Sun & Samsung Sketch Out SSD Plans

Sun unveils its first SSD partner, and more are on the way

July 18, 2008

3 Min Read
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Sun fleshed out its plans for solid state disk today, announcing a partnership with Samsung to develop a single-cell NAND Flash memory device, which it claims will push the performance envelope of existing SSD technology.

Samsung has developed what it describes as a server-grade NAND” memory device for SSDs, which it claims can expand the life cycle of any high transaction data processing server.

“The faster the product, the longer the life, the more value the customer gets out of that,” says Graham Lovell, Sun’s senior director of open storage, adding that Sun is “absolutely on target” with its SSD roadmap.

Last month Sun announced plans to offer 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SSDs across its servers and storage products in the second half of this year, underlining the growing momentum behind SSD technology.

”A lot of people said that it's ‘two years out’ before you can implement this technology, but it’s not -- it’s here and now,” says Lovell. “From the perspective of putting these into enterprise-class servers and storage devices, there’s a huge opportunity to do this in the second half of this year.Sun has already tweaked its ZFS file system to handle SSDs and plans to use the software to manage a “hybrid” infrastructure of both solid state and traditional disk drives.

SSDs are becoming increasingly popular as a fast-access alternative to traditional magnetic or optical media. HBA specialist Emulex, for example, recently announced plans for a Fibre Channel-to-SSD bridge, and both HDS and EMC have embraced SSD technology.

Sun and Samsung have spent the last “several months” developing their 8-Gbyte flash memory device, which they say can offer 100 times more IOPs than traditional disk drives, and Lovell promises that SSD technology has overcome some of its perceived shortcomings.

“Most of the questions that we get about SSDs are to do with reliability -- customers are concerned that, if they write to the devices, will it suddenly fail,” he says. “[But] the technology here is radically different to what has been in early forms of SSD devices.”

Sun has opted for Single Layer Cell (SLC) as opposed to Multi Layer Cell (MLC), citing the technology’s higher performance levels. Whereas MLC typically offers higher densities and capacities, SLC has higher write speeds and claims that its Samsung memory device will offer five times the data write-and-erase cycles of even standard SLC chips.“If you’re going to construct an enterprise-class device, you’re going to do it with SLC now,” says Lovell.

Sun’s Lovell was less forthcoming on other details of Sun’s SSD roadmap, such as which servers and storage systems will be the first to carry the technology, although he hinted that Samsung may not be the vendor’s only SSD partnership.

“Don’t think that this is necessarily an exclusive,” he says. “We’re working with multiple partners now on this technology.”

Despite the recent hype surrounding SSDs, analyst firm Trendfocus recently warned that the technology has not yet posed a risk to the dominance of hard disk drives but warned that over 50 million HDDS could be replaced by SSDs over the next few years.

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  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IDC

  • Samsung Corp.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA)

  • Trendfocus0

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