Sage Microelectronics enables 5TB SATA SSDs

Most SATA SSDs top out at 1TB, but a Chinese firm called Sage Microelectronics has developed a controller that enables drives with five times that capacity. The chip is already "shipping in volume" in a 2.5-incher that squeezes 2.5TB onto a single circuit board.

Unlike most SSD controllers, which are designed to work with individual flash memory chips, the Sage S68x family uses SD, MMC, and eMMC modules. Data is striped across up to 10 parallel channels, each of which can host four flash devices. A 10 x 4 x 128GB "array" is required to hit 5TB, and redundancy doesn't appear to be a part of the picture. The arrangement resembles a RAID 0 setup.

Source: Sage Microeleectronics

Flash cards require fewer traces than chips, according to Sage, making it easier to fit lots of storage within a limited form factor. The controller also lets drive makers mix and match JEDEC-compliant cards from different manufacturers. Each card is responsible for its own flash management.

The press release mentions a multi-core architecture that devotes one core to each pair of memory channels, plus one more to the Serial ATA interface. Surprisingly, though, it doesn't note the speed of that interface—or make any performance claims at all. That's probably because the SG68x is capped at SATA II speeds. The product page lists maximum sequential rates of just 260MB/s for reads and 225MB/s for writes. Random I/O rates aren't provided, but I'm not optimistic.

Sage says its controller is available for only $5 and that flash cards are price-competitive with NAND chips. The idea is that SSD makers can build ultra-high capacity drives for roughly the same per-gig cost as conventional SSDs.

For what it's worth, Sage's website also lists an S88x controller with a PCI Express interface. That chip appears to be limited to a single Gen2 lane, so it's not a speed demon, either.

Comments closed
    • epicmadness
    • 8 years ago

    if one were to estimate 0.2$/GB then one will get $1000 from this 5TB drive.
    at the moment cheap SSDs had started going below 0.4$/GB, so thats not far off.

    • BIF
    • 8 years ago

    If these are truly standardly slotted and pinned SATA devices and no PCIe slots are required, then I may be interested, and may finally be able to justify moving all of my data and apps to SSDs in my workstation and ESPECIALLY on my laptop.

    But I don’t want to start seeing $10,000 prices for 2.5 inch drives, because I’m not about to start spending stupid amounts of money on a 2011 laptop. Prices must be reasonable for the average person to consider putting them into their 4 year old laptops.

    • BIF
    • 8 years ago

    Because they are fast, quiet, and have no moving parts to wear out, it is all files where SSDs really shine.

    • Waco
    • 8 years ago

    I was under the impression that Sandforce drives could tolerate an entire chip failure without issue…

    I agree though, this is moronic. Striping across a lot of unreliable devices is about the best way I can imagine setting up hardware to lose data.

    • Waco
    • 8 years ago

    Seagate has a leg up on everyone in terms of storage these days…the 7200.11 is long gone.

    • fr500
    • 8 years ago

    Better and seagate in the same sentence?
    just sayin..

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    Seems like a makeshift idea that should get the job done of increasing storage capacity.

    However, why not do it better, maybe like make a single controller with 16 or more nand flash channels, instead of raiding them together, and put it in a 3.5 hdd std size if required.

    Mmmmmm 4TB SSD

    • rika13
    • 8 years ago

    This is actually a good idea, just poorly executed. If someone better, like say Seagate, were to pick up on the idea, but throw in REAL RAID and virtualize it so the controller (and the OS) only see a single device and put that on a SATA Express link, that would be sweet.

    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    I did go ahead and edit it to make it more clear though. My bad wording it in a somewhat vague way.

    • Rza79
    • 8 years ago

    True
    And yes, I failed to read correctly.

    • Scrotos
    • 8 years ago

    Wow, I can finally use this to replace my primary storage made up of [url<]http://macguild.org/raid.html[/url<]

    • willmore
    • 8 years ago

    Sweet, stick one of these on a board with a ton of uSD slots and I’ll fill it with all the crappy old cards I have lying around!

    Would I use something like this in an important system? Bwa ha ha hah a….. oh, no… no no no no nooooo…..

    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    reading comprehension fail.

    10 RAID0’s instead of 1 RAID0. Nobody said RAID1.

    And you’re missing my point. It appears to have 10 RAID0 like arrays of 4 devices each all combined into a parent RAID0 like array. That is a million times more complex than the RAID like systems in a regular SSD. Do consumer SSD’s have the ability to lose one full flash device, no. But they don’t have 40 of them cascaded this way. The points of failure are multiplied many times in this device.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 8 years ago

    Imagine bundling piles of OCZ’s old SDDs (back when they were unreliable) with this RAID 0 controller…

    • shank15217
    • 8 years ago

    Well, the whole point is to replace SSD flash with the type of flash found in MMC and you can do the raid at a higher level. You’re thinking too much about the internals of the controller. Nearline devices don’t generally get re-written a lot, anyways that’s probably where you will see this niche.

