As the sort of person that can get addicted to deep technology discussions about the latest thing, without due care and attention I could easily fall into the pit of storage related technologies. From the storage bits through to software defined cache hierarchy, there is so much to learn and to talk about. Over the last two years, unless you were living under a rock, it would have been hard to miss the level of attention that Intel's 3D XPoint technology (a co-venture with Micron) has been getting. Billed as a significant disruption to the storage market, and claiming an intersection between DRAM and SSDs as a form of non-volatile storage, many column inches have been devoted to the potential uses of 3D XPoint. Despite all this talk, and promises that Intel's Super 7 partners are well under way with qualifying the hardware in their datacenters, we are yet to actually see it come to market - or even be actively demonstrated in any sizeable volume at a trade show. We're expecting more information this year, but while everyone is waiting, Samsung has snuck up behind everyone with their new Z-SSD product line.

The Z-SSD line was announced back at Flash Memory Summit, although details were scant. This was a PCIe NVMe storage technology using Samsung's new 'Z-NAND', which was aimed at the intersection between DRAM and SSDs (sounds like 3D XPoint?). Z-NAND is ultimately still baked in as NAND, although designed differently to provide better NAND characteristics. We still don't know the exact way this happens - some analysts have pointed to this being 3D NAND/V-NAND running in SLC mode, given some of the performance metrics, but this is still unknown.

At Cloud Expo Europe, Samsung had a Z-SSD on display and started talking numbers, if not the technology itself. The first drive for select customers to qualify will be 800GB in a half-height PCIe 3.0 x4 card. Sequential R/W will be up to 3.2 GBps, with Random R/W up to 750K/160K IOPS. Latency (presumably read latency) will be 70% lower than current NVMe drives, partially due to the new NAND but also a new controller, which we might hear about during Samsung's next tech day later this year. We are under the impression that the Z-NAND will also have high endurance, especially if it comes down to fewer bits per cell than current NAND offerings, but at this point it is hard to tell.

Initial reports indicated that Samsung was preparing 1TB, 2TB and 4TB drives under the Z-SSD banner. At present only the 800GB is on the table, which if we take into account overprovisioning might just be the 1TB drive anyway. Nothing was said about other capacities or features, except that the customers Samsung is currently dealing with are very interested in getting their hands on the first drives.

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  • romrunning - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    While I'm not sure why Optane SSDs haven't been released yet, the delay makes it seem quite possible that Samsung may release their Z-SSDs first. Always nice to see competition between currently the best SSD designers (junky Intel 600p notwithstanding)!
  • ddriver - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Optane appears to be mostly hype, for we've heard so much about its superior density and now we hear it comes to consumers in the form of piny capacity "cache".

    Quite frankly, nand flash is good enough, all it needs is better caching, more cache and more intelligent controllers. That alone can do miracles in terms of performance, the rest is just parallelism, which increases the rate cache can be filled from or flushed to.

    Currently SSDs tend to do slower because they do controller level parallelism, so the low flash die count reflects negatively on the maximum throughput rates. But nand flash can be made incorporating die level parallelism, where one splits capacity to offer multiple channels per die, making it possible to achieve tens of gigabytes per second without the need of numerous dies, only bigger and more powerful controllers.

    Multi channel nand flash dies + more ram cache + better controllers + a trivial LiPo battery to facilitate larger cache flushing can produce ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE faster SSDs without the need of ANY new and as usual overpriced technology.
  • close - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    If they give you everything today what will they give you tomorrow? Look at Intel, trickling improvements down the products line 1MHz at a time :).
  • garbagedisposal - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    Another disabled/psychotic with nothing better to do than comment on technology news. What a sad way to live life.
  • MrSpadge - Sunday, March 19, 2017 - link

    While I often disagree with ddriver complaining about something, and especially the way he's saying it, you trying to insult him with being disabled is definitely worse. At least he sometimes has objectively valid points.
  • fanofanand - Monday, March 20, 2017 - link

    Not to mention in this case he isn't wrong.
  • Samus - Sunday, March 19, 2017 - link

    dd, always good for s hoot.
  • Cellar Door - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Its really great to have Samsung in the market - in the last 6+ years, they are the only company pushing the envelope. Intel goes and tries to squeeze and milk the market then BAM - 840 PRO, 850 PRO, 960 PRO.

    And to be fair at much lower premiums then what Intel charged when x-25 was around and would be charging end customers if they could.
  • ddriver - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    "Its really great to have Samsung in the market" - and its CEO is currently in court, the company lost a good 5+ billion on the note fiasco and is about to be dismembered into tiny pieces.

    That's what happens when a puppet begins to outshine its master. It gets knocked down couple of notches. And by puppet and master I mean the fact that S. Korea is a US puppet state.
  • Reflex - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Congratulations! You took the award for the most bizarre comment of the day!

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