Toshiba's $7000+ 400 GB SSD: SAS 6Gb/s, SLC Flash, And Big Endurance

Benchmarking For The Enterprise: A Whole New World

Just as server- and workstation-oriented processors have to be tested differently than desktop CPUs, so too does enterprise-oriented storage need to be evaluated in a unique way. 

We got the above slide from last year's Flash memory Summit in Santa Clara, CA. The assumption for enterprise storage is that it's generally full, and often being accessed around the clock. As a result, fresh-out-of-box/burst performance is largely irrelevant. There's little to no idle time for the background garbage collection and TRIM commands to recover performance, which means an SSD in such a taxing environment is going to hit its steady-state and stay there.

Ultimately, we have to use a different methodology to get to and then test steady-state performance. The goal is to benchmark at a point where an SSD's performance no longer changes over time, necessitating constant writes in order to determine sustained performance. The chart above illustrates how, after some period of use, an SSD drops from its out-of-box performance level to a more sustainable steady-state level.

In order to attain that second point, we precondition our SSDs before running our enterprise benchmarks. But because every drive's steady-state point is different (and because there are multiple steady states, depending on the workload you run), we specifically subject our SSDs to two types of conditioning:

  1. For our 4 KB random, database, file server, and Web server tests, we write 3x full capacity of the drive using random writes.
  2. For our 128 KB sequential tests, we write 3x full capacity of the drive sequentially.
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  • bennaye
    nebun$7000 any company willing to pay this much for an SSD is fullish


    ...fullish of cash? Definitely. Foolish? Probably not.
    23
  • spazoid
    amdfreakIt is too expensive for the performance it offers. You can get a RAID array of many Intel SSDs beating Toshiba in every segment.


    You've clearly not understood the purpose of this article. Stick to commenting the desktop drive reviews in the future, please.


    Thank you for this review, and especially your estimations on the endurance of the drive. It's something that's damn near impossible for us IT professionals to get accurate estimations of in the real world. For some reason, bosses tend to want the expensive hardware to be put to use instead of being thoroughly tested.

    More of these types of articles please! :]
    15
  • Other Comments
  • compton
    Good job, Mr. Ku.

    Perhaps the Enterprise SSD Fairy will bring you a Hitatchi UltraStar with Intel's 6gbps controller. I'd be eager to see how it compares.

    There is no substitute for SLC though.
    9
  • nebun
    $7000 any company willing to pay this much for an SSD is fullish
    -14
  • bennaye
    nebun$7000 any company willing to pay this much for an SSD is fullish


    ...fullish of cash? Definitely. Foolish? Probably not.
    23
  • nebun
    bennaye...fullish of cash? Definitely. Foolish? Probably not.

    damn the english language.....there are way to many words that sound alike
    6
  • confish21
    How is this $7000 drive profitable over it's competition again?
    -7
  • nitrium
    Why is the 4KB Random read/write performance shown as IOPS, but 128KB and 2MB performance is in MB/sec? What speed (in MB/sec) does this drive achieve in 4KB? I guess I could calculate it from (IOPS * 4KB) / 1024 (I think that's right), but why should I have to?
    -4
  • spazoid
    amdfreakIt is too expensive for the performance it offers. You can get a RAID array of many Intel SSDs beating Toshiba in every segment.


    You've clearly not understood the purpose of this article. Stick to commenting the desktop drive reviews in the future, please.


    Thank you for this review, and especially your estimations on the endurance of the drive. It's something that's damn near impossible for us IT professionals to get accurate estimations of in the real world. For some reason, bosses tend to want the expensive hardware to be put to use instead of being thoroughly tested.

    More of these types of articles please! :]
    15
  • Anonymous
    @spazoid, so you are telling me that you are willing to pay 10x for an endurance of 3x over the INTEL 520 SSD?
    Even when the INTEL SSD already has an endurance longer than your refresh cycle for your tech stack?
    -4
  • EJ257
    frozonicLOL, i can just imagine myself in ten years telling my kids that we had to pay 7000$ for a 400gb ssd...by that time we are gonna have 400+ TB ssds


    "Back in my days storage drives used to have moving parts. Now its all solid state."
    6
  • jaquith
    I own a small data center and thankfully have access to a 'major' financial institutions test data, and I agree with your conclusions especially regarding deployment into production. $7K SSD is a tough call with a 5-year, but if it were 7~10-year then probably an easy call.

    Unlike super-sized enterprise which I am not, the cost/benefit calculations would be difficult for myself. I know firsthand the money that i.e. financial institutions push into their data centers, and for those folks $7K isn't out of the question.

    Interesting SSD and if the prices come down and warranty extended then IMO it would be something to consider and compare against Intel's products.
    2
  • willard
    I came into this article expecting people to bitch about prices, compare to consumer products and just misunderstand enterprise class hardware in general.

    I was not disappointed.
    8
  • therabiddeer
    nebun$7000 any company willing to pay this much for an SSD is fullish

    I refer you to the ~$20,000 1.2TB fusion-io SSD's.
    3
  • Anonymous
    I've got one of those $20,000 fusion IO drives... and it stomps all over my $130,000 storage san...
    2
  • andywork78
    Good review and test.

    but wow... $7000...

    I go with 10 of 128GB SSD....
    -2
  • nforce4max
    nebun$7000 any company willing to pay this much for an SSD is fullish


    Hell I'll gladly pay that much because drives like this save money in the long run. They are cheaper and much easier to set up and maintain vs hundred of mechanical drives in a raid setup. In power alone over the live of the drive vs mechanical drives adds up. So $7k isn't that bad and this isn't the most expensive SSD that I have seen.
    6
  • holyprof
    amdfreakIt is too expensive for the performance it offers. You can get a RAID array of many Intel SSDs beating Toshiba in every segment.


    Throw 50TB daily writes on that Intel SDD array of yours and it will last you only 3 months until full failure.
    6
  • A Bad Day
    nebun$7000 any company willing to pay this much for an SSD is fullish


    "Hey uh, our entire rack of $50 SSDs simply died on us, along with all of our business files."
    9
  • garciam
    Anyone thinking this can last longer than a few SSD's raided obviously does not know *** about how NAND works and how much it lasts.
    Throw 3 Intel MLC 480 GB SSD's in RAID-5 (1k each), make an agressive overprovisioning...and they will both last MUCH longer and also run circles to this expensive piece of hardware being reviewed.

    Heck, it's pretty much touching Fusion-IO pricing without even coming close on speed.

    This will only work for people needing plug & play replacement for their SAS drives AND with very deep pockets. Since i suspect the replacement should be made in batches...it will be VERY expensive.

    Anyone else with brains can find a lot of cheaper, faster AND more reliable solutions.

    I'd wait for a Velodrive, raid a couple of them and just have regular backups on a storage with regular HDD's (that is, read GB/s from a couple SSD's...write GB/s sequentially to a storage).

    I do understand though that there are out there companies that can't risk innovation and smart choices and have to recur to handwritten promises and warranties of the big guys.

    Reason why buying a Dell costs a hell lot more than building it yourself.
    Reason why building your own storage is a fraction of the price of an EMC solution.

    And so on...
    -3
  • Reynod
    Anybody checked to see if it is worth it's weight in gold or platinum ?


    For $7000 that is the first thing I would have done Andrew.

    :)
    1
  • peevee
    EJ257"Back in my days storage drives used to have moving parts. Now its all solid state."


    "Why are they called drives, granpa?"
    2