There’s never a dull moment in the enterprise SSD market. Among the latest developments are three new products from Samsung, Micron and Kioxia. Here are the highlights.
Samsung’s new computer storage drive
Samsung unveiled a second generation of its SmartSSD, an SSD with a Xilinx FPGA and memory for computing storage. Computer storage is the process of processing data where it resides rather than moving it across the network. This is a new concept and only possible with SSDs; there is no way this can be done with a mechanical hard drive.
Samsung introduced SmartSSD in 2020. The first generation featured a Xilinx Versal processor. The new release adds customer-developed software and intellectual property (IP), as well as embedded Arm cores. Samsung claims that processing time for analysis-heavy database queries can be reduced by more than 50%, power consumption by up to 70%, and CPU utilization by up to 97% compared to conventional data center SSDs.
Samsung hasn’t said when its second-generation SmartSSD will ship.
Micron breaks the capacity barrier
Several companies are working to break the 200-layer NAND barrier, but Micron is first with its 232-layer NAND chips.
3D stacking is like a tower. Memory cells are stacked on top of each other in layers with pass-through technology for communications, much like an elevator. The result is much faster communication between cells than if they were spread out in a 2D pattern. To put it another way, imagine the Empire State Building with a one-story design.
In addition to density gains, the 232-layer NAND offers an I/O speed of 2.4 GB/s, which is 50% faster than Micron’s current 176-layer product; 100% more write bandwidth and up to 77% more read bandwidth than a 176-layer chip; and a 28% smaller package than previous generations of Micron NAND chips. Read/write endurance was not disclosed. (Related: Micron ships high-density SATA SSDs for data centers)
Kioxia ships PCIe 5-based drives
Kioxia (formerly Toshiba) ships a CM7 enterprise SSD with the PCIe 5 bus, which is twice the speed of the previous CM6 drive which uses the slower PCIe 4 bus.
The PCIe 5 bus operates at a bandwidth of 4 GB/s/lane, which is twice the speed of the PCIe 4 drive. But you need a new processor to use it. PCIe 5 is available in Intel’s upcoming Sapphire Rapids Xeon server processor and AMD’s upcoming Genoa processor.
The CM7 is available in a 2.5-inch form factor, which is standard for 2U storage arrays and EDSFF E3.S form factors. This is the long, thin shape sometimes called the “ruler” form factor because of its resemblance to a ruler.
It’s built from BiCS gen 5 112-layer 3D NAND in TLC (3bits/cell) format, which seems a little behind what Micron does, but the CM6 used 96-layer flash. The CM7 offers drives with capacities of 1.6TB, 3.2TB, 6.4TB and 12.8TB.
Kioxia has provided the CM7 with enterprise features such as dual ports for high availability applications, power failure protection, support for FIPS-140-3 compliant CG-Opal SED (Encryption government-approved) and Single Root I/O Virtualization (SRIOV).
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