X-25E – Intel’s Enterprise-Class SSD

Intel has recently announced its latest solid-state drive (SSD), called X-25E. According to the firm, the result is an increase in server, workstation, and storage system performance by up to 100 times over traditional hard-disk drives, when measured in input/output per second (IOPS) metrics.
The new drive is part of Intel’s new line of SSDs; only recently the company released the X-25M solid-state drive for the consumer market. Now, they target the servers market. Unlike Intel’s X-25M, the X-25E is based on single-level cell (SLC) technology – more expensive, reliable, and (typically) faster than multi-cell level cell (MLC) technology used on Intel’s consumer model.
 
“Solid-state drive technology will change the economics of enterprise data centers,” said John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems. “SSDs, along with our systems and Solaris ZFS with hybrid storage pools, are important components of the Open Storage initiative. Sun expects to offer enterprise storage solutions that will exploit the breakthrough performance of Intel’s High Performance Solid-State Drives and deliver significant performance gains while consuming a fraction of the energy of traditional spinning disk arrays.”
 
The Intel X-25E offers 35,000 IOPS random read and 3,300 IOPS random write and 75 microsecond read latency. In terms of data transfer, it means the users could achieve up to 250 MB/s sequential read speed and up to 170 MB/s sequential write speed(one of the highest numbers for any SLC SSD currently on the market). Moreover, the new drive has a long lifetime; it is capable of writing up to 4,000TB of data over a three-year period, or 3.7TB per day, an important factor to consider for an enterprise storage product.
 
One of the big drawbacks of the X25-E is its price/capacity – at $695 for only 32GB (compared to about 80GB for the X-25M which cost about $100 less, but also offer slower sequential write speed); the X25-E could fit a very narrow niche. According to Intel a 64GB version is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2009 – no price mentioned.
 
Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel’s Server Platforms group, believes that the new technologies involved could beat predictions made regarding storage capacities. “Hard disk drive performance has not kept pace with Moore’s Law; Intel’s high-performance SSDs unleash the full performance of the latest Intel Xeon processor-based systems while increasing reliability and lowering the total cost of ownership for a broad range of server and storage workloads.”
 
TFOT has only recently looked at the present and near future of the SSD market, including Intel’s SSD line. TFOT also covered Toshiba’s 256GB Solid State Drive, which uses MLC technology, and the ioSAN, the world’s first networked enterprise solid-state drive (SSD), which makes it possible to extend the raw power of SSD across the network. Other related TFOT stories include the SanDisk Vaulter Disk, a device which enables faster launching and loading of software on laptops and on personal computers, and the SDHC Class 6 memory cards, designated for ASUS’ Eee PC, made by Taiwanese memory manufacturer A-DATA.
 
For more information on Intel’s X-25E, see the company’s press release.