The face of the datacenter is changing, and radical new approaches are emerging that provide more options for high-performance storage solutions. The size of the server rack has been shrinking quickly, and multi-node units are becoming more commonplace. These dense compute solutions require incredible storage density and performance, while maintaining a heavy workload resilience. The HYDRA Bridge solution from IntelliProp steps in, enabling companies to produce solutions to address this challenging segment.
IntelliProp is a name many will not be familiar with; as a component manufacturer, they do not bask in the limelight often. Intelliprop is a Colorado-based hardware engineering company that has provided ASIC design and verification services for the storage industry since 1998. They also supply storage IP cores for SATA, SAS, PCIe, RAID, cores, and bridge solutions. IntelliProp has extensive knowledge and experience with all major storage protocols (ATA, Serial ATA, SCSI, Serial Attached SCSI, Fibre Channel, CompactFlash+, MMC, and CE-ATA). While not obvious to all, IntelliProp products power many storage devices currently on the market.
The SATA 3.0 HYDRA Bridge onboard our reference sample is the star of the show. The HYDRA features IntelliProp's internally developed SATA interface cores and logic. The design provides a means for manufacturers to combine the performance and capacity of multiple (two or four) SSDs into one cohesive unit. The HYDRA bridges the SSDs and presents them as one volume to the host system.
This allows for devices in the 2.5" and 3.5" form factor that can pack an astounding amount of performance and capacity. With the maximum density of a 2.5" 15K HDD at 900GB, the ability to cram up to 4TB of storage into the same 2.5" slot is impressive.
SSDs quickly fall into steady state under extended workloads, but aggregating several SSDs into one unit provides a higher performance ceiling. The HYDRA stripes data across the devices to keep performance high, even under the most brutal workloads. The aggregated performance of multiple drives moves the bottleneck to the SATA 6Gb/s connection.
Stellar read/write performance is important, but an added benefit of these aggregated volumes is the enhanced endurance of the device. Internally spreading the write workload among multiple SSDs mitigates the wear on each SSD. This allows for a stunning amount of write endurance from a single device, and can facilitate the use of lower-endurance NAND in heavy write workloads.
Even low-capacity versions of HYDRA enabled products are compelling; they can provide much more performance and endurance than any single SSD on the market. Several industry partners, such as Avant, are already designing and producing products with an integrated HYDRA controller. Avant demonstrated a working sample of an enterprise-class SSD featuring the HYDRA controller during LSI's AIS event, proving the technology is mature and market-ready.
Our reference board will allow us to test the HYDRA with four regular SSDs. In a finished product, the drive components will be placed onto smaller PCB's. These PCB's will house the required traces and routing needed to allow the device to function in concert with multiple SSD controllers.
One of the great features of the HYDRA Bridge is ease of deployment, there is no requirement for special drivers or software, and the drives are simply plug and play. Our reference board allows us to connect and test four SATA SSDs to demonstrate the performance of the HYDRA Bridge solution. First, let's take a closer look at the capabilities of the HYDRA platform.