Feeds

Captain Marvell flops out mighty flash/disk hybrid controller

Challenges Momentus to match Flashy girth

Boost IT visibility and business value

Hoping to help bring affordable flash acceleration to hard disk drives, Marvell has crafted a hybrid controller that makes an SSD and hard drive duo look like a single storage pool to host systems.

Solid state drives (SSD) are very expensive compared to hard disk drives (HDD) and, so far, only Seagate has tried building an affordable product combining the two technologies with its Momentus XT. This is a notebook disk drive with 4GB of NAND flash inside the casing. No other disk drive manufacturer has built equivalent products and, as far as we know, no significant system OEM is supplying either tablet, netbook, notebook, desktop or server systems using it.

Captain Marvel comic cover

Hybrid Captain Marvel gets flashy

What Marvell has done with its HyperDuo 88SE9130 controller chip is to combine flash and hard disk drive controller functions in one 6Gbit/s SATA interface controller with added caching algorithms to put hot data and file directories in the SSD, while, in an optional safe mode, keeping a copy on the disk drive. This is automated tiering at the SSD and HDD component level.

System suppliers would insert this chip in the control path between, say, an Intel South Bridge chip and an SSD and a HDD. The South Bridge would see a single, virtual SATA storage disk, a C: drive as per normal. It would have, Marvell says, up to 80 per cent of the performance of a pure SSD used instead of an HDD. That should mean system startup and application load could be speeded up considerably.

There are 88SE9130 design wins already, with ASRock, Asus, Gigabyte and MSI saying they will add it to motherboards, supporting Micron SSDs and both Seagate and Western Digital disk drives. This approach by Marvell means system suppliers can continue dual-sourcing disk drives and not have to single source flash cache-accelerated Momentus XTs from Seagate.

Seagate's Momentus XT product may be stopped dead in its tracks by this Marvell move.

The lack of any host operating system dependency with the HyperDuo idea is a plus. That is a problem with OCZ's RevoDrive.

PCIe SSD has NVELO software running under the host O/S to execute caching algorithms to move hot data from a SATA disk to the RevoDrive.

We understand sample motherboards and 88SE9130 chips are due out later this quarter and, if evaluations go well, product using the hybrid-enabled SSD and HDD design will arrive some time after that, probably in the second half of 2011. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Docker kicks KVM's butt in IBM tests
Big Blue finds containers are speedy, but may not have much room to improve
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?
Enough hot air to carry a balloon to the Moon
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Dell The Man shrieks: 'We've got a Bitcoin order, we've got a Bitcoin order'
$50k of PowerEdge servers? That'll be 85 coins in digi-dosh
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.