The development of the 44Tbyte, enterprise-class Skyhawk SSD starts with a clear picture of the objective—build an enterprise-class, SSD storage server into a 1U, half-depth, rack-mount box using commercial MLC (multi-level cell) NAND Flash memory. Few enterprise-class SSD vendors use MLC NAND Flash memory in their products because raw MLC NAND Flash memory isn’t nearly as durable as SLC (single-level cell) Flash and data integrity is paramount in enterprise-class storage applications. MLC NAND Flash memory is typically rated at 3000 P/E (program/erase) cycles while enterprise-class storage requirements demand on the order of 100K P/E cycles to achieve a 5-year product life.
As Skyera CEO Danilak explains in a Xilinx Xcell Journal magazine article, “We could have implemented the controller SoC for our system in an ASIC design, but that would have taken us 18 months to do and millions of dollars in development costs. If there was any kind of a problem in design or manufacturing, it would cost us millions more to pinpoint and then fix the problem… Implementing this [SSD controller] on an FPGA meant we didn’t get hit with a huge NRE and we could show to backers the entire system working, rather than have them tapping their watches waiting for the silicon to come back. That’s of course in addition to getting the product to customers faster.”
Solution Summary and Benefits