Intel Ships 32 GB Solid-State Drives for Enterprise Storage

Chip maker says it plans to release 64-GB SSDs early next year

October 17, 2008

3 Min Read
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Solid-state drive (SSD) vendors are racing to bring out larger and faster devices. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) on Wednesday announced its latest SSD -- a 32 Gigabyte device meant for servers, workstations, and storage systems.

Intel also said it plans to start sending samples of a 64-GB SSD to computer makers later this year and intends to start production of the larger drives early next year. Rival Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) said earlier this month that its 32-GB and 64-GB SSD drives will be used on Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)'s ProLiant BL495c virtualization blade server.

Called the Intel X25-E Extreme SATA SSD, the drives feature Intel's 50-nanometer single-level cell NAND flash memory technology, which delivers 35,000 read input/output operations per second and 3,300 write IOPS, according to Intel. The read latency is 75 microseconds. Intel touts the drives' speed, reliability, and low operating costs. It said the SSDs can offer 100 times better performance than conventional hard disk drives, as measured in IOPS. And with no moving parts, the drives use less energy and are less prone to malfunctioning or wearing out. However, they do cost more than conventional hard drives.

IDC estimates that the worldwide SSD market generated nearly $400 million in revenues in 2007, and it forecasts that SSD revenue will grow around 70 percent a year through 2012.

Several vendors immediately announced support for the new Intel drives.John Fowler, executive vice president of the systems group at Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA), said in a statement that solid-state drive technology "will change the economics of enterprise data centers." He said Intel's SSDs, Sun's systems, and Solaris ZFS with hybrid storage pools can be "important components of the Open Storage initiative." Sun plans to offer systems that take advantage of SSDs' high performance and low energy consumption.

Rackable Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: RACK) said it will support the SSDs in its Eco-Logical server and storage systems. "The enhanced capabilities of Intel's solid-state drives allow us to augment the storage performance of our products in dramatic ways," Giovanni Coglitore, chief technology officer and senior vice president of engineering at Rackable, said in a statement. Rackable plans to use Intel's 32-GB and 64-GB single-level cell drives in enterprise servers and use Intel's 80-GB and 160-GB multilevel cell drives for servers in low-write-rate environments.

Verari Systems Inc. said it will include Intel's SSDs in its new HyDrive, a hybrid enterprise storage blade. The blade combines the X25-E and 3.5-inch SATA hard drives into the company's blade rack platform. The combination will let the company offer systems that "can support nearly any business requirement, including the highest I/Os-per second," Dan Gatti, Verari senior vice president of worldwide market operations, said in a statement.

The X25E Extreme consumes 2.4 watts when active and delivers 14,000 IOPS per watt, Intel said. The device achieves up to 250 MByte/s of sequential read speeds and up to 170 MByte/s sequential write speeds. The drive is in a 2.5-inch form factor.

Intel said its 32-GB SSD, which is in production now, is priced at $695 in quantities up to 1,000. The company said it can write up to 4 PB of data over a three-year period before it needs to be replaced. The 64-GB version can write up to double the data during the same timeframe.Samsung said its devices have a read speed of 100 MByte/s and a write speed of 80 MByte/s, while only consuming 0.5 watt in active mode and 0.1 watt in sleep mode.

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