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May 06 2014

SanDisk to Offer First 4 TB SSD

For a good while, the proliferation of SSDs in the server and data center market has been hampered by both a lack in capacity and an unflattering cost per GB ratio. With its new Optimus MAX product line, SanDisk could soon put an end to such limitations.

Just last week, the flash specialist from California announced the Optimus MAX Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) SSD, the industry's first 4TB solid state drive. With so much 'space,' the new model by far outrivals high-capacity, 2.5 inch SAS HDDs running at 10,000 or 15,000 RPM, so that it may be used to replace them in the data center, SanDisk says. And adds that the latest Optimus MAX "delivers SAS performance and functionality at a breakthrough price point that was previously only available in SATA-based SSDs."

Further according to SanDisk, users have previously relied on fast-spinning SAS HDDs because they offered a fair compromise between performance and cost. However, with data volumes and the need for real-time access growing continuously, the trade-off is getting too big – in particular, HDDs will at some point no longer satisfy the need for speed in scenarios where users demand immediate or near-immediate access to huge amounts of files. Here, the Optimus MAX could be a viable alternative.

While this announcement sounds indeed terrific, it's okay to take it with the proverbial grain of salt – after all, even market leaders like Samsung or Intel have yet to present SSDs that exceed the 1 and 2 TB capacity limit while delivering the lightning-fast read/write rates that solid state drives are usually bought for. In other words, just like their spinning counterparts, large SSDs have a bit of a speed problem. The Optimus MAX is no exception to this rule: with sequential read/write rates of 400 MB/s and random read/write rates of 75,000 and 15,000 IOPS, it appears at the lower end of the spectrum – although it's still faster than most HDDs and well-suited for application scenarios such as media streaming services. The reason is that SanDisk's new drive consists of the less expensive, but also slower and less robust MLC NAND flash. This also results in some limitations regarding life expectancy; according to the specs, SanDisk offers a 5-year warranty if the 4 TB aren't overwritten more than one to three times per day. On average, this last value amounts to ten drive writes per day or more in other SanDisk products.

The 4TB Optimus MAX will be available in fall 2014. Prices were not disclosed.


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