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HGST led the way with 6TB drives by developing their HelioSeal technology, which fills the HDD with helium and seals the drive. This delivers a number of benefits, lower internal air resistance reduces flutter and allows use of thinner and lighter materials. With less air resistance the drive also doesn't have to work as hard to spin the platters, even while increasing the platter count to 7, thus producing radical reductions in power consumption. HGST is leveraging the benefits of HelioSeal technology to move forward with the new He8, an 8TB version of the previous-generation drive.
In a sign that 8TB drives will experience a rapid uptake, Aberdeen announced today they are integrating the new He8 into their AberNAS and storage server products. This will provide increased density for their customers and also tremendous reductions in power consumption. The He8 drive will deliver instant benefits and boost capacity of just one 4U rackmount up to 192TB. We took a deep-dive with the first commercially-available helium drive in our HGST Ultrastar He6 6TB Helium Enterprise HDD Review, and found it to deliver on its promises.
As Supercomputing 2014 begins we expect a rush of storage news, and today Innodisk kicked that off with the announcement of their first All-Flash array. The FlexiArray SE110 is a 1U rackmount with 10 SSDs in a 3TB configuration. The new array utilizes Innodisk's proprietary FlexiRemap Technology for global wear-leveling, which should boost endurance of the underlying media.
The new array utilizes consumer-grade MLC flash to deliver 320,000 sustained IOPS. The SE110 sports a Quad Port 10Gbe SFP+ connection and InfiniBand FDR QSFP connectivity. Innodisk will have a live demo running at the show. Innodisk will also have a wide variety of their other flash products on display, including mSATA, M.2 S42 and S80, and USB EDC.
Seagate has announced their Kinetic HDD, which connects via dual Ethernet ports and leverages the Seagate Kinetic Open Storage platform. Seagate has developed an entire ecosystem to support the new approach, which removes the need for a dedicated storage tier. The goal is to reduce the price of infrastructure to realize a TCO reduction of 50%. The open-source Kinetic API utilizes object storage, which circumvents the hindrances of normal file system architectures. This removes the software stack and allows applications to communicate directly with the Kinetic HDD.
Kinetic HDDs reside in backplanes that have two embedded Ethernet connections for each drive. This provides a dual port active/active connection. The typical deployment then utilizes two 10Gbe Ethernet connections to communicate with the server. HDDs can also speak directly to each other, without going through the operating system, streamlining operations such as disk-to-disk replication and minimizing overall network traffic to the server. Ethernet is widely deployed and presents the ability to use existing infrastructure for IP-based management.
The Kinetic platform also provides performance benefits. Seagate has observed a 4X increase in random write speed, due to the lack of metadata and queuing processes from legacy filesystems and operating system interaction. The new 4TB Kinetic drive is available for customer qualification now, and general availability begins at the end of November.
Enmotus has announced the general availability of their FuzeDrive server software, which provides software-defined storage acceleration for server-side SSD and NVDIMM deployments, which are becoming more popular in clustered servers and hyper-converged architectures. FuzeDrive's MicroTiering storage algorithms load-balance data across devices, and allows the use of standard SSDs to provide seamless caching for server-side flash deployments.
Andy Mills from Enmotus demonstrated the actual use of FuzeDrive software for us at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit. FuzeDrive provides easy management capability integrated into the operating system's native file browsing tools. FuzeDrive also allows for file-pinning in the cache, which keeps desired data constantly in the SSD cache to deliver maximum performance acceleration for critical files. Users can also use a real-time at-a-glance visual mapping tool to monitor performance. FuzeDrive differentiates itself from caching solutions by providing low-impact acceleration that doesn't eat CPU cycles. In come configurations caching software can chew up to 50% of the host CPU cycles running cache management tables and algorithms, and also have limits on the amount of addressable flash capacity. Enmotus is currently working with a select number of solution and channel partners to make the technology available.
