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SMART Optimus 400GB Enterprise SSD Review

The SMART Optimus heralds the beginning of a new era for the datacenter, the inclusion of MLC NAND SSDs into roles typically only served via SLC high-endurance SSDs. Providing SLC-like endurance from MLC NAND sounds like a magic trick or marketing hype at its finest.

| SSDs in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Dec 13, 2012 12:12 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%      Manufacturer: SMART Storage Systems

Introduction

 

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The SMART Optimus family heralds the beginning of a new era for the datacenter, the inclusion of MLC NAND SSDs into roles typically only served via SLC high-endurance SSDs.

 

Extracting SLC-like endurance from MLC using a variety of techniques, collectively referred to as the Guardian Technology Platform, has led SMART down the path of explosive growth. SMART Storage Systems can claim every single Tier-1 OEM as a customer and they are currently the only SSD vendor with its SSDs qualified across multiple IBM platforms. This deep entrenchment into the enterprise space speaks volumes to the quality of the products that SMART offers its customers. Endurance, performance, reliability, and value are the hallmarks that can make or break an enterprise-class SSD solution, and SMART looks to deliver with the Optimus series.

 

The Optimus series leverages DSP and adaptive flash programming at the core of its controller, dramatically reducing errors and increasing the longevity of the underlying NAND. These new approaches to NAND management bring a compelling enterprise-class storage solution within reach of consumer price points.

 

In the past, datacenters and enterprise applications consisting of heavy write workloads have been constrained to deploying expensive SLC solutions. These SLC SSDs can come at a hefty premium of up to $11 a gigabyte. Recently eMLC has begun to make a splash, offering higher write endurance in tandem with more palatable pricing.

 

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Rapid advancements in flash management technology have brought garden-variety MLC into the datacenter, providing enough endurance for light enterprise workloads. Low cost is the primary motivator for users to make the jump to MLC, but SMART's goal is the transformation of this same low-endurance MLC into a direct competitor with SLC products while also preserving the lower cost structure of MLC products. The Optimus offers an amazing 10 DWPD (drive writes per day) for a five year warrantied period.

 

Sporting high performance in tandem with impressive endurance in capacities of 200GB, 400GB, 800GB and 1.6TB provides customers with a wide range of available capacity options. Read speeds weigh in at 100K IOPS and 500MB/s of sustained sequential transfer. The write speed is also impressive, with 50K IOPS and 500MB/s of sequential write speed. Perhaps most impressive is the capability of the SSD to offer up 1GB/s of sustained read performance in applications that support dual-port 6Gb/s SAS functionality.

 

SMART designs its SSDs to operate within 1% performance variability over the life of the SSD to guarantee consistency of service. Adaptive flash programing and DSP (Digital Signal processing) are emerging technologies that provide increased endurance. STEC, with their CellCare products, and Anobit are SMART's most notable competitors utilizing similar technologies. Apple snapped up Anobit earlier this year, effectively removing them from the picture. This leaves STEC and SMART's high performance and endurance MLC SSDs to compete directly with each other.

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