New Ultrastar SSD sports 25-nm SLC NAND

Consumer-grade SSDs started making the transition to 25-nm NAND early last year. We saw enterprise-oriented drives based on MLC flash make the jump, as well, but nothing on the SLC front—until now. Hitachi has begun shipping the “industry’s first” enterprise-class SSD with 25-nm SLC NAND.

The Ultrastar SSD400S.B was developed in conjunction with Intel, which fabricates the drive’s memory chips. Intel’s controller tech is also a part of the drive, although it’s been grafted to Hitachi’s interface logic to offer 6Gbps SAS compatibility. Hitachi says the new Ultrastar can sustain read and write speeds of 536 and 502MB/s, respectively. The drive is rated for 57,500 random-read IOps and 25,500 IOps with random writes. Those random I/O performance ratings are only slightly improved over the Ultrastar SSD400M, which is essentially the same drive with Intel’s enterprise-grade MLC NAND. That model can only reach 495MB/s with sustained reads and 385MB/s with writes, though.

SLC NAND has been prized more for its superior endurance than faster performance, and the latest Ultrastar should deliver on that front. While its MLC-based sibling is expected to burn out after writing 7.3 petabytes worth of data, the Ultrastar SSD400S.B can purportedly process 35 petabytes of writes, nearly a five-fold increase in endurance. Interestingly, that 35-petabyte rating is mirrored by the old SSD400S, which uses 34-nm SLC flash. If any die-level endurance was lost in the transition from 34- to 25-nm flash, the drive is making up for it elsewhere.

The Ultrastar SSD400S.B is available in 100, 200, and 400GB capacities. Full-disk encryption is optional, and the warranty is five years or 35 petabytes—whichever comes first, presumably. There’s no mention of pricing, but if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford one. Amazon has the 400GB version of the old Ultrastar SSD400S listed at over $5,000.

Comments closed
    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t get it. If you can afford to spend $5000 on SSD storage, why not just spend it on MLC SSD such as Intel 520s and RAID5 them? Drives can die, you just replace them.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 8 years ago

      Simple. Servers. Mission critical ones.

      There are scenarios where high reliability and uptime in a mission-critical environment outweighs price.

      One could take it even further (assuming highly mission critical operations) and RAID-1 or RAID-5 several Hitachi SLC drives.

      We’ve come a long way from the Quantum Rushmore. 1.07- 1.6GB (depending on model) of solid-state storage for around $1,500 back from around 1999-2002.

      [url<]http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_1997_Oct_27/ai_19917940/[/url<] [url<]http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/Quantum-Rushmore-Ultra-1.07GB-Hard-Drive/213675.aspx[/url<]

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        Not that simple. Why not RAID5 MLC drives? You can get way more space which will help reliability by leaving so much of the drive empty (like over provisioning the spare area). With a $5000 budget you can have some spare drives too.

    • ludi
    • 8 years ago

    Anyone have a guess/clarification on whether that long write life is due to the endurance of the flash itself, or due to some sort of redundancy scheme with only the nominal storage visible to the user, and the wear-leveling hardware balancing writes across the entire capacity?

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      Even current 128GB MLC drives are rated for around 1TB/day for ~5years, which is about 1.8PB

      Assuming a 400GB drive, that is about 3 times as much storage, so one could assume a 400GB MLC SSD could handle about 5.4PB of writes.

      Most of the benefit of write durability will come from the SLC, which only stores 1 bit of data while MLC stores 2+bits of data. MLC stores more bits by being more sensitive to voltages. Example with numbers out of my @ss. SLC may have 0.25 volts represent 0 and 1 volt represent 1. While MLC has 0.25 volts be 00, 0.5volts 01, 0.75volts 10, and 1 volts 11.

      As the drive wears out, SLC may have 0.85v for the high voltage, which is easy to tell is still 1, but MLC it is hard to tell if 0.85v means 11 or 10.

      Throwing some extra chips at the drive would also help, as the wear leveling would be more spread out.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    $15,400 list price? really? is the nand flash so new that they need to recoup R&D that fast?

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      Keep in mind that Amazon’s strikethrough “list” prices are almost always filthy lies. I’ve sometimes found “list” prices in the consumer electronics department that were not only twice as high as Amazon or any of their competitors, they were even a third higher than the published MSRP.

      In general I like Amazon, but this is one of the few things they do that suggests someone in marketing is still lacking a very swift kick in the butt.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    five grand for a 400 gig SSD and it does not even have a pci-e interface? no thanks

      • chuckula
      • 8 years ago

      Enterprise Customer: 5 Grand for an SSD that will actually work for its entire service life? THANK YOU.

      There’s a reason this isn’t an OCZ fly-by-night special on Newegg.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      Can your SSD write 35 petabytes? That is roughly 7,000 terabytes a year or ~19.2 terabytes a day (for 5 years).

      Looking at my most active server we probably write MAYBE 1-2 terabytes a day, on an active day.

        • Sunburn74
        • 8 years ago

        People already know that you can write way more than a TB a day on todays current drives. There’s an experiement on xtremeforums. Google “xtremeforums ssd endurance testing” and you’ll find it. Guys over there were writing 6TB a day randomly for way longer than the expected shelf life of a SSD.

    • Grigory
    • 8 years ago

    Finally a pcb design for an ssd that looks to me like no space was wasted! 🙂

      • Wirko
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I invested $300 in that fish can with two connectors on the side only to find out that it’s half empty, that’s just unbearable!

    • ImSpartacus
    • 8 years ago

    Meh, I want TLC SSDs.

    Getting all hot and heavy over SLC drives is like slobbering over a blade server. It might be a great piece of technology that serves an important purpose, but it’s worthless to most users.

    Call me back when bargain bin SSDs hit $0.50/GB.

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 8 years ago

      Enterprise users running large, heavily-utilized and IO-limited DBs would like a word with you,

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, that would have a lot of explaining to do, to me and the entire enthusiast consumer base that can’t afford to dump $400 on a 256GB SSD, let alone $5000 on a server SSD.

        As I said, worthless, but important.

          • Byte Storm
          • 8 years ago

          Enthusiast != Enterprise, so your complaint is invalid. Enthusiasts are not the target of this drive.

          Edit: Truthfully, I am not even sure Enterprise is the target here either, as that is a lot of money for a target group that would generally prefer RAID over single drives.

            • stdRaichu
            • 8 years ago

            What makes you think enterprises won’t RAID these babies? There’s loads of blades, pizza boxes and SANs chock full of flash SAS SSD’s already, and don’t forget that Hitachi themselves are major players in the Big Data [TM] SAN market.

            [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitachi_Data_Systems[/url<] Disclaimer: I work for an enterprise running large, heavily-utilised and I/O limited databases. Five grand a pop for a drive is a cheap if what you want is IOPS rather than capacity, even if you only compare it to the hardware service contracts for the iron itself.

            • Byte Storm
            • 8 years ago

            Wow, I was unaware an enterprise would see high 4 figures per drive as cheap; but then again, buy in bulk and the price is always negotiable.

            • stdRaichu
            • 8 years ago

            You should see the prices that “vendor approved” SAS and SATA drives come at; typically identical to off-the-shelf OEM drives apart from a vendor-specific firmware (without which either the drive won’t work or your maintenance contract is nullified), I seem to remember us paying about £300 per drive for some 7.2k 500GB EMC SATA drives a year or two back, and that was with discount.

            Cheap is relative too of course, and varies with the application; if you need, say, a 1TB database that can sustain 10,000+ IOPS then it’s cheaper to buy SSD than platter drives.

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