Intel’s New Solid-State Drives Address Rapidly Growing Storage Needs

Mike Vizard
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Top 10 Storage and Networking Trends for 2014

Intel this week introduced a new class of solid-state drives (SSDs) that make use of Intel’s third-generation controller and custom firmware to deliver speeds of 2.8GB per second read, up to 1.9GB per second for writes, and up 460,000 input and outputs per second (IOPS) via a PCIe interface.

The Intel Solid-State Drive Data Center Family for PCIe makes use of the NVM Express interface that Intel developed to integrate SSDs with x86 servers in a standard way. The NVM Express interface is designed to provide six times the throughput of a traditional SATA magnetic drive interface.

As SSDs continue to get plugged directly into servers via PCIe, the latency associated with accessing primary storage continues to drop, to the point where entire applications and databases can now run on Flash memory.

Steven Neebe, NSG Data Center product line manager for Intel, says being able to address up to 2TB of data running on Flash memory is becoming a bigger requirement for Big Data analytics applications. One of the primary reasons that Intel is investing in SSDs is that using them for primary storage makes compute cycles more efficient because the processor is no longer waiting for I/Os to be executed.

With more reliance on SSDs for primary storage, Neebe says the data center environment itself not only gets smaller, it also gets more energy efficient. Based on 20-nanometer NAND memory technology, Intel is providing a five-year warranty for its SSDs.

Obviously, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to SSDs these days. But the more important development may be the rise of SSDs that take full advantage of an NVM Express interface that could lead to the development of a whole range of real-time applications that previously would have been too expensive to deploy.

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