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OCZ's AEON Series drive is probably one of the coolest things I saw at Flash Memory Summit 2012. This drive ditches the typical NAND memory in favor of using DRAM chips which have no durability issues. These chips are clocked at around 40MHz as opposed to a typical DDR3 stick which could be clocked as high as 800MHz.
Essentially this drive is like your DDR RAM in your PC. It's faster than a typical SSD due to the use of volatile memory, however, if the power goes out, the data is lost. It's almost like a RAM disk, though the bandwidth is limited by the interface. In the event of a power loss, the data is flushed to typical NAND memory.
The drive's capacity is up to 64GB as of right now, and has super low latency (20 microseconds or less) and typically is about 1 microsecond. The chip is built to be used in servers and features a 6GB/s SAS connection. Note that these are preliminary specifications which are subject to change. Even still, this is a sweet drive!
I've never really been a believer in hybrid hard drives as they've never been competitive to SSDs when it comes to speed. Today at the Flash Memory Summit 2012, Toshiba had a demo showing just how wrong I could be. They had three identical laptops set up, one with a 19nm NAND SSD, one with a 5,400RPM drive, and one with an undisclosed hybrid drive.
The demo was booting from a completely powered down state into Windows and then starting a movie playing. Some of the results were shocking, to say the least. The traditional 5,400 RPM hard disk of course came in last as you would expect. However, the hybrid drive and the SSD were locked in a dead heat to the finish.
While the SSD finished before the hybrid drive, it couldn't have taken the hybrid drive more than 2 seconds longer. This result is quite a bit different from what I have seen in the past with regards to hybrid drives. When pressed, Toshiba wouldn't say when we would see this hybrid drive on the market or really give us any info. The best I could get from them is that it is a demo showing what is possible. All of a sudden hybrid drives are looking a whole lot more attractive.
Here's a mouthful for a business name: The Storage Products Business Unit of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. Anyway, these folks have announced an expansion to their enterprise SSD offerings in the form of three new lines of varying capacity and specifications. They bill the three lines as "High Performance," "Value," and "Read-Intensive/Boot Server."
- High-Performance: Targeted at applications requiring the highest levels of eSSD performance, the PX02SM series is Toshiba's first eSSD to utilize 24nm eMLC (enterprise multi-level cell) NAND technology, with capacities of 200/400/800GB1 and 1.6TB2, and is Toshiba's first offering with a dual-port 12Gb/sec SAS interface with a form-factor equivalent to industry-standard 2.5inch HDDs.
- Value Line: Optimized for entry-to-mid-level server and storage applications requiring balance, reliability, capacity and endurance, the PX02AM series also features 24nm eMLC NAND flash in capacities of 100, 200 and 400GB, all with a 6Gb/s SATA (Serial ATA) interface. Featuring a slim 7mm 2.5inch industry-standard form-factor, all capacities offer power-loss protection.
Marvell have unveiled some things over at the Flash Memory Summit (where some of our guys are schmoozing with the crowd), with the first of these being the general availability of their PCIe-based DragonFly platform. If you haven't heard of DragonFly, it's a platform that combines Marvell's SoC technology with newly-designed circuit boards, and uses PCIe as its connectivity.
The results of this are storage solutions that can provide 10-100x lower latency and improved server I/O performance, all while using less power, space and storage capital costs in a datacenter. Marvell's DragonFly platform will be commercially available from September 15, 2012. Marvell's specs on DragonFly are pretty insane, as they've shown:
DragonFly is sold as a PCIe Gen2 x8 adapter with up to 8GB SODIMM ECC DRAM and up to 1.5 TB of external SSD storage; read, write-back and write-thru caching; synchronous low-latency peer-to-peer write-back mirroring; 3.2GB/s of throughput; less than 22us latency; 220K IOPS read; 220K IOPS write; integrated ultracapacitors to protect data in the event of power loss; and a wide variety of host operating system support, including RHEL, KVM, Xen, VMWare and Windows.
I hope you enjoyed the pun in the title, but seriously, I want a DNAS as soon as possible. Grab your lab coat, because we're about to do a quick science post. Harvard geneticist and bioengineers George Church and Sriram Kosuri with the help of John Hopkins Yuan Gao have stored 5.5 petabits (700TB) of data into one gram of DNA.
