back to article Super SSD tech: Fancy a bonkers 8TB all-flash PC?

Fancy an 8TB SSD? Put one in a PC or notebook and you've got yourself a smoking hot system, fast and with a gaping capacity for data. Zsolt Kerekes of StorageSearch flagged up Novachips and its coming 8TB 2.5-inch SSD. This story is being written on an iMac with a 1TB Fusion drive (combined SSD and HDD) which is pretty near …

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  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Afordable, probably not yet.

    But give it a while and bingo!

    Want.

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    Want, even without the insane performance.

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    Excuse me

    "Current 3.5-inch disk drive tech is at the 6TB level, with helium-filling extending that to 8TB and shingling to 10TB at some time in the future."

    I'm fairly sure that it's not the helium-filling that gives a boost to areal density.

    1. tony72

      Re: Excuse me

      Maybe read Why filling hard drives with helium can boost storage capacity by 50%. Less dense gas = less turbulence = more platters in a given volume. Apparently, anyway; I know nothing but what the internet tells me.

    2. malle-herbert Silver badge

      Re:I'm fairly sure that it's not the helium-filling that gives a boost to areal density.

      Erm... yes it is...

      Because helium is less dense than air (mostly nitrogen) the read/write heads can "float" closer to the platters surface causing the magnetic field to become smaller in size and thus being able to change the magnetic polarity of the material on an even smaller scale...

    3. PleebSmash

      Re: Excuse me

      I'm fairly sure that it's not the helium-filling that gives a boost to areal density.

      The text you quoted didn't say anything about areal density.

      HDDs manufacturers have lost the storage density race to SSDs. They just have to hold on to the $/TB crown to survive.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Excuse me

        C'mon the helium air is to make it easier for the Munchkin workers to breathe as they work harder to store and retrieve all of those bits!

      2. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Meh

        Re: Excuse me

        "They just have to hold on to the $/TB crown to survive." is not the only thing which is for spinning magnetic disk, and cost difference is quite significant still; they don't have a write life limit and there is still the possibility that a failed drive can have data recovered off it, unlike a failed flash drive! This is why I have all my flash disks as RAID1 and not larger than 256GB per disk.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Excuse me

          "They don't have a write life limit and there is still the possibility that a failed drive can have data recovered off it, unlike a failed flash drive! "

          If you can hit the write limit in a current generation flash drive then you're deliberately going out of your way to do so - and you're about to find that shingled spinny drives don't like repeated overwrites.

          The trends on warranty periods for Spinning vs SSD drives are a good indicator of reliability. Bear in mind that _every single_ HDD marker which went out of business since 1990 did so because the failure rate within warranty period killed them.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Excuse me

        "HDDs manufacturers have lost the storage density race to SSDs. They just have to hold on to the $/TB crown to survive."

        One reseller has confided to me that buyers are avoiding shingled drives like the plague and as the vendors have been piling a lot of eggs into that basket I don't hold out much hope for long-term survival

        The next generation of Samsung SSDs will probably be large+cheap enough(*) that the chinese ministry of commerce will decided that WD can fold HGST under its wing after all, because at that stage having 2 or 1 spinning oxide maker left in business won't matter.

        The 850Evo could easily fit 4TB in its case already and the 850Pro 3TB. The reason Samsung didn't was simply that they didn't expect to be able to sell enough to make it worthwhile. I suspect they'll rescind that conservatism in the next round (hell, if they start selling 4Tb SSDs I'll buy 250-400 up front for a project I'm working on even if they end up around the 500 squid mark)

  4. Timmay
    Meh

    They can sure stuff a lot of data in their ring.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bonkers!

    Bonker capacity - check.

    Bonker speed - check.

    Bonker price - er... no idea?

    Want factor: above eleven.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Bonkers!

      Bonker reliability? Or maybe not?

      So what happens if the ring is broken?

      1. LaeMing
        Coat

        Re: So what happens if the ring is broken?

        You get a goatse error?

  6. Mikel

    Probably enterprise gear pricing

    But the cost of SSD continues to go down and the density up. At some point spinning rust will die.

