NGD Systems this week announced its first SSD that also happens to be one of the highest capacity drives in the industry. The NGD Catalina uses a proprietary controller as well as up to 24 TB of Micron’s 3D TLC NAND memory and apart from capacity, its key feature is a relatively low power consumption.

Before we jump to the Catalina SSD, it makes sense to talk about NGD Systems (formerly known as NxGn Data) itself. The company was founded in June 2013 by a group of people who previously developed SSDs at companies like Western Digital, STEC and Memtech, with the corporate aim to develop drives for enterprise and hyperscale applications. Back in 2014, the company disclosed that its primary areas of interest were LDPC, advanced signal processing, software-defined media channel architecture and in-storage computation capability. NGD has been developing various proprietary technologies behind the Catalina since its inception and the SSD is a culmination of their work.

The NGD Catalina is a large add-in-card with a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface that also supports a Mezzanine connector. Rather than have the NAND on the main card, instead the card uses multiple M.2 modules with Micron’s 3D TLC NAND. The 24 TB version of Catalina carries 12 of such modules, whereas lower capacity SKUs will use a fewer modules. According to NGD, the Catalina consumes only 0.65 W of power per Terabyte (which means ~15.6 W for the 24 TB SSD), but the card still has a 4-pin auxiliary power connector.

Keeping in mind that the SSD has a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, the peak read/write performance of the drive is limited to 3.9 GB/s. Meanwhile, NGD does not disclose official performance or endurance numbers for the Catalina SSD, but only says that the drive is optimized for read-intensive applications.

The NGD Catalina is based on the company’s proprietary ASIC controller which performs LDPC ECC and enables NGD’s patented Elastic FTL (Flash Translation Layer) algorithm, which we believe is for software defined media channels and is claimed said to lower power consumption of SSDs. We do not know anything about the architecture of the controller used by the Catalina, but back in 2014 the company said (according to EETimes) that its controller used ARM's Cortex-A9 cores (UPDATE3/5: the new controller uses the A53) that ran a micro-OS based on Linux to perform the usual tasks as well as in-storage (In-Situ) computing.

In-Situ is One of the technologies that NGD has been evangelizing since its establishment. In-storage processing moves a compute function closer to the data and allows executing an app on the drive through the Cortex A9s. This concept makes particular sense for various applications that have to search through and analyze large amounts of data (e.g., Big Data) because it eliminates in-device network bottlenecks (there is no need to transfer all the data to the CPU if basic search functions can be done on the drive). The In-Situ paradigm does not abolish host CPUs or operating systems that make requests and manage operations, but it reduces loads on data buses, network, and CPUs to improve performance and reduce power consumption of data centers. It is not stated if the NGD Catalina supports In-Situ though.

The NGD Catalina is being qualified at various OEMs and is available at various capacity points to interested parties. The company does not talk about exact pricing of its drives because a lot depends on actual capacity points as well as volumes of the SSDs acquired.

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Source: NGD Systems

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  • hahmed330 - Sunday, February 26, 2017 - link

    "~15.6 W for the 24 GB SSD"... Shouldn't it be "24 TB SSD"??
  • vladx - Sunday, February 26, 2017 - link

    Wow, just wow. Talk about innovation and pushing the limits.
  • CaedenV - Sunday, February 26, 2017 - link

    hahahaha, at 24TB that would scale out to 15.6KW
  • Kakti - Sunday, February 26, 2017 - link

    I'm surprised they didn't increase the card's PCIe lanes to accommodate all of those m.2 drives. My guess is the ASIC can only handle so much data it couldn't saturate more than x4. If that's not the case then I'm curious what the reason is.
  • Samus - Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - link

    You are right, it's probably not a very sophisticated ASIC. This is the first time something like this has been put together so it isn't going to be a well optimized took years for bitcoin mining ASIC's to become ultra-optimized and demand for that probably wasn't much higher than demand for a 24TB SSD.

    That said, more information on the ASIC would be interesting.
  • thewacokid000 - Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - link

    They aren't M.2 drives, they're only piggybacking on the form factor. The whole point of these drives is to do local analytics on the data and avoid pushing anything more over the external bus than they need to push. You're not thinking about dense servers with 10+ of these cards. Taking advantage of local on-card searches and analytics is the big push - you can't get the data out of the server fast enough to justify putting more bandwidth on any one of the cards.
  • samer1970 - Friday, March 3, 2017 - link

    Thats just a SATA raid card ,, those are nothing but Msata connected in Raid 0 nothing more ...

    a simple Raid card with 24 sata ports .. and sadly they went x4 Raid chip instead of X8 raid chip
  • samer1970 - Friday, March 3, 2017 - link

    Such cards and such capacity should be at least an x8 PCIe card ...

    This has 12 SSD slots , I dont know if they are Msata or X4 M2 each ... but in case of Msata can reach 6000MB/s in Raid 0 and this needs an x8 PCIe ...

    and in case of x4 M2 .. well this monster can reach 48,000 MB/s .. hence should be on X16 PCIe slot...

    Sadly it seems they are using some kind of Raid chip that is off the shelve and a cheap one with X4 interface ...

    My guess is that this is a X4 Raid chip connected to Msata slots .. and shame on them not using a X8 PCIe Raid chip that is already available off shelves
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  • akshay1418 - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

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