July 23, 2009 –There are still some issues that need to be ironed out with solid-state disk (SSD) drives (e.g., reliability and endurance), but the biggest problem -- and gating factor to adoption -- has been the outrageous price of these devices.
One way to reduce prices is to use the less expensive multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash technology, as opposed to the more expensive, reliable and durable single-level cell (SLC) technology. But at least for enterprise-class applications, that requires improvements in either controller and/or software technology (which I’ll blog about in an upcoming post).
Another way to reduce SSD prices is to go with a different manufacturing process. That’s what Intel announced this week for its X25-M (Mainstream) line of SSDs, which are admittedly designed primarily for desktops and laptops as opposed to enterprise arrays and applications.
Intel claims a 60% price reduction due to moving from a 50-nanometer manufacturing process to a 34nm process (smaller die size), and a quick price check seems to legitimize those claims.
For example, the 80GB X25-M SSD is channel-priced at $225 in 1,000-unit quantities, a 62% reduction from the original price of $595 a year ago. And the 160GB version is priced at $440, down from $945 when it was first introduced. Both of those SSDs come in a 2.5-inch form factor, with a 1.8-inch version, the X18-M, due in August or September.
Intel claims performance of “the same or better” compared to the 50nm predecessors, citing up to 6,600 I/Os per second (IOPS) on 4KB write operations, and up to 35,000 IOPS on read operations. The company also claims a 25% reduction in latency, to 65 microseconds.
Calculated on a cost-per-GB basis, SSDs are still way more expensive than traditional spinning disk drives, but SSD price wars should come as good news for users with the need for speed.
For more info on Intel’s SSDs, click here.
For general information and news, visit InfoStor’s SSD Topic Center.