts to run and cool the setup.
But by combing Pliant's EFDs for "hot" current data with regular hard drives for less frequently accessed data, the company says such a hybrid setup would require just six rack-mount shelves and cut costs in half. In addition, such a setup would only require roughly 2,000 watts.
Adaptec seems to have come up with a new use for sold state drives. The new MaxiQ RAID controller cards use a modified 32GB Intel X25-E SSD, in conjunction with Adaptec software, to dramatically increase RAID array performance. How dramatically? The company is claiming a fivefold performance boost. The system also requires no operating system drivers, meaning it should be compatible with all setups.
SSDs are known for their performance, but have yet to catch up to standard rotating drives in capacity. The new Adaptec system aims to get the best of both worlds with huge read/write speeds, and the capacity people are accustomed to. The kits won’t come cheap, though. Each 32GB module has a retail price of $1295.