Did HP just redefine high speed storage?

Storage device performance the world has never seen.

HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro
HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro. HP

Since the advent of digital video production, shooters and editors have sought larger and faster storage mediums. Optical drives, solid state drives, flash drives, fusion drives, and other devices have come and gone from our lineups, usually in favor of something bigger and faster.

Most recently, the fastest devices are those without moving parts: flash drives, SSDs, and the like. Far more goes into high speed data transfer than simply the medium, but these technologies have provided the basis for fast storage.

Editing, post production and visual effect work is all improved when working from a high speed storage device. In many cases, the speed of the storage unit can make as much difference to a workflow as the speed of a GPU or how much memory a workstation contains. Imagine working in After Effects on a project where all of the assets reside on a 5400 rpm  drive. Now imagine the difference in speed if all of the assets sat on a high speed SSD drive. The difference would be huge.

So it was no surprise when the production world did a double - and maybe triple - take at the performance of HP’s latest high speed storage device, the HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro. This storage solution provides performance that is 16 times faster than a SATA SSD drive, and costs roughly the same.

“As the workstation industry leader, HP Inc. looks to take its commitment to the professional a step further with every new product and innovation,” said Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager, Workstations and Thin Clients, HP Inc.

“HP Workstations’ engineering DNA is our special sauce – driven by over three decades in the business and a true understanding of our customers’ needs that helps them solve business problems our competition isn’t addressing to the same extent.”

So, how does it work and just how fast is it?

The HP Z Turbo Drive G2 Quad Pro is a device that houses up to four fast HP Z Turbo Drive G2 modules into a single PCIe x16 card.

This card features a PCIe Gen3 connection, which enables performance levels of greater than 2GB per second, per module. It also features NVMe controller technology built specifically to give SSD products extremely low latency and boost Random Read performance by a factor of 3x over traditional SATA SSD products.

So, this means some pretty impressive stuff. The performance is 16 times that of a SATA SSD, offering sequential transfer speed of up to 9.0 GB/s on a unit of up to 2 TB in size. If one isn’t enough, the only limitation to how many HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pros exist in a workstation is how many available PCIe x16 slots it has available.

As this is a true enterprise storage solution, HP has engineered a number of technologies into the HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro. Data integrity in the event of a power loss is provided by special circuitry that uses six onboard super caps to save work. Drive endurance is delivered through MLC NAND technology, and the drive also includes TRIM support, end-to-end data protection and support for Secure Erase.

The whole idea of the drive is to put leading edge fast storage solutions onto a PCIe card and remove the I/O bottlenecks of a SATA channel.

This blistering performer is supported as both a boot device and as a data device on a handful of HP workstations, including the HP Z440, Z640 and Z840 Workstations.