    • Rza79
    • 8 years ago

    RAID1 on regular SSDs? Do you really think so? /sarcasm
    The redundancy in consumer SSDs is much more minimal than you would expect. They just love to throw around with big words. I can assure you that when a SSD goes bad, you can forget about your data.
    Sage doesn’t need to mention anything because an eMMC module does everything itself.
    I don’t know why everyone keeps mentioning SD cards. That’s an option. I expect eMMC to be used though. (the same eMMC you would find in your phone)
    If an eMMC module fails, the drive dies. Yes. Just in the same way a SSD would die if one of it’s NAND modules would fail.
    I think it’s an interesting idea. Big capacity, reasonable price and still faster than any HDD.

    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    See, here’s how marketing works, if it’s something a customer would like it to do and it doesnt get explicitly mentioned that it does it, then it doesn’t do it. Basically if they don’t explain that it’s designed better than the worst possible way imaginable based on what they DID say, then IT IS designed in the worst way imaginable that fits with what they did actually say.

    So until they state otherwise, this has no redundancy and it has 10, 4 chip RAID0’s rather than 1 RAID0 like on a regular SSDs. On top of that, it’s using lower quality flash (SD cards are lower binned flash with lowere write endurance) which means even more likely to fail.

    *edited for clarity

    • vargis14
    • 8 years ago

    I would take one for free , without one peep of complaining since my SSD’s a original Corsair force 60gb and a Kingston 128gb v100 I think are both under 200mbps reads and writes. But they are very noticeably faster then HDD’s even though they max out only around 50MBPS faster. It is the small random files where SSD’s really shine.

    • Rza79
    • 8 years ago

    I noticed that the S881 supports NVMe.

    • Rza79
    • 8 years ago

    Who says it uses RAID 0 without redundancy? They don’t. Just Geoff did.
    But doesn’t this kinda also apply to any SSD controller. Assume a whole NAND chip would die, then it’s also game over for any SSD.
    Just like SSD controllers have cell wear leveling, an eMMC module has this too. It’s just that Sage doesn’t have to bother with that within the controller.

    • Wirko
    • 8 years ago

    This sailship will sink [s<]if[/s<] when a single sail is torn.

    • Hattig
    • 8 years ago

    I can see this being useful for systems that currently use eMMC but which could use more bandwidth and/or capacity. I can also see cheap Chinese “SD Raid Card” drives that let you plug in loads of SD cards for a really cranky – but kind of funky – setup.

    Otherwise it seems a bit pointless, the number of traces isn’t going to be a show stopper in a standard SSD.

    • Klimax
    • 8 years ago

    Maximum measured sequential transfers for SD cards are IIRC 70MB/S (and are quite expensive). Don’t remember random, but won’t be any spectacular anyway too.

    No idea what target it is, because it might be even slower then current HDDs. (Even WD Green can get you ~100MB/s on sequential; Black may even more)

    • MadManOriginal
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t think anyone running any kind of enterprise or anyone who cares about their data would use this for any serious storage. It is relying on the flash card controller to do all the real work. It’s more expensive per GB than HDDs and slower and less reliable than real SSDs – by virtue of being RAID 0 and because it depends upon the card controller to do flash maintenance. I could, perhaps, see it being used for some sort of scratch disk situation where you need cheaper-than-SSD random IOPs, but only as a temporary scratch disk.

    • gamoniac
    • 8 years ago

    I have numerous SATA II & III SSDs but the 5 years old Asus motherboards in my home servers are running strong with a couple of Phenom II X6. Even with performance capped at 240-260MB/s, I am a happy camper running several VMs at once while serving as my file server.

    On the mobile side, both my work (Ivy Bridge i7) and personal laptops (Haswell i5) are newer and do support SATA III, but I certainly don’t notice any difference.

    I will probably upgrade my servers in a year or two if I can hold out till then. But I wonder, beyond benchmark, under what conditions would one notice the differences between SATA II and SATA III, or between low-end SSD and enthusiast SSD for that matter, for home/work usage?

    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    This just looks like it will end up fairly unreliable. They’re essentially bundling 40 SD cards in a layered RAID 0. Unless they talk about some kind of redundancy going on, who in their right mind would ever spend money on one of these? To top it off, they’re sticking it behind old and slow interfaces.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 8 years ago

    “The arrangement resembles a RAID 0 setup”

    “The controller also lets drive makers mix and match JEDEC-compliant cards from different manufacturers. Each card is responsible for its own flash management.”

    “The product page lists maximum sequential rates of just 260MB/s for reads and 225MB/s for writes.”

    Well… That’s an interesting system.

    On a side note, what makes this SSD controller chip different than regular RAID controller cards other than being stuck at RAID-0 and lower performance?

    • shank15217
    • 8 years ago

    This has a lot of potential in the near line storage business.

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