SSDs Pushing the Capacity Envelope


If 2009 is the demo year for enterprise-class SSDs, then 2010 should be the year the technology makes major gains, judging by some of the latest developments.

SSDs have always had the edge on hard disk drives in throughput and energy consumption, but have been lacking as far as capacity and reliability were concerned. Now, it appears that capacity, at least, is becoming less of the problem.

At the recent Computex Expo in Taiwan, a company called OCZ introduced the 1 TB Colossus SSD, with plans for a formal release in the next few weeks at a list price that's expected to be around $2,200. The 3.5-inch drive weighs in at about 400 grams, slightly less than one pound, and offers 250/220 MBps read/write using a SATA 2.0 interface. The device also sports a JMicron controller to set it up in a RAID 0 configuration.

The Colossus is the kind of drive technology that many storage appliance vendors will no doubt be interested in as they strive to meet the high throughput needs of applications like Web services and on-line transactional databases. WhipTail Technologies, for example, just released the 6 TB WhipTail appliance, a 2 RU device designed for Tier 0 applications in mid-to-large organizations. The company boasts of 10-fold increases in data delivery and reports run times compared to hard disk solutions, as well as 90 percent reductions in energy usage and database report generation and load time.

For market leader STEC, however, the good times might have only just begun, according to the company's latest earning statement. Enterprise Storage Forum's Paul Shread was quick to note that the 125 percent increase in sales of the ZeusIOPS device came almost entirely from EMC, leaving plenty of potential growth as rivals like Sun, IBM, HP, Hitachi and Fujitsu ramp up SSD offerings of their own. And EMC itself shows no signs of slowing down, with plans to add the Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) system to the Symmetrix V-Max later this year.

At this point, the major question mark is what Seagate will come out with for its long-awaited entrance into the SSD market later this year. The company recently added a 600 GB version of the Cheetah HDD with either 6 Gbps SAS or 4 Gbps Fibre Channel interfaces. While the price-per-GB is lower than anything SSDs could hope to match, and the drive does feature built-in hardware encryption, the fact is that storage demands are increasingly being driven by speed, rather than capacity.


Now that SSDs are gaining, and even surpassing, in both categories, the sooner Seagate and other vendors heavily invested in hard drive technology start covering all the bases, the better.