    Which reminds me - I have a use for some of those mechanical parts. Off to the tech salvage store!

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Probably enterprise gear pricing

      But the cost of SSD continues to go down and the density up. At some point spinning rust will die.

      Beware of extrapolating. Maybe you are right, but you are assuming it will be possible either to get several terabytes onto just a few chips, like at present they can get a quarter-terabyte onto just a few chips. Since they're already close to the physical limit of how small a flash memory cell can be made, and also close to the limit of how closely such cells can be packed on a chip, you have to go to a new technology. 3D Flash may be the answer, but does it scale? from a few tens of layers (as currently shipping) up to many hundreds of layers (which would be what's needed to reach 6Tb from 250Gb at constant price -- and that's making the optimistic assumption, that more 3D layers increases production cost at a much slower rate than linear.

      Meanwhile, I suspect that 5Tb disk drives will continue to fall in price until they reach the same price point that every other size of disk drive previously shipped have reached. That's about £30 for desktop-grade and about £70 for server-grade. The higher prices on larger drives are manufacturers recouping their R&D costs while the market will support a premium price.

      Meanwhile, when HAMR goes into production, "spinning rust" will scale to tens of Tb per drive. Spinning rust is nowhere near its physical density limit in the radial direction, it's just that you can't radially address it for writing with a purely magnetic head.

      1. PleebSmash

        Re: Probably enterprise gear pricing

        Current 3D NAND uses large process nodes. Samsung currently uses 30-39nm. Micron's first parts will be larger than 20nm. Samsung already sells a 32 layer product and Intel/Micron will sell a 32 layer product this year. 64-96 layers is probably doable. 1000 layers is probably achievable. I hope it doesn't end before 100,000 to 1 million layers.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Probably enterprise gear pricing

        "3D Flash may be the answer, but does it scale?"

        Yes. Samsung say they can ship 127 layers (up from their current 32) immediately

        "Meanwhile, when HAMR goes into production, "spinning rust" will scale to tens of Tb per drive."

        The last hard drive research lab was shut down in 2008 and staff laid off. Shingling came to market 5 years late. HAMR may rejuvenate the market, but our exoerience over a few thousand drives is that reliability is declining, so do you want to trust 10s of Gb to a single fragile drive?

    2. Tom 64

      Re: Probably enterprise gear pricing

      Agreed, this kind of innovation - the ring bus subsystem, needs to have its development costs covered. This is not going to be cheaper than a consumer grade disk by any measure.

  7. FlossyThePig

    When?

    When will SSDs go native? At the moment they just emulate HDs, so could we get speed increases by getting rid of the emulation?

    I gave up caring about Direct Access when I left ICL in 1979. Perhaps it's time to resurrect the concept.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When?

      Actually, the highest-performance SSDs don't use a drive architecture, instead interfacing directly with the PCI Express bus. I don't know if PCIe Flash can do direct memory-mapping on 64-bit architectures, but it's not that far from the metal at this point.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: When?

      This SSD (and other top of the line ones) use NVMe, which is designed for solid state devices accessed over PCIe.

      To be honest I have no idea how this is different from AHCI etc. but I'm told it's Better (tm).

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: When?

      "When will SSDs go native?"

      NVMe pretty much _is_ native, just in a standardised form factor which makes 'em compatible with existing tech and easy to changeout in servers if they go titsup.

      You can already get PCIe SSD cards and their price is constantly falling.

  8. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Long term storage

    Long term storage is a no no with SSDs, so I see them as backup friendly.

    Also, there is that little problem of razor sharp margins and excess demand: they just can't make enough chips to substitute the HDDs.

    1. Metrognome

      Re: Long term storage

      With all due respect, razor thin margins and excess demand are kind of incompatible in most economic scenarios.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Long term storage

      "Long term storage is a no no with SSDs"

      I have eeproms last written 30 years ago which are still good. The reality is that noone's actually quantified storage lifetime on SSDs over decade-periods and in any case the bigger issue with backups (even LTOs) is that anything sufficiently old can't be read because there's no remaining technology which can read it.

