Sun yesterday identfied Samsung as its SSD supplier, solving at least part of the mystery around the source for its Flash drives. But Sun’s systems group senior director Graham Lovell says that Samsung will be one of several partners, not a sole source. The other partners remain unnamed.
Sun and Samsung also claim that the Flash devices they’ve collaborated on will have five times the durability of other single-level cell (SLC) enterprise Flash drives, such as the ones manufactured by STEC for EMC. Like other SSDs, the NAND devices still have a finite number of write-erase cycles, and single-layered memory cells exacerbate that problem. Lovell said that wear-leveling algorithms will be built into the Flash memory controller on the Samsung SSDs. A certain proportion of memory cells will also be kept in reserve by the drives for wear leveling.
According to Samsung, these developments mean that the lifespan of its SSDs will up to five times longer than that of other SLC Flash devices. Unfortunately, Lovell was not able to provide details about what testing Samsung has done to substantiate that claim. He also says that Sun won’t “preannounce” the availability of the drives from Samsung. Samsung’s PR rep told me he’d have to forward those questions to Samsung headquarters in Korea. . .which means the drives might be available before I hear the answers.
There’s been a lot of talk about SSDs lately. It seems this past month has started an inevitable “trough of disillusionment” with the technology, as excitement over its advantages has been balanced by industry observers pointing out the disadvantages of first-generation products (such as their durability).
IDC’s Jeff Janukowicz doesn’t see a problem with that. “This is the kind of improvement and innovations IDC predicts you’ll be seeing as this technology comes of age,” he said. Those predictions were written up in a recent report based on lab testing of SSD performance in PCs.
Storage managers for the most part are holding back on deploying SSDs, which to me is understandable. If I’d rushed out and bought a drive from EMC only to hear that another vendor had a much-improved model, I might be kicking myself. And I’d certainly be wondering what was coming next.