Kioxia CD7 SSD: PCIe 5 drive hits HPE servers

Kioxia has announced its datacenter SSD series is for HPE servers and arrays, using 3D NAND two generations behind its latest tech but with the latest PCIe gen 5 interconnect.

PCIe 5 operates at 32Gbps lane bandwidth — four times faster than PCIe 3’s 8Gbps and double PCIe 4’s 16Gbps sec.

The CD7 was originally unveiled in November 2021 as a PCIe 5 NVMe SSD using 96-layer BiCS4 technology in TLC (3 bits/cell) format and the E3.S drive standard. The drive was then sample shipping to potential OEMs. Kioxia is now transitioning NAND production in its joint venture fabs with Western Digital to BiCS6 162-layer chips.

Neville Ichhaporia, Kioxia America’s SVP and GM of its SSD business unit, said: “EDSFF and PCIe 5.0 technologies are transforming the way storage is deployed, and our CD7 Series SSDs are the first to deliver these technologies on HPE’s next-generation systems.” 

Kioxia CD7

The CD7 series drive is listed as a read-intensive drive with random read/write IOPS of up to 1,050,000/180,000 and sequential read and write bandwidth of 6.45GBps and 5.6GBps respectively. It has a five-year warranty, a 2.5 million hours MTBF rating and can sustain 1 drive write per day.

Other PCIe 5 SSDs vary in speed and storage. For example, Samsung’s PM1743 is available in E3.S format with up to 15.36TB capacity from its 128-layer NAND. It puts out 2,500,000/250,000 random read/write IOPS, 13GBps sequential read bandwidth and 6.6GBps sequential write bandwidth.

Kioxia says its CD7 SSDs support ProLiant Gen11 servers, Alletra 4000 storage servers (rebranded Apollo servers,) and Synergy 480 Gen11 Compute Modules, which all have PCIe gen 5 capability and have E3.S storage bays.

E3.S enables denser, efficient deployments in the same rack unit compared to 2.5-inch drives, with better cooling and thermal characteristics, we’re told. The format can, Kioxia says, raise capacities by up to 1.5-2x – although the CD7 only supports 1.92TB, 3.84TB and 7.68TB.

The CD7 is said to be suited for customers and applications such as hyperscalers, IoT and big data analytics, OLTP, transactional and relational databases, streaming media and content delivery networks as well as virtualized environments. A higher 3D NAND layer count version is surely on Kioxia’s roadmap.

Merger talks

Reuters reports that merger talks between Kioxia and Western Digital have sped up with a deal structure being developed. It cites unnamed sources. WD is under pressure from activist investor Elliott management to split its disk drive and SSD businesses into separate companies, and to then merge the SSD unit with Kioxia.

According to the newswire’s sources, under the fresh deal the combined Kioxia-WD business would be majority-owned by Kioxia with a 43 percent share, with WD having 37 percent, and the rest owned by existing shareholders of the two companies.

Kioxia was bought out of Toshiba by a Bain Capital-led consortium in 2017. A WD-Kioxia merger could provide a financial exit for that consortium. Toshiba owns 40.6 percent of Kioxia and Elliott Management has a Toshiba investment plus a board position.