The Vision

I spoke with OCZ’s CEO Ryan Petersen and he outlined his vision for me. He wants HSDL and associated controllers to be present on motherboards. Instead of using PCIe SSDs, you’ll have HSDL connectors that can give you the bandwidth of PCIe. Instead of being limited to 3Gbps or 6Gbps as is the case with SATA/SAS today you get gobs of bandwidth. We’re talking 2GB/s of bandwidth per drive (1GB/s up and 1GB/s down) on a PCIe 2.0 motherboard. To feed that sort of bandwidth all OCZ has to do is RAID more SSD controllers internal to each drive (or move to faster drive controllers). Eventually, if HSDL takes off, controller makers wouldn’t have to target SATA they could simply build native PCIe controllers. It’d shave off some component cost and some latency.

You can even have a multi-port IBIS drive

The real win for HSDL appears to be the high end workstation or server markets. The single port HSDL/IBIS solution is interesting for those who want a lot of performance in a single drive, but honestly you could roll your own with a RAID controller and four SandForce drives for less money. The potential is once you start designing systems with multiple IBIS drives. With four of these drives you should be able to push multiple gigabytes per second of data which is just unheard of in something that’s still relatively attainable.

The Test

Note our AnandTech Storage Bench doesn't always play well with RAIDed drives and thus we weren't able to run it on the IBIS.

CPU Intel Core i7 975 running at 3.33GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled)
Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Chipset: Intel X58 + Marvell SATA 6Gbps PCIe
Chipset Drivers: Intel + Intel IMSM 8.9
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 64-bit
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64
Meet the IBIS Desktop Performance
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    I suspect that many companies are working on SSDs that do away with SATA as a final drive interface. Just as we saw companies like OCZ enter the SSD market before Intel, I suspect we'll see the same thing happen with PCIe SSD controllers. When the market is new/small it's easy for a smaller player to quickly try something before the bigger players get involved. The real question is whether or not a company like OCZ or perhaps even SandForce can do that and make it successful. I agree with you that in all likelihood it'll be a company like Intel to do it and gain mainstream adoption, but we've seen funny things happen in the past with the adoption of standards proposed by smaller players.

    Take care,
  • Ao1 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    The difference in time to market is not so much the company size it is the willingness to take risk. Small companies have to take more risks to carve out their market. I think you will find that Intel was working on SSD long before OCZ even thought about selling SSD’s. The difference is that Intel spends a lot of time getting the product right before it is released. OCZ simply bypass proper product development and do it in the field with paying customers.

    The enthusiast market might be happy trading off performance with reliability but that is not going to happen in the enterprise market. (This is probably a moot point as I actually doubt that enterprise is the true target market for this product).

    It would be great to see a lot more focus on aspects outside of performance, which as you have eluded to is no longer a relevant issue in terms of tangible benefit for the majority of users.
  • cjcoats - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    "Is the single port host card seen by the system's operating system or is entirely passive?
    -Passive, the card just pipes the PCIe lanes to the SATA controller."

    Does that mean that Linux (and other non-MS) support is trivially
  • mroos - Friday, November 5, 2010 - link

    So if the OS sees SiI3124 then there's actually no RAID inside at all - 3124 is simple 4-port SATA host controller and the RAID there is software RAID.

    It would be interesting to see what Linux sees about IBIS. My guess it it will see plain 3124 and 4 SSD-s behind that with no RAID at all, and you can use dmraid etc to RAID them together - so you are actually seeing what's happening and no magic left.
  • SiliconLunch - Thursday, December 2, 2010 - link

    Correct. I just installed the 240GB IBIS into a Karmic machine and the kernel only sees 4 separate 55GB "drives" - effectively JBOD mode. The Silicon Image 240GB raid0 set (which is reported OK in BIOS during post) is not visible to Linux. I think a driver will need to be published for this. Will explore dmraid options next...
  • SiliconLunch - Thursday, December 2, 2010 - link

    OK, so official comment from OCZ is "The drive is not compatible with Linux". Seriously, OCZ must be kidding. And no one at Anandtech seemed to think this little tidbit was newsworthy in 8 pages of gushing praise? I would think a statement to the effect that non-Windows OS support is non-existent would be mandatory in a review.

    I went back and checked the OCZ datasheet, and sure enough, it only mentions Windows. So the blame rests with me for ASSUMING anyone introducing such a device would support contemporary OS's. But, I've just wasted $700, so I feel like a complete loser. And that'll CERTAINLY be the last product I ever buy from OCZ.
  • ypsylon - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    While it may be of some use to speed freaks and number crunchers who running PCs only to get few more random numbers from benchmarks than others before them, I don't see the point in this. Yes of course bandwidth and stuff, all nice. But:

    - You can't RAID few of them into some proper RAID level (10,5,6,50,60) because every drive is already "RAID-ed" internally.
    - You need a special add-on card which isn't anything standard - not to mention that offers nothing but ports to connect drives.
    - There is high degree of probability that such drives won't run properly with standard RAID cards (Areca, Adaptec, LSI, Intel - take your pick)

    Instead creating some new "standard" OCZ should focus on lowering costs of SSDs. 2GB/s+ in RAID0 is easily achievable right now. Need 16 SSDs (which is exactly like 4x4 IBIS), 16 port card (like new Arecas 1880) and off you go. Only advantage for OCZ IBIS here is less occupied space with 4 drives instead 16, but still 16x2.5" SSDs takes only 3x5.25" slots with 2x6 and 1x4 backlpanes.

    And for heavy duty jobs there are always better solutions like GM-PowerDrive-LSI for example. Delivers 1500MB (R)/1400 MB (W) straight out of the box. Supports all RAID from 0 to 60, 512 MB of on board cache. Need no special new card. It just works.
  • Ao1 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    For some reason Anandtech seem to have lost objectivity when it comes to OCZ. This along with the Revodrive = epic fail. Consumers want products that are fit for market as opposed to underdeveloped and over priced products that are full of bugs. OCZ’s RMA policy is a substitute for quality control.
  • sub.mesa - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    The HSDL-part makes me immediately want to skip this SSD.

    But the mentioned Revodrive is quite interesting, as that setup should give you access to TRIM on FreeBSD operating system. Since silicon Image works as normal AHCI SATA controller under non-Windows OS, passing TRIM should also work.

    I cannot confirm this, but in theory you should have TRIM when using the Revodrive under FreeBSD and likely also Linux (if you disable the pseudoraid).

    A native PCI-express solution would still have to present itself that is affordable. It would be very cool if they made a LSI HBA connected to 4 or 8 Sandforce controllers and have a >1GB/s solution that also supports TRIM (not under Windows). That would be very sleek!
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    ssds in traditional drive packaging have one big advantage. they can be used in large disk arrays. this new gadget is not usable in anythyng other than a single computer or worksation i.e. it's a DAS solution.

    the whole industry from mid level to high end is moving to SAN storage (be it fc, iscsi or infiniband). the IBIS has no future ...

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