At Storage Vision 2013 in January, SMART Storage Systems (a SanDisk Company) made a splash with the announcement of the CloudSpeed 1000 and 1000E enterprise SSDs. We have been patiently waiting for our chance to put these drives through their paces. In SSD time, it felt like an eternity but with our previous experience with their Optimus SSDs, we knew the wait would be worth it. Plus, SMART had a busy summer, as their acquisition by Sandisk was finalized just last week, so we will cut them some slack.
As you may have guessed, the CloudSpeed series focuses on enterprise server and cloud computing environments. Specifically, they are optimized for the mixed workload conditions that typical enterprise SSDs encounter. The CloudSpeed series is outfitted with the features you would expect from an enterprise SSD, such as error correction and detection, power loss protection, data path protection, data fail recovery and AES 256-bit encryption. SMART also throws in thermal management for good measure.
What sets SMART apart from many enterprise SSDs is their Guardian Technology Platform, which includes a proprietary suite of endurance enhancement technologies. Guardian allows SMART to squeeze every bit of write endurance out of traditional MLC NAND. How much more? SMART claims 5x higher endurance when compared to competing client MLC SSDs.
CloudSpeed SSDs also achieve a class leading level of reliability. A 2M hour MTBF and an uncorrectable bit error rate (UBER) of less than 1 in 10^18 are just a few of the highlights. The latter is a 100x improvement over the JEDEC JESD 218 specification for enterprise SSDs.
The CloudSpeed series is broken up into the 1000 and 1000E. The 1000E offers higher endurance based on a higher overprovioning, which we will take a look at later. The CloudSpeed 1000 is offered in capacities of 120, 240, 480 and 960GB, while the 1000E comes in 100, 200, 400 and 800GB capacities. We don’t have information on pricing, but based on previous SSDs, we expect prices to be competitive.
The specifications for the CloudSpeed SSDs are very competitive when compared to their peers. Random write IOPS specifically stands out. SMART is offering the CloudSpeed product line in much that same way that Seagate is with their 600 Pro SSDs. By offering the 1000E, the user gives up capacity in exchange for endurance and random write performance. In many cases, this is a much better value proposition than buying more expensive eMLC-based SSDs. While the MLC NAND in the 1000E can’t match the 5-10 drive writes per day (DWPD) of higher-end NAND, it should provide a nice middle ground in terms of endurance and price.
The only disappointment, if you can even call it that, is the sequential performance. While the 1000 and 1000E offer equal performance across all capacities, that speed is roughly 10% below the competition.
Before we get to our results, we need to open the drives and take a look around.