On our bench presently are two very high capacity SSDs that we are putting through the paces, one being a 4TB and the other a 8TB notebook form factor SSD. Both use a single controller, perform at typical SATA 3 speeds and use no more power than the typical SSD. This technology is presently available to enterprise and oem customers, however, it will also be available to the consumer in a few months. As a bit of precedence to our upcoming report, we offered Novachips an opportunity to speak of their new flash memory as a bit of an introduction to where they see tech going; HakJune Oh, Director of Novachips Technical Marketing was happy to respond.
Novachips’ HyperLink Solid-State-Drive (HLSSD) technology boosts high storage capacity throughput and capacity over Asynchronous, ONFi and Toggle Mode NAND interfaces by 2 to 10 times.
Conventional NAND flash interfaces are based on a parallel multi-drop bus structure and are capable of operating at transfer rates of only just 66MB/s to 400MB/s in DDR. This type of parallel flash memory bus structure only supports a limited number of NAND chips on each flash channel. This is because bus operating speed exponentially drops as each signal’s capacitive loading increases, which is a physical limit compelled by their system design. This limitation requires SSD designs with a large number of channels in order to match the high speed host throughput of 4GB/s, or to 7.8GB/s for 8 lanes of PCIe Gen 2 or Gen 3, in order to make a few tera-byte class SSDs in small-form-factors such as 2.5”.
In the enterprise server space, where PCIe is often used to connect storage hardware, SSDs require as many as 16 to 32 channels to provide the throughput demanded by the system interface. The need to increase capacity makes this situation worse with the proliferation of NAND flash memory channels.
Advances in NAND flash interface design with respect to speed and capacity have, for the most part, been modest. They have not kept up with the growth in system interconnect throughput and the trend toward larger storage capacity.
THE HLNAND POINT-TO-POINT RING TOPOLOGY
The HLNAND Point-to-Point Ring Topology HLNAND™ (HyperLink NAND) is the only new flash memory interface equipped to deal with the issue of reducing the complexity of the SSD design as interconnect speeds increase, while simultaneously increasing SSD capacity.
HLNAND with the HyperLink interface utilizes a serial, point-to-point, daisy-chain topology to connect up to 255 HLNAND flash devices in a single flash channel. This is called a ‘Ring’. Because each HLNAND flash device is only connected to the next device in the Ring, it is driving just one load. Therefore, maximum operational speed is maintained regardless of the number of devices populated in the Ring. Each interface operates at up to 800MB/s regardless of the number of devices. Thus, HLNAND is highly scalable, offering developers a simpler approach to designing a wide variety of storage applications without the scaling problems inherent with parallel buses.
This design meets future requirements. As the industry considers increasing PCIe lanes and moving to PCIe Gen 3, we see that conventional 400MB/s flash will require more than 16 channels to saturate the host interconnect. Because it requires only 8 channels, HLSSD can take advantage of the high throughput offered by SATA 6.0 Gb/s or PCIe Gen 2 or 3 thus making it suitable for the enterprise market and applications that need extremely high performance with big capacity in a small form factor.
HLSSD powered by HLNAND technology is yet another improvement over earlier interconnect designs for NAND flash storage world. It boosts NAND flash transfer speed to 800MB/s from the conventional speed of 400MB/s of parallel bus technologies. Because the HLNAND device is serial and daisy-chained, storage can be added without increasing the number of flash channels. This meets the needs of the most demanding industrial, military, and enterprise data-center’s big capacity storage applications.
Stay tuned for our SSD reports on both the 4 and 8TB Novachips Scalar SSD in a few days. As a bit of a teaser, here is an 8TB SATA SSD result, this being accomplished through a notebook size, single controller SSD solution:
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