Superfast solid state drive unveiled

A solid state drive capable of retrieving data orders of magnitude faster than existing SSDs goes on show.

A drive capable of retrieving data orders of magnitude faster than existing solid state storage has gone on show.

Enterprise storage firm HGST, a Western Digital company, is demonstrating the drive at the Flash Memory Summit 2014 in Santa Clara today.

The solid state drive is capable of three million random read IOs per second of 512 bytes each, when operating in a queued environment, and a random read access latency of 1.5 microseconds (millionths of a second) in non-queued settings, according to HGST.

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These data access speeds cannot be achieved with existing solid-state drive (SSD) architectures and NAND Flash memories.

The performance boost was made possible by combining a drive made of phase-change material (PCM) with new interface protocols optimised for low-latency.

PCM is one of several classes of high-density, non-volatile memories capable of faster data access than NAND Flash memory, with read access times shorter by more than two orders of magnitude.

The memory used in the HGST SSD consists of PCM components packed into a 45nm chip, with a capacity of 1GB. HGST combined several of these chips to make the prototype full height, full length PCIe Gen 2x4 SSD card.

In order to exploit the capabilities of these new memory technologies, HGST also developed a low-latency interface architecture, which is agnostic to the specific underlying memory technology.

HGST worked with researchers at the University of California, San Diego, to develop a new communication protocol. This new interface protocol was introduced earlier this year at the 2014 Usenix conference on File and Storage Technologies.

"This technology is the result of several years of research and advanced development aimed at delivering new levels of acceleration for enterprise applications," said Steve Campbell, chief technology officer of HGST.

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