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Samsung releases TLC flash SSDs aimed at data centers

Samsung says new triple-level cell (TLC) flash drives will reduce latency and provide steady state performance for read-intensive applications.

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. this week announced its first branded solid-state flash drives aimed at storage for data centers -- the 845DC EVO triple-level cell flash SSD series.

The 845DC EVO series uses a 6 Gbps SATA disk interface to deliver low-latency and steady-state performance on read-intensive applications, said Rich Leonarz, a senior product marketing manager in Samsung's memory and storage group.

Samsung will market the drives to content delivery networks and other enterprises with large deployments of Web applications. Product shipments are scheduled to start in July.

Samsung has a strong presence in data centers through its OEM sales, but the South Korean vendor will make its new drives available through resellers under its brand.

The drives will be available in 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB capacities and rated for a sequential read performance of up to 530 MBps and a random read performance of up to 87,000 IOPS.

The 240 GB version is priced at $250 and is rated for sequential write performance up to 270 MBps. Both the 480 GB (priced at $490) and the 960 GB (priced at $969) versions are rated for sequential write performance up to 410 MBps.

The architecture is similar to that of Samsung's 840 Pro and 840 EVO drives for personal computers, including three-bit-per-cell nonvolatile NAND flash memory.

For the 845DC EVO, Samsung boosted the power of its MEX 3-Core ARM Cortex R4 controller to 4,000 MHz, up from 3,000MHz, and optimized the firmware to improve forward error correction.

"Our consumer SSD [solid-state drive] is a sprinter, whereas the 845DC EVO for data centers is a marathon runner. It runs a little bit slower, but it will sustain performance over a long period of time," Leonarz said.

Triple-level cell (TLC) NAND memory stored three bits of data per cell of flash media. It is less expensive than single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC) solid-state flash memory, because it stores more bits per cell and adds storage capacity. However, with the lower cost comes tradeoffs in performance, reliability and endurance. Samsung and other SSD manufacturers will have to overcome those concerns for TLC to win a place in enterprise data centers. MLC is the most popular type of flash in current storage arrays.

"Samsung is taking steps in the right direction to increase its presence with service providers who worry not just about storage costs, but also care about performance, availability, durability and data integrity," said Greg Schulz, senior advisory analyst at StorageIO, a consulting firm in Stillwater, Minnesota.

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