      Try buying a new Exabyte, AIT-1 DLT or LTO1 drive and you'll see what I mean.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    Get me a reliable 1Tb SSD at a price that isn't a significant fraction of a new laptop, and we'll talk.

    More than happy to jump on board, but prices are prohibitive for any serious use at the moment.

    That said, there are some cheap junk for £30 each on Amazon that are in the 32-64Gb range which is perfect for client machines for me.... that's the size of the image I put on them and all other storage is network. And £30 per machine is do-able, even factoring in a shed-load of replacements. It'd cost me that for new replacement hard drives of any size.

    But for actual STORAGE, I have 2Tb just in my old laptop (two drive bays, essential!) and that's feeling the strain with only a few hundred gig free. Replacing that with SSD is £400-500 of upgrade before I start any kind of expansion.

    SSD will kill hard drives, but not before the price per terabyte comes into the same order of magnitude.

    1. chris 17

      @ Lee D

      2TB is a lot to be carting about, is it important? is it backed up, what happens if the laptop is lost/stolen, what happens if the drive dies?

      Surely you only use a hundred GB or so of that data at a time that could be easily cached on an affordable (<£150) SSD, the rest could be resiliently stored with fast remote access to it.

      the concept of carting all your data around is outmoded. Fast networks and fast storage reduce the need to have all your stuff with you.

      1. JamesTQuirk

        Some use the HDD as backup, I am about to replace 2, 2TB drives in main system, both @ 99% Capacity, with 4TB drive's, the 2, 2TB will go the shelf, as the backup to new drives once backup has been achieved, they will gather dust (in plastic box) with the original backup 1TB's & "those that came before it". So any "retrieval" is plugging a HHD in, this of course, can gather speed over time, & so I have a 80 litre plastic tub full of previous HDD ...

        However I think SSD is next cab on rank as far as HDD goes, 8TB? Nova-chips 8TB's sound fine but, cost is always issue. As I know 4TB all flash PCI card based are still around $20000, always things evolve, but a permanent solution is still ahead ...

        ( HGST FlashMAX II 4.8TB PCIe Enterprise SSD HVFM24848AHP200 $23866.98)

        Some are trying ..

        5D ‘Superman memory’ crystal could lead to unlimited lifetime data storage

        http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2013/jul/13_131.shtml

    2. PleebSmash

      The only consumers who "need" more than 256 GB of NAND are gamers that want to store full games on the SSD (and games regularly top 50 GB now).

      In the states, some 1 TB models (not "Tb" you pleb) have dipped to $350. That's roughly 10x the $/TB of hard drives. Getting a 128 or 240-256 GB SSD is a great proposition for speeding up a personal computer. 8 TB bulk storage? Not so much. Yet.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Please note: I do have 30-40Gb images running every user in an entire school, with every driver and every piece of software on them, on 320Gb hard drives to give people a bit of leeway on profile size etc.

        My C drive on a machine I imaged for myself last week is using 60Gb already.

        Install a couple of games and you can add 20-30 Gb EACH for some of the AAA titles.

        But you know what something like 70% of my active storage is comprised of? Photographs. 18Mpixel huge damn JPEGs in their thousands, thrown into a folder.

        Two years worth will fill up any 320Gb drive that our computers come supplied with by default (and we buy low-to-mid-end business machines for clients).

        On Amazon, you can get a 1Tb external drive for about £50. I do not know of a single computer user that does not have one "to put their photos on". And there's a reason they have them - they fill up their machines with them.

        We're not talking power users, gamers, or anything else here. We're talking using the computer as your first go-to storage for anything. Sync an iTunes library and you can end up downloading 10's of Gigabytes. You don't need to be a power user to easily fill up a few hundred Gigs of machine within a year, and power users are more likely to know how to properly manage storage than any.

        Sorry, but my latest batch of machines comes with 1Tb drives by default for a reason - even on low-end hardware. For business purposes, our databases are in the 10Gb or so area with a few terabytes of total storage for hundreds of users. I have MORE than that at home just in photo and home movie archives. People's personal storage is HUMONGOUS nowadays, far exceeding anything they'd have or need in work which tends to pertain to... well... only work, and they don't realise they are syncing their entire photo store with cloud providers etc. all the time and then syncing that back down to their PC's.

