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Intel Takes SATA Performance Crown With X25-E SSD

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the bragging-rights dept.

Data Storage 164

theraindog writes "We've already seen Intel's first X25-M solid-state drive blow the doors off the competition, and now there's a new X25-E Extreme model that's even faster. This latest drive reads at 250MB/s, writes at 170MB/s, and offers ten times the lifespan of its predecessor, all while retaining Intel's wicked-fast storage controller and crafty Native Command Queuing support. The Extreme isn't cheap, of course, but The Tech Report's in-depth review of the drive suggests that if you consider its cost in terms of performance, the X25-E actually represents good value for demanding multi-user environments."

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164 comments

Dedicated Database Storage (3, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881127)

This just screams dedicated database storage.

wicked-fast door blowing screams? (3, Funny)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881203)

Is it just me or have we gone full-frontal-funnyfarm with the analogies and adjectives here?

Re:wicked-fast door blowing screams? (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881611)

You be the judge [techreport.com] . I would consider a factor of 80x improvement in IO/s over the best HDD, and 2x your best competitor (yourself) "wicked-fast door blowing screams" if you're looking at transaction processing for a database or other IOPS bound application. This is not the review that's overzealous about a 4% processor speed improvement. Stripe that across 5 or 10 of these bad boys and the upside potential is, um, noticable? If we can't get a little enthusiastic about that what does merit it? A flame paint job and racing stripes? A Ferrari logo? The next step up from here is RAMdisk. Yeah, it's not going to make Vista boot in 4 seconds. Is that the metric that's driving you?

Capacity is still lacking at 32GB, but obviously they could expand it now and 64GB will be available next year. Naturally if they wanted to make a 3.5" form factor they could saturate the bandwidth of the interface and stuff 320GB into a drive with no problem if they wanted to court the folks who can (and most definitely would) pay $10,000 for that premium product (HINT HINT). Obviously the price bites, but they can get it for this, so why not? Naturally for challenging environments (vibration, rotation, dropping under use, space applications, heat) it's a big win all the way around. Isn't SATA 3.0 (6Gbps) due soon?

I think I foresaw some of these improvements here some years ago. I'm glad to see them in use. If I were to look forward again I would say that it might be time to abandon the euphemism of a hard disk drive for flash storage, at least for high end devices. You can already reconfigure these chips in the above mentioned 320GB drive to saturate a PCIe 2.0 x4 link (20Gigatransfers/sec), which makes a nice attach for Infiniband DDR x4. The SATA interface allows a synthetic abstraction that is useful, but the useful part is that it's an abstraction -- you don't need to continue the cylinder/block/sector metaphor once you accept the utility of the abstraction.

Re:wicked-fast door blowing screams? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881887)

Hmm, at 4K DB IOPS for $719 that compares very favorably with my SAN 250K DB IOPS for ~$250K. Now for the same 7.5TB of RAID10 storage it would cost $337,050 without controllers so the SAN still wins out, but things are getting very interesting. I would expect to see drives like this make it into a high performance storage tier from SAN vendors very soon if they don't already have such an option in their lineup.

Re:wicked-fast door blowing screams? (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881941)

Now plug these things into your SAN -- because they plug right in -- and do the math again. 50% price premium for 80x the aggregate IOPS and 10x the bandwidth? Your SAN needs new connectors to handle the speed.

This is a slam dunk. Admit it.

Re:wicked-fast door blowing screams? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881979)

Depends on what I need, but it does allow for an interesting mix. Throw 300GB 10K disks for bulk storage fronted by a couple GB of write cache and these drives for things like transaction logs and you are looking at a real winning combination. Might bring down price too since you will need so many fewer spindles for the storage and should definitely bring down power consumption. The hardest part would be new installations where you don't know what you biggest users will be and what your mix will be. One of our biggest surprises is that our Lotus Notes servers are almost as rough on the SAN as the DB servers, huge numbers of IOPS and almost as much storage.

Re:Dedicated Database Storage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881209)

porn for you viewing pleasure:

http://mrfriendly.freehostia.com/

Re:Dedicated Database Storage (4, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881297)

This just screams dedicated database storage.

NO, THIS JUST SCREAMS DEDICATED DATABASE STORAGE!!!

filter
fodder

Software development (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881301)

My first thought is builds. I have to do Windows CE 5.0 builds all the time and they're almost entirely I/O bound. I've also compiled Xfree86 before at another job. It seems like the really large compiles are mostly I/O bound. The CPU doesn't peg, but the hard drive light stays lit.

