OCZ shows Kilimanjaro platform in the form of mini PCIe through Z-Drive R5

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 04:32 AM |
Tagged: CES, ssd, r5, r4, ocz, cloudserv

Earlier today we got our first hands-on of OCZ's new Kilimanjaro platform. This is the result of a joint venture between OCZ and Micron. The premise is simple: Most SSD and even PCIe storage devices use SATA as the primary or intermediate interface. This adds latency to the connection, and eventually limits the ultimate IOPS a given device can achieve. Kilimanjaro employs a new type of controller that takes commands directly from the host system via a single lane of PCIe 2.0, and in turn directly drives 4 channels of flash. This is all done without any SATA or SAS communications whatsoever. Here is what the simplest form of this platform looks like:

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This may be a bit confusing to some. The above pic is *not* of an mSATA device. Recall that mSATA borrowed the physical specification of mini PCIe (like the Wi-Fi adapter in most laptops). This device could plug into one of those slots (or even a hybrid mini-PCIe/mSATA port), and would link to the system via a PCIe 2.0 x1 link. This makes it capable of 50,000 IOPS and 500MB/sec - speeds similar to that of a good SATA 6Gb/sec SSD. The advantage of this platform is twofold. First is the lower latency achieved by getting rid of the middle man (SATA). Second is the way PCIe bridged storage can scale. The current far extreme of this comes in the form of the Z-Drive R5:
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This is essentially the same as the mini-PCIe device we just looked at, except there are 16 of them. The 16 PCIe 2.0 1x devices are interleaved evenly through a special PHY to a PCIe 3.0 x8 link to the host system. This makes for some insane bandwidth and IOPS possibilities. I'm fairly certain that the placard in the above pic was meant for the half-height (8 channel) R5, since the platform is capable of up to 7GB/sec and 2.5 million IOPS in the full height form factor. Marvell and OCZ still have a little ways to go on driver and firmware development for this new platform, so it may be a few months before we see it in the wild. Once that happens, we might see mid-point models with 2-4 controllers replacing the RevoDrive series shortly thereafter.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

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