Anobit introduced solid-state disk (SSD) drives today that are based on low-cost multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash technology. The company claims that the drives are on par with SSDs based on more expensive single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash in the areas of performance and endurance (reliability) – at a fraction of the cost.

The first generation of Anobit’s Genesis series of SSDs is based on the SATA interface, with support for Fibre Channel and SAS available via external bridges. Second generation Genesis SSDs will support Fibre Channel and SAS natively.

Anobit claims to increase the reliability, or endurance, of MLC NAND flash from 3,000 read/write cycles to more than 50,000 cycles – a 20X improvement.

Note: In the NAND industry, SLC is typically specified at 100,000 cycles and MLC at 10,000 cycles. However, those ratings generally apply to established NAND technologies or manufacturing processes. Newer technologies typically have significantly lower cycle ratings.

According to Jim Handy, an SSD analyst and director of the Objective Analysis research firm: “3,000 cycles is not uncommon for MLC when you’re talking about new processes or, say, something like 3-bit cells.” Anobit’s endurance ratings are based on newer sub-40nm NAND devices.

Anobit guarantees that its Genesis SSDs will have a write endurance of ten full disk writes per day for five years, which translates into 7,300TB for a 400GB drive, according to Gilad Engel, Anobit’s vice president of business development. The Genesis drives are available in 200GB or 400GB capacities.

The endurance improvements are due largely to Anobit’s patented Memory Signal Processing (MSP) technology. (A variety of NAND manufacturers, consumer electronics and storage vendors already license Anobit’s MSP technology.)

On the performance front, Anobit claims 20,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) on random writes and 30,000 IOPS on random reads. Both specs assume a fully random, non-compressible workload and an IOmeter queue depth of 32. The company claims throughput of 180MBps on sustained writes and 220MBps on sustained reads. Read latency is specified at 500 microseconds, and write latency at 100 microseconds.

In the NAND flash market, the trend is clearly toward MLC-based devices, which comprise about 85% of the entire NAND flash market.

“I expect all enterprise SSDs to eventually become MLC-based,” says Objective Analysis’ Handy, “just like all client SSDs have become MLC-based. It’s a matter of better error correction and deeper understanding of how the flash works, which Anobit’s technology has.”

Anobit’s SSDs will compete with SATA SSDs from a variety of vendors, including Intel, OCZ and STEC.

Anobit, which was founded in 2006 and is based in Israel, is shipping the Genesis drives to OEMs for qualification. (EMC is reportedly among the OEMs evaluating the drives.) Anobit did not disclose pricing for the Genesis SSDs. The company has raised about $40 million in funding.