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OCZ plays bottleneck card with new SSD interface

Enough with SATA and SAS already

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Flash storage maker OCZ wants us to use its proprietary High Speed Data Link (HSDL) instead of standard SATA and SAS interfaces for solid state drives (SSDs).

HSDL was developed, OCZ says, to eliminate I/O bottlenecks and so enable SSDS to operate at their full potential. It can run at up to 20Gbit/s per channel, much faster than SATA II's 3Gbit/s and SATA III and SAS II's 6Gbit/s. Several HSDL channels can be combined to increase bandwidth further.

The drive interfaces to the HSDL link via a 4-lane PCIe SATA controller, which links with a SAS cable to PCIe at the host end where there is a multiplexer/demultiplexer, internal signal driver and buffering, available as a single chip if required. In effect we have a PCIe cable link direct to the drive.

OCZ's CEO, Ryan Petersen, said: "Storage protocols are quickly becoming the bottleneck to storage subsystem performance." The HSDL is: "designed for both high-performance computing and enterprise storage applications," and is "significantly outperforming other current interfaces delivering performance at levels that saturate most CPU busses."

The company claims HSDL is an open standard and is working with platform partners to spread its adoption.

OCZ is going to introduce a new 3.5-inch SSD called the IBIS which uses the HSDL interface. IBIS will ship with single port HSDL adapter cards, with quad port cards available for multiple drive configurations.

IBIS will use four SandForce SF-1200 controllers in the 3.5-inch device and these output 1GB/sec via 4 PCIe lanes over the HSDL cable to the motherboard and host PCIe bus.

The Skinflint comparison website mentions 240GB and 960GB IBIS products, using multi-level cell NAND, and with 750MB/sec read and write speeds.

OCZ apparently has a 4-port HSDL card with an on-board RAID controller in development. This could hook up four IBIS drives to a host via a PCIe x16 board.

There is no word on pricing. ®

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