Marrying the capacity of HDDs with the performance of flash is one of the most common use-cases for server-side flash deployments, specifically because it can reduce network traffic, or even take the SAN out of the picture entirely. Samsung recently purchased Proximal Data to expand its base of technology, and other players in this space have already made significant investments in various caching/tiering software companies. It wouldn't be entirely surprising to see Enmotus acquired in the near future.
HGST has added another design win to the long list of FlashMAX design wins. StoneFly, a leading supplier of SAN systems, has announced integration of the HGST FlashMAX II into the flash-based version of their USS Hyper-Converged appliances. StoneFly's USS solution can be configured as iSCSI, Fibre Channel, or NAS (CIFS/SMB and NFS), and the hypervisors allow multiple VM's to run on a single physical host.
StoneFly runs all control logic as a software-based service on HGST FlashMAX II SSDs. The virtual storage controllers run on each cluster node to improve scalability and resilience. StoneFly USS appliances can begin with a single node configuration and then nodes can be added in increments as small as 2U (12 drive bays) to 4U (24 Drive bays). Each appliance can be scaled up to support a total of 256 drives per node. Cluster nodes and their expansion nodes can be seamlessly added one at a time with zero downtime. This provides a time to value deployment of under 30-minutes, with no disruption to ongoing operations.
The HGST FlashMAX II is a great fit for this type of deployment, we recently posted in-depth competitive performance analysis in our HGST FlashMAX II 2.2TB Enterprise PCIe SSD Review. One of the strongest features of the FlashMAX II lies in their enhanced software offerings that radically redefine typical expectations from a PCIe SSD. Advanced software features provide a host of new capabilities, which we cover in great detail in the article.
Memblaze has just announced their latest and greatest, the behemoth 8TB Eblaze4. Memblaze is one of the world's largest PCIe SSD suppliers, but their focus on the China market has kept them out of the limelight in North America. The release of the EBlaze4 continues the introduction of more Memblaze products into the North American and European markets. This PCIe SSD comes in the standard HHHL form factor and also is available in a 2.5" design. We recently took a close look at the PBLaze3L and found it to offer great performance and a wide variety of capacities to fit any environment.
The new EBlaze4 has a feature set geared specifically for SDS and hyperscale deployments. The EBlaze4 provides greater control through customization and programmability that manages the device down to a granular level. Users can tailor certain functions, such as garbage collection and wear leveling, to preferred settings, tying them closely to application requirements.
The EBlaze4 comes in 500, 700, and 900 Series and sports the NVMe interface. The 500 and 700 Series offer up to 3.6 and 3.2TB of capacity, respectively, and sequential speeds weighing in at 2.5/1.8 GBps read/write over a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection. The 500 Series offers 500,000/40,000 read/write IOPS, and the 700 series expands that to 500,000/150,000 read/write IOPS. The mammoth 900 Series brings a whopping 8.0TB onto a single device with blistering sequential speeds of 4.5/2.5 GB/s read/write. Yes, you read that right, 4.5 Gigabytes per second of read speed, easily the fastest on the market.
Perhaps most impressive is another industry-first speed rating for the Eblaze4 900 Series. It delivers a whopping 900,000 random read IOPS, beating even the fastest PCIe offerings. Random write speed is equally impressive at 250,000 IOPS. The Eblaze4 900 Series is also the first PCIe SSD, at least to our knowledge, that utilizes a x8 PCIe 3.0 connection. Merging this wide data pipe with NVMe goodness yields impressive results, to say the least.
In many ways modern vehicles are much like rolling computers. Navigation and infotainment applications, such as 3D mapping, environmental reporting (e.g., infrastructure, traffic, meteorological) car radio, multimedia, satellite radio, E-call and voice recognition, and interaction with the drivers phone, are all handled via on-board computer systems. Just like any other computer these require storage, and much like typical computers the majority of these systems still rely upon HDDs. When the driver starts the vehicle a boot up process begins, and this can take a few moments as the drive spins up and delivers data to the on-board computer. There is a huge market for automotive-class HDDs that have enhanced vibration resistance and other features, such as expanded operating temperatures and humidity ranges, to tailor them for the mobile environment.
