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Intel Ships Enterprise-Class X-25E Extreme Solid-State Drives

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#1
Intel Corporation has begun shipping its highest- performing solid-state drive (SSD), the Intel X-25E Extreme SATA Solid-State Drive, aimed at server, workstation and storage systems. Unlike mechanical drives, the SSDs contain no moving parts and instead feature 50nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory technology. Systems equipped with these drives will not suffer from the performance bottlenecks associated with conventional drives. By reducing the total infrastructure, cooling and energy costs, SSDs can lower total cost of ownership for enterprise applications by more than five times.




"Hard disk drive performance has not kept pace with Moore's Law," said Kirk Skaugen, general manager, Intel Server Platforms group. "Intel's high-performance SSDs unleash the full performance of the latest Intel Xeon processor-based systems while increasing reliability and lowering the total cost of ownership for a broad range of server and storage workloads."

The Intel X25-E increases server, workstation and storage system performance by 100 times* over hard disk drives as measured in Input/Output Per Second (IOPS), today's key storage performance metric. A storage model which includes SSDs can also lower energy costs by up to five times, an added benefit for businesses focused on electricity savings. "Solid-state drive technology will change the economics of enterprise data centers," said John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems. "SSDs, along with our systems and Solaris ZFS with hybrid storage pools, are important components of the Open Storage initiative. Sun expects to offer enterprise storage solutions that will exploit the breakthrough performance of Intel's High Performance Solid-State Drives and deliver significant performance gains while consuming a fraction of the energy of traditional spinning disk arrays."

The product was designed for intense computing workloads which benefit primarily from high random read and write performance, as measured in IOPS. Key technical performance specifications of the 32 GB Intel X-25E SATA SSD include 35,000 IOPS (4KB Random Read), 3,300 IOPS (4KB Random Write) and 75 microsecond read latency. This performance, combined with low active power of 2.4 watts, delivers up to 14,000 IOPS per watt for optimal performance/power output. The product also achieves up to 250 megabytes per second (MB/s) sequential read speeds and up to 170 MB/s sequential write speeds, all in a compact 2.5-inch form factor.

Intel achieves this breakthrough performance through innovations such as 10-channel NAND architecture with Native Command Queuing, proprietary controller and firmware efficient in advanced wear-leveling and low write amplification. The 32GB X25-E is capable of writing up to 4 petabytes (PB) of data over three-year period (3.7 TB/day), and double that for the 64GB version - delivering outstanding data reliability.

The 32GB capacity drive is in production and priced at $695 for quantities up to 1,000. The 64GB version is expected to sample in the fourth quarter with production estimated for the first quarter of 2009.

Source: Intel
 
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#3
Interesting statement, as Moore's law is about transistor count.
Yes, he's really mixing metaphors there.

And since HDD improvements are, to the consumer, measured by storage capacity (in GB), then I have to say that HDDs HAVE broadly kept pace with "Moore's law applied to storage capacity".

And flash drives certainly have kept with, or outpaced, Moore's law.

Kirk Skauge needs a PR agent.
 

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#4
And since HDD improvements are, to the consumer, measured by storage capacity (in GB), then I have to say that HDDs HAVE broadly kept pace with "Moore's law applied to storage capacity".
Note: This isn't meant to attack anyone or anything specifically. This is my opinion on how hard drives have been unfairly shunned because of their comparatively low transfer rates...

Not just consumers. The reason people buy hard drives is because they want something to be there after they restart their computer. Hard drive's purpose has never been measured in MB/s or anything per second for that matter. It's job is to store data and lots of it (trillions of bytes). It's a lot like bandwidth--only a problem when you run out.

I see this everywhere with computer enthusiasts blaming hard drives for poor performance. I, for one, remember the days when I had three physical hard drives (2.5 GB, 0.5 GB, and 1 GB) and they just couldn't make them big enough. I had to uninstall some games to play others. It was horrible. Then we had a "growth spurt" of hard drives around the turn of the century with a lot of drives in the double digits. It happened again a few years ago with perpendicular recording. Now hard drives not only don't require 6 minutes to spin their fat asses up, but they store in the triple digits in a fraction of the space (2.5" vs 5.25").

