Print 25 comment(s) - last by MrPoletski.. on Nov 13 at 4:19 AM

Something higher than the Vertex coming soon

OCZ has grown to become one of the biggest suppliers of Solid State Drives, especially to enthusiasts and consumers. A large part of that success can be attributed to their close partnership with SSD NAND flash controller company Indilinx. The specialized design company is responsible for the Barefoot controller used in most of OCZ’s SSD products. OCZ is by far Indilinx’s largest customer, and the only Tier 1 customer besides Super Talent.

As good as the Barefoot controller is, it is still a pricey product. Many other companies have tried to make SSD controllers with varying degrees of success. SandForce is a name that has been whispered to us many several SSD companies, and OCZ is now announcing that it will partner with them for a new range of SSD products. Samsung controllers haven’t been performing up to par, so a second SSD controller partner will help reduce OCZ’s supplier dependence and hopefully spur some much needed price and performance competition.

“OCZ is committed to delivering SSD solutions to our enterprise clients and also has a strong following for our consumer solid state products; partnering with SandForce enables us to offer an even more robust offering to both these markets,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. “Together with SandForce we are focused on making enterprise-class MLC-based SSDs which offer excellent reliability and performance coupled with superior total cost of ownership for all our customers.”

SandForce is a fabless semiconductor company founded at the end of 2006. Although it is a young company, it has already filed more than twenty patents. Its leadership is comprised of industry veterans, and the company is very well funded thanks to investments from several storage OEMs.

The company has been preparing two SSD controllers for the market over the last few months. The SF-1200 will be targeted at enthusiast and low-cost enterprise SSDs and will be able support up to 512GB capacities. Sequential read and write speeds can reach 260 MB/s through a 3Gb/s SATA interface. The SF-1200 is designed to utilize commodity Multi-Level Cell NAND flash in order to lower costs.

The SF-1500 is targeted at high-end enterprise and workstation applications. Speed and maximum capacity is the same as the SF-1200, but the SF-1500 can also support Single-Level Cell flash for a higher number of write-erase cycles. It also boasts an Unrecoverable Read Error rate of less that 1 per 10^17, much higher than the typical 10^15 rate found in traditional magnetic storage-based enterprise hard disk drives.

“OCZ has a proven track record in the design and manufacture of solid state drives and is in a distinctive position to deliver SSDs to both the enterprise and consumer space,” said Thad Omura, VP of Marketing at SandForce. “SandForce SSD Processors reliably enable the usage of low cost, MLC-based SSDs in volume, mainstream enterprise applications.”

A prototype SSD using a SandForce controller was shown earlier this year working with 34nm NAND flash from Micron. Intel sources the same flash chips for its SSDs though IM Flash Tech, its joint partnership with Micron. The low cost and high performance of those flash chips have helped Intel take SSD sales away from OCZ.

OCZ is planning to partner with SandForce for the long term. SandForce has stated that they have a multi-generational roadmap, and is expected to release details on a next-generation controller chip next year supporting 6 Gb/s transfers though a SATA interface.

OCZ has promised more information on performance, pricing, and availability in the weeks leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show.

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RE: Price is the key
By semo on 11/11/2009 4:42:35 AM , Rating: 5
SSDs are not hard drives. SSDs are performance parts. you buy them to increase your PC performance just as you buy very expensive processors and graphics cards.

HDDs are storage devices. you buy them for a completely different purpose. In a few years SSDs might become economically viable for mass storage purposes as well.

also, a lot of high performance SSDs come under $400...

RE: Price is the key
By AnnihilatorX on 11/11/2009 5:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Reducing OS and application load time by some 20% is justified enough to purchase expensive SSDs. Don't put non performance essential files or programs on the SSD, such as movies and documents, then you will maximise the gain from the investment.

RE: Price is the key
By realmp06 on 11/11/2009 5:56:50 AM , Rating: 1
I can't wait until SSDs are the main storage so everyone can afford them. I would spend $100 bucks if i got like at 320 or 640GB drive. But, I only have one and its only to run programs off of the SSD. All my other data are on my other hard drive.

