There’s never a dull moment in the enterprise SSD market. Among the latest developments are three new products from Samsung, Micron and Kioxia. Here are the highlights.
Samsung’s new computational storage drive
Samsung unveiled a second generation of its SmartSSD, an SSD with a Xilinx FPGA and some memory for doing computational storage. Computational storage is the process of processing data where it lies rather than moving it around the network. It’s a new concept and only possible with SSDs; there’s no way this could be done with a mechanical hard drive.
Samsung introduced the SmartSSD in 2020. The first generation featured a Xilinx Kintex processor. The new version adds software and intellectual property (IP) developed by customers, along with in-built Arm cores. Samsung claims processing time for scan-heavy database queries can be slashed by over 50%, energy consumption by up to 70%, and CPU utilization by up to 97% versus conventional data center solid-state drives.
Samsung has not said when its second generation SmartSSD will ship.
Micron smashes the capacity barrier
Several companies are working to break the 200-layer NAND barrier, but Micron is first with its 232-layer NAND chips.
3D stacking is like a tower building. The memory cells are stacked on top of each other in layers with a pass-through technology for communications, just like an elevator. The result is much faster communication between cells than if they were spread out in a 2D pattern. To put it another way, imagine the Empire State Building with a one-floor design.
In addition to the density gains, the 232-layer NAND offers 2.4GB/sec IO speed, which is 50% more than Micron’s current 176-layer product; 100% more write bandwidth and up to 77% higher read bandwidth than 176-layer chip; and a package that’s 28% smaller than previous Micron NAND chip generations. Read/write endurance has not been disclosed. (Related: Micron ships high density SATA-based SSDs for data centers)
Kioxia ships PCIe 5-based drives
Kioxia (formerly Toshiba) is shipping a CM7 enterprise SSD with the PCIe 5 bus, double the speed of the previous CM6 drive that uses the slower PCIe 4 bus.
The PCIe 5 bus runs at a 4GB/sec/lane bandwidth, twice the speed of the PCIe 4 drive. But you need a new CPU to use it. PCIe 5 is available in Intel’s coming Sapphire Rapids Xeon server processor and AMD’s forthcoming Genoa-era processor.
The CM7 comes in 2.5-inch form factor, which is standard for 2U storage arrays and EDSFF E3.S form factors. That is the long, thin form sometimes called the “ruler” form factor because of its resemblance to a ruler.
It is built from 112-layer BiCS gen 5 3D NAND in TLC (3bits/cell) format, which seems a bit behind the times with what Micron is doing, but the CM6 used 96-layer flash. The CM7 offers drives in 1.6TB, 3.2TB, 6.4TB and 12.8TB capacity.
Kioxia has given the CM7 enterprise features such as dual ports for high availability applications, power loss protection, CG-Opal SED support complying with FIPS-140-3 (government-approved encryption), and Single Root I/O Virtualization (SRIOV).