About read/write speeds, that's what various levels of memory is for. Every cache is about double the bandwidth of the one before it. With Nehalem boasting 16,000 MiB/s theoretical peak at L3, that means in the neighborhood of 32,000 MiB/s at L2, and upwards of 64,000 for L1. Hard drives operate in the neighborhood of respectable 60 MiB/s. Sure, that's laughable by comparison but hard drive calls under normal circumstances are generally pretty small. Why? Because a good programmer uses those thousands of MiB/s of bandwidth coupled with processing power from the CPU to compress and/or capture only what is necessary to rebuild the data in the memory. Take, for instance, your game saves. A game that uses 200+ MiB of memory like Test Drive: Unlimited can effectively be saved in well under 1 MiB. Likewise, when a map loads, it copies whatever is needed (50 MiB maybe) to render a region of the map. Still, that's only a second of hard drive time. This is why games like Grand Theft Auto 3 and sons and all these other games with limited loading screens can transition so smoothly. They rely heavily on processing power and the performance, and density, of memory and try to minimize the usage on the hard drive.

Obviously, there are a few instances where hard drives simply get overwhelmed by the CPU/RAM basically kicking back. Such is the case in databases and, to a lesser extent, film editing. These are two situations where SSD pays for itself; however, you will be spending a whole lot more for capacity and there is a certain degree of risk involved with the reliability of SSD drives. As such, I see SSD playing a role more so as another step of memory rather than as replacing the hard drive. That is, on server boot up, copy the data from HDD to SSD, database uses the SSD as an index volume, and prior to shutdown, copies the data back to HDD. That way you get the performance and mitigate the risks associated with SSD and environmental situations.

So again, hard drives have never been about performance as that is not their role. Sure, it helps in specific situations but people don't buy a 74 GB 15K SAS drive when they need 1 TB of capacity.

I'll end with a human anatomy comparison...

If the CPU is equivalent to the brain and the RAM is the short term memory, the hard drive is your long term memory. There is some debate about this but, it is believed that short term memory is committed to long term memory when you rest. Why this is the case, it isn't very know. Yet, hard drives behave the same way in that they work in the least frantic manner in the entire system. They just sit there and spin at # RPMs storing and retrieving data when it is convenient to do so (that is, when the disk and head is in the correct location). That provides long term stability of the system--the same stability your brain gets when the body is at rest.

That's my 31,216 bits. :)
 

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#5
Well HDD performance was an issue when games started to use more memory and it was expensive. If a game starts to swap too much it doesn't matter how fast your CPU of how many GPUs you have.

Now that memory is super cheap (at least DDR2) hard disks aren't getting so much dirt (or at least should not), but I still like my 94MB/s avarage transfer rate ;) It's a nice boost in load times compared to 61MB/s that my older Samsung gets.
 

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#6
Well HDD performance was an issue when games started to use more memory and it was expensive. If a game starts to swap too much it doesn't matter how fast your CPU of how many GPUs you have.

Now that memory is super cheap (at least DDR2) hard disks aren't getting so much dirt (or at least should not), but I still like my 94MB/s avarage transfer rate ;) It's a nice boost in load times compared to 61MB/s that my older Samsung gets.
It's impressive how so many people name games as the reason for hardware to evolve. Computers do a lot more than games. For instance, I recall video capturing working crap on mostly any IDE drive while gaming went just fine. SCSI was the way to go back then. Eventually 7200 RPM disks became fast enough to be useful.

Apart from that, access times often make more a difference.
 

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#7
It always depends on what you're looking for. Games as well as multimedia establishments have pushed the development of DirectX, Radeon, and GeForce products. Professional drafting and pre-rendered animations have pushed the development of OpenGL, Quadro, and FireGL products. Databases and video editing have pushed the development of hard drive performance and multithreaded processing in addition to some key instruction set extensions in the case of video. Professional audio markets have pushed for high end audio equipment and speakers. The list goes on and on.
 
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#8
The Final Frontier
 

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#9
It's impressive how so many people name games as the reason for hardware to evolve. Computers do a lot more than games. For instance, I recall video capturing working crap on mostly any IDE drive while gaming went just fine.
Well I didn't/don't do video capturing so hard to comment on that :) Most slow memories of my IDE times were from going ATA33 to ATA66, that you could feel in Windows. Before that I didn't really think of it more than when running out of space :)
 
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#10
Hardrives are the major bottleneck in a pc at the moment... everything from the ram to the processor has massive bandwidth and can push data across quickly. without the data on ther hardrive everything is useless... if you can speed up the latency and throughput of the data to the rest of the components it will make a big difference overall