They say necessity is the mother of invention, and the HYDRA Bridge IPA-SA117A-BR is a good example of that in action. Increasingly small system footprints, and financially viable NAND pricing, have created a large demand for powerful performance and increased density.
Packing up to 4TB inside a single SSD allows for HDD capacity in an amazingly small form factor. As more SSD controllers with 2TB capabilities become available, such as the new LSI SF3700, there are further opportunities for enhanced density from solutions such as the HYDRA Bridge. There are already designs in production, most notably by Avant, but many will never be aware of the underlying HYDRA Bridge technology. Avant manufactures devices for several large SSD suppliers, and we expect to see several designs on the market under different branding.
A big benefit of the HYDRA is the increased endurance; the amount of useable endurance per slot is effectively quadrupled. Users who require high capacity and endurance typically utilize multiple drives with RAID controllers and HBA's. This adds design complexity and expense from installation of multiple SSDs and RAID hardware. Cramming the power of four devices into one alleviates the need for these expensive measures.
We measured power consumption of the HYDRA and all four Intel SSDs at 14.8 Watts for sequential write workloads. For random data, it weighed in at 15.9 Watts. It is safe to say that the HYDRA is an efficient controller, and packs quite the punch for such low power consumption.
Ease-of-use is important, and the HYDRA is configured by end-users as a normal volume. There is no way to differentiate a HYDRA-infused solution from any other drive, the system is transparent and requires no special drivers or software. The HYDRA platform is also customizable for integrators if required. The Intel DC S3700 drives we utilized have not been used in a HYDRA setup prior to our testing, so there is a very real possibility of higher performance with drive-specific tuning from IntelliProp. For our purposes, the HYDRA board was simple. We just plugged in the SSDs and the system required no intervention.
Our test results were amazing for a single-slot solution. We were able to crush single drive results in our tests. The performance with mixed read/write workloads was spectacular, and there was very little performance degradation with heavier write workloads.
In pure write workloads, the HYDRA delivered an astounding 85,664 IOPS in steady state. The use of four drives together essentially alleviated the performance degradation of a single drive as it transitions to steady state. Latency performance was within expectations, with some additional latency incurred in some situations. In heavy write workloads, such as sequential writing, OLTP, and Email workloads, the HYDRA actually delivered lower latency than a single drive.
There are applications for both client and enterprise usage for HYDRA solutions, and we feel it will be well received in the market. For its outstanding performance in steady state, we give the HYDRA Bridge the TweakTown Performance Award.
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