        And my biggest storage users are people bringing in photos, syncing their Google Drive, DropBox, iCloud, iTunes etc. accounts and accidentally bringing down their entire dozens-of-gigs home photo archives.

        My dad is a complete non-techy. His computer doesn't even have office as he never writes a letter, he just uses it for browsing. He's not a photographer, or a videographer, and doesn't have any fancy photoshop or anything like that installed. He's bought two external backup drives to my knowledge, because he filled up the laptop to the point nothing would install, and then filled up the data partition on it that he didn't know he had, then filled up the first external device he bought.

        Home movies every time you have the grandkids in the park, and a thousand 18Mpixel images from every trip you go on will push you into the 1Tb territory in NO TIME AT ALL.

        I'm honestly surprised at the response. I thought I was doing well to only have 2Tb of live storage. I know techy people with 24Tb RAID arrays in their houses who curse that it's so expensive to go any higher.

        1. JamesTQuirk

          As a Great Grand Dad, with many computer literate "underlings" , I HAVE to agreed, people who "think" there storage is adequate, hasn't used it ...., Know this since beginning of HTML & PDF, & mainly postscript showing how much memory is required (depend on resolution), & in 43 years computers have taught me numbers only go UP, not Down !!!

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Replacing that with SSD is £400-500 of upgrade before I start any kind of expansion."

      1TB 850Evos are 366 inc vat at Misco. Based on past performance, the next generation will be half that.

      On the other hand, 5TB Hitachi 7k6000 SAS drives are about 50 quid cheaper and the price has stayed more or less static for years.

      5 times the price, for several hundred times the performance? A lot of people will take that and endurance doesn't matter in an enterprise environment as long as it's "Long enough" to last the support period.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What’s not to like?

    "Fatal drive error:

    - click "1" to reinstall your OS

    - click "2" to find out how to recover your ssd data

    - click "3" to find out why "backup, fuck me!!!" is the appropriate reaction now

  11. stewski

    makes my 8TB raid nas look out of date

    This tech makes my raid 5 nas look a bit old hat.

    Bet the price is a bit steep though...

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Re: makes my 8TB raid nas look out of date

      Saw a 2TB SSD for $2000.... :)

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    'ow do you do that, then?

    > Endurance of five years at 10 full drive writes/day

    OK, I admit I needed my fingers and my toes to work this one out.

    But 10 "full drive writes" per day seems to me to be 80TB of data.

    A day contains 86,400 seconds. So to write 80TB (80,000 GB) in that number of seconds requires a write-rate of:

    80,000 / 86400 or about 0.9 GByte/sec.

    But the drive spec says it can write less than 560MB/sec.

    </confused>

    1. Archaon

      Re: 'ow do you do that, then?

      If they said 5 writes per day over 10 years (halving your calculated speed down to 450MB/sec) would it make the slightest difference to you? Probably not.

      As much as I also want one this is a business product which means 3-5 year refreshes. Does a vendor want to say anything will last for 10 years? Hell no.

      Especially given that it's all estimated - otherwise these drives would've started testing 5 years ago.

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: 'ow do you do that, then?

      I suspect that you can perform a full write of 1Tb internally by sending a lot less than 1Tb of data to the SSD down the bus. These things are internally structured into pages much larger than a classical disk drive sector. Writing (say) one sector out of twenty at random probably forces at least one full write of the solid-state storage medium.

      It's similar to doing small writes to a shingled HDD, but without the speed penalty.

    3. John B Stone
      Holmes

      Re: 'ow do you do that, then?

      I suspect the headline figures for the drive as a whole are hiding the fact that the limitation likely applies to individual bits. So while whole drive writes are rare, repeatedly writing the same chunk of memory over and over is common (internal drive sector mapping, paging files, other rapidly changing data), will wear this thing out quickly. So you are dependent on clever firmware to constantly and dynamically reallocate memory to different areas of the device. So lifetime is likely dependent on how good the reallocation algorithm is.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: 'ow do you do that, then?

