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Small-form factor Solid State Drives for AMP, NetSys/SPAN and ASPIRE Research groups

Requisition #54430658 (BearBuy) ITEMS: Qty 80 “SLC SATADOM-ML 3SE 16GB Pin 7 VCC”, DESML-16GD06SCAQBF

For use in AMP/NetSys/Aspire Intel S2600GZ/S2600JF systems

Total cost before CA Sales Tax, S/H: $11,200

  • Specified Item is required. Other vendors selling these items are acceptable
  • Item has charactertistics unique to single manufacturer.

A. Minimum use requirements

The AMP, NetSys/SPAN and ASPIRE research groups seek to obtain small form factor Solid State Drives (SSD) compatible with their existing Intel S2600GZ and S2600JF servers for the purpose of critical Operating System (OS) software installations.

In smaller form-factor versions of the Intel S2600GZ and S2600JF server platforms, especially the S2600JF platform, space for storage devices is at an extreme premium, forcing a compromise between bulk storage in the form of higher capacity but slower and power-hungry Hard Disk Drives (HDD) best suited to bulk storage, and smaller capacity but faster Solid State Drives (SSD) that consume less power and arguably more reliable that are well suited for critical Operating System (OS) software.

We seek SSDs with the following characteristics:

  1. SATA Disk-on-Module (SATADOM) form factor
  2. Pin7 VCC power support
  3. 16GB minimum
  4. SLC flash memory
  5. Power-fault Write-Protect
  6. SATA3 6Gb/s support
  7. Approval for use in Intel server system platforms

Criteria for comparison

  • compliance with the minimum requirements
  • purchase cost

B. How are requirements critical

1. SATA Disk-on-Module (SATADOM) form factor

To alleviate this conflict for storage priorities, the Intel S2600GZ, S2600JF, and other current-generation Intel server platforms offer support for SATA Disk-On-Module (SATADOM) form-factor SSDs, small form factor SSDs designed to occupy less space than even conventional SSDs, consume less power, require less cabling, and provide robust storage for critical storage needs such as OS software installs.

The SATADOM form factor is ideal for smaller form factor systems used by the AMP Genomics, NetSys, and ASPIRE research groups, allowing them to devote a small specialized storage device to critical OS software installs without compromising the ability to maximize the capacity for bulk storage.

2. Pin7 VCC power support

Some earlier SATADOM designs were powered solely by an external cable that required support from the server platform in the form of a matching and poorly-standardized power connector.

Newer SATADOM designs make use of so call “Pin7 VCC” which passes power directly over the SATA connector which is normally used only for passing data.

Intel's current-generation server platforms support this design feature and, more importantly, do not provide other means of powering such devices.

3. 16GB minimum

The 16GB size is a balance between cost/budgetary concerns and storage capacity for the ever growing size of critical OS software installs.

4. SLC Flash Memory

Outside of specialized devices using DRAM with battery backup or SRAM, SSDs currently use either Single-Level Charge (SLC) or Multi-Level Charge (MLC) Flash Memory. While both forms of Flash Memory suffer from a limitation on the number of times it can be written to, SLC offers up to 33 times the write endurance of MLC.

5. Power-fault Write-Protect

Consumer-grade and some Enterprise-grade SSDs can suffer data corruption during power-loss events. To mitigate this, we seek SATADOM models that have some form of write-protection in the event of a power-fault.

6. SATA3 6Gb/s support

For the demands of the repeated OS Installs/Upgrades as well as reboots encountered during systems research, we seek SATADOM models that support the current SATA3 6Gb/s standards.

7. Approval for use in Intel server system platforms

For effective hardware support and resolution of hardware compatbility problems, we require at a minimum that the SATADOM manufacturer in question be one with a track record of working with the server platform manufacturer (Intel in this case) and that it already have specific SATADOM models approved for use by Intel.

We do not require that the specific model be itself listed as such lists of approved third-party components can often trail availability and actual approval by significant periods of time, particularly for specialized components such as these.

C. What other suppliers were considered and why were they rejected?

Other manufacturers considered included the

  • SuperMicro SSD-DM016-PHI
  • Mach Xtreme MXSSD2MSLD16G-H
  • Advantech SQF-SDM 530 series
  • AxiomTech FSD series
  • Afaya Micro Disk SATA modules

We attempted to contact Kingspec of Shenzhen, PRC, but did not receive a reply about their SATADOM products.

D. Why are the specified items the only ones acceptable

Of these manufacturers, only Innodisk currently has any SATADOM products on Intel's approved third-party components lists for the S2600 family of server platforms, and only Innodisk offered 16GB SLC SATADOM devices with well documented Pin7 VCC support, SATA3 6Gb/s support, and Power-Fault Write-Protect.

That aside, of the other manufacturers we found, SuperMicro did not have any documented Power-Fault Write Protect; Mach Xtreme supported only SATAII 3Gb/s operation, did not have documented Pin7 Support, and did not have Power-Fault Write Protect; Advantech did not offer documented Pin7 Support or Power-Fault Write Protect; Axiom Tech did not offer SATAIII 6Gb/s support in the 16GB model, Pin7 Support, or Power-Fault Write Protect; and Afaya did not even offer SATAII 3Gb/s support let alone SATA3 6Gb/s, only SATAI 1.5Gb/s support, no Pin7 support and no Power-Fault Write Protect.

Of the examined manufacturers, only Innodisk meets all of the technical and vendor support requirements.

So, we select Innodisk's DESML-16GD06SCAQBF “16GB SLC SATADOM-ML 3SE”

E. Vendor Selection

We requested quotes from three vendors for the DESML-16GD06SCAQBF who all replied with competitive pricing for the Innodisk DESML-16GD06SCAQBF (vendor replies may use variations on the DESML-16GD06SCAQBF part number due to internal marketing needs but all of the designations are for the same DESML-16GD06SCAQBF product.)

  • Innodisk Corp - USA (the manufacturer), Fremont CA
  • Acme Micro, Santa Clara CA
  • Colfax International, Sunnyvale CA

Colfax International is a long time and trusted vendor to our research groups.

Acme Micro, though our research groups have not as yet ordered from them due, is a trusted name in the system integrator field and routinely offers competitive quotes for our RFQs.

Innodisk Corp is the manufacturer of the SATADOM devices we selected for our server systems. Though not initially considered as a vendor, during conversations about their current SATADOM offerings and after asking how many we intended to buy, Innodisk offered to provide pricing direct to us. This was somewhat surprising as most manufacturers prefer to sell only to distributors, not to direct to end-user customers such as UC Berkeley.

Before CA Sales/Use Tax, the vendor bids are ranked as follows

VendorPer UnitCostTaxShippingTotal
Acme Micro147117601058.4011512933.40

Though Innodisk did not quote a shipping cost (Colfax offers free shipping for orders of this size), reasonable shipping costs given their relative proximity to Campus would be comparable to that quoted by Acme Micro of about $120-$150

On the basis of price, we choose Innodisk to fulfill this order.

Additionally, though not initially a consideration, the opportunity to obtain product from the manufacturer versus a distributor offer advantages such as a shorter support chain and direct feedback about product design and usage.

jon.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/24 15:54 by jkuroda