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Toshiba releases killer SSD

Awesome spec numbers for the catchily-named MKx001GRZB

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Tosh has announced an enterprise SSD with competitor-beating performance numbers.

The MKx001GRZB – Tosh doesn't go in for catchy brand names – is a 2.5-inch form factor and comes with the same 100, 200 and 400GB capacity points as Hitachi GST's Ultrastar SSD announced in November, and has performance heavily skewed to read I/Os. Hitachi GST's drive is better on sequential reads (535MB/sec vs 510MB/sec) but the other numbers go Tosh's way. Its new drive does 90,000 read IOPS (Hitachi GST: 46,000) and 17,000 write IOPS (HGST: 13,000), while sequential write bandwidth is 230MB/sec (HGST: 50MB/sec).

Tosh's SSD uses 32nm single level cell (SLC) process technology while the Hitachi GST SSD, co-developed with Intel, uses 34nm SLC technology, virtually identical. They both have a 6Gbit/s SAS II interface.

Toshiba has over-provisioned its SSD, with the 100GB drive having a real capacity of 128GB, the 200GB one a true capacity of 256GB, and the 400GB one having 512GB in reality. Toshiba says they have a five-year working life with no write limits – except for the 100GB model, which has an 8PB write limit over its five years. It calls the three SLC eSLC, meaning "enterprise", without explaining how this differs from any other enterprise SSD's SLC chips.

There's not much difference between the two suppliers as far as availability is concerned. Hitachi GST's flash product will have a production ramp in 2011. Toshiba's product will sample in the first quarter of next year with volume shipments starting before the mid-year point.

What other enterprise-class 2.5-inch SSDs have such good performance numbers? Pliant's Lightning LB 150S has a claimed 120,000 read IOPS number and uses a slower 3Gbit/s SAS interface. Its write IOPS and sequential read and write bandwidth numbers are inferior to Toshiba's. Other World Computing has a 960GB RevoDrive with four SandForce SF 1200 controllers, which also offers 120,000 read IOPS and a 740MB/sec sequential read speed. This drive is bootable and has a PCIe interface, and thus is not a HDD-replacement product, unlike the Hitachi GST and Toshiba drives above.

It looks to El Reg as if Hitachi GST and Toshiba share the 2.5-inch, SAS interface, enterprise SSD high ground, with Toshiba scoring higher performance numbers generally. As Toshiba has an interest in Violin Memory, we can expect the flash storage array producer to use this Tosh SDD in the new year.

Hard disk drive too

Toshiba has also announced a new 3.5-inch, 2TB hard disk drive (HDD) available with a 6Gbit/s SAS interface (MK2001TRKB) and 3Gbit/s SATA interface (MK2002TSKB). It comes with four platters, two for 1TB versions, and spins at 7,200rpm. The SAS model has a 16MB buffer while the SATA one has a 64MB buffer. Both are intended for 24-hour operation.

Toshiba's SATA model will will be ready for qualification in the first quarter next year. Volume production of the SAS model will begin in the same quarter.

Toshiba claims it is "the only manufacturer in the market today with the ability to deliver customers with a complete, ‘one stop shop’ storage solution range combining the benefits of eSSD with traditional HDD technology."

Both Hitachi GST and Seagate could claim to be in the same situation with their SSD and hard disk drive enterprise-class products.

We're still waiting to see if Toshiba will combine HDD and SSD technologies in a single hybrid drive, like Seagate's Momentus XT. ®

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