Yet another SSD breakthrough?

It was hard to miss the news about Anobit today. They announced the first drive using their Memory Signal Processing technology; with their proprietary technology they hope to make Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash drives as reliable as the more expensive SLC models.

Anobit Genesis SSD

Anobit Genesis SSD

The MLC-based Genesis drive offers about 50.000 write/erase cycles , thanks to a special algorithm that “compensates for the physical limitations of NAND flash”. I’m always a bit weary when reading claims about software that magically overcomes hardware limitations; but I’ll reserve final judgement until we see some third-party tests. Here’s what Anobit has to say about their technology:

SLC flash memory devices store a single bit of information in each memory cell, providing low latency and high write endurance cycle ratings, but compromised by high cost and low density. Conversely, MLC flash memory devices store two or more bits per memory cell, and therefore provide higher density and lower cost, but are compromised by high latency and far lower endurance. Anobit’s MSP is the first technology to simultaneously achieve the low latencies and high endurance of SLC-based SSDs combined with the low cost and high density of MLC-based SSDs.

Too bad their claims are not entirely matched by their own performance figures. Let’s compare their Genesis drive to some current-generation MLC and SLC drives: the Vertex 2 series just announced by OCZ.

OCZ Vertex 2 ProOCZ Vertex 2 EZAnobit Genesis
Flash memoryMLCSLCMLC
Sustained WriteUp to 250 MB/sUp to 250 MB/s180 MB/s
Write performance50.000 iops50.000 iops20.000 iops

I’d like to stress that these numbers are from the datasheets and press releases provided by both OCZ and Anobit; the numbers for the Vertex 2 Pro seem a bit high, but real-world tests will probably give more conclusive numbers soon. For now, the Genesis SSDs are only available for OEM qualification, with both 200 and 400 GB models offered.

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