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As expected, Intel Corp. said this week it had begun shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) aimed at enterprise systems. The new SSDs are based on 50nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory and are projected to feature low power consumption, high reliability and extreme performance thanks to new controller and firmware.

“Hard disk drive performance has not kept pace with Moore's Law. Intel’s high-performance SSDs unleash the full performance of the latest Intel Xeon processor-based systems while increasing reliability and lowering the total cost of ownership for a broad range of server and storage workloads,” said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel server platforms group.

Intel X-25E Extreme Serial ATA SSD, aimed at server, workstation and storage systems. The product is based on 50nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory. Systems equipped with these drives will not suffer from the performance bottlenecks associated with conventional drives.

The product was designed for intense computing workloads which benefit primarily from high random read and write performance, as measured in input/output per second (IOPS). Key technical performance specifications of the 32GB Intel X-25E SATA SSD include 35 000 IOPS (4KB Random Read), 3 300 IOPS (4KB Random Write) and 75 microsecond read latency. This performance, combined with low active power of 2.4Ws, delivers up to 14 000 IOPS per watt for optimal performance/power output. The product also achieves up to 250MB/s sequential read speeds and up to 170MB/s sequential write speeds, considerably higher compared to Intel’s consumer-oriented SSDs, all in 2.5” form-factor.

Intel achieves this breakthrough performance through innovations such as 10-channel NAND architecture with native command queuing (NCQ), proprietary controller and firmware efficient in advanced wear-leveling and low write amplification. The 32GB X25-E is capable of writing up to 4PB of data over three-year period, or 3.7 TB/day, and double that for the 64GB version – delivering outstanding data reliability.

The 32GB capacity drive is in production and priced at $695 for quantities up to 1000. The 64GB version is expected to sample in the fourth quarter with production estimated for the first quarter of 2009.

“Solid-state drive technology will change the economics of enterprise data centers. SSDs, along with our systems and Solaris ZFS with hybrid storage pools, are important components of the Open Storage initiative. Sun expects to offer enterprise storage solutions that will exploit the breakthrough performance of Intel's high performance solid-state drives and deliver significant performance gains while consuming a fraction of the energy of traditional spinning disk arrays,” said John Fowler, executive vice president of systems group at Sun Microsystems.

Tags: Intel, SSD, Flash

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