Japanese researchers create faster SSDs

Scrap those SSDs, for there's a new pace to beat. SSDs boast of incredibly fast writing and booting speeds, but already future technologies that could supersede the Solid State Drive are coming together, in the form of the Hybrid SSD.

A Japanese research group has managed to create a hybrid SSD drive, using ReRAM and high-capacity NAND flash memory. ReRAM is Resistive Random Access Memory, which could allow for even faster data rewriting.

The group is headed by Professor Ken Takeuchi of the Chuo University. He is a professor in the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Engineering. Chuo University is one of Japan's most prestigious schools, located in the city of Tokyo, though its main claim to fame is its law school. Chuo University (literally 'Central University') was founded in 1885. Perhaps the university's most famous attendee is Hwang Jang-yop; a major North Korean politician who defected to South Korea in 1997. Hwang is significant due to his rank within North Korea, and his work at creating the "Juche Idea": the official state ideology.

The hybrid drive could offer up to eleven times the write speed of conventional SSD drives, as well as a reduction in power consumption by up to 93%. The concern of SSD product life is also reduced, with the researchers suggesting their hybrid drives could last up to 6.9 times longer.

Their new architecture was unveiled at the 2012 Symposium on VLSI Circuits. The Symposium was held from June 13th through to June 15th in Hawaii.

The usage of ReRAM is significant alongside the 256GB of NAND flash memory, since it allows for high-speed random access. While RAM is intended to this in general, ReRAM could help prolong the lifespan of conventional SSDs, since it has been found to be better for rewriting smaller amounts of data. The manner in which the hard drive works also means that it will reduce fragmentation, all through the addition of ReRAM.

Another change made to help increase performance is the Most Recently Used (MRU) algorithm. The theory behind this is that the most used addresses can be stored in ReRAM, thereby reducing speeds even further in the goal of more speed.

With all this speed you'd expect the hard drive to be astronomically expensive if it becomes the major technology of choice. How much are you guessing? You can cut that down. The extended life of the NAND flash memory means  the hard drives could be as little as a seventh of the current price of SSDs.

ReRAM is currently expensive, though Takeuchi feels it pays off. That can be understood, since the price will drop but the speed will not. ReRAM's price means other manufacturing prices could be reduced in order to attain some more of the RAM for speed.

The possibility of this technology becoming available immediately is not likely. The possibility of it being the next big thing in the world of computers all depends on whether or not the researchers really can find a way to get their hybrid SSDs as cheap as they want to. If they can then there's nothing to stop it. SSDs are fast, but faster? For anyone seeking performance above all else the possibility should be irresistible. And why not? If you can afford it, you might as well get the best for your money.

Source: Nikkei

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16 Comments

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Cheaper is the goal. They need to focus on that. Let's go for cheaper and larger capacity - speed should be secondary for several years. PC manufacturers need to make them standard and replace mechanical. Think about it.

Jaybonaut said,
Cheaper is the goal. They need to focus on that. Let's go for cheaper and larger capacity - speed should be secondary for several years. PC manufacturers need to make them standard and replace mechanical. Think about it.

I agree with @neufuse, we don't need cheaper (as a primary goal) but the main goal is life (or stability), most ssd last between 1 to 2 years.

Magallanes said,

I agree with @neufuse, we don't need cheaper (as a primary goal) but the main goal is life (or stability), most ssd last between 1 to 2 years.

I say cheaper, also. If cheap enough, you could swap out drives every year an gain speed/capacity to boot. And I haven't heard anyone complaining about their SSDs dying after a year or two. At least no more than the rate of any other hard drive.

schubb2003 said,
Paragraph three really heads off into the weeds for what is otherwise a really interesting bit of news.

I love trivial bits of information like that, and I figured it might be a cool way to add something a little different to the article. Still, thanks for your opinion. I'll keep it in mind in the future.

schubb2003 said,
Paragraph three really heads off into the weeds for what is otherwise a really interesting bit of news.

Hahaha, I was just about to say (almost) the same thing.

If that's not waffling on, then I don't know what is.

at this point, I'd start focusing on increaseing the life of SSD flash cells as their primary goal, speed is pretty much as good as the average person will need for a long while now!

neufuse said,
at this point, I'd start focusing on increaseing the life of SSD flash cells as their primary goal, speed is pretty much as good as the average person will need for a long while now!

This ^

But one way to expand NAND life cycles is to change from MLC to SLC, so they should focus on making SLC far cheaper than it currently is.

I agree, I love my SSD, and using it makes me feel like I was living in the dark ages before I got it. I remember like 15 years ago I was certain that it wasn't cpus that were slowing down my computer, but hard drives, and I yearned for faster drives. Now they're here, and it is awesome. But, c'mon, if you could get a drive that was that much faster than the current SSDs why wouldn't you jump at that? If this was available today I'd probably get one.

ReRAM is currently expensive ....... Why is it that no one seems to create something new that's freakin cheaper to manufacture than the previous tech is smaller faster and more reliable aswell as using one tenth the power.....

Athlonite said,
ReRAM is currently expensive ....... Why is it that no one seems to create something new that's freakin cheaper to manufacture than the previous tech is smaller faster and more reliable aswell as using one tenth the power.....

3 out of 4 aint bad, and dont forget, lots of money goes into the research itself and then the research to figure out how to mass produce it.

Athlonite said,
ReRAM is currently expensive ....... Why is it that no one seems to create something new that's freakin cheaper to manufacture than the previous tech is smaller faster and more reliable aswell as using one tenth the power.....

Well it is about Trade Off, you really cant have everything at once. We will move to TLC soon and that will be cheaper per capacity, but also slower in terms of Random Read Write. ReRAM or some other form of Cache will hopefully compensate for that.