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Data Storage Intel Hardware

Intel DC S3700 SSD Features New Proprietary Controller 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
crookedvulture writes "For the first time in more than four years, Intel is rolling out a new SSD controller. The chip is featured in the DC S3700 solid-state drive, an enterprise-oriented offering that's 40% cheaper than the previous generation. The S3700 has 6Gbps SATA connectivity, end-to-end data protection, LBA tag validation, 256-bit AES encryption, and ECC throughout. It also includes onboard capacitors to prevent against data loss due to power failure; if problems with those capacitors are detected by the drive's self-check mechanism, it can disable the write cache. Intel's own high-endurance MLC NAND can be found in the drive, which is rated for 10 full disk writes per day for five years. Prices start at $235 for the 100GB model, and capacities are available up to 800GB. In addition to 2.5" models, there are also a couple of 1.8" ones for blade servers. The DC S3700 is sampling now, with mass production scheduled for the first quarter of 2013."
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Intel DC S3700 SSD Features New Proprietary Controller

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  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday November 05, 2012 @04:34PM (#41885887)

    What are context and indirection tables?

    There are some details in this Anandtech article [anandtech.com] about the tables and the controller's use of DRAM.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday November 05, 2012 @05:05PM (#41886265)

    Here's the short version - for full details, look at the Anandtech article an above user posted.

    An SSD presents itself to the system as just a flat storage device, but internally it does a lot of weird mapping to do stuff like wear-leveling. The indirection table is basically "when the CPU asks for page X, we give them flash cell Y". It used to be a rather clever B-tree, but they ditched that for a flat array to get more consistent latencies.

    I'm not sure what the context table is.

  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Monday November 05, 2012 @05:25PM (#41886469) Homepage

    The small amount of RAM on Intel's SSDs are not used to cache writes in a significant quantity. The idea that you'll only have to write the most popular cells once per shutdown is a dream. The main benefit of having a bit of reliable capacitor backup is that the drive can be less aggressive about forcing an erase of a large cell just to write a fraction of it out, therefore improving the write amplification [wikipedia.org] situation on the drive. You can even see limiting small writes as a factor in the claimed longevity of the drives if you dig into their spec sheets enough. I did an article comparing the 320 vs 710 series lifetimes [2ndquadrant.com], approaching from the perspective of one of those specialist things you allude to--database server operation. One of the things that I noticed there is that the longer lifetime of the 710 came with the restriction that you couldn't do nearly as many small random writes per second (write IOPS) and still hit the claimed lifespan target. If the cache was larger and really effective at postponing writes, that trade-off wouldn't exist.

  • Re:Proprietary (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @06:27PM (#41887173)

    there are NOT faster and cheaper drives in the market with these features, there's nothing out there right now, to my knowledge, with is capacitor-backed cache and end-to-end integrity.

    for the price intel is asking, its quite reasonable as well.

  • Except the "dirty little secret" of the industry is its NOT the cells dying that gets you, the controller dying is what bites you in the ass. if it was just the cells since when a cell fails it just ends up read only that wouldn't be so bad, but when the controller fails you flip the switch and...nothing. Not even the BIOS/UEFI detects the thing, its just gone.

    That is why even though this article is a year old [codinghorror.com] I'd urge those thinking of diving into SSD to read it, especially the comments where you see guy after guy getting bit in the ass by dead controllers. brand make a difference, OCZ being worst and Intel best, but ALL have this problem to a degree, and when it happens to you? Well lets just hope you have a VERY recent backup.

    This is why I tell my customers there are some places SSDs make sense but NOT all. If its mobile, not mission critical, and you religiously stick to a backup schedule? No problem there, if its just an OS drive with the data on HDD? No problem there, just make sure you have recent disc images so you can just clone onto the replacement, but in anything mission critical, or for those that won't stick to a rigid backup schedule? then SSD is NOT the way to go, it'll bite them on the ass and leave them in a bad way.

    They really need to come up with a second controller, one that will simply take over in the case of failure and leave the drive in a read only state. this would at least insure that when the main controller does fail you can get the data off, and its those failure rates that are keeping a lot of people (myself included) from switching.

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