Something like this would be fantastic for development. I really want one.

Re:Software development (4, Informative)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881567)

Try using a RAM disk [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Software development (2, Informative)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881647)

I often do compiles (Gentoo) on a ram disk.

Linux desktop systems doesnt use anywhere near the amount of ram modern systems have so just make a tmpfs mount and the compiles fly. :)

Re:Software development (2, Informative)

Godji (957148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883809)

I'm a Gentoo user too. My CPU and hard drive are decent (Core 2 Duo 3.33 Ghz, Western Digital 500 Gb RE2). I build on the root filesystem. I've never seen an I/O bound build, it's always the CPU. What are you people talking about?

Re:Software development (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884103)

Your use- and c-flags are obviously wrong. Try again with -o3, --oomg-optimize, --vomit-frame-pointer, --ffast-stats and --funroll-all-hoops.

Re:Dedicated Database Storage (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881457)

Did you even read the summary?

We've already seen Intel's first X25-M solid-state drive blow the doors of the competition

Oh, gimme more of that door knob!

Good price, actually. (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881141)

Considering I have a couple of HP DL380 G5s with 2.5" 72GB 15K SAS drives, each set me back about $600 (after education discount) ... the cost of this drive $738.84 with a truckload of performance to boot is a heck of a deal.

Re:Good price, actually. (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881173)

Yup, and it uses SLC chips so it has an enormously long lifetime, around 70 years according to Intel.

Re:Good price, actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881443)

How much does this drive weigh?

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

nitsnipe (1332543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881569)

As long as don't use it as swap.

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881951)

Do people still use swap? I thought we just loaded the machine with lots of RAM these days.

Re:Good price, actually. (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882057)

Actually even if you do do use it for swap, or some application that writes to out absolutely flat out the lifetime is less than Intel quotes. If I use the formula here

http://www.storagesearch.com/ssdmyths-endurance.html [storagesearch.com]

2 million (write endurance) x 64G (capacity) divided by 80M bytes / sec gives the endurance limited life in seconds.

I can work out how much less.

If you substitute the figures Intel gives for write endurance (100000), capacity(80GB) and write speed(170MB/sec) you only get 1.5 years. Bear in mind that's for an application that writes flat out at 170MB/sec 24 hours a day.

The odd thing is if you compare it to the X25-M. Write endurance is 10x less at 10000, write speed is lower at 70MB/sec. There I get 0,37 years. Mind you with SLC memory being 1/3 the price you could just buy three times as much of it. That way you get 3x the storage and a lifesapce of 1 year absolute worst case. SLC actually seems like a better choice for most people.

Incidentally, this really is a worst case, hopefully no real world application can saturate write bandwidth like this.

It would also make sense to gradually decrease the write bandwidth so the drive slows down in its old age but takes longer to die. Throttling write bandwidth to 70MB/sec on the SLC drive would give a life of 3.7 years. Throttling to 70MB/sec after half the writes were used up for an average write rate of 120MB/sec would give you 2.16 years. You could imagine a sort of Zeno's throttling algorithm (50% bandwidth at 50% life, 25% bandwidth at 75% life and so on) where the write bandwidth keeps dropping so the drive slows down but never actually dies.

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881913)

That's at a measly 100GB of writes per day, in a DB server it could easily see 10-100x that so between 7.5 years and 8 months.

Re:Good price, actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882559)

Measly?

1TB is 244,140,625 * 4KB (typical DB IO size)

That works out to over 2800 IOPS sustained for a 24 hour period.

That kind of IO takes about 8-10 15K SAS drives, or one Intel X25-E SLC SSD. Sure the SAS drives have more capacity, but capacity isn't why you buy a high performance SSD.

Re:Good price, actually. (2, Insightful)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882677)

Since you seem to know about this, how long would a normal Disk last in that environment?

Re:Good price, actually. (3, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882889)

Well I just checked and a hot disk in my SAN has done a bit over 15M 128K writes in the last 3 weeks so about 1.92TB in 21 days or close to 100GB per day. I have replaced 3 drives out of 150 in the last 2.5 years (well 5 total but 2 were precautionary from the SAN vendor when trying to troubleshoot another issue). This is a pretty lightly utilized SAN, we need it more for capacity then pure I/O. I can see a busy installation doing 10x what we do without even pushing the same hardware to its limit.

