Jim Handy, the “SSD Guy” and the “Memory Guy,” just published a short blog post alerting us to the fact that Flash memory maker SK Hynix has entered the SSD market just four days after announcing the purchase of Link_A_Media, an SSD controller and hard-drive read-channel chip vendor. (See “SK Hynix to acquire SSD controller vendor Link_A_Media for $248 million. That makes four.”) The company lists two types of SSDs on its site: a 2.5-inch drive that transfers data at 6Gbps and mSATA drives that transfer data at 3 or 6Gbps. The 2.5-inch drive is available in capacitirs of 128 and 256Gbytes and the mSATA drives are available in capacities of 32 to 128Gbytes. All drives consume less than 1W in active more and approximately a quarter of a Watt in idle mode.
Significantly, all of the SK Hynix SSDs support 128-bit AES encryption/decryption.
The performance of these SSDs looks pretty impressive from the charts:
There are a couple of significant things we know about the internals of these drives based on Handy’s writeup. First, the drives are based on ONFi Flash memory, which is mucho fast. SK Hynix makes ONFi Flash memory, which should not be much of a surprise.
Second, I guess we now know why SK Hynix bought Link_A_Media. Just refer back to the performance charts above.
One other aspect of this announcement that interests me is that SK Hynix has been placing bets on non-volatile semiconductor memory technologies that might or might not supplant Flash memory sometime in the future. Just this month, the company announced a partnership with IBM to commercialize phase-change memory (PCM, also called PCRAM). That announcement came on the heels of a joint MRAM development agreement between SK Hynix and Toshiba that was announced less than a year ago and an announcement in 2010 that SK Hynix and HP would jointly work to commercialize memristor-based memory. After all, you don’t have to make an SSD out of NAND Flash memory if there are better alternatives to be had.
This move up the food chain by SK Hynix is a significant announcement and one sure to get the attention of the other NAND Flash memory vendors as well as SSD vendors.