December 30th, 2013 by Mark Kidd
Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD Enterprise SSD Hands On Preview
Hua Sheng Electronics has provided StorageReview a prototype of its new Vollsun enterprise SSD, which in our preliminary benchmarks has achieved an in-house record for random 4K write speeds by any SATA or SAS SSD. The Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD is a 2.5-inch SATA SSD with an architecture most notable for deploying an FPGA as the drive’s controller. While FPGA-based controllers have been used by PCIe storage solutions from vendors like Fusion-io and Virident in the past, this is the first SATA/SAS SSD to use an FPGA that we have encountered.
Hua Sheng manufactures a variety of electronics equipment, among which is its growing lineup of Vollsun-branded SSDs which may attract integrators and storage administrators looking to leverage a new architecture to achieve performance not currently available from the major incumbents in the enterprise SSD marketplace. FPGA controllers are highly-programmable, and allow for more comprehensive firmware updates during development and in the field. In theory, an FPGA can offer a nearly-wire speed data path that is constrained by the host interface and NAND performance rather than the controller. In our experience with PCIe storage, FPGA controllers do generally net higher I/O than traditional flash storage controllers.
Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD Specifications
- Form Factor: 2.5-inch / 9.5mm
- Interface: SATA 6G
- Capacity: 200GB
- Flash Type: SLC
- Power supply: 5V
- Flash Channels: 8 at 150MBps each
- External DDR: 40b for map table and user data storage
- Tantalum capacitor, 3-5ms to save context during power loss events
- Sustained Bandwidth: 520MBps read / 450MBps write
- 86K IOPS random read and 71K IOPS random write
- MTBF: 2,000,000 hours
- ECC: 12b @ 512B BCH
- Power Consumption (typ): 7W
- Lifespan: 5 years or 10PB written
- Weight: 20g
Hua Sheng offered us a chance to work hands-on with a development prototype of the Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD in the StorageReview lab, where the drive produced results that bode well for the final product which we will review once it is available. In the meantime, this prototype holds the record for the fastest 4K random write speed out of all SATA and SAS SSDs we've tested to date, including SAS 12Gb/s models. This is due to the FGPA controller in conjunction with eight channels of communication to the drive's the SLC NAND, each channel rated at 150MBps.
Enterprise Synthetic Workload Analysis
Due to a hardware conflict, we tested this drive in a workstation environment with an Intel SATA chipset rather than our typical enterprise server environment that utilizes an LSI 9207-8i HBA/backplane.
Our first benchmark measures 100% read and 100% write performance with random 4K transfers and a thread count of 16, with a queue depth of 16. After preconditioning, the Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD yielded an impressive 86,778 IOPS read performance and a record-setting 71,432 IOPS in our write test. Nothing came close when compared to our fastest SAS and SATA comparables.
After preconditioning the drive for 8K transfers, the Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD gave consistently high performance near 52,000 IOPS with 70% read operations and 30% write operations when tested at the maximum thread count of 16. The drive also achieved strong results regardless of thread count when tested with a deeper queue of 8 or 16. Again, compared to our fastest SAS and SATA comparables, the LEO was right at the top trading places for the fastest SSD tested.
Preliminary benchmarks of Hua Sheng's Vollsun LEO VS200S3BD provide a first look at what may become one of the highest-performing enterprise SSDs on the market once it becomes more widely available. It is often the case that up-and-coming manufacturers push forward innovation for an established technology such as SSDs that leverage SLC flash NAND, and the Vollsun lineup is one that we will be keeping an eye on.