Published November 28, 2023
Author Jeniece Wnorowski
During Gestalt’s Storage Field Day in September 2023, Solidigm presented on how QLC SSDs are designed for value, performance and density. Every day, the volume of data being generated and the applications of that data are increasing. Streaming services, data mining, and machine learning are just a few examples of read-intensive workloads that demand innovative storage solutions.
This article explores the use of QLC SSDs to address changing workloads and read-intensive storage requirements. It provides an overview of the key features and capabilities of QLC SSDs, followed by an introduction to the Solidigm D5-P5336.
Data is changing the type of workloads involved in storage and consumption, as well as where that data is stored. For example, AI and content delivery networks (CDNs) have increased the demand for read-intensive storage on the back end, underscoring the need for high-capacity, highly dense storage. Another example is edge computing, in which data is stored as close to the source as possible. Figure 1 captures these changing applications and their requirements.
Figure 1 shows three areas in which storage requirements are evolving: data centers, edge infrastructure, and edge applications. Size and weight impact edge devices, including on-premises servers, internet of things (IoT), desktop computers, laptops, and other portable devices. As you move from data centers to edge devices, the demand grows for low-power solutions, excellent reliability, and operational efficiency in unpredictable conditions.
Many of the most common workloads in today’s data center and cloud environments are read-dominant, as Figure 2 shows. These approximate workload characterizations are based on data collected worldwide across cloud and enterprise environments. The left side of the chart shows transfer sizes from 4KB through 1MB and up. The bottom of the chart shows a mixture of read/write, while the right side shows the data pattern from small/random to large/sequential.
Critical storage needs for the kinds of applications shown in Figure 3 are:
However, other needs involve power requirements and ease of service. In the past, the primary solution to such storage needs was hard disk drives (HDDs). But new solutions, including solid-state drives (SSDs), are emerging.
For many applications, an effective alternative to HDDs is QLC NAND SSDs. QLC stands for quad-level cells with 4 bits per cell, NAND are flash memory drives that do not require power to retain data, and SSD stands for solid-state drive.
QLC NAND SSDs, which work exceptionally well for read-intensive workloads, have significant data capacity, greater than single-level cell (SLC), multi-level cell (MLC), and triple-level cell (TLC) NAND SSDs. In addition, QLC NAND SSDs can compete with flash options that store fewer bits per cell, because they provide high-density storage while remaining economical.
Another advantage is that QLC NAND SSDs offer greater capacity in the same space at a lower cost per gigabyte. In addition to being low latency, they are highly reliable when compared with HDDs,  partly because QLC NAND SSDs do not have moving parts (unlike traditional HDDs).
When the focus is on storing data for the long term, QLC NAND SSDs provide an excellent option for data backup and archival purposes. For these applications, QLC NAND SSDs are a strong solution because of the need to balance performance, cost, and capacity.
There are numerous and varied applications for QLC SSDs. Examples include machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), where the drive primarily captures the data, which gets pulled from the drive while analytics are processed in a different workload.
Other applications that rely on QLC SSDs include OnLine Analytics Processing (OLAP), such as data mining for retail workloads, earthquakes, and high-performance computing (HPC). There are also Financial Service Industry (FSI) workloads, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), and CDNs.
These applications require rapid, high-bandwidth access to data and low-latency, read-optimized performance. A new product from Solidigm meets these intensive modern storage needs.
The Solidigm D5-P5336 is a read performance-optimized storage solution for up to 61,44TB. As the value endurance QLC SSD option from Solidigm, the D5-P5336 offers high capacity at low total cost of ownership (TCO) for read-intensive workloads.
In supporting read-intensive storage, the D5-P5336 can read at 7,000 Mbps and write at 3,300 Mbps and is tunable with software to meet various workload needs more effectively. It has an excellent latency under load, a low error rate, and endurance on the order of 3,000 P/E cycles. 
Revisiting Figure 2, Figure 3 shows where the Solidigm D5-P5336 provides optimal performance in read-dominant workloads.
This QLC SSD solution stores more data in a smaller footprint with faster access while offering massive scalability and extremely high data density.  This also makes these SSDs highly scalable. For example, a Solidigm D5-P5336 with twenty-four 61.4TB drives offers a total server capacity of 1.47PB.
Pisetsky continues, “The high reliability of these SSDs in Taboola’s decentralized, hyperconverged storage architecture keeps maintenance costs in check.”
Finally, the reliability of the Solidigm D5-P5336 is summarized in Figure 4. Note the intense testing that takes place and the industry-leading data reliability achieved by this QLC SSD.
The Solidigm D5-P5336 is the world’s highest-capacity PCIe 4.0 SSD,  with key features, such as the ability to accelerate data in widely adopted, read and data-intensive workloads; massive scalability for high-density storage environments;  and substantially improved total cost of ownership and sustainability in hyper-scale environments. [2,4]
For more information on these topics watch the full Gestalt Storage Field Day videos by clicking this link.
 “Up to 20x reduction of warm storage footprint” claim is based on comparing 4TB HDDs, which require 10 (2U) of rack space to fill up 1PB or storage, against 30.72TB Solidigm SSD D5-5336 E1.L or U.2 drives, which take 1U of rack space to fill up 1PB of storage. That’s up to 20x greater rack consolidation.
Jeniece Wnorowski, Product Marketing Manager at Solidigm, has over 14 years of experience in data center storage solutions. Jeniece got her start in technical marketing at Intel Corporation, then joined Solidigm where she continues to evangelize data center SSD innovations with a variety of companies and partners. Outside of work, Jeniece enjoys spending time with her kids, training for jiu jitsu, and exploring the outdoors.