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OCZ Storage Solutions rattles read-intensive Saber 1000 SSD Series

Toshiba's OCZ Storage Solutions subsidiary caps eventful year by adding read-intensive Saber 1000 SSDs aimed at hyper-scale environments.

Toshiba Corp. subsidiary OCZ Storage Solutions this week came out with the Saber 1000 SSD Series of SATA solid-state drives, adding a read-intensive complement to the endurance-optimized Intrepid line it launched late last year.

OCZ sells the Saber SSD family to cloud service providers and hyper-scale data centers looking to move primary storage off hard disk drives. Projected use cases include customer-facing applications and services such as distributed computing, online archiving, streaming media and virtual desktop infrastructure.

The Saber 1000 Series drives use Toshiba's Advanced 19-nanometer multi-level NAND flash process geometries and include OCZ's homegrown Barefoot 3 controller and upgraded firmware. The new drives come in 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB usable capacities, with 7% overprovisioning. OCZ said pricing would be in the range of 65 cents per GB across drive capacities.

All three drives are rated for a sequential read performance up to 550 megabytes per second (MBps). The 240 GB version is rated for sequential write performance of 515 MBps, random read IOPS of 86,000, random write IOPS of 20,000 and random mixed IOPS of 31,000.

The 480 GB Saber drive is rated for sequential write performance of 500 MBps, 95,000 random read IOPS, 23,000 random write IOPS and 33,000 random mixed IOPS.

The 960 GB version, priced at around $600, is rated for 470 MBps sequential write performance, 98,000 random read IOPS, 20,000 random write IOPS and 30,000 random mixed IOPS. Overprovisioning pushes its raw capacity to 1 TB.

OCZ positions the Saber drive family between enterprise-grade SATA SSDs and client drives that run on end users' computers.

"Apparently, there's a gap in the market that OCZ is addressing, especially in read-intensive applications. [The Saber 1000 Series] is less expensive than enterprise drives and has better endurance and reliability than client drives for these kinds of use cases," said Eric Slack, a senior analyst with IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland.

Billed as lower cost flash alternative for 'storage bottleneck'

Hyper-scale enterprises realize they need to move to flash, but are wrestling with issues of cost and performance, said Shawn Worsell, OCZ Storage Solutions director of product management.

"Storage is becoming a bottleneck for them. As they move to hybrid storage, they're seeing that solid state is the right solution to reduce the bottlenecks," Worsell said.

Large-scale data centers typically have incorporated silicon-based client drives for read-intensive applications, an approach Worsell said has limiting factors associated with management overhead and endurance.

"Client drives are cheaper, which is fine if you deploy tens of them. But as you get into hundreds or even thousands of them, you have to manage those drives and service them when there are issues," Worsell said.

Saber includes firmware upgrade, failure alerts, and power-loss management

Saber 1000 drives are housed in a 7-millimeter enclosure, enabling two SSDs to slide into a traditional chassis. For data protection, OCZ Storage Solutions uses a technique called Power Failure Management that holds up SSD circuitry long enough to preserve existing data and enable the drive to be fully operational when power is restored.

Like other OCZ SSDs, including the Intrepid 3000 Series it launched last year, the Saber drives include the StoragePeak 1000 SSD management tool for centrally administering OCZ drives across servers, storage arrays and appliances. Along with letting users customize alert settings on potential drive failure, StoragePeak automatically discovers new hosts and provides an inventory of OCZ SSDs associated with the host.

OCZ modified the firmware for its Barefoot 3 controller to prioritize read-heavy queues. The algorithm sends the reads in short bursts designed to quickly clear the queue, similar to the way coal gets shoveled in a furnace.

Worsell said the Saber 1000 Series augments OCZ's Intrepid 3000 Series, which is designed for mixed application workloads. Intrepid drives feature full power-loss protection of writes in progress to applications that require high availability and data resiliency.

Toshiba acquired OCZ out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for $35 million in December 2013, the same month OCZ launched Intrepid. In addition to the Saber 100O series, OCZ in 2014 launched the Z-Drive 4500 series of PCIe cards in March and added remote flash caching in July to its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 for Microsoft SQL Server.

Next Steps

OCZ improves SQL Accelerator drives, adds remote flash cache

TLC flash: the low-cost SSD alternative

Storage vendors warm to server PCIe flash cache

Dig Deeper on Laptop SSD, desktop SSD, and other implementations

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