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Intel sneaks out a PCI Express based SSD

IDF Beijing Its first, and faster than SATA
Thu Apr 12 2012, 11:33

THERE IT WAS on the show floor at IDF here in Beijing, Intel's first PCI Express based SSD.

intel-ssd-910The Intel SSD 910 comes in two capacities, 400GB and 800GB. What makes this SSD interesting is not only its raw speed, but also the fact that the performance of the 800GB model is double that of the 400GB.

The 800GB SSD can do sequential reads at up to 2GB/s, thus far surpassing the maximum speed of SATA, which helps explain the new PCI Express interface.

The SSD is made up of modules each containing 200GB. This also explains the differences in performance. The modules are addressed in parallel, so the more modules you have the better the performance.

The Intel SSD 910 series is of course aimed at the datacentre and uses 24nm MLC flash chips from IMFT, the joint venture between Intel and Micron.

We would expect to see write speeds of about 1GB/s and IOPS in the region of 75,000, but so far Intel has not released any product briefs, so please excuse the vagueness.

What is most interesting about Intel's new SSD is the fact that it uses MLC flash chips, whereas its predecessor, the SSD 710 was manufactured using SLC flash, which is much more expensive but generally faster. Using MLC flash points to some very advanced controller technology combined with the high endurance that Intel and Micron focus on in their joint venture.

Now, you might ask, what happened to SATA? Don't worry, these firms are working on the next generation I/O specification and - surprise, surprise - it will use PCI Express as the transport layer. µ


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