Samsung unveils 'zoned namespace' SSDs for cloud and data centres

The ZNS storage units offer up to four times longer lifespan for systems running bit data and AI applications

Samsung has revealed a line of solid-state drives (SSDs) for data centres featuring the Zoned Namespace (ZNS) technology, which the firm claims can raise efficiency and extend the drive's lifespan.

Built on Samsung's sixth-generation vertical NAND (V-NAND) architecture, the 2.5in PM1731a will be sold in 2TB and 4GB models, with the SSD featuring dual ports to ensure that it's fully accessible for continuous operations.

This drive is designed for enterprises running heavy workloads and public cloud companies running data-intensive applications, with the ZNS SSDs boasting between a three and four times longer lifespan. This is in addition to greater efficiency versus standard SSDs, as well as reduced power consumption.

"Samsung's ZNS SSD reflects our commitment to introducing differentiated storage solutions that can substantially enhance the reliability and lifetime of server SSDs," said senior vice president of Samsung's Memory Software Development Team, Sangyeun Cho.

"We plan to leverage quad-level cell (QLC) NAND technology in our next-generation ZNS drives to enable higher thresholds for storage performance and capacity in the enterprise systems of tomorrow."

ZNS SSDs implement the Zoned Namespace Command Set as defined by the NVMe organisation. The specification provides a zoned storage device interface that allows the SSD and host to work together on allocating data so it can be aligned with the physical media of the SSD.

The first generation of this specification, ZNS Command Set 1.0, was released on 16 June 2020.

Samsung suggests that ZNS technology allows data to be grouped based on usage and how often they're accessed, stored in independent zones within the drive. This means there's no need to move and rearrange data, leading to a significant reduction in the number of write operations.

The PM1731a series will be more sustainable, as a result, and allows users to take advantage of the full drive capacity by eliminating the need to reserve some storage space for background tasks.

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Samsung has also been engaging in various open source projects to expand the ZNS ecosystem, making its ZNS technology available to xNVMe, for example, which provides software libraries and tools to improve the performance of NVMe devices.

The firm has also joined the Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK) community created by Intel, which allows SPDK users to implement ZNS drives more easily.

Samsung plans to mass-produce ZNS SSDs in the second half of the year and continue its work with storage companies to implement ZNS drives across customer environments.

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