Just a couple of months after launching its first SATA based SSD controller developed in-house, OCZ is announcing a PCIe based SSD controller co-developed with Marvell. The controller is based on Marvell's 88NV9145 silicon, codenamed Kilimanjaro, and is an OCZ exclusive as the two companies apparently worked together in creating it. I'll see the chip in person next week at Storage Visions (just before CES) but it should carry both OCZ and Marvell logos. It looks like there will be an OCZ derived version of this chip as well as a Marvell branded part that will be available for others to use.

The controller itself features a native PCIe 2.0 x1 interface rather than SATA. That in itself isn't very impressive, but the first platform to use it will feature an array of these controllers behind a PCIe switch. The first implementation will be the OCZ Z-Drive R5 and will be available in MLC, eMLC and SLC NAND configurations of up to 12TB. 

OCZ is claiming compatibility with VMware ESX/ESXi, Linux, Windows Server 2008 and OS X. Both full and half-height configurations will be available, similar to the Z-Drive R4

I'm curious as to why OCZ and Marvell decided to design a native PCIe to NAND Flash controller but limited it to a x1 interface. Ideally we'd see something like a native x4, x8 or x16 controller, especially given how much bandwidth you can push through these large NAND arrays. I'll find out more next week for sure, but I wonder if the target market for this controller might be something beyond a multi-controller PCIe card. 

Update: Marvell released more details about the 88NV9145 silicon. Each PCIe 2.0 x1 controller (pictured above) supports four NAND channels and up to four NAND die per channel. Using 8GB NAND die that works out to be a maximum capacity of 128GB of NAND per controller (we'd need how many controllers to hit 12TB!?). Marvell is claiming its controller is good for up to 93,000 4K random read IOs per second or 70,000 4K random write IOPS. 

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  • toyotabedzrock - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    And how are these individual controllers pooled together as a single storage medium?

    If there is no hardware to handle this the CPU will end up limiting it a bit.
  • iamkyle - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Marvell's involvement already puts a sour taste in my mouth.

    If you have one of their SATA3 controllers on your motherboard, you'll know why.

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