Intel, Seagate continue push for increased enterprise SSD capacity

SSDs are getting bigger, but so are the prices. Are they worth it yet?

Intel, Seagate continue push for increased enterprise SSD capacity
Intel

The Flash Memory Summit is taking place in the Silicon Valley, and SSD vendors are showing off some impressive new enterprise-scale drives with greater capacity and performance.

Seagate showed off some new products in its Nytro line with 3D NAND, raising capacity four-fold, and also showed off a PCI Express-based card with 64TB capacity. Conveniently, the company did not give the price. 

Seagate Nytro 5000 SSD line

The Nytro 5000 product line is an upgrade to Seagate’s existing XM1440 line of SSDs. These drives range in capacity from 400GB to 2TB. All use the M.2 interface. M.2 is a design that’s different from traditional SATA drives. A typical SATA SSD looks like a 2.5-inch hard disk and uses a SATA interface. M.2 is about the size of a stick of gum and plugs into the motherboard. 

The 5000 has more than just increased capacity. It can handle up to 67,000 random write IOPS vs. the 33,00 maximum IOPS for the XM1440. Endurance is 1.5 drive writes per day for five years for the endurance-optimized drive and 0.3 DWPD for the high capacity one. 

A drive write per day means the entire capacity of the drive written to the disk in one day. SSDs wear out slowly with every drive write. Reads don’t wear them out at all. A 1.5 drive write means the 1.5 times the capacity of the drive can be written to the disk every day for five years before it wears out. So it is meant for use cases with high data writes. 

Seagate Nytro 3000 SSD line

The second drive line is the Nytro 3000, the next generation of Seagate’s 1200.2 SAS SSD technology. The dual port SAS interface means 12Gbit/s transfer rate, much higher than SATA. The Nytro 3000 comes with up to 15TB of capacity, four times that of the 1200.2. 

The Nytro 3000 has an even higher endurance rate, at least with its Mainstream endurance model, which is guaranteed at 10 drive writes per day for five years. A Light endurance model has three drive writes per day. 

Seagate also showed off a 64TB add-in-card (AIC) product, with eight controllers on a PCIe card, promising up to 13GB/sec of sequential bandwidth. No price was given, but with the average 1TB SSD selling for $289, that’s $18,500 for a similar card. And given it uses high-performance flash chips, it will likely cost more. It will be sampling in the first half of 2018.

The Intel ‘Ruler’ SSD

Intel had a surprise of its own with a new form factor called the “Ruler.” It looks just like your traditional 12” ruler, except it’s not as flat. It’s exactly 1U tall, so you can fit a bunch of them into a storage rack side by side for some very dense storage capacity.

Intel claims it can reach 1PB of storage in a 1U rack with a batch of Rulers all slotted in. That would be impossible to do with standard hard drives. You’d need 100 10TB drives and a 4U bay. Not only that, but it would be much more power efficient and run a lot cooler, since you don’t have all those spinning platters.

However, it’s just a prototype. Intel gave no specifics on price or availability. But it does show off an interesting new concept, one its competitors are likely to copy. And why not? Intel can’t copyright a form factor.

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