RE: Price is the key
By ChugokuOtaku on 11/11/2009 7:46:53 AM , Rating: 2
I can see how SSDs may one day take over platter based drives for laptops, and possibly as the primary drive for the OS on desktops, but those of us running 3/4TB+ harddrive farms will probably still rely on traditional platter based drives. SSDs still have a LONG way to go before they even come close to matching the $/gig ratio of platter based drives.

RE: Price is the key
By werfu on 11/11/2009 9:35:16 AM , Rating: 3
SSDs still have a LONG way to go before they even come close to matching the $/gig ratio of platter based drives

They will not. In order to catch HDD density either will would need to find an enormous breakthrough in memory technology (memristor could be the thing) or HDD density would need to hit a wall (and this wont happen soon).

RE: Price is the key
By semo on 11/11/2009 9:38:53 AM , Rating: 2
but that's not what SSDs are for. Just because it plugs into an ATA interface it doesn't mean that its storage capacity is the only useful metric.

SSDs are for performance. their price/gigabyte metric is not good but the performance is much greater. before SSDs you could only get storage, no performance options (raptor and SAS are all the same but slightly faster and noisier). now you have HDDs for storage and SSDs for performance. Price/gigabyte doesn't tell you anything about performance. people here don't talk about price/FLOPS when comparing CPUs. If you want, talk about price/IO when comparing SSDs to HDDs but the real world improvement of a PC with an SSD over HDD is undeniable.

RE: Price is the key
By SAnderson on 11/11/09, Rating: 0
RE: Price is the key
By Skelum on 11/11/2009 8:27:40 AM , Rating: 5
I totally agree with you regarding SSD being performance parts.

I just want to point out that "AnotherGuy" did not state otherwise... He just said that these parts have to become cheap so that they hit the masses. I also agree with him...

My boss hesitated to upgrade our laptops with SSD... He wanted to buy new ones. I convinced him that it worth the 300$ investment. We bought one for my laptop and he liked what he saw so he decided to put 2 SSD in raid 0 in his alienware laptop... It's simply amazing...

SSD are not cheap but they are currently the best upgrade for the money but it does not make money fall off the sky...

RE: Price is the key
By flatfour on 11/11/2009 8:41:24 AM , Rating: 2
I'm with you. My 60gb Vertex that I got for $200 made a bigger difference experience wise than going from a Core2quad at 3.6ghz to an i7 at 4ghz. There is no way I could ever go back to a traditional platter based hard drive.

RE: Price is the key
By descendency on 11/12/2009 3:51:54 AM , Rating: 2
Without being too technical, it's because a lot of what the OS does that people generally associate with one part of the computer or another actually has to go through the hard drive. Paging of memory is an example.

The rotational drive seek latency is around 15 ms. A solid state drive's seek latency is 0.1 ms. The reason for massive stuttering in MLC drives initially (without being too technical about it) was because that seek latency went from 0.1 ms to something like 150 ms. This should illustrate how important the storage disk is to the basic running of a modern OS.

If you are still using a 5400RPM, 8 mb cache rotational drive, the performance per price of an SSD upgrade will be exponentially higher than any possible upgrade you could do to your computer, baring it having a 33mhz processor or 4 mb of ram. (I am assuming you have a processor made in the last 10 years...)

RE: Price is the key
By Skelum on 11/12/2009 7:13:06 AM , Rating: 2

But didn't you say, quoting:"Without being too technical,..."

Does it get more technical ? ;-)

RE: Price is the key
By MrPoletski on 11/13/2009 4:19:58 AM , Rating: 2
yes, flash memory cannot be overwriten.

A Flash memory bit exists in three states, on, off or unwritten.

To change an on to an off (or an off to an on) you need to erase the bit first.

Couple with that that flash memory currently can only be erased in blocks of 512kb.

So I want to write 1 bit into a 512kb block.

I must first read the ENTIRE 512kb block, make my modification to the 512kb block now in memory, erase the 512kb block and then write that 512kb block back to the disk.

So for a 0.125 byte write I've ended up reading 512,000 (roughly) bytes of data then writing 512,000 bytes of data.

So an IO op of 1 bit ends up being an IO op of 1MByte.

That's 8 million times as much work... and about as worst case scenario as you can get.

I also havent factored in the time taken to erase, but it's not that long.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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