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883677)

It sure depends on your environment, my database would love these drives. We are going to be no where near 100GB writes a day for a long time, but the massive IO increase would come in handy for our reads.

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881683)

SAS has taken over SCSI's role as the drive of choice to sell to customers who are willing to overpay for the cache of owning a premium product.

You could have guessed that from the full name: Serial Attached SCSI. I guess if you can't buy a new media technology from Sony, this'll work.

Re:Good price, actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881811)

>>who are willing to overpay for the cache of owning a premium product.

^cache^cachet

Brought to you by your English speaking ant overlords.

Re:Good price, actually. (0, Troll)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881859)

It's

s/cache/cachet/g

you grammar dweeb. This is slashdot, not CompuServe.

So... this is what it's like to have my own AC troll. It's cute.

Re:Good price, actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25883947)

Grammar is the ability to form syntactically correct sentences.

Semantics is the ability to mean what you think you mean.

Your grammar was ok, but you failed at using the correct words. Using the correct words is something that slashdotters of all people should care about.
Anyone can parse over a minor grammar problem. Semantic failures are the real problem.

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881833)

15K drives exist for a reason (at least they did until now), and they're only available in SAS or FC. I suspect the SAS version is actually the cheap one.

Not a good price, actually. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881919)

And neither one is as reliable or has the IOPS of three standard SATA drives that cost 50% of the price for 10x the storage.

Math. It's a wonderful thing. Use it with your salesman.

Re:Not a good price, actually. (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883693)

So is ignorance apparently.

SAS is duplex, SATA isn't. I'll take one SAS drive over 3 SATA drives any time when it comes to performance.

Re:Good price, actually. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883739)

It is. But those HP DL:380 G5 systems were a silly design. For the same price, you can put in 6 3.5" drives in other layouts and get up to 3 times the overall storage with no perceptible speed loss. Those G5's are too much price for too little performance: if I'm going to invest in 8xSAS drives, and spend the electricity and cooling on them, I want to get some significant storage space from it.

Blowing doors of competition (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881211)

blow the doors of the competition

Well, that's should win over the male population....

gnv4a (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881225)

Ofon3 single puny

proper comparison? (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881259)

Seems to me the *target* for this drive would be the same buyer as 15k sas/scsi drives. Those are suspiciously absent from the tests...

Re:proper comparison? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881277)

Well of course, if you put it up against real competition it's going to lose. You have to think like someone in marketing.

Re:proper comparison? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881417)

There's no way these things are going to lose to a single 15k sas/scsi drive. IOPS are FAR higher on an SSD drive than any rotating platter based disk, as is the actual throughput.

Re:proper comparison? (2, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881675)

Do a test based on price.

$x,xxx worth of SAS/SCSI disks vs $x,xxx worth of SSD drives.

See which is faster then.
Thats the most realistic benchmark (for people without infinitely deep pockets).

Re:proper comparison? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882361)

Anyone who tells you SSDs are a replacement for disks is at best talking about some niche workloads and at worst trying to sell you a line of the old BS. SSDs render 15k rpm disks obsolete all right, but not in the way you're suggesting.

To get the same capacity as you'd get out of those hot, expensive disks - which is not a lot given what you're paying for them - you'd need to spend much more, and you'll likely find that performance levels off quickly when you saturate out your HBAs and/or CPUs and/or memory bus and/or front-end connectivity. Much better to combine a few of these with slow, cool, cheap disks to maximise both performance and capacity at a lower price than the 15k disks.

Let's take an example.

Suppose you have 14 146GB 15k rpm disks. They cost you $2000 apiece, or $28000. Each one gives you 300 IOPS, for a total of 4200 (we'll ignore the costs and inefficiencies of the hardware RAID dinosaur you're probably using these with; if we didn't, you might start to feel stupid about it). So you spent about $6.67/IOPS or $14/GB, plus the power and cooling to keep those disks spinning. Not cheap. Not particularly fast. Not really great in any way.

