Join Date: Nov 2009
Super Talent's 512GB SSD RAIDDrive -
01-08-2010, 06:58 PM
wonder if we can shoehorn one of these in a mini 9? Super Talent's 512GB RAIDDrive: RAID On An Add-In Card : RAIDDrive Is A Quad SSD Monster - Review Tom's Hardware
Super Talent's 512GB RAIDDrive: RAID On An Add-In Card |
The concept is as simple as it is conclusive: if the current generation of flash SSD drives canâ€™t deliver more than 200 to 250 MB/s, letâ€™s just take several of them and create something faster. Super Talentâ€™s RAID drive is nothing more than a high performance RAID controller with four on-board flash SSDs. We received a model that runs in a RAID 0 configuration, based on four 128GB SSDs, and the result is quite impressive.
Most flash-based SSDs arenâ€™t really bottlenecked much in terms of throughput yet, but SATA at 6 Gb/s (up to 600 MB/s utilizable) is available, representing the next logical step up in potential interface performance. Next-generation SSDs will certainly be capable of delivering higher throughput. Do we need this? Absolutely. Fast flash-based storage products have a noticeable impact on system performance. It can be hard to quantify this because weâ€™re not talking about conventional benchmarking, but whenever you launch Windows or applications or put the system into hibernation (or back), you will be thankful for having a fast storage device.
Prices Drop, But Remain High
You can get fast flash SSDs for under $300. This still has to be considered an enthusiast price tag, because hardly any average user (including me) would be willing to spend that much money on a 128GB drive. A terabyte (1TB) hard drive costs less than one-third of this. Still, popular offerings, such as Intelâ€™s X25-M, Kingstonâ€™s SSDNow, and fast Vertex SSDs by OCZ can be purchased at increasingly affordable levels, especially if youâ€™re willing to dip under the 100GB capacity mark. The only recommendation weâ€™d offer is to go for capacities allowing you to keep roughly 30% of the drive unused.
Super Talent: Brute Force SSD RAID
With the RAIDDrive, Super Talent anticipates next-generation flash SSD products, which will likely use even more than todayâ€™s eight to ten memory channels in an effort to accelerate performance. Putting four SSDs into a RAID 0 array essentially expands this multi-channel architecture. With that said, letâ€™s look at Super Talentâ€™s MLC-based 512GB RAIDDrive, the RGS0512M.
The RAIDDrive is a PCI Express add-on card that basically consists of an Areca RAID controller (1680IB) with four factory-mounted flash SSDs. A metal enclosure makes the product appear like an expansion board unto itself, but itâ€™s actually a conjunction of several building blocks. Super Talent offers total capacities from 192GB to 2TB, effectively covering the relevant points available in the mechanical hard drive space. Of course, the trade-off is prices in the thousands of dollars range, instead of hundreds. In exchange, youâ€™ll get enterprise-class performance based on proven components. RAIDDrive products use an Intel IOP348 processor and come with 512MB DDR2 RAM with ECC for data protection.
RAIDDrives based on RAID 0 and MLC flash memory are available at 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacities, provided by four SSDs. RAID 5 models are available with 192GB, 384GB, and 768GB total capacity. These are based on the same SSD drive capacities as the RAID 0 models, but need one driveâ€™s capacity for redundancy. Some models support SAS expanders to attach even more drives, and there is an even larger lineup of RAIDDrives based on faster SLC flash memory. RAID 0 and 5 options are available in the SLC line, and some products offer battery backup as well. One thing to mention is RAID support. You have to choose RAID 0 or 5 at the time of purchase, and the RAID level cannot be changed by the user.
The RAIDDriveâ€™s feature list is impressive. Super Talent specifies a MTBF of greater than 1.5 million hours and a data retention time of 10+ years. All of the drives employ an eight-lane PCI Express 1.1 interface, yielding a total bandwidth of 2 GB/s up and down. The spec sheet notes 1.4 GB/s burst read and 1.2 GB/s burst write speeds (which we'll put to the test), as well as a typical power consumption of 13W (idle) with four drives. Unfortunately, the factory warranty doesnâ€™t quite match the extensive reliability specifications. MLC models come with only one year of coverage. The SLC drives offer at least two years. However, this is still a far cry from the industry standard five-year warranty for enterprise-class hardware.
As you can see from the image below, the RAIDDrive is based on Areca hardware and initializes just like any other RAID controller at bootup.
In Iometer's database benchmark, the RAIDDrive cannot beat most other solutions, especially the Fusion-io products. The latter were largely optimized for this type of operation, though.
However, the RAIDDrive competes very well with a regular ioXtreme drive, which only stores 80GB instead of 512GB at comparable prices.
The RAIDDrive does even better in the file server test, where is beats the regular ioXtreme drive and maintains higher I/O performance. The results here are even higher than on the ioXtremeâ€™s improved and maximum write performance modes. The ioDrive, Fusion-ioâ€™s top of the line product, is still significantly fasterâ€”and more expensive.
The Web server test seems to be ideal for the MLC flash-powered RAIDDrive, as it competes well with most Fusion-io products. However, even a single Intel X25-M G2 drive does well in this benchmark.
Finally, thereâ€™s the workstation test. Fusion-io is largely unbeatable here, but the RAIDdrive outperforms the Intel X25-M G2.
Here is the effective throughput of the RAIDDrive. It maintains 720 MB/s, even when utilizing most of the driveâ€™s capacity. The peak throughput of 892 MB/s is actually higher than what weâ€™ve seen in ioDrives or ioXtreme drives by Fusion-io. You need two ioXtreme drives to beat this number. Once again, we want to point out that Fusion-io ships capacities of 80GB, 160GB, and 320GB, while Super Talent can easily provide 512GB or 1TB capacities, depending on what youâ€™re willing to spend. In any case, a cost per gigabyte comparison definitely falls in Super Talentâ€™s favor.
The RAIDDrive also shines when it comes to streaming writes; ioXtreme drives just canâ€™t compete here. Roughly 500 MB/s sequential, streaming write performance simply rocks.
SSDs can write 4KB blocks at a time. However, they typically have to delete much larger blocks (read-erase-modify-write), which can cause severe performance impacts. This is where Fusion-io shines with all of its products and settings, so long as you choose a configuration that optimizes for write performance. If you donâ€™t, Super Talent actually performs rather well. Intelâ€™s X25-M G2, which drops significantly in this test, offers a good comparison.