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New Seagate Nytro SSD line uses Toshiba 3D NAND chips

发表时间:2018-08-24 09:46

Seagate shows off its firsttriple-level cell, 64-layer 3D NAND Nytro SSDs since investing in Toshiba NAND.Analysts wonder if the HDD giant waited too long to get serious about flash.

Seagate Technology has newNVMe-based PCIe and SATA enterprise solid-state drives that use denser 3D NANDflash technology thanks to its investment in a Bain-Capital-led consortium'sJune purchase of Toshiba's memory business.

The new Seagate Nytro SSDmodels, demonstrated at the Flash Memory Summit last week, are the company'sfirst products to use triple-level cell, 64-layer 3D NAND chips from ToshibaMemory Corp. The Nytro 5020 NVMe-based PCIe SSD and Nytro 1351 and1551 SATA SSDs double the maximum raw capacity and improve performance overprior models that used two-dimensional, multilevel cell NAND flash from anotherchipmaker.

"We improvedthe controller, and the NAND geometry helps as well," said TonyAfshary, director of product management for SSD storage products at Seagate."We can put more NAND down, so we have more bits to work with to improvelatency and performance."

A dominant player inHDDs, Seagate has struggled to achieve a similar level of success inthe enterprise SSD market. Seagate, based in Cupertino, Calif., trails marketleaders such as Samsung, Toshiba and Western Digital (WD) thatall manufacture NAND flash chips, as well as SSDs. But Afshary claimed thecompany is finally making the "right investments" to grow SSD sales.

Tough row to hoe

Howard Marks, founder and chief scientist atDeepStorage LLC, an independent test lab in Santa Fe, N.M., said Seagate facesa "tough row to hoe" on a long-term basis. All of the top enterpriseSSD vendors own their own flash foundries, and HDD archrival WD closed on itsSanDisk acquisition in 2016 to gain a significant piece of Toshiba's memorybusiness, he said. Toshiba and WD's SanDisk have a NAND flashmanufacturing partnership.

Seagate acquiredSandForce controller software from LSI in 2014 and struck a deal withMicron in 2015 for NAND supply. But, Marks said, Seagate got only a small pieceof Toshiba's memory business when the Bain-Capital-led consortium closed on theestimated $18 billion acquisition. Seagate listed its investment at about $1.27billion in cash.

Seagate Nytro SSD


Seagate's new Nytro SSD

Jim Handy, general director and semiconductoranalyst at Objective Analysis, a research firm in Los Gatos, Calif., thinksflash supply is the least of Seagate's worries. The company needs to beef upits marketing efforts and put together programs and incentives for its salesteam to sign as many SSD orders as possible, he said.

"Seagate could be a top SSD player ifthey put their hearts and souls into the effort, but for whatever reason theyhave not," Handy said. "They didn't do what they should have done andused their ownership of the enterprise hard drive market to parlay that intoownership of the SSD market. They could have done that. They should have donethat."

Lack of focus

Seagate has alow percentage of the enterprise SATA, SAS and NVMe-based PCIe enterprise SSDmarkets, according to Don Jeanette, a vice president at Trendfocus, based inCupertino, Calif. He attributed Seagate's SSD woes to a lack of focus, the highnumber of products the company supports, and its cost structure for SSDs. ButJeanette thinks Seagate's access to Toshiba's NAND flash supply could help.

"They have done very well over thedecades with enterprise HDDs and their customers. Having thosecustomer relationships and protocol expertise with SATA and SAS should alsohelp them," Jeanette wrote in an email. "Also, having both HDD andSSD offerings should also help them with certain customers. There are two maincomponents within every SSD -- one is the controller, and the other is theNAND. NAND is the largest percentage of cost within any SSD."

Dennis Martin, president and founder ofDemartek LLC, a research firm in Golden, Colo., said Seagate stands a chance ifit can get a good supply of NAND flash chips and stay competitive on price."SSDs are close to being a commodity, so price is very important. You haveto drive down the cost to get up in the same league as WD, Toshiba, Samsung oranybody else making SSDs," Martin said.

Seagate Nytro SSD features

Features that Afshary claimed make theSeagate Nytro SSD stand out from the competition include the DuraWrite compressionand compacting technology acquired from SandForce and the ability to delivermaximum performance at a low level of power consumption, Afshary said.

The new NVMe-based PCIe Nytro 5020 SSDsupports 21,000 IOPS per watt in the 1.5 drive write per day (DWPD) modeland improves the maximum random read performance to 400,000 IOPS, Afshary said.The maximum random write performance is 100,000 IOPS, according to Seagate'swebsite.

The Nytro 5020 is available in 2.5-inch U.2and 22-mm-by-110-mm M.2 form factors. Capacity ranges from 1.6 TB to 7.6 TB inthe U.2 model and 800 GB to 3.8 TB in the M.2 SSD. Endurance options are 1.5DWPD and 0.3 DWPD in the M.2 SSD, but the U.2 model is available only at 1.5DWPD.

SATA-based Seagate Nytro SSD options

The new SATA-based Seagate Nytro SSD optionsare one DWPD for the read-intensive 1351 model and three DWPD for the 1551model targeting mixed database, virtual desktop infrastructure and cloud usecases. Seagate previously offered only one DWPD SATA SSDs, but added the higherendurance three DWPD option in response to customer requests, Afshary said.

Capacity ranges from 240 GB to 3.84 TB forboth the Nytro 1351 and 1551 models. The maximum performance is 94,000 IOPS forrandom reads and 55,000 IOPS for random writes, according to Seagate's website.

As the industry starts to shift tofaster NVMe SSDs, Afshary said, Seagate continues to sell slower 6Gbps SATA drives because projections show more than 50 million SATA SSDs in theenterprise for at least the next four or five years. "We still see lifeout there in hyperscale in some array business," he said, "and verypredominantly in the server market and the channel and OEM markets."


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