Intel collaborates with Hitachi on Ultrastar SSD400S solid-state disk


— 2:01 AM on November 16, 2010

Intel and Hitachi have collaborated on a new line of enterprise-class solid-state disks. Today marks the introduction of the Ultrastar SSD400S family, which will be available in 6Gbps Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and Fibre Channel flavors. The latter will live inside a 3.5" form factor, while the former can squeeze into a smaller 2.5" casing.

With only 4Gbps of interface bandwidth at its disposal, the Fibre Channel model's performance is capped at 390MB/s for sequential reads and only 340MB/s for writes. Using the term "only" to describe those speeds might seem a little odd, but the SAS version is said to be capable of hitting a whopping 535MB/s with sequential reads and 500MB/s with writes. Impressive. Things don't look quite as rosy for random reads and writes, which top out at 46,000 and 13,000 IOps, respectively. Those figures are a little low considering that Crucial's RealSSD C300 is rated for 60,000 random-write IOps and 45,000 random writes. SandForce's SF-1500 controller can purportedly push 30,000 IOps with random reads or writes.

When we asked, Hitachi wouldn't divulge much in the way of details on the Ultrastar's flash controller. This "next-generation" design is similar to the one found in Intel's X25-E SSDs, but Hitachi wouldn't confirm how many memory channels it has. The chip won't be exclusive to the Ultrastar, though. Only these particular SAS and Fibre Channel implementations will be unique to Hitachi.

As one might expect from an enterprise-oriented SSD, the SSD400S uses SLC flash memory. The flash chips themselves are built by Intel on a 34-nm fabrication process. We don't know the per-chip density, but the Ultrastar will be available in 400, 200, and 100GB capacities. The above performance figures apply for all but the 100GB model, whose sequential writes are limited to 400MB/s in a SAS configuration.

According to Hitachi, the Ultrastar started sampling in the middle of this year and is beginning qualification with select OEMs. Mass production is scheduled to ramp in the first half of 2011.

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