The Z-Drive cards for the first time enable data centers to deploy PCIe as a Tier 1 storage layer.
PCIe cards, specialized NAND
flash-based storage devices designed to add speed and versatility in enterprise
storage deployments, are swiftly gaining traction among IT decision-makers for
several reasons. And yes, blazing performance would be one of them.
OCZ Technology Group
(Nasdaq: OCZ) on Aug. 2 supplied a contribution to this growing market segment with the launch of a new version of its Z-Drive PCI-Express Storage device.
The Z-Drive R4 product line
features OCZ's second-generation proprietary VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller
Architecture 2.0), which for the first time enables data centers to use it
as a Tier 1 storage layer.
Intel introduced PCIe
(peripheral component interconnect express) in 2004. It is a computer
expansion-card standard based on point-to-point serial links rather than a
shared parallel bus architecture, and is designed to replace the older PCI,
PCI-X and AGP standards.
PCIe-based flash storage has
the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies,
increasing throughput, and enabling efficient processing of massive quantities
of data, OCZ chief executive Ryan Peterson told eWEEK.
"The Z-Drive R4 ...
merges the paramount feature sets of both the pure hardware- and pure software-based
approaches to data management, while maintaining user-configurable flexibility
not found in other devices," Peterson said.
Peterson said VCA 2.0 is a
multifaceted combination of firmware, software and an OCZ SuperScale Storage
Controller that combines processing and full DMA (direct memory access) cores,
as well as internal PCIe, Serial ATA and SAS physical interfaces.
When coupled with VCA 2.0
technology, the OCZ's SuperScale Controller manages critical internal functions
such as the intelligent Complex Command Queuing Structure with unique queue-balancing
algorithms, Peterson said. This combination leads to increased performance, yet
reduced burden, on the host CPU, he said.
Industry analyst Jim Handy
of Objective Analysis told eWEEK
firm is forecasting that the PCIe interface will become dominant in the
enterprise SSD market in 2012, with unit shipments greater than the combined
shipments of its SAS and Fibre Channel counterparts.
To whom will this product
"This is a device that
will find use in standard SAS HDD sockets at both ends of the storage channel-in
the server as well as in the storage array-to achieve a significant performance
boost at a reasonable cost," Handy told eWEEK.
"This competes against
SAS SSD offerings from Seagate, STEC, Pliant [now owned by SanDisk] and Hitachi
[to be acquired by Western Digital]. What differentiates OCZ products is that
the company offers high performance at a reasonable price," he explained.
These are highly intelligent
devices, Handy said.
"SAS is the heir
apparent to Fibre Channel, and newer servers and storage arrays support
multiple SAS HDDs, some or all of which can be replaced by these new SAS SSDs
to add performance with little additional effort," Handy said. "Objective Analysis expects to see strong acceptance of SAS SSDs over the
near term as more and more data center managers learn the advantage of adding
solid-state storage to their systems."