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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  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link


    I suspect your resiliency test is flawed. Doesn't HD Tach essentially write a string of zeros to the drive? And a Sandforce drive would compress that and only write a tiny amount to flash memory. So it seems to me that you have only proved that the drives are resilient when they are presented with an unrealistic workload of highly compressible data.

    I think you need to do two things to get a good idea of resiliency:

    (1) Write a lot of random (incompressible) data to the drive to get it "dirty"

    (2) Measure the write performance of random (incompressible) data while the SSD is "dirty"

    It is also possible to combine (1) and (2) in a single test. Start with a "clean" SSD, then configure IO meter to write incompressible data continuously over the entire SSD span, say random 4KB 100% write. Measure the write speed once a minute and plot the write speed vs. time to see how the write speed degrades as the SSD gets dirty. This is a standard test done by Calypso system's industrial SSD testers. See, for example, the last graph here:

    Also, there is a strange problem with Sandforce-controlled "dirty" SSDs having degraded write speed which is not recovered after TRIM, but it only shows up with incompressible data. See, for example:
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    It boils down to write amplification. I'm working on an article now to quantify exactly how low SandForce's WA is in comparison to other controller makers using methods similar to what you've suggested. In the case of the IBIS I'm simply trying to confirm whether or not the background garbage collection works. In this case I'm writing 100% random data sequentially across the entire drive using iometer, then peppering it with 100% random data randomly across the entire drive for 20 minutes. HDTach is simply used to measure write latency across all LBAs.

    I haven't seen any issues with SF drives not TRIMing properly when faced with random data. I will augment our HDTach TRIM test with another iometer pass of random data to see if I can duplicate the results.

    Take care,
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    What I would like to see is SSDs with a standard mini-SAS2 connector. That would give a bandwidth of 24 Gbps, and it could be connected to any SAS2 HBA or RAID card. Simple, standards-compliant, and fast. What more could you want?

    Well, inexpensive would be nice. I guess putting a 4x SAS2 interface in an SSD might be expensive. But at high volume, I would guess the cost could be brought down eventually.
  • LancerVI - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    I found the article to be interesting. OCZ introducing a new interconnect that is open for all is interesting. That's what I took from it.

    It's cool to see what these companies are trying to do to increase performance, create new products and possibly new markets.

    I think most of you missed the point of the article.
  • davepermen - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    problem is, why?

    there is NO use of this. there are enough interconnects existing. enough fast, they are, too. so, again, why?

    oh, and open and all doesn't matter. there won't be any products besides some ocz stuff.
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link


    After reading your response to my comment, I re-read the section of your article with HD Tach results, and I am now more confused. There are 3 HD Tach screenshots that show average read and write speeds in the text at the bottom right of the screen. In order, the avg read and writes for the 3 screenshots are:

    read 201.4
    write 233.1

    read 125.0
    write 224.3

    "Note that peak low queue-depth write speed dropped from ~233MB/s down to 120MB/s"

    read 203.9
    write 229.2

    I also included your comment from the article about write speed dropping. But are the read and write rates from HD Tach mixed up?
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    Ah good catch, that's a typo. On most drives the HDTach pass shows impact to write latency, but on SF drives the impact is actually on read speed (the writes appear to be mostly compressed/deduped) as there's much more data to track recover since what's being read was originally stored in its entirety.

    Take care,
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    My guess is that if you wrote incompressible data to a dirty SF drive, that the write speed would be impacted similarly to the impact you see here on the read speed.

    In other words, the SF drives are not nearly as resilient as the HD Tach write scans show, since, as you say, the SF controller is just compressing/deduping the data that HD Tach is writing. And HD Tach's writes do not represent a realistic workload.

    I suggest you do an article revisiting the resiliency of dirty SSDs, paying particular attention to writing incompressible data.
  • greggm2000 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    So how will Lightpeak factor into this? Is OCZ working on a Lightpeak implementation of this? One hopes that OCZ and Intel are communicating here..
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    The first lightpeak cables are only supposed to be 10 Gbps. A mini-SAS2 cable has four lanes of 6 Gbps for a total of 24 Gbps. lightpeak loses.

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