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the Fastest SSDs

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com

Before the modern era of SSD market history the main reasons for buying enterprise SSDs was acceleration, speed and cost (compared to more / faster processors).

And it followed that RAM SSDs were always the fastest (albeit the most expensive) which also meant that InfiniBand and FC SAN (and latterly) DIMM socket based SSDs dominated the lists of the fastest SSDs.

But in 2004 things started to get a bit more complicated when flash wars started in the enterprise. And in 2007 - PCIe SSDs (based on flash) began to change the way that people bought servers. With more affordable acceleration capacity - flash SSDs overtook RAM SSDs in throughput - despite lagging in latency. So you could say that things became more complicated.

So in 2007 I started publishing this simple list of the fastest SSDs in popular form factors. I'd say it's more like the start of your continuing search rather than the end. But for what it's worth - here it is.

How fast can your SSD run backwards?
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs
Can you trust flash SSD specs & benchmarks?
understanding flash SSD performance limitations
what's in a number? - introducing SSDserver rank
are you ready to rethink enterprise DRAM architecture?
why buy SSDs? - user value propositions (ancient and modern)
the Top 10 SPC-1 benchmarks (combinations of boxes various sizes)
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SSD news
SSD controllers
will SSDs end bottlenecks?
DRAM's indeterminate latencies
Why size matters in SSD architecture
utilization and the SSD event horizon
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In DRAM's case - when you thought you were accessing virtual RAM cells you were really talking to a busy traffic cop who's not as fast as he was 16 years ago.
latency loving reasons for fading out DRAM

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SSD ad - click for more info

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"Optimizing processors for SSD can gain a 2x to 250x speed-up..."
SSD Bookmarks - from Cadence
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the Fastest in-production shipping SSDs - November 2015 - © STORAGEsearch.com
rackmount SSDs Earlier versions of this document only listed the single fastest rackmount SSD in each u-size (1U, 2U etc) - but there were some disadvantages in that method. So instead this now includes a mini list of the most important companies and product lines in this market space which covers a range of different interfaces and architectures. You'll have to look at each vendor's own offerings to get the exact specifications - but these are the vendors who are positioning themselves as the companies to beat in terms of latency and throughput. SSD ad - click for more info Speed has a different value in fault tolerant rackmount SSDs - where the raw latency and IOPS may be outweighed by user preferences about the exact design and consequences of the differing FT architectures.
PCIe SSD cards See also:- the article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list - or is it really lists? And here's another thing you may be wondering about - how will Memory Channel SSDs affect the PCIe SSD market?
Memory technology, generation level (2, 3 or upcoming 4), the number of lanes and the API integration with critical apps are some of the vital filters in assembling any list of really fast PCIe SSDs. And that's before you get you controller architecture.

In the RAM SSD category - the fastest PCIe SSD is PMC's Flashtec NVRAM drive family . This RAM SSD in PCIe form factor has a x8 lane, PCIe 3.0 host interface - 16GB capacity - rated at over 10 million IOPS.

In the flash based PCIe SSD category - the fastest flash based PCIe SSD (at the time of writing - September 2015) is Mangstor's MX-Series . This is the fastest according to either IOPS or latency when compared to any of the previous industry leaders in this category listed in these pages.
3.5" Although the 3.5" form factor was at the sharp end of SSD performance in earlier phases of SSD history - it is no longer a launchpad for new high speed products. Although you will find some older legacy 3.5" SSDs which were fast at the time they were launched - they are mostly EOL - or simply available for old designs. Instead you'll get better results by installing one or more smaller SSDs in a 3.5" carrier module.
2.5" fastest 2.5" flash SSDs?

In the 2.5" form factor - the 2 interfaces with claims for the "fastest 2.5 inch SSD" are 2.5" NVME PCIe SSDs and 12Gbps SAS.

Here are examples of some of the faster products in these categories2.5" PCIe SSD fastest contenders include :-
  • Radian's RMS-250 - is a 2TB eMLC NVMe Gen3 x4 PCIe SSD with 581K / 681K serquential R/W IOPS (Over 300K IOPS in 66% Read/33% Write mix)
2.5" SAS SSD fastest contenders include several products with 12Gbps line rates:- Note... In many real life applications - particularly in arrays of such SSDs - the factors which contribute to higher performance (higher power consumption and bigger RAM cmake such SSDs bad citizens. Therefore some of these SSDs have pre-selectable electrical power settings (in watts) which also impact the performance.
1.8" The question arises - what kind of interfaces are available for 1.8" SSDs?

At the time of writing this I'm unaware of any 1.8" PCIe SSDs.

That leaves the speed race to SAS SSDs. And currently these are only available at 6Gb/s.

Contenders include HGST's s846 which falls a long way short of its 12Gbps bigger cousins with 65K / 37K R/W IOPS
M.2 SSDs This form factor is becoming a surprising hotbed of innovation and (surprisingly) even speed.

fastest M.2 SSD? - possibly Samsung's NVMe SM951 - with 300K / 100K random R/W IOPS and 2.1 / 1.5 GB/s R/W.
SSDs on a chip This section will be updated soon with details of the fastest BGA PCIe SSDs.
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PS - if you've got this far and think that an SSD drive or system from your own company deserves to considered for inclusion in the list above - then contact me with the details.

Although it's rare - it has happened that I've missed hearing about a significant new SSD product. In which case another important question to ask - is whether your marketing is reaching the audience it deserves?

I'm always open to communications and reconsiderations. And if I've got things wrong and missed something which is significant - I'll set the record straight.


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the fastest SSDs
"Accelerate your system!"
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"Little's Law is key to understanding why lower latency is good."
SSD Bookmarks - series 2, episode 4
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how fast can your SSD run backwards?
SSDs are complex devices and there's a lot of mysterious behavior which isn't fully revealed by benchmarks and vendor's product datasheets and whitepapers. Underlying all the important aspects of SSD behavior are asymmetries which arise from the intrinsic technologies and architecture inside the SSD.
SSD symmetries article Which symmetries are most important in an SSD?

That depends on your application. ...click to read the article
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SSD ad - click for more info
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A good way to think about what SSDs will do in the 100 per cent SSD enterprise - is to set the limits for how an enterprise can repurpose, leverage and monetize its data - and increase process efficiency by analyzing and anticipating customer demands in real-time.

Bottlenecks in the pure SSD datacenter will be much more serious than in the HDD world - because responding slowly will be equivalent to transaction failure.
will SSDs end bottlenecks?

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SSD ad - click for more info

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Unlike before - today new companies entering the market can rely on a sophisticated SSD ecosystem - in which key elements of their solutions are already being supplied by other companies.
what changed in SSD year 2013?

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"In April 2005 -Texas Memory Systems offered the world's first money-back performance guarantee for SSDs..."
...from:- SSD market history