BitMicro pumps solid state drives to 1.6TB
Altima 4Gb/s FC SSD not for storage toddlers
Storage vendors have been sieging the large business market with solid state drive offerings for years — but cost and capacity restrictions have mostly kept them at the gate. Only recently has the technology advanced enough to to make SSD gear a plausible replacement for traditional disk storage.
Take BitMicro for instance, which this week unveiled a flash memory-based solid state drive with up to 1.6TB capacity. The company's E-Disk Altima, expected to ship in Q1 2008, will come in a 3.5-inch format and support 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel.
The new drive is designed for high-bandwidth storage applications such as streaming video on demand, medical imaging, data recording, warehousing and online transactions. BitMicro says the Altima offers sustained rates of more than 230MB/s and upwards of 55,000 I/O operations per second. To compare, a fast disk drive will get about 400 I/O operations per second.
BitMicro will push the SSDs with capacities from 16GB to 1.6TB. In addition to 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel, the disks will also be fully compatible with 1Gbit/s and 2Gbit/s Fibre Channel devices.
The firm says it will begin sampling the drives in the first quarter of 2008 and will ship in volume by Q2 08. ®
Why 10,000 cycles is a lot
There's some magic called "write leveling". The short version is the flash controllers can do a good job of making sure if the memory lasts for around 10,000 write cycles, you can write almost 10,000 times the disk capacity to the device before you get into the lifespan failures. For most people, a 1.6 TB drive won't see 16 petabytes of data written to it very quickly. (I suppose it would take 5 years of writing 100 MB/s nonstop.)
Hopefully this isn't more "MTBF"-style theory that doesn't hold up in real life.
Seems like some kind of threaded, reply-to functionality might be useful.
On the video feed, if these things are cost effective then you would have a point. However, the one Enterprise standard flash-based SSD I do know of which I've seen tested was over £150 per GB. Those sort of costs are higher than volatile memory (storing video files in main memory is much more efficient than pumping it through an I/O system). With efficient read-ahead algorithms, a single hard drive will easily be able to support five or more High Def video feeds (assuming efficient compressed).. For read-only data like that it is easy just to duplicate the data over multiple drives. That's very different to a transactional database where you need consistency of a highly dynamic enviornment.
With even 15K Enterprise drives costing less that £1.50 per GB then the SSDs will have a hard time cost-justifying something that is 100 times the unit cost if it's just a matter of running multiple drives for video feeds. Of course there are other costs like power, but even then the numbers don't look great. Also 230MBps isn't that high a rate for sequential access - it doesn't take many HDs to match that. By the time you get into several tens of High-Def video feeds then drive duplication will be required then, even for this option (by which time of course using system memory makes a lot of sense).
Of course we don't yet have pricing and there is a market for greatly improved transactional performance. It's certainly the future for high-performance storage, and that will no doubt include video streaming, but it will depend on price. The difference with the transactional database area is that there are technical limits imposed by the mechaniscal nature of the drives which cannot readily be overcome.