by Anton Shilov
06/08/2010 | 12:22 PM
UPDATE: Pictures of the prototype controllers and SSDs have been added to the story.
For many years performance of hard disk drives (HDDs) was considerably lower compared to their interfaces. Even now Serial ATA-150 is sufficient for the latest HDDs. However, as solid-state drives are quickly gaining performance and popularity, even the forthcoming Serial ATA-600 may not be sufficient for them. In order to address performance limitations of SATA or Serial Attached SCSI interfaces, but retain convenience of cable interconnections, OCZ Technology Group has introduced its HSDL (High Speed Data Link) interface.
Modern Serial ATA and SAS interfaces can transfer up to 300MB/s or up to 600MB/s of data respectively. Meanwhile, an SSD featuring multi-channel architecture can easily require over 500MB/s interface bandwidth. One of the ways currently used to connect ultra high performance solid-state drives is utilizing PCI Express bus instead of SATA or SAS: with up to 1GB/s of bandwidth even for PCIe 1.1 x4 connector there is enough speed even for extreme SSDs. Naturally, PCIe cannot be used for blade servers efficiently and this is exactly why OCZ brings HSDL interface.
The current implementation of HSDL includes a special controller that can be plugged into PCI Express bus. The controller supports up to four devices featuring SAS connectors and provides bandwidth of up to 20Gb/s (2.5GB/s). HSDL uses the same base protocols as PCI-Express bonds multiple serial channels into a single virtual channel.
“HSDL provides clients an easy way to take advantage of any to use interface that provides extreme bandwidth and resolves the existing limitation of putting high performance internal solutions onto PCI Express cards. Slots can be limited and form-factors can be constraining. With HSDL a consumer or system builder can plug in one card and run up to four HSDL cables to four storage devices. HSDL more than triples the current SATA transfer rates from 3Gb/s or 6Gb/s to 20Gb/s, and because of the ease of implementation it makes a good choice for IT managers, prosumers and enthusiasts looking to get the very most out of their SSD technology,” explained Alex Mei, chief marketing officer of OCZ Technology.
At Computex Taipei 2010 trade-show OCZ showcased a demo system with new Deneva-series SSDs in an eight-way RAID configuration. The drives are qualified specifically for the highest throughput, compatibility, and reliability in enterprise environments.
“Internal SATA/SAS bus are fine for hard drives but are not keeping up with SSD potential. ONFI/Toggle Flash parts will accelerate this bottleneck. System builders and enterprise clients can get very creative with their builds as they are not limited to slots and when it comes to applications everything from gaming to productivity applications and especially multimedia (audio/video editing) with large files will enable users to see, and feel, the difference offered by the HSDL interface and accompanying drives,” added Mr. Mei.
OCZ’s HSDL is seamless for software and the only two this are required are HSDL controller along with new solid-state drives.
“We currently are leveraging PCI-Express tools for development purposes. No OS or driver changes are required and everything is on the adapter card solution we provide. We are already talking to some motherboard manufacturers about the possibility of putting HSDL directly on the board. Special HSDL drives are required, so this is not something that you would plug into a off the shelf SSD for example,” explained the executive at OCZ.