TL; DR: Founded three decades ago as a DRAM manufacturer, Kingston Technology has evolved into one of the largest memory module and SSD vendors in the industry. Today, the company’s SSDs are boosting the computing performance of enterprises around the world through consistent IOPS and latency not available with the traditional spinning disk. For hosting providers looking to open new revenue streams, Kingston SSDs grant the ability to upsell customers to high-performing tiers of service and guarantee greater uptime percentages. With innovations on the horizon to build smaller form factors that enable higher density in low bay-count server racks, Kingston is positioned to continue its role as a leader in the memory and computing productivity space for at least another 30 years.
As one of the world’s largest providers of gaming servers, i3D.net provides hosting for upward of 30,000 of clients with more than 10,000 servers across 22 datacenters. The host realized its servers needed an upgrade to reduce lag time and keep pace with the rising resource demands from the millions of gamers playing its clients’ massively popular franchises, including Battlefield and Call of Duty. That’s when i3D.net turned to Kingston Technology for enhanced memory and storage solutions, and found an answer in the company’s reliable high-performance DRAM modules and SSDs.
With significantly increased speed and stability, Kingston’s SSDs allowed i3D.net to up the number of virtual systems on its servers and effectively doubled the instances its gaming servers were able to run. Ultimately, the magnified performance i3D.net experienced through Kingston’s solutions gave the company a competitive advantage that resulted in an expanded customer base and a huge return on investment.
“Offering our clients servers adapted to their needs is a fundamental reason we’ve experienced double-digit growth,” said i3D.net CEO Stijn Koster. “The Kingston memory, SSDs, and consultation services have been an essential part of that success.”
The benefits of Kingston’s SSDs are not just enjoyed in the gaming space. For three decades, Kingston has been helping enterprises across industries boost computing performance through its memory enhancement products. The company’s SSDs provide a jolt that maximizes application speeds in virtual and cloud environments, and can breathe new life into older systems.
“When we started producing SSDs, many of the companies that turned to us had a very strong performance or durability need they weren’t able to achieve with spinning disk,” said Cameron Crandall, Kingston’s Senior Technology Manager. “These customers immediately saw the value SSDs could provide.”
Celebrating 30 Years of Boosting Businesses’ Computing Power
Kingston began as a manufacturer of client and server DRAM Modules in 1987 and began producing small flash-based storage devices, like USBs and SD cards, in 2004. In time, the company partnered with Intel to co-brand and sell the company’s X25M and E SSDs as the fastest route to penetrate the emerging SSD market.
“Quickly after releasing those products, we began to build up our engineering team and develop relationships with the key controller vendors of the time,” Cameron said.
Not long after, Kingston became a leading producer of SSDs despite the troubled market of the late 2000s.
“It was 2008, and the economy was in peril,” Cameron said. “We were offering SSD technology at $8 to $10 per gigabyte, which the large enterprises of the time found to be a much more cost-efficient alternative to hard drive failure.”
Because SSDs are based on a form of flash memory similar to USBs, Kingston’s evolution into a large-capacity SSD manufacturer was a natural transition for the company. Today, Kingston offers high-performance SSDs, RAM modules, and other hardware components capable of running some of the most intensive programs, helping server-based businesses scale in tandem with market demand.
Displacing Spinning Disk in the Datacenter with High-Performance SSDs
SSDs provide several advantages over spinning-disk drives. Traditional HDDs, while much cheaper, have a greater tendency to fail due to having more moving parts. SSDs are much more resistant to shock damage and produce less heat.
They also achieve much higher read and write rates than HDDs and simplify data recovery. These factors make SSDs an ideal choice in datacenters, where hardware failure and data protection are prominent concerns.
“The next big opportunity for us is the datacenter,” Cameron said. “That’s where a lot of our focus is centered moving forward.”
SSDs are gaining popularity across markets — from consumers building gaming PCs to enterprise-level datacenters with a demand for reliability. Because consistent performance is more important to datacenters than speed, the upgrade to full HDD displacement relies on careful decision-making.
“What we’ve noticed about datacenter customers is that they’re a little choosier,” Cameron said. “In particular, they’re looking at performance consistency.”
Cameron told us IOPS and latency are the two key performance metrics that a datacenter architect is looking at when building a flash-based system, and SSDs are up to the task.
Allowing Hosts to Offer Greater QoS and More Flexible Tiers of Service
By installing new hardware, hosting companies can provide greater speed and reliability of service and significantly reduce downtime rates. As hosting packages are commonly tiered by performance and storage metrics, providers can upsell clients to higher performance packages with greater quality of service (QoS) and retain their more static subscribers.
Hosts offering virtual and cloud servers especially benefit from faster data access and reduced HDD replacement costs. The consistent IOPS and latency measures allow them to guarantee higher uptime percentages.
“All this talk about consistency really falls under quality of service,” Cameron said. “Hosting companies have the ability to offer more and/or different performance levels to customers. We’re building SSDs with QoS as the top priority.”
To offer greater quality of service, many hosting providers have created write tests for potential storage disk replacements. Cameron told us he is seeing a lot of hosting companies write their own IOPS tests.
“They don’t look at averages, but they’ll look at performance every second,” he said. “They want to see nice, straight lines in their graphs.”
With data in graph form, spikes in latency can easily be detected. By creating their own benchmarks, hosts can ensure that SSDs meet desired performance metrics.
Up Next: Innovations to Enable High Density in Low Bay-Count Racks
To stay competitive, Kingston has developed some of the fastest SSDs available in the market, and the company shows no signs of slowing. Kingston’s latest release of a half-length PCI express SSD card offers a prime example of this.
“We’re still the fastest SSD in the world,” Cameron said. “And now we’ve come out with a unique design that leverages multiple controllers behind a PCI-e switch.”
The earliest SSDs used the standard SATA controller for the best compatibility. As they became more popular, SSDs branched into other form factors, offering thinner profiles and greater speeds.
M.2 and U.2 form factors allow for speeds much greater than the maximum theoretical throughput of 600 MB/s seen in SATA drives. The U.2 and M.2 interfaces connect directly to the motherboard’s PCI-e lanes, bypassing the SATA interface altogether. The NVMe (non-volatile memory) protocol allows these drives to achieve much higher performance gains over traditional SATA drives.
“One of the next big launches we have will be the 2.5-inch version of our PCI-e SSD card, which is the U.2 form factor,” Cameron said. “This is going to enable four physical drives per 2.5-inch socket and, in turn, very high density with low bay-count server racks.”
By using thinner storage, servers will be able to make the most of limited rack space.
Kingston’s 30-year reputation was built on the creation of quality memory solutions. And the company’s SSDs and memory enhancement products continue to help large enterprises, like i3D.net, better serve customers by optimizing the performance of their applications. The result: Customers are happier and so are bottom lines.