As the sort of person that can get addicted to deep technology discussions about the latest thing, without due care and attention I could easily fall into the pit of storage related technologies. From the storage bits through to software defined cache hierarchy, there is so much to learn and to talk about. Over the last two years, unless you were living under a rock, it would have been hard to miss the level of attention that Intel's 3D XPoint technology (a co-venture with Micron) has been getting. Billed as a significant disruption to the storage market, and claiming an intersection between DRAM and SSDs as a form of non-volatile storage, many column inches have been devoted to the potential uses of 3D XPoint. Despite all this talk, and promises that Intel's Super 7 partners are well under way with qualifying the hardware in their datacenters, we are yet to actually see it come to market - or even be actively demonstrated in any sizeable volume at a trade show. We're expecting more information this year, but while everyone is waiting, Samsung has snuck up behind everyone with their new Z-SSD product line.

The Z-SSD line was announced back at Flash Memory Summit, although details were scant. This was a PCIe NVMe storage technology using Samsung's new 'Z-NAND', which was aimed at the intersection between DRAM and SSDs (sounds like 3D XPoint?). Z-NAND is ultimately still baked in as NAND, although designed differently to provide better NAND characteristics. We still don't know the exact way this happens - some analysts have pointed to this being 3D NAND/V-NAND running in SLC mode, given some of the performance metrics, but this is still unknown.

At Cloud Expo Europe, Samsung had a Z-SSD on display and started talking numbers, if not the technology itself. The first drive for select customers to qualify will be 800GB in a half-height PCIe 3.0 x4 card. Sequential R/W will be up to 3.2 GBps, with Random R/W up to 750K/160K IOPS. Latency (presumably read latency) will be 70% lower than current NVMe drives, partially due to the new NAND but also a new controller, which we might hear about during Samsung's next tech day later this year. We are under the impression that the Z-NAND will also have high endurance, especially if it comes down to fewer bits per cell than current NAND offerings, but at this point it is hard to tell.

Initial reports indicated that Samsung was preparing 1TB, 2TB and 4TB drives under the Z-SSD banner. At present only the 800GB is on the table, which if we take into account overprovisioning might just be the 1TB drive anyway. Nothing was said about other capacities or features, except that the customers Samsung is currently dealing with are very interested in getting their hands on the first drives.

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  • ddriver - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Merely pointing out that "pushing the envelope" doesn't come without consequences. Samsung has become too successful for its own good, making a number of big and important us corporations look bad and taking away from their profits.

    Their product value has already decreased the last year, and in the years to come they will also dial down on the technological leadership they have exhibited for a few years now.
  • Reflex - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Adjust your tin foil.
  • ddriver - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    Pfff... pitiful tin foil... amateurs. I am miles ahead, grounded the sheet metal clad rockwool panels of my home, forming a functional Faraday cage that blocks off the entire EM spectrum save for gamma rays. I mostly did it for radio silence in my electronics lab, but turned out to have myriad applications.

    U have something better than "tin foil", "conspiracy theory" and "shape-shifting reptilians"? No? Didn't think so ;) Not exactly creative and knowledgeable the kind of people who throw such cliches around.
  • Murloc - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    You're the one looking like a fool here.
  • close - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    ddriver, none of the scandals Samsung is involved in have anything to do with SSDs. It's business and politics, it's rushing tech out in the phone segment, not SSD tech.
  • MamiyaOtaru - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    come on Samsung is so much bigger than Intel and has been for a long time. 2014 revenue: $305 billion vs Intel's $59.38 billion in 2016. You might want to look up "chaebol" and realize Samsung is the largest. "Begins to outshine its master" happened a long time ago
  • Drumsticks - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    If memory serves, given that Samsung is involved with everything from smartphones to washing machines to boats, I don't think it is surprising that their revenue is that large. Imagine the profit comparison doesn't paint the 6x difference you want.
  • ddriver - Sunday, March 19, 2017 - link

    How large samsung is generally is not an issue, as long as that doesn't step into US companies which have "national interests" priority, because it doesn't take away money from them, nor does it force them to innovate, improve value or drop prices.

    When the EU fined apple for tax dodging, several high ranking US officials called that "attack on US national interests". A few weeks later the note 7 starts exploding, and everyone rushes to buy the new mediocre iphone for lack of a flagship that doesn't go boom. Apple took in most of the money that would have gone to samsung, while the latter lost 5+ billion in the recall.

    I am sure that was "pure luck", or the almighty showing his love for apple, it could not possibly be an act of deliberate industrial sabotage, right?
  • Samus - Sunday, March 19, 2017 - link

    Careful driver, or close is going to tap your wires.
  • Reflex - Sunday, March 19, 2017 - link

    True, I mean it can't possibly be a bad batch of batteries or a messed up battery chemistry. I mean, who ever heard of exploding LiON batteries? Totally unheard of in this industry. Obviously it must be a conspiracy. It's not like anyone else has ever had an exploding battery fiasco across an entire product launch. Except the one that hit Apple a few years back in their laptops. And the one that hit Dell. And the entire line of Sony batteries that time bombed across several OEMs. And the HP one. Other than that, it's basically unheard of, so industrial espionage is obviously the most likely explanation!

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