Samsung Introduces High-Performance SSDs for Data Centers

As solid-state drives become more widely used in data centers, Samsung is introducing new SSDs that it says deliver exponentially better performance and durability specifications.

Samsung Electronics is introducing two new solid-state drives (SSDs) that it says are more durable than previous versions and deliver faster performance for demanding mission-critical applications in enterprise data centers.

The Samsung SM843 and SM1625 were introduced in Korea Oct. 31 by the Seoul-based electronics company.

The SM843 is a “budget-friendly” design, said Ryan Smith, senior director of SSD product marketing at Samsung. It is a multi-level cell (MLC) drive, a type of drive design that is less expensive, but not as durable as a pricier enterprise multi-level cell (EMLC) design, such as the new SM1625, according to Smith.

But even among MLC-class drives, the SM843 is more durable than previous Samsung products and more durable than many competitors’ products, Smith said. While MLC drives are more affordable, data center operators were barely getting the endurance they needed out of MLC drives before they had to be replaced.

“They liked the cost points of MLC, but they were only marginally getting the amount that they can write to the drive per day, so what SM843 does is that it moves that line up quite a bit,” Smith said.

SSD endurance is measured in terabytes written (TBW), which is the total amount of data that can be written to the drive over its “warrantied lifetime,” he said. Previous Samsung MLC drives had a maximum of 60 TBW, but the SM843 bumped that up to 800 TBW.

Another SSD performance metric is the speed at which data can be written to a drive or read from it, expressed as input/output instructions per second (IOPS). The SM843 delivers a “sustained” write performance of 11,000 IOPS, up from 2,000 IOPS in the previous-generation SM drives, and up to 70,000 IOPS of read performance.

By comparison, the typical previous-generation technology, the hard-disk drive (HDD), delivered a maximum of only 400 IOPS when writing to storage. While SSD prices have been falling of late, industry analysts say HDD technology remains viable in the storage market.

Smith said data centers demand sustained performance, not an average of highs and lows, because system operators cannot have a situation in which IOPS performance falls off for some reason, even momentarily.

Performance is also measured by having the lowest “maximum latency” factor, meaning that the time it takes to retrieve data from storage takes no longer than that maximum amount of time, usually expressed in milliseconds.

The SM1625 is an EMLC-class drive that also delivers exponential improvements in performance. It is the first serial-attached storage (SAS) drive from Samsung, whose other products, including the SM843, are based on the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) storage architecture. The 1625 is also Samsung’s first “dual-port” style SATA drive as the dual ports deliver higher availability, another critical factor for many enterprise systems in which a SAS drive has to communicate with 10 or 20 servers, not just one, said Smith.

The SM1625 delivers performance of as much as 23,000 IOPS when writing data.

Samsung dominates the global market for SSD (also known as “flash” or “NAND” storage), with a 42 percent market share, based on $1.79 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2012. It was followed by Toshiba, with a 23.7 percent share on just over $1 billion in revenue, Micron with a 15 percent share on $648 million in revenue, SK Hynix (11.8 percent share on revenue of $503 million) and Intel (7.7 percent share on revenue of $330 million).

Samsung was the only vendor to report greater sales in the second quarter from the year-ago quarter, up 10.1 percent. The others saw sales drop by single-digit percentages, except for Toshiba, whose market share fell by close to 36 percent.

The figures came from DRAMeXchange.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to provide the correct IOPS performance metric for the Samsung SM 1625 SSD drive. The metric was incorrect in Samsung’s press release about these new drives.