Enterprise SSD Reviews
by Kevin OBrien

Fusion-io ioDrive2 Duo SLC Application Accelerator Review (1.2TB)

The Fusion-io ioDrive2 Duo is a full-height, half-length application accelerator that, when paired with SLC NAND, offers 1.2TB of low-latency, high-endurance storage for today's most demanding applications. While branded as a second generation product, the naming is somewhat misleading as Fusion-io has long been a pioneer in the memory-as-storage range with their assorted ioMemory products. That experience shows not just in product development and spec sheet highlights, but all the way through to management as well; Fusion-io boasts the most robust drive management software suite on the market with ioSphere. Still, pretty software and proven drive design are only part of the equation. Enterprises deploy these products with one goal in mind; reduce application response times by attacking storage system latency. The SLC iteration of the ioDrive2 brings laser-focus to this issue, offering read access latency of 47µs and write access latency of 15µs. This compares to read access latency of 68µs in the MLC-based ioDrive2 (they have the same write latency) and while roughly 20µs doesn't sound like much, it can be a virtual eternity for applications that have been tuned for use with flash storage.

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by Kevin OBrien

Virident FlashMAX II MLC Application Accelerator Review (2.2TB)

The Virident FlashMAX II is a half-height, half-length PCIe application accelerator (AA) that's available with MLC flash media. The FlashMAX II is available in capacities up to 2.2TB, making it the largest available AA in this form factor. As with any product in this class however, density may be nice but ultimately performance is a substantial driver of adoption. The FlashMAX II offers mixed 4K IOPS (75% read, 25% write) of up to 200,000, along with 325,000 4K read IOPS.

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by Kevin OBrien

Micron P400m Enterprise SSD Review

The Micron P400m is an enterprise SSD engineered for use in servers, appliances and storage platforms. The P400m uses a mainstream 7mm 2.5" form factor, SATA interface and Micron's 25nm MLC NAND. Like the P300 this drive replaces, the P400m uses a Marvell drive controller with customized Micron firmware on top that has been tuned for performance under even read and write usage scenarios. From a performance perspective, the P400m delivers 64KB sequential reads and writes of 380MB/s and 310MB/s respectively, with 4KB random read and write IOPS of up to 60,000 and 26,000.

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by Kevin OBrien

OCZ Talos 2 Enterprise SSD Review

The OCZ Talos 2 is an enterprise SSD that uses a SAS interface, MLC NAND and 2.5" form factor. The Talos 2 comes in two variations, an R model that includes powerfail protection and more over provisioning and a C model that does not, giving enterprises flexibility based on their needs. Architecturally, the Talos 2 is somewhat unique in the marketplace in that it uses dual controllers in a 2.5" form factor. OCZ leverages their Virtualized Controller Architecture (VCA) 2.0 to tie together a pair of SandForce flash controllers, which provides both performance and capacity benefits.

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by Kevin OBrien

Intel SSD DC S3700 Series Enterprise SSD Review

The Intel SSD DC S3700 uses a 6Gb/s SATA interface paired with MLC NAND, in-house controller and is offered in both 2.5" and 1.8" form factors. The S3700 is designed for the mainstream and high-performance enterprise market segments and carries an aggressive pricing scheme (40% lower MSRP than prior model), making the drive consumable by just about any server compute or flash array need. The easy to deploy message, along with Intel's heritage of offering SSDs with leading endurance and performance makes the S3700 compelling to a wide range of use cases.

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by Kevin OBrien

STEC s840 Enterprise SSD Review

The STEC s840 is a 6Gb/s SAS SSD targeted toward the high performance enterprise market segment. The s840 features a completely designed and developed in-house controller and firmware stack paired with MLC NAND in a 15mm, 2.5" form factor. It comes in 200GB, 400GB and 800GB capacities and offers sustained read throughput of up to 529MB/s, write throughput of 453MB/s and maximum read IOPS of 118,000. As with most enterprise SSDs, STEC is about more than just raw performance though; STEC has a robust portfolio of intellectual property that gives them certain advantages in SSD design, along with a heritage that goes back to 1994.

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by Kevin OBrien

Intel SSD 910 Series Enterprise PCIe Review

The Intel SSD 910 is Intel's first effort at a PCIe-based application accelerator for the enterprise. Pitched by Intel as the ultimate data center SSD, the SSD 910 may be the first effort by Intel in this form factor, but the components used are well known. The controller in the 910 is an Intel/Hitachi collaboration that has been released in a few Hitachi enterprise SSDs (SSD400M, SSD400S.B) and has a history of strong mixed workload performance. Of course Intel's own 25nm MLC NAND and firmware is involved as well, leading to an integrated application accelerator that's full of Intel storage IP. The net result is performance out of the SSD 910 that can reach up to 2GB/s sequential reads and 1GB/s sequential writes in normal mode and writes of up to 1.5GB/s in high performance mode.

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by Kevin OBrien

Micron RealSSD P320h Enterprise PCIe Review

The Micron RealSSD P320h is a half-height, half-length (HHHL) application accelerator that leverages SLC NAND and a PCIe Gen 2 x8 interface to drive quoted performance of 3.2 GB/s sequential read and up to 785,000 random read IOPS. The P320h architecture is a departure from many of the other recent application accelerators we've reviewed that generally RAID together several flash drives. The Micron offering is different, instead using RAIN (redundant array of independent NAND) with custom controller, which is similar to the approach taken by Fusion-io and Virident. This architecture lets Micron boast some heady speed and latency claims while offering a high-level of data security on the drive. In this review, we test a pair of the 700GB cards and will see not only how quick they go on their own, but how the P320h scales in Windows Server 2012.

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by Kevin OBrien

SMART Storage Systems Optimus SAS Enterprise SSD Review

When SMART Storage Systems (now SanDisk) announced the Optimus SAS SSD months ago, their pride in design, build and manufacture was clear, much like a proud parent parading their first-born. The key from SMART's perspective is being able to better understand NAND to drive enterprise-grade endurance out of consumer grade MLC NAND. The Optimus however goes a step further, pressing SMART's engineering skills by leveraging a custom firmware build on top of a custom controller, giving them even more control over the SSD as a system. The results are impressive for a mainstream enterprise SSD - endurance of 10 full random drives writes per day for five years, along with up to 500MB/s sustained read/write throughput. The specs alone don't tell the whole Optimus tale however. In the intro to this review we've already called the Optimus a mainstream enterprise SSD, which is largely based on the NAND profile. That may be a mistake however. While the Optimus may present SLC-like endurance with MLC NAND, it's also capable of presenting SLC-like performance, with MLC NAND. In some cases it even bests SLC drives, which we'll dive into more below.

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by Kevin OBrien

Kingston SSDNow E100 Enterprise SSD Review

The Kingston SSDNow E100 represents Kingston's first SSD offering designed specifically for the burgeoning entry enterprise market that relies on enterprise MLC NAND to offer a lower-cost enterprise drive designed for largely read intensive workloads. Don't let the lower-cost target fool you though, the E100 is very much enterprise-grade throughout. Kingston uses a SandForce SF-2500 enterprise SSD controller to power the drive and Toshiba's eMLC Toggle NAND. The E100 also features power-fail support to ensure data in-flight makes it to the NAND safely and roughly 20% NAND over provisioning which benefits both SSD endurance and performance.

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