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PMC Introduces PCI Express Storage Switches, SSD Controllers

August 10, 2015

Semiconductor and software solutions provider PMC-Sierra has announced the first PCI Express storage switches and what it says is the world’s first solid-state drive SSD controllers with the second generations of the Flashtec NVMe series.

“While working with the industry to enable the first NVMe SSDs, it became clear there was no reliable way to connect and scale many of them in a single enclosure, much like SAS does today,” said Derek Dicker, vice president of the performance solutions group at PMC. “In partnership with the industry’s most forward-thinking hyperscale and all-flash array customers, PMC created a new PCIe storage switch category with our Switchtec products to deliver the high port count, low power, resilient storage features that the industry needs.”

PMC-Sierra said that its NVMe controllers can provide one million IOPS (Input Operations Per Second) and support up to 20 terabytes of storage. The boost comes from using the faster PCI Express bus standard on new computers over SATA. While PCI Express is best known for providing fast connections for video cards, they also offer low-latency access to the CPU.

SSDs are becoming more popular in data centers because of the speed and reliability advantages they offer over hard drives. Since they don’t have to move a read/write head over the whirling metal platters, there’s almost no latency. Physically, they’re also more reliable since there’s no possibility of a head crash, where the head physically contacts the hard drive platter, damaging the data it contains.

Image via Shutterstock 

The performance gains using SSD are substantial when using PCI Express than even using SSDs over conventional SATA connections. An independent test by Demartek found that a single Flashtec PCIe SSD could deliver 2.5 times higher bandwidth than a series of eight SATA SSDs.

Intel said the technology really shows the potential of the PCI Express standard it helped develop.

“Data center architectures are increasingly growing their use of PCIe infrastructure, due to its high performance and low latency benefits,” Bev Crair, VP & GM of the Intel Storage Group, said. “The PCIe switching investment by PMC will help strengthen the ecosystem and drive broader deployment of PCIe storage solutions.”

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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