Suppose instead that you want to replace them with these 80GB SSDs. You'll probably pay your vendor around $1400 for them (figure 60% margin like they're getting on those FC drives you've been buying from them). Now you need 26 of them to get the same capacity, costing you $36400. But you get about 12000 read IOPS each (write latency suspiciously omitted from this fluff piece, but we'll dubiously assume it's similar - it almost certainly isn't anywhere close) for a total of 312000. Too bad your HBA can do only about 140000, so you'll max out there on random reads. And if we're talking about block sizes larger than 512 bytes, latency will be higher. So you've spent $0.26/IOPS, which is great, and you've saved money on operating costs as well. But you actually spent a lot more in total - $18/GB - and woe unto you if you need more capacity; demand for storage tends to double every 12-18 months, and adding in 80GB chunks at $18/GB is going to hurt. Sure, prices will drop, but not fast enough to be competitive with the multi-TB disks we're already seeing today.

Finally, suppose instead that you buy 2 of these SSDs to act as log devices and then buy 4 1TB 7200rpm SAS disks for $350 each. You've spent $4200 and you've gotten 24000 IOPS. That's $0.18/IOPS or $0.48/GB, and you've actually spent much less in absolute terms as well. You're still spending only a tiny fraction in power and cooling of what you were spending on the original all-disk solution, and you've got twice as much total storage capacity. Best of all, you can now grow your storage in two dimensions, not just along a line fixed by the disk vendors. Need more IOPS? Add another SSD or two. Need more capacity or streaming bandwidth? Add some more rotating rust.

This approach gives you the best of all worlds, something you can't get by blindly replacing all your disks with SSDs. In other words, you get to pick the spot along the performance/cost/capacity curve that's right for your application. Using only SSDs, only slow disks, or only expensive disks doesn't do that. Upon a moment's though, this should be obvious: when your computer needs to perform better, adding DRAM is usually the best way to make that happen. When it needs to store more data, adding disks is the way to go. You don't add disks to improve performance (one hopes... if you need to do that, your storage vendor is probably taking you to strip clubs) and you don't add DRAM to increase storage capacity. This is no different. Flash occupies an intermediate spot in the memory hierarchy and has to be thought of that way. It's exciting to see the prices fall and capacities rise like they have, but I don't think a lot of people really understand yet just how SSDs are going to change things.

Slashdot makes ME feel smart (0, Offtopic)

NobleSavage (582615) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881269)

I suck at spelling and grammar, but when I read the Slashdot headlines I realize that I'm not as bad as some people! I'm just trying to figure out how they got jobs as editors.

Re:Slashdot makes ME feel smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25883235)

I figure that's part of how they attract their readership. A slashdot "house style", so to speak. It's not a bad business model, judging by the results.

It's not about speed to me (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881303)

I still think the biggest deterrent is lifetime. I want to buy an Aspire One, but I'm pretty disappointed at some of the things that I'll have to do with the SSD. No swapping, no journaling, no logging or timestamps. Sounds like it's still a step backwards to me. Still needs a little more time.

Re:It's not about speed to me (3, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881319)

Nevermind. "Even with 100GB of write-erase per day, it'll take more than 72 years to burn through the drive." I should RTFA. But still, much room for improvement.

Re:It's not about speed to me (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881503)

A 72 year lifespan? How much more improvement do you need? It seems like price is the only remaining hurdle for SSDs.

Re:It's not about speed to me (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881637)

Why no swapping, journaling, logging or timestamps? Wear leveling is pretty standard fair for SSDs and AFAIK, at least three of those won't write a significant amount of data to the disk.

I find it strange... (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881377)

This costs $22/GB, and has a write speed of 170 MB/s. A 2GB stick of DDR2-800 costs $12-$20/GB, and has a speed of 6400MB/s. So we have a case where slow storage actually costs more than much faster (but less permanent) storage. I wonder how much a couple extra batteries would cost...

Re:I find it strange... (3, Interesting)

ltmon (729486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881469)

It's pretty much apples and oranges. Even with batteries (which I wouldn't trust) RAM has different characteristics in power consumption, heat output, storage density etc. By the time you address these challenges you'd have... an SSD.

Plus the SSDs get their long life from having more raw storage than advertised, and dynamically shutting down dead areas and bringing in reserve areas as it ages. Your sums would have to take into account the cost of this "hidden" storage.

As an aside the best use for these things is hands down as extended cache in a storage array. One or two SSD alongside a few terrabytes of "normal" disk managed an intelligent filesystem or storage firmware can speed the whole beast up by phenomenal amounts depending on the data usage patterns. Yet the total cost of the whole storage appliance is really not much changed in relative terms. Some of the new Sun boxes are designed to work with SSDs like this, and probably from other big storage vendors as well.

