Toshiba announces its first enterprise-class SSD line

Also debuts two new enterprise-class hard disk drive lines

Toshiba announced its first enterprise-class solid-state drives (SSD), which boast data transfer rates of up to 510MB/sec.

While the name of the new SSD line, MKx001GRZB, doesn't roll off the tongue, the drives claim some of the fastest serial-attached SCSI (SAS) connected drive speeds on the market today.

The 2.5-inch form factor drives use 6Gbit/sec. SAS connectivity and single level cell (SLC) NAND using 32-nanometer (nm) lithography technology.

The drives will be available in 100GB, 200GB and 400GB capacities and are being marketed to manufacturers of enterprise-class storage subsystems and high-end servers as "Tier 0" offerings.

The company said it will begin shipping samples of the new drives for equipment manufacturers to qualify with their products in the first quarter of next year. Volume production is expected to begin in the first half of 2011.

Toshiba said its new SSD line can achieve maximum random sustained read rates of 90,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and 17,000 write IOPS. The drives have a maximum sequential sustained read rate of up to 510MB/sec. and 230MB/sec. for write throughput.

In comparison, Hitachi and Seagate last month announced the joint development of their own enterprise-class SSD line, the Ultrastar SSD400S family.

The Hitachi-Seagate line includes 100GB, 200GB and 400GB models that feature both 2.5-inch 6Gbit/sec. SAS and 3.5-inch 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel (FC) interfaces with full duplex.

The companies also claimed their new SSDs had a maximum sequential read rate of 535MB/sec. and a 500MB/sec. write rate, with up to 46,000 I/Os per second using the SAS interface. The drives can reach 390MB/sec. read and 340MB/sec. write rates using the Fibre Channel interface.

Toshiba also stated that its new SSD family has low power requirements and uses only 6.5 watts during read/write operations.

"The performance and energy benefits of SSDs can outweigh the cost difference compared to [hard disk drives], and many organizations will want to use solid-state technology for applications that require extremely fast data access," said Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in a statement. "However, the total share of the enterprise market that uses SSDs will remain relatively small until at least 2013."

Unsworth also said hardware vendors that can offer both hard disk drives and SSDs as a "unified" product line that includes support and services will have the most success because of the popularity of tiered storage architectures, where data is placed on drives according to its level of importance.

Toward that end, Toshiba also announced two new enterprise-class hard disk drive series: the MKx001TRKB and MKx002TSKB lines.

The 7,200-rpm drives come in 1TB and 2TB capacities in a 3.5-inch form factor and 6Gbit/sec. SAS3 and 3Gbit/sec. Serial ATA (SATA) interfaces. The drives also have from 16MB to 64MB of buffer memory.

Intended for operations that run around the clock, the two new series of drives also include onboard error correction code (ECC).

Toshiba didn't offer suggested pricing for any of its new drive lines.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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