The new drives are based on the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) protocol, the emerging standard for NAND flash storage which offers significantly faster throughput over traditional Serial ATA (SATA). While Seagate has yet to announce model numbers for its new drives, they will be marketed under the Nytro brand of add-in cards, according to Tony Afshary, Seagate’s Director of Marketing for Flash Products. The cards will be available in a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 version offering an industry-leading 10GB/s of throughput and a PCI-Express 3.0 x8 version offering 6.7GB/s of throughput. The second, eight-lane solution will provide an alternative for organizations looking for ultra-high throughput speeds but are limited by power cost constraints.
Since October 2015, the current industry leader has been Samsung’s PM1725 PCI-Express NVMe SSD with a throughput of 5.6GB/s (based on Iometer benchmarks with Windows Server 2012 R2). Samsung’s NVMe drive is based on 3-bit MLC V-NAND and is rated for up to 1,000,000 random read IOPS and up to 120,000 random write IOPS, with 5.5GB/s read speeds and 1.8GB/s write speeds.
“Technology advancements continue to stretch the limits of SSD speed and performance due to growing enterprise demands that require fast data processing at scale,” said Gregory Wong, founder and principal analyst, Forward Insights. “Seagate has effectively rewritten the rules for performance with this latest SSD unit. Based on our latest analysis, Seagate is already the leading provider to the emerging PCIe Open Compute Project (OCP) market.”
Seagate’s previous flagship enterprise high-performance SSD was the Nytro XP6500 flash accelerator card series introduced in August 2015, three months before Samsung’s PM1725. These units featured a PCI-Express 3.0 x8 interface with RAID-on-Chip (ROC) controller and up to 4GB of onboard DRAM cache. The 1.5TB model had up to 300,000 4K Read IOPS, up to 100,000 4K Write IOPS and up to 4GB/s read bandwidth and 1.5GB/s write bandwidth. The 4TB (3.4TB usable) model had up to 275,000 8K Read IOPS, up to 75,000 8K Write IOPS and up to 4GB/s read bandwidth and 2.2GB/s write bandwidth, making it a formidable competitor to Samsung’s PM1725 in terms of write performance. Both are based on MLC flash memory and feature integrated supercapacitors, eliminating the need for battery maintenance in the event of power failures.
“Your data is only as good as how easily you can access it and put it to use,” said Brett Pemble, Seagate’s General Manager and Vice President of SSD Products. “Seagate is committed to providing the full spectrum of technologies to help meet the diverse needs of organizations so they can unlock this value. Whether for consumer cloud or business applications, this SSD will help improve on demands for fast access to information, where split seconds drive incremental value gains.”
Seagate says its new drives will work in any system supporting the NVMe protocol, which Seagate is taking credit for as it led a consortium of industry manufacturers to finalize the original standard in January 2013. The company has been part of Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP) for the past two years, when the initial focus was on hyperscale cloud providers. “But since then, OCP has grown quite a bit from a deployment perspective, says Afshary. “Large enterprises building private clouds and scalable infrastructure have been interested in deploying OCP. Adoption will depend on how much OEM’s follow the [OCP] specifications from Facebook.”
The company is displaying its new 10GB/s and 6.7GB/s PCI-Express NVMe Open Compute (OCP) SSD drives today at the 2016 Open Compute U.S. Summit in San Jose, California. On Thursday, March 10th at 10:35am, Jamon Bowen, Director of Customer Marketing in the Flash Products Division at Seagate, will host a talk covering the company’s new enterprise lineup during the summit.