Re:I find it strange... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881771)

Why would the calculations have to take in to account the hidden storage?
Thats overhead for using SSD technology. Its unnecessary for any other storage.

Adding ram purely for disk cache will increase performance many times better than using SSDs.
Cheaper too.

Re:I find it strange... (2, Informative)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882969)

Yes, but some legacy operating systems can only address 4G of RAM (including the graphics card). Also, some hardware may not be able to take more ram. I can't think of any machine where 64G of ram is very cheap.

Re:I find it strange... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882935)

Which brings up a question I have been wondering about: What happened to the hybrid drives? If you'll remember a few years back all the talk was of hybrids,and now that we finally have some storage that would make hybrids really cook we don't hear of them anymore. Why? Because it sounds to me like if you took 8-24Gb of this and wedded it to a nice fat SATA drive you would have an awesome laptop or gamer drive. So what happened?

Alright seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881401)

It's "blow the doors off". It doesn't blow your competition's doors,

Lousy storage density, insane price. (1, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881439)

Let's see...$720 [newegg.com] for 32GB ($22/GB) versus $278 for 256GB [newegg.com] ($1/GB.)

Keep in mind that you could buy two of those 256GB drives, mirror them, and exceed (in all likelihood) the performance of the Intel drive, and have eight times as much storage. Since reliability is pretty unproven, having them in a mirror means your ass is suitably covered.

The absolute lowest storage density (SAS doesn't come in anything less than 36GB, and 300GB is the top-end) at $22/GB, when $4/GB is the norm for SAS drives (that's a premium of 5.5x) is a big ol' cup of Fail.

Re:Lousy storage density, insane price. (4, Informative)

tfranzese (869766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881763)

Except those same drives don't exactly compare due to a poor implementation of the hardware or the write/cleaning algorithm in the JMicron controller many (all?) of those are using. The capacity and price are tempting, but the write latency especially during random accesses is beyond awful. Unless of course they were able to update the firmware on those chips to address the issue since this article was published: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=7 [anandtech.com]

Re:Lousy storage density, insane price. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881881)

"G.SKILL FM-25S2S-128GB 2.5" 128GB SATA II Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail"

128 GB- but still...

Re:Lousy storage density, insane price. (1)

GordonCopestake (941689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883001)

Hang on, if you mirror them (RAID1) you wont see any speed benefits over a single drive, if anything it will go slower. Unless you use RAID0 at which point you have no redundancy. You would have to step up to a RAID10 of 4 drives to gain both speed and redundancy. Also SAS is now up to 450Gb 15k albeit at a huge cost.

NCQ on an SSD? (1)

mseidl (828824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881449)

OK, someone explain something. How does NCQ work on a SSD drive? It isn't spinning, so what's the point?

NCQ to my understanding was stolen from SCSI and thrown onto SATA drives.

So, the data on the drive is in the order "2 3 1 4" and you request it in "1 2 3 4" w/o NCQ it would take 4 revolutions to pick up all 4 requests. With NCQ it would take 1 revolution as it would pick up the data as it was in the drive.

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (3, Informative)

FunkyRider (1128099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881487)

Opening a bank/row to allow the memory cells to be read/written takes time, too. In RAM terms, that's called CAS Latency. This is what re-ordering helps to reduce: switching banks/rows

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (2, Informative)

Rayban (13436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881495)

NCQ gives the SSD something to do while the host is figuring out what to write or read next. Normally it's used to allow the host to fire and forget 32 commands. In this case, you queue up a bunch of stuff, then figure out what to queue next.

SSDs are so much faster that the host is generally not keeping up with it.

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (1)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881527)

I have read somewhere that NCQ here is to help the OS follow the speed of the HDD, not for the HDD to follow the speed of the OS.

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881713)

Sigh...the same old myths just keep on going...

no, it wasnt *stolen* from SCSI, it was *copied*....big diff there mate.

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (3, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881807)

Even if it's solid state, there's still a physical layer, and still a logical-to-physical abstraction that an IDE disk must perform. (Slashdot pedantics will please note that here an IDE disk means a disk with an integrated electronic controller, not just a drive with an ATA interface. If you've never had to know the true physical geometry -- the number of cylinders, heads, and sectors in a disk (CHS)-- to tell your PC's BIOS or OS, you've never used a non-IDE disk. Most BIOS systems were faking CHS numbers by the time EIDE hit in 1994 which eliminated CHS in favor of LBA.)

