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Mar 05 2016

Samsung Launches World’s Largest Enterprise SSD


Anyone who thought SSDs might still take several years to catch up with HDD capacities stands corrected: on Thursday this week, Samsung began shipping its latest flagship SSD, dubbed PM1633a, a real 'monster' with 15.36 TB storage capacity.

After nearly two decades of the SSD vs. HDD battle, many experts had come to believe both camps were tied in a deadlock: the general idea was that SSDs would always be faster and more robust, whereas HDDs would continue to provide much higher capacities for lesser cost. As a result, both technologies enjoyed a long period of peaceful coexistence, during which they clearly dominated their respective market segments for 'fast' and 'large' storage media. The first cracks in that picture appeared some five years ago, when so-called SSHDs – hybrid drives that paired regular HDDs with a small section of integrated NAND flash memory – became standard components for high-end notebooks. The new Samsung PM1633a, however, could bring about a more radical shift, since it basically beats the capacity advantage of HDDs by a devastating margin of 50%, cramming an unprecedented 15.36 TB of storage space into one single 2.5 inch drive.

As if that wasn't already enough, Samsung adds in a couple more body blows for good measure. According to the official press release, the PM1633a (pictured above) is also a 'speed freak' that delivers 200,000 IOPs in random reads and somewhat less impressive, but still good 32,000 IOPS in random writes; sequential read and write speeds may reach up to 1.2 GB/s (twice as much as a conventional SATA SSD). Effectively, this means the PM1633a immediately grabs a spot among the 10 fastest enterprise SSDs; however, none of the other 9 winds up with even half the capacity. To achieve this, Samsung combined 32 of its third-generation, 256Gb V-NAND memory chips, each of which consists of 16 so-called die stacks with 512 GB storage capacity that in turn are made up of 48 layers of 32 GB 'memory dies.' Other components include "advanced controller units that support the 12Gb/s SAS interface, along with a total of 16GB of DRAM" and specially crafted firmware purpose-built for concurrently accessing large amounts of high-density NAND flash. Furthermore, the PM1633a is expected to digest one full drive write per day without failure. As may be guessed from this description, Samsung's monster SSD was designed for high-capacity, high-performance storage systems that power read-intensive applications like data warehousing, virtual tape libraries or streaming media. Smaller models with capacities of 7.68, 3.84, 1.92, 0.96 and 0.48 TB capacity are scheduled to appear later this year.

To give credit where credit is due, it should be noted here that Samsung isn't the first SSD vendor to pulverize the current HDD capacity limit of 10 TB – that title belongs to Fixstars Solutions, a Tokyo-based former software company that came up with a 13 TB, 2.5 inch model a little over a year ago, but only left a small dent in the market. The SSD-13000M delivers sequential read and write speeds of 580 and 520 MB/s respectively and sold for $13,000 upon market entry – a sum that hints at the price Samsung could charge for the flagship PM1633a, but has not yet disclosed.


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