Micron to launch hyperfast SSD, touts 1GB/sec. throughput

Micron says the technology could extend to consumer systems

Within the next year, Micron Technology Inc. expects to bring to market a high-end solid-state disk drive that could achieve 1GB/sec. throughput, according to a company executive. The transfer speed is four times that offered by Intel Corp.'s newest SSD, the X25-E.

In a video on Micron's newly launched blog site, Joe Jeddeloh, director of the vendor's Advanced Storage Technology Center, demonstrated the technology using a two-processor, eight-core Intel Xeon PC and a card with two SSDs and 16 flash channels. A blurry readout showed the SSD reaching 800MB/sec. throughput, with Jeddeloh claiming that it "will be hitting a bandwidth of 1GB/sec. and at least 200,000 IOPS," or I/O operations per second. The card was directly connected to a PCI Express (PCIe) slot, bypassing Serial ATA or Serial Attached SCSI interfaces that would normally be used to plug SSDs into a server or PC, thereby limiting it to 3Gbit/sec. throughput per channel.

Using file transfers ranging from 2KB to 2MB, Jeddeloh demonstrated 150,000 to 160,000 random reads per second in the video. "That's what flash can do when it's managed correctly," Jeddeloh said.

In an interview today, Dean Klein, vice president of Micron's SSD group, said the company is already testing the technology with a few select customers and is looking for more beta testers.

"I wouldn't expect this level of performance going into laptops anytime soon, but for servers, yes," Klein said. "We plan on bringing this to market on a limited basis this coming year and in a more expanded way the year after."

In comparison, Intel's X25-E SSD achieves sustained sequential read rates of up to 250MB/sec. and sustained sequential writes of up to 170MB/sec. and 35,000 IOPS.

"We're multiple times faster in terms of bandwidth," Klein said.

Klein added that Micron's SSD uses "multiple channels" and was built interleaving 64 NAND chips to achieve its high throughput. The SSD is also based on several technology advances announced by Micron this year, including its 34 nanometer NAND chip architecture announced in May and the RealSSD P200 series drives announced in August.

While Micron's SSD technology is aimed at high-end applications that would run on Fibre Channel SANs, such as transactional databases or streaming video, Klein said consumer-grade computers using SSDs directly connected to a PCIe bus with four lanes (x4 slots) could soon achieve similar results.

Physical PCIe slots may contain from one to 32 lanes of data. Currently, PCIe Generation 1 offers 250MB/sec. throughput per lane. The second generation of PCIe is expected out next year and will offer twice the throughput, or 500MB/sec.

"It really does require a change in computer architecture to go into consumer-type systems, but it can be done," Klein said.

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