TOKYO — Toshiba has launched a new line of enterprise solid-state drives (SSDs) to address the challenge of read-intensive applications.
The PX03SN series SSD comes in a 2.5-inch form factor with capacities of up to 1.6 TB and uses Toshiba's own NAND flash memory -- 19 nanometer MLC -- with a 12 Gbit/s SAS interface. There are four models in the series: the 200 GB PX03SNF020, the 400 GB PX03SNF040, the 800 GB PX03SNF080, and the 1.6 TB PX03SNB160.
Toshiba says this is its first enterprise-class SSD specifically designed for read-intensive applications, which access data more frequently than they write it. The data path of a read-intensive SSD needs to be optimized to maximize data transfer from the SSD to the host system.
In an email exchange with EETImes, a Toshiba spokesperson cited media streaming, file and web content serving, read-caching, and low- to mid-duty primary storage as typical read-intensive applications, and said the PX03SN is designed to perform read operations with both random and sequential data access patterns, as well as for mixed read/write workloads where data is programmed to the SSD, primarily in a sequential pattern.
One of the challenges faced by SSDs is that performance can degrade when the device has to perform a combination of reads and writes. Memory architectures such as the one developed by Diablo Technologies are addressing this issue.
Toshiba expects uptake of the PX03SN series will be in the enterprise space where the SAS interface is commonplace, such as flash and hybrid storage arrays, media and web servers, and certain types of caching devices.
Other vendors offering SSDs for read-intensive applications include Intel's DC 3500 SSD, Seagate's Pulsar SSDs, SanDisk's Lighting SSD, and Samsung's SM843T. Toshiba recently acquired OCZ's enterprise SSD business, including proprietary controllers, firmware, and software.
Mark Peters, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, told me SSDs are ideally suited for read-intensive applications since performance is what flash excels at, especially in terms of bandwidth as much as pure speed: "Flash is intrinsically better for reads than writes."
Peters says what qualifies as a read-intensive application can vary depending on the organization, but might include databases, VDI boots, video servers, and web applications. "It will depend on the actual usage of a given application. Email might be almost dormant in some places and the linchpin of all business elsewhere."
Read-intensive applications are not so much a challenge for SSDs as they are an opportunity, Peters believes. A large number of vendors, ranging from traditional storage and systems providers to emerging players, are offering SSD, hybrid systems, all-flash arrays, and supporting software.
"Many systems now include flash as standard," says Peters. Usage has evolved from addressing specific types of storage problems to helping improve the performance of a broader range of applications and systems and are no longer just focused on specific customer types or industries. Actual usage is increasingly automated across systems and applications and less about manual placement of specific datasets.
Peters says the need to support read-intensive applications will always exist in the same way security, network speed, or backup will always have to be addressed with technologies that make it faster, cheaper, and easier: "I think the future is more in-server memory, storage, and processing to overcome increasing read-intensive needs."