Back at IDF Beijing 2012, Intel unveiled its enterprise data centre/cloud computing oriented 910 series "Ramsdale MLC" PCI Express Solid-State Drive, available in 400GB ($1,929) and 800GB ($3,859) capacities. We do a quick preview of the new 25nm HET MLC based card before putting it through some heavy duty real world tests over the next few weeks for a formal review.
As Lars mentioned during his 910 SSD launch coverage piece, traditional SATA and SAS interfaces are becoming increasingly inadequate for high-performance SSDs and from Intel's SSD roadmap, PCI Express is the future interface for its high-end SSDs. The 800GB engineering sample that we have in our labs has three stacked PCBs (400GB only has two) and uses a 1U low-profile form factor (full length bracket included). Eight PCI Express 2.0 lanes provides up to 4GB/s of transfer bandwidth in each direction and the drive draws up to 25W by default and 38W in high performance mode.
Here we have the 25nm HET (High Endurance Technology) MLC NAND in TSSOP packages, which has comparable write endurance to 50nm SLC. Intel rates it up to 14 petabytes of writes (or ~18000 times/50 years worth of a full 800GB transacted per day), much better mileage and reliability than what your typical SSD or mechanical hard drive can achieve.
Four discreet SAS controllers handle fourteeen NAND packages each, and each controller is recognized as a separate 200GB volume, which can be aggregated together by software RAID (quite puzzling why there is no native hardware solution for its considerably high price). The PCIe to SAS bridge (under the silver heatsink) is a fairly ubiquitous LSISAS2008 ASIC (PowerPC 440 @ 533MHz), which is good for plug and play, out of the box operating system compatibility.