        > writing the same chunk of memory over and over is common

        Quite so. And when the marketing people stick their oar in, "10 full drive writes/day for 5 years" sounds a whole lot more impressive than a single block life of less than 20,000 write operations.

  13. Ammaross Danan

    "Assuming pricing were affordable, such SSDs could basically kill the PC and notebook disk drive market in a couple of years"

    The NAND market is barely able to keep up with demand for smartphone chips and the desktop "C Drive" demands. You start replacing ALL desktop drives with this and there won't be enough chips to go around.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The transition will be gradual because the price premium's still too high at present. Meanwhile, 3D Flash foundries are starting to go live for full-scale production and these will be using older chip tech as a base, giving them room to shrink even as they gain room to stack. Road might be a bit rocky at first, I'll grant you, but if the premium lowers itself gradually as economies of scale pick up on 3D Flash, I think desktop systems will become more primarily- or all-Flash within the scale of a decade if not sooner.

  14. Little Mouse
    Mushroom

    "What’s not to like?"

    Umm - the cost?

  15. mark jacobs
    Thumb Up

    Compare these to the 20MB MFM drives of not so long ago!

    I have been running a 128GB Samsung 840EVO SSD (with the relevant firmware patch) for 9 months now. The OS is on it so it gets plenty of reads and writes every day. It is always blisteringly fast, and I am still surprised at its speed even after 9 months of its unfailing alacrity. I still have over 90GB free, despite putting all my apps on it (my data goes on a standard 7200 rpm 500GB SATA 3 hard disk). It's not the transfer speeds (read and write) that get me, but the access times being in microseconds instead of milliseconds. Sometimes, it seems to have done what you wanted before you've even pressed "Enter"! This Novachips 8TB 1.8GB/s drive will probably become the norm, and drive speeds will start to tax the i7 processors we currently run at 4.4GHz! Wicked!

    1. Tom 64

      Re: Compare these to the 20MB MFM drives of not so long ago!

      Your OS, all your apps and 90Gb free from 128?

      You sir, are clearly not a Windows gamer ;)

      1. mark jacobs
        Coat

        Re: Compare these to the 20MB MFM drives of not so long ago!

        I run Windows 8.1 Professional on it. The reason that there is so much free space is because I had to wipe the drive and restore from an OS DVD with absolutely no foistware on it at all, just the bare OS. 'Kin A! Mean and lean is how I like to run things. Crude and rude.

        What's nice about a small capacity SSD boot drive, is that I can easily and quickly switch the PC on to check something out on t'Internet, or some code I've written, and get to what I need in under 20 seconds. Browser load from cold start is pretty much immediate on an i7. Almost like instant-on. From sleep, it is instant-on!

    2. JamesTQuirk

      Re: Compare these to the 20MB MFM drives of not so long ago!

      As somebody who has formatted & used MFM 20 meg drives, I payed $1495.00 a pop for 4, back in day of twin floppys & 640K & dip switches ....

      But last year I bought a Samsung 512GB 840 pro, great drive, nice and "slippery" cost $550.00 ...

      I like Flash drives, I love 8TB SSD's & HDD's, but even if tomorrow I could a 10 PB SSD, I would still have a 500GB as boot, so big drive would be just a storage unit. The 500gb can be partitioned to contain VirtMem, OS & Apps, Backup & OS Recovery, I prefer if only the boot drive gets worked & fragged by OS, and Other BIG Drives by Me, when I want to access files ...

  16. Zot
    Trollface

    The author needs to delete some crap

    ...off his Mac. Especially all that naughty media stuff.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much and where can I get one?

    I have 2 ITB SSD's in my Laptop(i7 + 32Gb RAM). I run between 4-6 VM's most of the time. I have a set for each Customer. At the moment I spend several hours copying VM's around when I have to run up the solution for a different customer. with 8TB I'd be in heaven.

    I already carry 3x2TB USB HDD's with me on my travels. Adding another one would not be too much bother.

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