Flash drives use NAND flash memory, which uses pages of up to about 4 KB. For the most part, you can only access a single page at a time. Additionally, sequential access within a page is almost always faster than random access. Giving the disk's integrated controller a list of values means that it can examine the queue intelligently and can perform paging operations more intelligently.

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882495)

I remember NAND flash having page sizes of 32-256kB. I might remember wrong, but the page size was certainly way more than 4 kB.

Re:NCQ on an SSD? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881939)

Basically allowing the drive to have a queue of requests and responses outstanding. Your host will often be bursty and want to send a bunch of commands at once which even an SSD won't be able to service, but it can service them much faster than the host can issue, receive, issue etc. Think of it as turning on Async I/O at the hardware level.

it costs more per gb than ram! (2, Interesting)

phr1 (211689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881475)

PC-6400 ram is around 15 dollars a GB now, and the 6400 stands for MB/sec, i.e. ram is over 20x faster than this flash drive and has no write wear issues or slowness of random writing. The only thing wrong with it is volatility, but in an enterprise environment you can use a UPS and/or maintain a serial update log on a fast hard disk or RAID (since the log is serial, the flash drive's ultrafast seek advantage doesn't apply). There is just a narrow window where this $21/gb 32gb flash drive is really cost effective.

Re:it costs more per gb than ram! (3, Interesting)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881613)

Products that use RAM as the storage media have been around for years. They're exactly what you're describing: a few standard DDR DIMMS and a battery on a PCI card, usually. However, no one in an enterprise environment would actually trust data to such a device, and they never really took off. Home users don't generally have the power and data backup capacity to safely use such a device (and not even the most hardened masochist wants to reinstall or restore everything whenever a breaker goes), and enterprise users can't tolerate the risk level. Sure, you can have backup power, but the risk of losing data and downtime restoring it just isn't tolerable in most enterprise environments.

Re:it costs more per gb than ram! (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883731)

Actually, RAM-SAN has addressed these issues, only thing remaining is the price tag. Think they come in at around 430.000 IOPS, got full drive backup + batteries in a single "box". Would love to get one of those for my database.

Re:it costs more per gb than ram! (1)

PacketShaper (917017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881619)

True, but RAM does lack that one little feature most "storage" needs... persistence.

Re:it costs more per gb than ram! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882293)

you obviously haven't been paying attention

ACARD ANS-9010 [acard.com]

HyperDrive 5 [hyperossystems.co.uk]

come with a battery and a built-in compact flash slot so even if power is lost, it can backup to compact flash card

REAL SQL performance improvement [hyperossystems.co.uk]

Question for slashdotters: (3, Interesting)

nitsnipe (1332543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881523)

What happens when the read-write cycles on this run out?

Weak test system (5, Interesting)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881525)

I would have liked to have seen them test this drive in a much more powerful system. I mean, a P4 with 1GB RAM, and a fairly dated chipset (955x) as the SATA controller? No one is going to put a drive like this in a system that old. I'd guess that we might see different results on a more powerful system. At some point in those tests, other components of this fairly slow (by today's standards) machine. Throw some serious power behind it, and you can be sure that you're not bottlenecked, and the full power of the drive shows. Can't say for sure if this is actually the case, as I don't have a drive to test, but it's a definite possibility. Hopefully someone else does a similar review with a more powerful testbed.

Obama: a Nigger Forever (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25881573)

Send it some watermelon and chittling. Nigger.

NCQ? (2, Interesting)

melted (227442) | more than 5 years ago | (#25881851)

Why the heck does a drive that has uniform, low latency random access would even NEED NCQ? NCQ was designed to optimize the seek order in mechanical drives with heads.

Re:NCQ? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882019)

From the article: "The storage controller is an Intel design that's particularly crafty, supporting not only SMART monitoring, but also Native Command Queuing (NCQ). NCQ was originally designed to compensate for the rotational latency inherent to mechanical hard drives, but here it's being used in reverse, because Intel says its SSDs are so fast that they actually encounter latency in the host system. It takes a little time (time is of course relative when you're talking about an SSD whose access latency is measured in microseconds) between when a system completes a request and the next one is issued. NCQ is used to queue up to 32 requests to keep the X25-E busy during any downtime between requests."

