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OCZ Storage Solutions previews Saber 1000 for SATA SSDs

Hardware vendor OCZ Storage Solutions said Saber HMS APIs let a host server coordinate when CPU-intensive processes take place, with the aim of reducing resource contention.

OCZ Storage Solutions this week previewed host-based firmware for its Saber 1000 SATA flash drives that lets a storage server coordinate background management tasks across thousands of SSDs.

OCZ Storage Solutions, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp., said the first version of its Host-Managed SSDs (HMS) firmware product aims to lower latency and boost storage performance.

The Saber 1000 product family consists of read-intensive SATA SSDs in 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB capacities. The 480 GB and 960 GB versions are expected to be generally available in November and the 240 GB SSD to follow.

The HMS Saber firmware-enabled drives allow a host server to schedule drive-level background tasks that tend to tax the I/O performance of SSDs, such as garbage collection, log dumps and wear leveling. HMS exposes the controls to a host server via APIs that integrate in a software stack. The host then coordinates operations transparently across each SSD in a pool.

OCZ to release API source code for Saber 1000 HMS

OCZ Storage Solutions lists storage OEMs, hyper-converged and software-defined storage vendors, and hyper-scale data centers among projected early adopters. The HMS product release includes HMS software libraries, a programming guide and reference design. Customers can request the material from the OCZ Storage Solutions sales channel and receive a secure link to download the package.

It's pretty unholy to put flash behind a disk interface. Software that allows a system to have control over when disruptive processes happen is a positive move.
Jim Handyanalyst, Objective Analysis

Customers have two options for using the HMS Saber APIs. They can directly integrate the hooks in a software stack, or obtain access to OCZ's firmware source code to modify the API as needed.

"We didn't want to just create a control and then release it into the wild," said Grant Van Patten, an OCZ Storage Solutions product manager for Saber. "Our goal with HMS is to build something that a potential customer could use as a foundational step. HMS is not standalone product. It's meant to be integrated in a customer's software stack."

Analysts weigh in on OCZ Saber HMS and flash

Jim Handy, an analyst with Los Gatos, Calif.-based Objective Analysis, said OCZ's Saber 1000 HMS should appeal to organizations looking for software to accelerate storage.

"It's a small step in a direction that the industry is going to be taking bigger and bigger steps in over the next few years, until we get to the point where flash is treated as flash," Handy said. "It's pretty unholy to put flash behind a disk interface. Software that allows a system to have control over when disruptive processes happen is a positive move."

Joseph Unsworth, a research vice president at IT analyst firm Gartner, said sharing its source code gives OCZ Storage Solutions momentum on which to build out the Saber 1000 HMS product line.

"The transparency gives OCZ an advantage, but this [approach] has been done before, on an individual customer basis, by others. I think it does provide an attractive approach for potential customers, but OCZ's competency is not in software. They will need to listen, learn and evolve based on common features that customers ask for," Unsworth said.

OCZ said its HMS development team also is working with Toshiba to develop HMS firmware for Toshiba's SAS product lines. The vendor has no plans to add HMS controls to other SSDs in its lineup.

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