Intel takes their SSD reliability to the datacenter

Intel takes their SSD reliability to the datacenter

Summary: Intel's PCIe-based SSD drives bring extreme reliability to the high-performance datacenter SSD market


Following up on the success of their 300 and 500 series SATA SSD drives for the desktop, which despite having a significant price premium over the competition have carved out significant market share based on improved reliability compared to their competitors, Intel has taken their SSD game to the datacenter. The first Intel datacenter SSD, the 710, is a 6 GB/s SATA SSD available in capacities up to 300 GB that could be used in any environment where a tradition SATA hard drive could be deployed.

But well aware that larger capacities and better performance were necessary for high-performance datacenter deployments Intel today announced their 910 Series of SSD drives. These drives feature a PCIe interface, lower read/write latency, and more than five times the read/write and sustained throughput performance than their own SATA III connected SSD. And they do this while offering the same 5 year warranty that they offer on their desktop SSD (the 710 series comes with only a 3 year warranty). The 910 uses either two or four 200 GB NAND modules, with each module having a dedicated ASIC with a SCSI attached storage storage interface that supports speeds up to 6 GB/s, connecting to an on-chip PCIe to SAS bridge which supports the translation to the PCIe bus.

Despite the significant increase in performance, the 910 requires only an 8x  PCIe 2.0 slot, as an 8-lane PCIe 2 connector can support aggregate throughput up to  4 GB/s (500 MB per lane) and the maximum throughput of the 910 is limited to 2 GB/s. This makes the 910 series compatible with any server likely found in use as PCIe 2 has been the standard for more than 5 years.

Available in 400 GB ($1929) and 800 GB ($3859) capacitities the SSD is currently sampling to datacenter customers. Full commercial availability is expected in mid-2012. More information can be found on the Intel SSD drive page.

Topics: CXO, Data Centers, Hardware, Intel, Storage

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  • At $5/GB

    At nearly $5/GB a five year warranty seems kind of short!

    "Normal" hard drives are like $0.10-0.20/GB.
    • Generous warranty

      I have been a server engineer for the last 12 years . I can tell you that a 5 year warranty is very good. The companies that will shell out the bucks for these drives will not keep them around for 5 years.
      Also, comparing the price of these drives to spindle drives is pointless. You don't compare price/capacity with SSD. You should compare price/performance. In my lab, we have shown that it will take a 20 drive RAID 1+0 array to match the performance of a single SSD.
      In situations where high IO is the deciding factor. SSDs rule. I haven't tried these Intel base PCIe cards. I will most likely not. Our servers have their own controllers and I'd rather just use a SATA SSD that I can just slide into a hot-swap slot. In addition with these PCIe cards, I cannot use them in blades.
      • A 20 drive HDD array is a real power sink

        Therefore, SSDs allow far greater densities for a given performance level.

        That means lower housing costs, in size and heat to exhaust.
  • The real trouble with ssds

    If the battery in the drive dies you lose all data. With a normal hd you have a chance to have the data recovered. With ssds its gone.
    • The real trouble with ssds

      That may be true, but that's the kind of problem that generally affects home users (and forensics people) more than datacenter operators, who don't allow the integrity of their data to rely on the success or failure of a single hard drive.
    • Battery?

    • What the hell are you smoking??

      SSDs don't have (or require) batteries.
  • Hello?

    SSDs use flash memory. There's no need for a battery.
  • HD is the standard

    At this moment, spinning magnetic platters are the standard. We shold be comparing SSD reliability to HD's, and historically, they have sucked. I'm waiting for the day when SSD is MORE reliable than HD, and the price tag is MUCH lower than it is now.
    • That is exactly my problem

      SSDs don't usually last a year under heavy "professional" usage. Month #9 somehow is the magic "death" number.
    • Total cost of provisioning the solution, not just cost of each drive

      HDDs way underperform for the amount of infrastructure needed around them.

      We are not talking about what cheap stuff one puts into a desktop here.
  • Only Commercial Projects Need Apply

    These drives were made for commercial projects where throughput is king with a small footprint. If you build a $50,000 application for a customer, but can achieve significantly better performance by also selling $15,000 worth of hardware (server plus $8000 for $1.2 Tb of drive space), then that $65,000 project is worth it to the customer. These are commercial drives for corporate customers. 5 Years from now they can replace the drives for a fraction of the cost.