Enterprise, Hardware

Hitachi Partners with Intel on Enterprise MLC SSDs

Hitachi GST, a soon-to-be subsidiary of Western Digital, has announced today at the Flash Memory Summit that they will be releasing a line of new SSDs that feature new Intel MLC NAND specifically designed for enterprise applications. The Hitachi Ultrastar SSD400M will come in both 200GB and 400GB capacities in 2.5? form factors.  We?re not sure whether or not this is actually eMLC or just regular MLC, but there?s a good chance that these drives are simply rebadged Intel drives using Intel?s new 25nm NAND technology.

Since these drives are enterprise, they feature serial attached SCSI also known as SAS. These will be running SAS at 6Gb/s which is necessary in order to achieve the highest levels of performance. Hitachi claims that these drives will be capable of 496 MB/s read and 385MB/s write. This is faster than what Western Digital?s competitor Seagate offers on their latest Pulsar line of SSDs, although Seagate does guarantee that performance over the life of the drive while Hitachi does not. Hitachi also makes a performance claim of 56,000 4k random read IOPs and 24,000 4k random write IOPs.

Interestingly enough, there is zero mention of whose controller Hitachi is using for their drives. Looking at all of the drive pictures on Hitachi?s site they only show Intel NAND chips and an Intel silk screened PCB. This, to us, indicates that this is probably an Intel homogenous drive or possibly one similar to the Intel 510 series drives that utilize Marvell controllers. After doing some research, though, it appears as though it is a joint controller design between Hitachi and Intel. This announcement shows that Western Digital is indeed in the SSD business in more way than one. There was a lot of concern about how Western Digital was going to approach the enterprise SSD market, but their announced acquisition of Hitachi GST back in March this year all but sealed that question up. At the given moment, Hitachi GST is still going to remain its own entity but we expect them to slowly be wound into Western Digital by 3Q 2011 and we may possibly see Western Digital getting involved directly with Intel in the future for some other SSDs.