The accomplishment of these scientists, is grand, as it beats the previous DNA data storage record by more than 1000 times. DNA-based storage is attractive to scientists, as DNA itself is quite dense, requires absolutely no moving parts when stored, and is durable. Usually data is stored on magnetic media, versus DNA strands storing 96 bits, with each of the base pairs representing a binary number.
In this case, Adenosine and Thymine represent zero, and the Guanine and Cytosine represent one. Each strand of DNA is encoded with a 19-bit address block allowing vast quantities of DNA to be stored volumetrically to be decoded and sorted so that usable data can be extracted, 96 bits at a time. In comparison, the original human genome project, with 3 billion base pairs, took 13 years to complete (from 1990 to 2003).
OWC have just announced the first SSD upgrade for the Retina-powered Apple MacBook Pro, with the new drive available on a single 480GB capacity. The upgraders who purchase before September 30 will receive OWC's Envoy Pro USB 3.0 bus-powered portable enclosure that will house the removed SSD, and use it as an external drive at no extra cost.
OWC's drive is dubbed the Mercury Aura drive, and is user-installable. The Mercury Aura drive is capable of 500MB/sec, compared to the stock Apple drive of 461MB/sec. The Mercury-branded SSD is also capable of block management and wear leveling technologies, which limits the reduction in speed common in SSD drives over long-term use.
The Mercury Aura 480GB sell for $580 and is available right now.
DigiTimes is reporting that hard drive makers are working on slimming the 2.5" HDD standard down to a 5mm thick version. The move appears to be to compete with solid state drives and to provide a product that can be used inside today's fashionable ultra-portables and Intel's Ultrabooks. The slimmed models would still feature a hybrid design to provide better performance than a traditional drive.
DigiTimes reports that most hard drive manufacturers are still in the planning stages of development for the new 5mm thick drives and there has not been one manufactured as of yet. The source says the two major issues with the shrinking is stabilization of the read and write actions and increased cost due to the shrinking.
The source also believes that early 2013 will see heavy hybrid hard drive competition as the drives continue to be adopted in Ultrabook settings as well as entry- to mid-level laptops. Furthermore, this competition should accelerate the speed at which a 5mm 2.5-inch drive standard is developed and adopted.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) have been out for quite some time now, but as with any new technology, the iron needs to be bought out to get out some of the niggly issues, some big, some small. One of these has been RAID 0 on SSDs with TRIM.
RWLabs has an editorial where they talk about the subject itself, and I can't really condense it into a news post as its a four-page piece. If you're interested in SSD RAID 0 with TRIM enabled, then I suggest you check out the piece here.
RWLabs reckon it won't be long before we see motherboard makers bake the necessary goods into their BIOS', so as long as you've got the hardware, TRIM on RAID 0 SSDs shouldn't be too far away!
Intel have plans to standardize SSD specifications for their popular, and heavily marketed Ultrabook platform. The chipmaker wants to steer it toward slimmer, faster Ultrabooks. Intel plan to invite a large number of industry players such as NAND flash memory makers SanDisk, Micron and Samsung.
This would result in a bunch of the big players in the market discussing what is known as Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), a new SSD form-factor derived from mSATA. Intel wants to accelerate their NGFF SSD plans, as current mSATA has limitations, including limited PCB area, where a number of ONFI channels can be wired out.
NGFF will probably end up as mSATA with much more PCB area, which will allow the same number of ONFI channels as 2.5-inch SSDs, with the latest generation of controllers and toggle-NAND flash memory. NGFF doesn't increase the thickness of the SSD itself compared to mSATA, but just elongates it. Intel and their Ultrabook partners are discussing five length standards at the moment.
Western Digital's latest mini creation, the latest in their 2.5-inch range of HDDs, the WD Green WD20NPVT has made its way onto a Japanese retailers shelf. The drive is built from the 2.5-inch form-factor, is 15mm thick, which means it won't fit in most notebooks.
But, the 2.5-inch drive sports an insane 2TB of storage, features IntelliPower variable spindle speed, 8MB cache, SATA 3Gb/s interface, 0.2W idle (parked) and 1.7W (active) power consumption. The new 2TB 2.5-inch drive is priced at $240.
What do you think? We're eyeing 2TB 2.5-inch drives, isn't that a little crazy? Would you have thought 10 years ago this is possible, and not be that surprised? At just $240, that's quite a deal.