Re:NCQ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25883125)

read here: http://techreport.com/discussions.x/15374

Since we had her cornered, we took the opportunity to quiz Huffman about a few other matters. One of those was the interaction of Native Command Queuing and SSDs. We're familiar with NCQ as a means of dealing with the seek and rotational latency inherent in mechanical hard drives, but wondered what need there was for NCQ with SSDs. (Intel's just-announced SSDs have NCQ listed prominently among their specifications.) She said that in the case of SSDs, NCQ has the primary benefit of hiding latency in the host system. If you look at a bus trace, said Huffman, there's quite a bit of time between the completion of a command and the issuance of another one. Queuing up commands can keep the SSD more fully occupied.

SLC too! (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882207)

Ooh, now that could be a dealmaker in the server room. With RAID-5 reaching its limits for magnetic media, a rack of these could be a viable replacement.

Of course a server room has different priorities to the average gamer:

1. Reliability
2. Reliability
3. Capacity
4. Price
5. Speed

Re:SLC too! (2, Insightful)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882745)

With RAID-5 reaching its limits for magnetic media, a rack of these could be a viable replacement.

* bracing self for long discussion on RAID levels, file systems, and a certain Unix OS *

Fusion IO still whips it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882309)

Meh, still not even half as fast as the Fusion IO-Drive. Of course, those cost $3,000+ and run solely on a PCIe 4x ...

Re:Fusion IO still whips it. (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883067)

Meh, still not even half as fast as the Fusion IO-Drive. Of course, those cost $3,000+ and run solely on a PCIe 4x ...

We're trialing one now, not interested in production until there's solaris drivers though.

It blows the doors of the competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25882351)

I guess there's worse things it could blow than doors

Overheard at Microsoft... (0, Troll)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882615)

"Sweet zombie jesus! Get the Bloating Department on this, stat! We need Windows Seven to piss all this performance away just running the wallpaper!"

Performance that pebbles (1)

cstec (521534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25882869)

Allright the price, well, that's to be expected. But the performance rocks! Just ... itty, bitty rocks.

32Gig? 32Gig?!? Come on, there is probably have more than 32Gig on this drive just in Vista system restore points.

blow the doors of the competition? (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883253)

I believe you meant to say, ``blow the doors off the competition,'' but let's just say the "cost" of those drives ``blows chunks.''

Extreme for enterprise

Solid-state drives use either single-level or multi-level cell flash memory. The former stores one bit per memory cell (a value of 0 or 1) while the latter is capable of storing two bits per cell (with possible values of 00, 01, 10, and 11). Obviously, MLC flash has a significant advantage on the storage density front. However, that advantage comes at the cost of write speeds, which are typically much slower than reads. Intel's MLC-based X25-M, for example, is capable of reading at up to 250MB/s, but its sustained write speed tops out at only 70MB/s. Single-level cell memory doesn't suffer such a great disparity between read and write speeds, as evidenced by the X25-E Extreme, which reads at up to 250MB/s and writes at up to 170MB/s.

Of course, the more balanced transfer rates offered by SLC memory don't come cheap. The X25-M 80GB is currently selling for $621 online, which works out to a seemingly exorbitant $7.76 per gigabyte. But that's nothing compared to the cost of the X25-E Extreme 32GB, which at $719 online, rings in at an even steeper $22.47 per gigabyte. Solid-state storage isn't cheap, and single-level cell implementations are about as expensive as SSDs get.

I hear the US Government knows how to piss money down the drain. I'm bettin' they think this price/Gb is just f'n dreamy!

Blowing The Doors off (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883529)

It's the late 60s and a groupie is invited backstage after a particularly mega concert featuring all the great bands of the day. After a while, a bit of pot has been smoked, some tabs dropped, and plenty of booze swigged, and so things start to swing. The groupie first goes down on Ray Manzarek, then Jim Morrison, and finally Rob Krieger and John Densmore get theirs. Groupie's not done though, and is just getting started on Jimi Hendrix when Michael Caine bursts in, and shouts...

"Oi! You're only supposed to blow the bloody Doors off!"

Does the performance degrade with use? (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883895)

The earlier model of Intel SSD had some serious performance degradation [matbe.com] after a few hours of heavy use. (Article in French, but it says that after a ten minute torture with IOmeter writing small blocks to the drive, and even after waiting an hour for the drive to 'recover', performance drops by about 70%.) I wonder if they have fixed this bug with the new model?

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