OCZ talks up 2TB, 4TB SSDs, previews Thunderbolt-enabled drive

OCZ expects to release its Thunderbolt interface drive this summer

Solid-state drive maker OCZ this week revealed a slew of upcoming NAND flash products, including 2TB and 4TB drives as well as the first SSD using a Thunderbolt interconnect -- offering twice the throughput as SATA 3.0.

At the CeBIT technology conference this week, OCZ displayed its upcoming Vertex 4 SSD Series , based on the SATA 3.0, 6Gbps Indilinx Everest 2 controller.

OCZ also said its Lightfoot SSD, which will sport a Thunderbolt interface, is on schedule to be available this summer. Thunderbolt, announced earlier this year , offers twice the performance of the latest SuperSpeed USB (3.0), 6Gbps interconnect.

OCZ's Lightfoot SSD with the Thunderbolt port.

Apple has gone all in with Thunderbolt-enabled products, and there are a dozen or so manufacturers ready to ship Thunderbolt-enabled systems this year.

While the Lightfoot was originally designed for high-performance Mac users, the drive will likely be popular among computing users that need to move large files quickly. It is an ideal drive for content creators, for example, OCZ said.

"We are introducing a range of products that leverage our co-developed (OCZ and Marvell) Kilimanjaro platform including the Z-Drive R5, an upcoming 2.5 SATA III, and MiniPCIe, and the Lightfoot which will be our external Thunderbolt version," an OCZ spokesman wrote in response to a Computerworld inquiry.

The Kilimanjaro platform was first announced at CES 2012 . It will sport what OCZ said is the world's first modularly scalable PCIe SSD, which uses OCZ's Virtualized Controller Architecture 3.0. The drive is aimed at enterprise-class applications such as OLTP databases, web servers, virtualization , big-data and collaboration applications.

Kilimanjaro will come in several forms, including a PCIe full height and half height card (the Z-Drive R5) that boasts up to 2.5 million IOPS (I/Os per second) and 7GBps throughput. Another version of the drive will be a 2.5-in. SSD that sports up to 100,000 IOPS and 1GBps throughput. Still a third version of the Kilimanjaro will be a Mini PCIe SSD with up to 50,000 IOPS and 500MBps throughput.

The Kilimanjaro platform in a PCIe card form factor which will be the Z-Drive R5

The Z-Drive R5 will use PCIe Gen 3x16 and it will come with MLC (multilevel cell), eMLC (enterprise MLC) and single-level cell (SLC) flash options. It will have up to 12TB of capacity.

The Z-Drive R5 will be compatible with VMware ESXi and ESX, Linux , Windows Server 2008 and OS X servers.

By comparison, OCZ in February announced the fourth generation in its Z-Drive PCIe flash card line that is aimed at user in servers in cloud computing environments. The Z-Drive R4 CloudServ PCI Express SSD was demonstrated at the CeBIT show with VXL Storage Accelerator software from iSCSI SAN company SANRAD. The SANRAD software works with VMware and Citrix Xen server environments to create virtual storage area networks (SANs) for application virtualization and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The Z-Drive R4 delivers up to to 1.4 million IOPS, and comes in capacities ranging from 300GB to16TB.

OCZ's Vertex 4

Like Vertex 3 , the Vertex 4 is a 2.5-in. drive that uses multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash chips built on 20 nanometer lithography technology. Unlike the Vertex 3, which had a maximum capacity of 480GB, the Vertex 4 uses OCZ's Indilinx controller and is expected to boast 2TB of capacity.

Besides having four times the capacity, Vertex 4 is expected to also have better performance than its predecessor due to the controller changeover. OCZ said using 4K data blocks, the drive will have 90,000 random read IOPS. The Vertex 3 sported a maximum of 40,000 IOPS. The drive also has a slightly better sequential read rate of 550MBps compared to 530MBps in the Vertex 3, while the write rates remain the same.

"This solution is ahead of schedule and originally we planned for a mid-summer release, but it is now looking like we will release it this spring," the spokesman wrote.

A 4TB SSD

OCZ also expects to release a 3.5-in. form factor SSD with a stunning 4TB of capacity.

With that kind of capacity, a 4U (7-in. high) rack-mount server chassis could have as much as 96TB of flash storage capacity.

Like the other SSDs, the upcoming 3.5-in. Chiron Series SSD will use an Indilinx controller, and will have up to 560MBps of throughput and generate up to 100,000 IOPS.

The Indilinx Everest 2 controller is expected to deliver exceptional speed and IOPS but also incorporates some features that set it apart from current controllers. Among these features is performance across all file types, including uncompressible data and special fast boot algorithms. The drive is also expected to sport "NDurance technology," which increases the lifespan of the NAND and minimizes long-term performance degradation, and latency reduction for quicker access across all applications.

OCZ acquired controller maker Indilinx a year ago , and has used its technology to manufacture more embedded NAND flash products as well as put out its first hybrid SSD , which combines spinning disk and NAND flash cache. The OCZ RevoDrive hybrid drive uses a full-height PCIe card form factor.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com .

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