When it comes to storage media, HDDs and SSDs for servers are driving technical development. Even the SSD with PCIe 5.0 connection is already on the home stretch.
The classic magnetic hard disk remains a field for technical innovations. In 2021 Western Digital (WD) showed how the capacity on HDDs can be further increased. The company relies on the Optinand technology. This includes HDDs with an additional NAND flash memory, which is housed on the main board of the HDD and is already being sold by the company for smartphones under the name iNand. In contrast to earlier hybrid hard drives (SSHDs), WD does not use the flash memory to store user data there, but to save parts of the metadata – such as the positions of the write heads or magnetic interference in neighboring sectors. According to WD, this data can grow to several gigabytes that previously landed on the magnetic disks. Thanks to the new HDD technology, the capacity gained in this way can be used for user data. At the same time, the pace of work benefits because the metadata can be accessed more quickly. Optinand is intended for all WD HDDs with a capacity of 20 TB or more. A first example can be found in the WD Gold Enterprise Class SATA HDD 20 TB, which, however, also has a handsome price of 730 euros (RRP).
WD achieves a plus in capacity and speed with HDDs with Optinand technology. Because this is where the metadata ends up on the built-in flash memory, not on the magnetic disks. All HDDs from 20 TB should benefit.
© Western Digital
In the consumer sector, SSDs with a PCI Express 4.0 connection are currently establishing themselves, with transfer rates of up to 7.4 GB per second. But solid state disks with PCIe 5.0 are already in the starting blocks. They are initially intended for server use. Samsung wants to be at the forefront and has with the
even a specific model already in store. It should appear in parallel to the Intel server CPU series Sapphire Rapids in the second quarter, even if initially only in a small edition. The server processors support both DDR5 main memory and the PCIe 5.0 interface. If the SSD is supplied with four lanes (x4), it can almost double the data rates compared to its predecessor. Then a maximum of 14 to 16 GB per second would be possible. The announced Samsung PM1743 uses the server format E3.S, which is similar to the 2.5-inch format, and relies on TLC-NAND (Triple Level Cell), which saves three bits per cell and is said to come from its own production.
Samsung wants to be at the forefront of SSDs with a PCIe 5.0 interface. This is shown by the server SSD PM1743, for which a specific release date has already been set in the second quarter.
Even if Samsung relies on its own controllers for its SSDs, the activities of controller manufacturers show that it will not take too long with PCI Express 5.0 SSDs. So did Phison with that
the test phase of prototypes at partners has already been completed and production is going on. So nothing stands in the way of a delivery this year.
How interested companies are in SSDs with PCIe 5.0 is shown by manufacturer Phison, whose E26 controller chip will already be delivered to SSD manufacturers this year – initially with a focus on server SSDs.
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