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Intel, LSI Expand SSD Options

Startup Kaminario and flash memory vendor Anobit also unveil new products at Intel Developers Forum.

Analytics Slideshow: Data Deduplication Report
Analytics Slideshow: Data Deduplication Report
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The Intel Developers Forum prompted a series of new product announcements from silicon giants Intel and LSI, while startup Kaminario and flash memory technology vendor Anobit unveiled new product innovations.

Intel on Wednesday is announcing a new enterprise solid state drive (SSD), the 710 series, a 3-Gbps SATA II drive. The 710 is a 25-nm, two-bit per cell multi-level cell with Intel's "High Endurance Technology." HET is comprised of Intel's controller, firmware, and high-cycling flash that provide drives that can support 1.2-PB of writes over their use life. The 710 series replaces the more expensive X25-E series drives and comes in 100-GB, 200-GB, and 300-GB capacities. Pricing for the drive is expected to be $6 per GB and is scheduled for late 2011 release.

Other disclosures at the Intel Developers Forum are the Cherryville SSD, which will support the SATA III standard at 6 Gbps. Cherryville will be the first Intel product to use controller technology from SandForce, an SSD controller provider.

Controller silicon powerhouse LSI has provided developers a new weapon for building self-healing storage systems. The new 12-Gbps "Raid on Chip" (ROC) from LSI will push Serial Attached SCSI from the current 6-Gbps products into the next generation. Products using the technology are expected in 2013.

LSI at present has PCIe-based flash memory SSD (WarpDrive) and PCIe-based SAS Raid (MegaRaid) controllers. The RAID controllers will operate with any SAS or SATA drive and can run a software caching product called CacheCade, which can use any available SSD in the RAID array as a write-through read cache, providing acceleration for any read-intensive application.

LSI will also demonstrate a new WarpDrive2 at the Intel Developers Forum, that performs at a sustained 340,000 random read IOPs and in an acceleration-cache demonstration exceeds 1.2 million random read IOPs. The company will also announce a Windows Server 8 "cluster in a box" system it developed in collaboration with Microsoft. This high availability system will be comprised of two 3U servers that use LSI MegaRAID 6-Gbps SAS controllers to cluster the motherboards while providing redundant storage connectivity.

Much has been said and written about the gap that has developed between the speed of multi-core servers and the rotating hard drives that feed data to them. A clear set of methods is developing for accelerating storage/server operations--the use of solid state memory.

DRAM has been used for the caching read/write operations within operating and file systems for some time. When combined with flash memory, the high speed of DRAM can by supported by persistent flash memory with high capacities. This is the approach taken by startup Kaminario with its new K2 solid state storage appliances. Kaminario has been shipping a DRAM-only version of the K2 appliance for a year and this week announced the K2-H, a hybrid DRAM and flash storage array that uses the Fusion-io ioDrive Duo card to boost storage capacities up to 30 TB in a single array. Kaminario arrays can scale with ioDirector nodes that provide high availability with two 8-Gbps Fibre Channel ports or what Kaminario calls DataNodes that contain DRAM (K2-D), flash (K2-F), or both DRAM and flash memory (K2-H). With these capacities, the appliance can host an entire database.

According to a survey by the Storage Networking Industry Association and Storage Strategies NOW, 91% of the respondents will be adopting solid state drives or high-speed memory for enterprise, as well as consumer applications. Almost 43% plan to use SSDs to speed transaction-intensive applications such as databases.

Finally, flash memory specialty house Anobit provides memory signal processing (MSP) chips used in smart phones and tablet computers to Intel, Micron, Samsung, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Hynix. While Anobit claims it has shipped over 20 million of the MSP circuits, it has been developing two new solid state drives called the Genesis series. The Genesis T model is a 6-Gbps SATA III SSD and the Genesis S model is a 6-Gbps SAS II SSD. Both drives use the MSP circuit along with 25-nm consumer-grade two-bit per cell multi-level cell flash and both are in a available in a 2.5" format. Because the low-grade MLC has enhanced performance from the MSP technology, Anobit expects these devices to street price below $5GB.

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers. James E. Bagley of Storage Strategies NOW contributed to this story.

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