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Samsung’s revolutionary SSD behaves like a (powerful) PC - and you'll never guess why

The first virtual edition of FMS 2020 (Flash Memory Summit, not Football Manager) is well underway and the first announcements are already trickling through, with Samsung’s intriguing new enterprise SSD snatching the spotlight.

Meet the SmartSSD, which Samsung Semiconductor refers to as a Computational Storage Drive (CSD).

It is designed to “accelerate a variety of applications including database management, video processing, artificial intelligence layers, and virtualization”. In other words, like the coprocessors of yesteryear and the GPU of today, the CPU can offload specific tasks to this very useful sidekick.

Samsung used Xilinx FPGA to achieve what it calls the first adaptable computational storage platform. Xilinx was acquired a few weeks ago by AMD, one of the largest CPU vendors in the world. Ironically, therefore, a surge in demand for CSD’s could potentially have an impact on the sales of AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon processors.

Among the use cases put forward by Samsung are “search-in-storage”, with some processes seeing a 100x improvement in speed, while transparent compression technology enabled one provider to cram up to 10x more bytes into the storage.

Other scenarios include time-to-insight in big data analytics, video file transcoding and data encryption solutions.

The drive itself is a standard 2.5-inch SSD with a 25-watt power envelope and a 4TB native capacity - or up to 12TB using accelerated transparent compression. That’s a 3:1 compression ratio, which is slightly more than the industry standard of 2.5:1 adopted by the Linear Tape Open (LTO) organization.