Micron aims to bring the same SSD benefits to vehicles with their new industry-first automotive-grade SSD, the M500IT line. SSDs will bring nearly instantaneous boot up times to the vehicle, increase the response, and perhaps even enable other features that weren't previously possible with increasingly complex vehicle computer systems. SSDs also tolerate much more vibration and shock, and environmental factors aren't nearly as much of a concern.
It seems to be a no-brainer to bring SSDs into vehicles, and by utilizing AEX-Q100-compliant eMMC 5.0 memory in 60GB to 240GB mSATA SSDs, Micron can keep costs low enough to attract auto manufacturers. The M500IT also includes several features we are accustomed to seeing on Micron's enterprise-class SSDs, such as hardware-based encryption, data-at-rest protection from power loss, and an adaptive thermal monitoring system to expand the thermal operating envelope. Microns Micron's eMMC products are fully managed NAND solutions with built-in controllers and industry-standard interfaces, simplifying hardware and software integration and streamlining the development and qualification process for designers.
Sage Microelectronics has released the Sage S681, a 10-channel controller that will allow SATA SSDs up to 5TB of capacity. Current SATA SSDs max out at 2TB, and there aren't any future products announced that will break the 2TB barrier. Sage Microelectronics intends to bust past the 2TB barrier by utilizing eMMC, SD, or MMC. The S681 will utilize the low cost structure of these devices to keep cost down. Each channel will support up to 512GB of memory via a 10 X 4 X 128GB layout of typical flash memory cards.
The new controller supports a SATA II interface, which denotes lower performance than the typical SATA III connection favored by today's top-flight SSDs. This limits maximum read/write speed to a paltry 260/225 MB/s. The S681 features a RISC CPU core to manage the bus, plus extra cores that support two memory card channels. Five-channel and four-channel variants, the S682 and S685, are also available.
Samsung has formally announced their purchase of Proximal Data for their innovative server-side caching software. As enterprise SSD manufacturers continue to mature we have witnessed a string of acquisitions of various caching companies. Caching technology provides HDD capacity and the speed of flash, and also provide companies with a clear differentiator for their products. Samsung originally purchased NVELO in 2012, and their caching solution was quickly merged into Samsung's client offerings as RAPID caching technology.
Proximal Data is geared for virtualized environments. Their award-winning AutoCache software embeds I/O intelligence inside the hypervisor to cache hot I/O onto server-side flash. It's intelligent and selective caching removes the I/O bottleneck and improves VM density and efficiency. As with all caching software your mileage may vary, but typical AutoCache implementations sport 2x to 3x performance improvements.
MRAM has the ability to fundamentally change the way we use memory by combining the speed and endurance of DRAM with the data storage characteristics of NAND. ST-MRAM (Spin-Torque Magnetoresistive Random-Access Memory) retains data without power, which removes the need for complex capacitor arrangements and the associated firmware enhancements. MRAM has already been used in small quantities as data buffers in some cutting-edge SSDs and other applications. In spite of billions of dollars in research by several industry heavyweights, Everspin Technologies is the only company in full commercial production with MRAM.
The only thing holding MRAM back from wider acceptance is density. Higher density allows for wider application and also reduces cost. Everspin has over 600 patents and has been in production for over five years at their own facilities, but bringing Global Foundries in as a manufacturing partner is sure to speed advancements in the technology. Global Foundries will initially produce ST-MRAM on 300mm CMOS wafers with a 40nm lithography, but plans are already in place to move to a 28nm process soon, underlining the accelerated advance of ST-MRAM products. Other competitors are falling further behind Everspin at this point, with other manufacturers slated to begin production of MRAM in 2018.