Flash memory vendors unveil PCIe 5.0 SSDs, latest spec for CXL interconnect tech

Folk of flash meet in person as Compute Express Link 3.0 debuts


Flash Memory Summit The Flash Memory Summit 2022 was held as an in-person event again this week for the first time since 2019, at the Santa Clara Convention Center San Francisco, showcasing the latest developments in memory and storage.

Samsung announced availability of two enterprise SSDs at the summit. The PM1743 was trailed earlier this year at CES, where the vendor claimed it was the industry's first to support the new PCIe 5.0 standard. At the time, Samsung said it would ship in a range of capacities from 1.92TB through to 15.36TB, and in the EDSFF Form Factor as well as the familiar 2.5in drive format. It is claimed to have a random read performance of 2.5 million IOPS and random write performance of 250K IOPS.

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The PM1653, first disclosed over a year ago, is likewise claimed as the first 24G SAS SSD, supporting the latest generation of SAS host interconnect which boasts a bandwidth of 24Gbps, double that of the previous SAS-3 standard. The drive comes in a 2.5in drive with capacities ranging from 800GB to 30.72TB.

What's a memory-semantic SSD?

Samsung also announced what it called a "Memory-semantic SSD", which is meant to combine the benefits of storage and DRAM memory by, er, combining storage and DRAM in a single device. The key is that it is an SSD designed to connect to a host system using the high-speed CXL interface and uses a built-in DRAM cache to speed access to the storage part of the device.

This arrangement, Samsubng claimed, can deliver up to a 20x improvement in both random read speeds and latency, and that this will make it ideal for AI and machine learning applications, where the ability to read and write small-sized data chunks as quickly as possible can boost performance during model training.

Meanwhile, memory silicon maker SK hynix unveiled the world's first 238-layer NAND Flash device. The 512Gb triple level cell chip is shipping in samples to OEM customers now, and the company says it plans to start mass production in the first half of 2023.

The new flash storage chip is described as a "4D NAND" device by SK hynix, because it is a 3D NAND design that also places the peripheral logic circuitry underneath the memory cell stack. This means that more chips with higher density per unit area can be produced from each silicon wafer, according to Samsung.

The data-transfer speed of the new device product is 2.4Gb per second, a 50 percent increase over the previous generation, while the energy consumed in data read operations has decreased by 21 percent.

Sk hynix said that the 238-layer products are set to appear first in SSDs for PCs and laptops, before targeting smartphones and high-capacity SSDs for servers later. The company also plans to introduce 238-layer products with double the density – 1Tbit capacity – next year.

Seagate also unveiled new Enterprise-class SSDs, the Nytro 5050 NVMe SSD family, that it claims are optimised for hyperscale workloads and a lower total cost of ownership.

The Nytro 5350 is available in capacities up to 15.36TB in a 15mm high form factor and up to 7.68TB in a 7mm form factor, with dual ports supporting both U.2 and U.3 interfaces for active-active high availability. Intended to reduce total cost of ownership, it supports random read speeds up to 1.7 million IOPS and random write speeds up to 195K IOPS.

The Nytro 5550 is available in capacities up to 12.80TB in a 15mm form factor and up to 6.40TB in a 7mm form factor, with the same dual port host interfaces. It is designed for mixed workloads, according to Seagate, with random read speeds up to 1.7 million IOPS and random write speeds up to 470K IOPS.

Available from this month, both are PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs that include power loss data protection features and ship with a 5-year limited warranty.

The CXL Consortium announced version 3.0 of the Compute Express Link (CXL) specifications, the high-speed interconnect designed to link CPUs with devices such as accelerators, but also memory.

CXL 3.0 doubles the data rate to 64GTs (gigatransfers per second) with no added latency over CXL 2.0, and introduces fabric capabilities, improved memory sharing and pooling, enhanced coherency, and peer-to-peer communication.

The doubled data rate is primarily due to CXL 3.0 taking PCIe 6.0 as its underlying physical interconnect, rather than the PCIe 5.0 that forms the basis of CXL 2.0 and earlier. PCIe 6.0 also doubles its speed to 64GTs, featuring 16 lanes running at 256 GBps. The promise of CXL is that it will enable disaggregated infrastructure in the datacenter, where server CPUs can use CXL to link with GPUS and other accelerators or even memory resources that are physically installed in another server or chassis.

CXL 3.0 is claimed to take another step towards this by adding memory-centric fabric capabilities, better support for memory pooling and enhanced coherency capabilities.

The latest specifications are publicly available now, but products making use of CXL 3.0 are unlikely to be seen for a while, as the first PCIe 6.0 kit is not expected before the end of this year or sometime in 2023.

Scaleflux, a computational storage developer, announced availability of its 3000-series of devices based on a new system-on-chip (SoC) storage processor, the ScaleFlux SFX 3000.

According to the firm, this new portfolio comprises the CSD 3000 series of NVMe Computational Storage Drives, NSD 3000 series NVMe SSDs, and the SFX 3000 storage processing SoC itself, all of which were first announced last year.

The SFX 3000 is an Arm-based SoC that is also available to other drive vendors, and includes eight Arm Cortex-A53 cores and 16GB of DRAM, plus on-chip accelerators for compression, encryption, hashing and pattern matching.

Of the SSD products, the NSD-3000 is described as a "smarter NVMe SSD", claimed to be capable of double the endurance and performance on random write and mixed read/writes compared to other SSDs.

Meanwhile, the CSD 3000 series is claimed to slash data storage costs by half while doubling application performance and increasing Flash endurance as much as 9x compared to ordinary drives. Both series of SSDs are available in default capacities of 3.84TB and 7.68TB. ®

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