Sandisk Skyhawk SSDs swoop down on servers

Western Digital is expanding its subsidiary Sandisk's portfolio of SSDs with a pair of massive drives designed for its enterprise customers. Sandisk claims that the new Skyhawk series of drives offer capacities up to 3.84TB and impressive speeds, combined with lower-than-average power consumption. The Skyhawk drives are compliant with the NVMe 1.2 protocol and use four lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity. Unlike most NVMe drives released recently, the Skyhawks come in a 2.5" form factor instead of little M.2 gumsticks.

Sandisk offers the new drives in regular and Ultra flavors. The standard models will arrive in two capacities: 1.92TB and 3.84TB. These drives should be able to hit 1572 MB/s sequential read speeds and 1227 MB/s on sequential writes. Random read speeds ought to reach 250K IOPS, while random writes speeds can go up to 47K IOPS. The Skyhawk Ultra drives have smaller capacities, but purportedly offer lower latency and higher bandwidth. They come in 1.6TB and 3.2TB capacities, and should post 1783 MB/s sequential reads and 1258 MB/s sequential writes. The Ultras should hit 250K IOPS when doing random reads, and 83K on random writes.

Readers with exceptional memories will recall that Western Digital bought a company called Skyera in 2014. At the time, Skyera's primary product was a storage system called skyHawk that purportedly extended NAND life by reducing the electrical charge when writing to cells. It seems that this technology has found a new home in the new Skyhawk drives, as Sandisk claims that they are highly durable and have half the power consumption of comparable 25W PCIe SSDs.

Sandisk will offer five-year warranties on both drives. The company says it's sampling the drives to some of its partners, and expects to make them widely available in the second quarter of 2017.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    The form factor is definitely a head-scratcher. They’re not drop-in storage for anything my server-room runs.

      • shank15217
      • 3 years ago

      2.5 inch drives are quite common in the data center, NVMe back-planes are also available for these drives. Of course the NVMe backplane SSD combo is generally in the high end that you wont see in all data centers.

        • Chrispy_
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah, I haven’t seen an NVMe backplane in a server [i<]yet[/i<]. Even the high-end ones (by my standards) like the PowerEdge R930 come with SATA/SAS hybrid backplanes and NVMe storage is on m.2 risers off the PCIe slots.

    • kcarlile
    • 3 years ago

    Now I just need tier1 server vendors to start offering nvme capable 2.5″ slots on all models standard… (looking at you, Dell…)

      • cmrcmk
      • 3 years ago

      That and an update to the standard form factor. The drive bays for 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives are very big for the needs of an SSD. Instead of a Dell R730 with 24 2.5″ bays on the front, using narrower hot swap bays could allow 40+ bays. Nimble storage arrays do this by double packing 2.5″ SSDs into 3.5″ bays but something made for the 7 mm tall form factor is overdue.

        • fyo
        • 3 years ago

        The 2.5″ form factor is a solid spec (described in SFF-8201) and doesn’t need an update. It allows for a range of heights, including 15mm and 7mm (and a max of 19mm). Tons and tons of equipment is made in all variants allowed by the spec, although some variants are of course more popular than others.

        Are you suggesting a change to the spec that suddenly makes a whole swath of hardware out-of-spec? If so, you at least need a catchy name for your new spec… 2.5″ SLIM. Or 2.5″ PRO. Or something… ;). Not that manufacturers of current equipment that supports only up to 15 mm drive heights have felt the need to prominently market that point…

          • cmrcmk
          • 3 years ago

          I’m not so much advocating the retirement of the 2.5″ standard, though I don’t think that’s a terrible idea since it was defined for spinning disks and SSDs would probably be better served by another form factor (as M.2 has shown for non-hot swap). I’m really more interested in server hot swap bays that are designed for the 7mm height that is normal for SSDs instead of the 15mm height that is standard for enterprise HDDs. This should allow a doubling of drive bays or close to it, even if the drive width and depth are unchanged.

            • fyo
            • 3 years ago

            There’s a very suitable 1.8″ drive spec (actually two variants). It’s actually a truncated version of the 2.5″ form factor and described in the same Electronic Industries Association spec.

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