Samsung on Tuesday released its first solid state drive (SSD) built with consumer-class NAND flash but targeted for use in enterprise-class storage systems.
Enterprise multi-level cell (MLC) SSD, or eMLC as vendors now call it, uses less expensive flash memory but adds cache, special firmware for write amplification, error correction code (ECC) in the controller and wear-leveling software to evenly spread data writes across the media to increase reliability and performance.
As the SSD software becomes more sophisticated, the reliability and performance levels of MLC-based drives are creeping closer to that of SLC-based products.
Several leading storage hardware vendors have come out with MLC-based SSDs in recent month. Israeli start-up Anobit Technologies, as well as OCZ and Micron, have also announced enterprise-class SSDs based on MLC NAND technology.
IBM recently announced it has begun using STEC's MLC SSDs in its high-end DS8800, DS8700 arrays and its midrange Storwize 7000 boxes.
According to market research firm Gartner, shipments of SSDs for servers and enterprise storage systems will increase from 324,000 in 2009 to 6.3 million units in 2014 and will grow in terms of revenue for vendors from $485 million to $3.6 billion during the same period.
"As more and more server makers are adopting SSDs for use in eco-friendly platforms that consume less electrical power, the need for high-density SSDs in the server market is growing rapidly," Byungse So, a senior vice president at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.
The new SSDs have capacities of 100GB, 200GB and 400GB.
Samsung's existing single-level cell (SLC)-based SSDs come in 2.5-in models with 50GB to 120GB of capacity and 3.5-in models with 100GB and 200GB capacities.
The new SSDs use Samsung's 30-nanometer-class NAND circuitry chips with a toggle double data rate (DDR) interface and 3Gbit/sec SATA interface. The new MLC-based SSDs approach, or in some cases exceed, Samsung's SLC-based SSDs .
For example, the new drives can process random read commands at 43,000 input/outputs per second (IOPS) and random writes at 11,000 IOPS. Samsung's SLC-SSD, the SS805 series are based on the company's 40nm lithography process and have a maximum of 47,000 IOPS for random read commands at 29,000 write IOPS.
The new Samsung SSDs also come with native AES encryption.
Samsung said it will begin mass producing its new MLC-based enterprise drives next month. Today, the company is shipping sample to equipment manufacturers to test in their equipment.