Nimbus Data on Monday introduced its new lineup of ultra-high capacity SSDs designed to compete against nearline HDDs in data centers. The ExaDrive DC drives use proprietary controllers and NAND flash in custom packaging to offer up to 100 TB of flash memory capacity in a standard 3.5-inch package. The SSDs use the SATA 6 Gbps interface and are rated for 'unlimited' endurance.

The Nimbus ExaDrive DC lineup will consist of two models featuring 50 TB and 100 TB capacities, a 3.5-inch form-factor, and a SATA 6 Gbps interface. Over time the manufacturer expects to release DC-series SSDs with an SAS interface, but it is unclear when exactly such drives will be available. When it comes to performance, the Nimbus DC SSDs are rated for up to 500 MB/s sequential read/write speeds as well as up to 100K read/write random IOPS, concurrent with most SATA-based SSDs in this space. As for power consumption, the ExaDrive DC100 consumes 10 W in idle mode and up to 14 W in operating mode.

The ExaDrive DC-series SSDs are based on Nimbus’ proprietary architecture, featuring four custom NAND controllers and a management processor. The drives use 3D MLC NAND flash memory made by SK Hynix in proprietary packaging. Nimbus does not disclose the ECC mechanism supported by the controllers, but keeping in mind that we are dealing with a 3D MLC-based device, it does not need a very strong ECC for maximum endurance.

Speaking of endurance, it is worth noting that the 100 TB drive comes with an unlimited write endurance guarantee for the full five-year warranty period. This is not particularly surprising because it is impossible to write more than 43.2 TB of data per 24 hours at 500 MB/s, which equates to 43% of the 100TB drive. For those wondering, at that speed for five years comes to ~79 PB over the 5 year warranty of the drive (assuming constant writes at top speed for five years straight). 

The drives support end-to-end CRC as well, with UBER specified as <1 bit per 10^17 bits read.

The Nimbus ExaDrive DC SSDs come in industry-standard 3.5-inch form-factor and are compatible with numerous SATA backplanes capable of supporting drives with at least 14 W power consumption. In particular, Nimbus Data says that there are "at least" three vendors of 4U90 chassis with proper thermal and power characteristics to support ExaDrive DC drives and the company has already qualified them. Keeping in mind that not all ultra high density enclosures can support 14 W drives because of power and cooling requirements, the ExaDrive DCs are not drop-in compatible with every application that use 3.5-inch hard drives today. So, if a datacenter operator wants to replace some of its high capacity HDDs with ultra-high capacity SSDs and maximize its storage per square meter density, it will need to use appropriate enclosures. In fact, Nimbus plans to announce high-density reference designs with enclosure partners in the coming weeks, but the company does not elaborate.

Nimbus Data ExaDrive DC Specifications
  50 TB 100 TB
Form Factor 3.5"
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
Controller Four proprietary controller ASICs featuring a management processor
NAND SK Hynix 3D MLC in proprietary packaging
Sequential Read 500 MB/s
Sequential Write 500 MB/s  (= 43 TB/day)
Random Read (4 KB) IOPS 100,000
Random Write (4 KB) IOPS 100,000
Power Idle 10 W
Operating 14 W
ECC unknown
Endurance Unlimited DWPD for over five years (limited by performance)
Uncorrectable Bit Error Rate <1 bit per 1017 bits read
End-to-End Data Protection Yes
Warranty Five years
Power Loss Protection Yes
Additional Information Link

According to Nimbus, 40 million 3.5-inch nearline HDDs with an aggregate capacity of 250 million TBs were shipped in 2017. The company believes that 10% of newly sold nearline capacity will move to NAND flash within three years, which represents massive opportunities for high capacity SSDs like the ExaDrive DC.

Nimbus has already begun sampling its DC-series SSDs with select customers. Commercial shipments are expected to begin this summer. Since Nimbus not only sells drives directly to its >200 clients, but also makes them available through its partners like Viking or Smart, and we expect other brands to offer products similar with the ExaDrive DC in the future. So far no formal announcements have been made.

The manufacturer does not disclose pricing of the ExaDrive DC50 and DC100 SSDs, but only says it will be competitive. Keep in mind that since NAND flash pricing tends to fluctuate, only time will tell actual MSRPs of the ExaDrive SSDs when they ship this summer.

Related Reading

Source: Nimbus Data

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  • alanh - Monday, March 19, 2018 - link

    Finally, an SSD that you can throw into your TiVo and expect to work long term.

    Well, if you ever wanted a TiVo that costs more than most cars.
  • T2k - Monday, March 19, 2018 - link

    Anyone seen this in real life?
    For *years* Nimbus Data was known to be full of shit, even most of their client claims were simply made up. The worst part was that if they managed to fool some customers into paying for their shitty kits - yes, you had to sign a prepurchase agreement - they (customers) were routinely left with their prepaid demo units & balls in hand even if the ND's spectacular performance promises turned out to be jackshit - trying to sue them to cough up the money/take back their crap took a lot of persistence...
    After years of abuse of the market and internal staff as I heard they got to the point when they had to shut their SF office because screwing their employees out of their pay got so bad there was no way they can go on there any more, (Also hilarious: few private investors and the CEO owns the company, and as I heard latter was having affair with other mgmt people etc - people were saying it was like a real-life daily Spanish telenovela series. :))
    I'm kinda curious: did anyone actually *see* this thing, in working condition?
  • T2k - Monday, March 19, 2018 - link

    PS: their original spiel was their "custom" controller, claiming to avoid SATA/SAS - something probably they never really managed to iron out, then NVMe arrived and it became a moot point. If they have half a brain they quickly realized that their shit probably never going to be able to compete with the big guys on speed, so they are better off just sticking a *lot* of cheap flash to their (now) slow-ish gear and sell it through drive suppliers, priced competitively.
    If that's what happened it makes sense. They can live in a niche for a while without much worry, finally.
  • Carpeinferi - Monday, March 19, 2018 - link

    Did an eval of one of their arrays years ago, and they tried the whole pay before doing a PoC bit with us. Never got anywhere close to the stated performance figures (got somewhere around 10% of expected performance) no matter what we tried, even using data streams that should have been very favorable for it. Spent a week working everyday with their engineering team troubleshooting things before boxing it up and sending it back which was another fiasco. They tried to refuse delivery then charge us for the equipment.

    Really rather surprised they're still around in any form and still using such a tarnished name. When you and your customers (multiple ones) end up in lawsuits against each other its a sign to change business practices.
  • T2k - Monday, March 26, 2018 - link

    Yep, that sounds like Nimbus, it's their MO. I never got to the PoC phase, their paperwork reeked so badly at one point I told the owner (Iskovich?) to fuck off (was also suspicious what's going on there if the CEO himself handles a single box PoC.)
    I wonder if this 100TB drive will have a similar BS factor/hidden catch too... but I agree, I'm also a bit surprised they never been shut down by the authorities, there was ample evidence of knowingly deceiving customers on a daily basis. It was also rumored that their oft-invoked 'famous' customer list was largely made up. :)

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