NGD Systems introduces 16-TB Catalina 2 SSDs powered by ARM cores

Hard drives and SSDs have always had logic chips. Spinning platters and moving heads in hard drives need some smarts to keep them from smashing together, and SSDs need some brains for encryption, wear leveling, and splitting data streams between several flash dies.

NGD Systems says the multi-core ARM processors embedded in its Catalina-2 U.2 SSDs give the drives a completely different level of computational smarts. AI and machine learning applications can have enormous data sets that might not even fit in terabytes of RAM, and the company thinks certain types of those tasks can benefit from being handled on one of its SSD directly with its ARM CPUs instead of occupying RAM and the PCIe bus. NGD calls this approach “In-Situ” processing.

The drives NGD is announcing fit into 2.5″ storage bays, use a U.2 interface, and are available in 4-TB, 8-TB, and 16-TB capacities. The Catalina-2 SSDs are already available in a PCIe 3.0 x4 card form factor in those same capacities, as well as a jumbo-sized 32 TB version. The company didn't provide any details about the nature of the ARM CPU cores inside the Catalina-2, but it does claim that technology works with 3D TLC NAND flash and is ready for future QLC chips. The drive's computational storage processor sits between the flash media controller and the NVMe protocol layer. For an idea of the octane rating of the company's processing power, the U.2 model is rated to draw up to 12 W.

The manufacturer has demonstrated its computational storage products running Facebook AI Similarity Search code at CloudFest in March. The company says its unique products excel at combing through enormous, ever-growing data sets while providing results in real time.

Intel might be after a similar trade-off of processing latency for data-set size with its Optane DC Persistent Memory products, but even those presumably speedy NVDIMMs can't hold data sets larger than 5 TB per socket with Xeon CPUs. It seems as though there's another tier of trade-offs between those variables that NGD believes its products can address.

NGD didn't talk about the price of the Catalina-2 family of In-Situ-capable SSDs, but we imagine the highly specialized application of such a device and the large capacities mean they are pricey. The company did say the types of customers with a need for this type of capability can buy the drives immediately. The manufacturer backs the drives with a three-year warranty.

Comments closed
    • Wilko
    • 2 years ago

    Despite amassing several hard drives and one SSD over the years in my desktop, one of their 16 TB SSDs would eat up my desktop’s entire storage capacity twice. I can’t help but feel a little envious.

    • moose17145
    • 2 years ago

    Soo… this should load my games REALLY fast… like way faster than other SSDs… right?

    • Hinton
    • 2 years ago

    [i<]Spinning platters and moving heads in hard drives need some smarts to [b<]keep them from smashing together[/b<][/i<]. Can I have some of what you're smoking?

      • Waco
      • 2 years ago

      Well, he’s right…if the drive isn’t spinning fast enough before the heads load onto the platters, they’ll impact the platter and crash the head. It’s bad.

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        [url<]http://geekscomputer.blogspot.com/2008/07/hard-disk-drive-analogy.html[/url<] That analogy is already pretty crazy, but that's based on a 20-year 75GB drive. We'll have 75TB drives within a decade, for sure.

          • Wirko
          • 2 years ago

          Today, the 747 pilot rearranges the shingles on roofs on the fly.

            • Chrispy_
            • 2 years ago

            …whilst flying at 4958 miles per [i<]second[/i<] 0.2" above the roofs and reading newspaper print off each shingle in the process. I wonder if helium means that the heads are even closer than they are on air-filled drives?! It makes [url=https://media.giphy.com/media/3oz8xtBx06mcZWoNJm/giphy.gif<]this[/url<] look easy 🙂

            • Waco
            • 2 years ago

            The flying heights aren’t dramatically changed for helium drives from what I understand – but they are closer than on air drives by a measurable amount.

        • just brew it!
        • 2 years ago

        They also need to be retracted immediately if there’s excessive vibration or a power loss.

        (I recall reading somewhere that some drives turn the spindle motor into a generator if the power is cut, using the kinetic energy of the platters to generate enough electricity to retract the heads.)

          • Waco
          • 2 years ago

          Indeed. Sudden power loss (at least, on enterprise drives and many SATA drives) pushes the spindle into generator mode to ensure that the data in the drive buffers gets synced either to the platters or to NAND as well as safely parking the heads. Some drives have enough cache that they use large capacitors (much like SSDs) to ensure that the potentially hundreds of MB of data gets safely stored prior to shutdown.

    • Waco
    • 2 years ago

    These are great for text-storage / search that is small enough (or you have enough money) to replicate it across multiple machines. As soon as you can’t afford to have 3+ copies of your data, this stuff is almost useless since no one device has any way to read the data directly from the device (since it is erasure coded or something similar).

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This