|StorageSearch.com is about thought
leadership in the SSD market. |
From - what's in the
- how will SSDs change the
Since the 1990s
our readers have been accelerating the growth of the SSD market and
setting its direction and agenda.
1" SSDs, BGA SSDs &
1.8 SSDs", MO-297, slim
2.5" SSDs - all
2.5" PCIe SSDs,
SSDs - all
silos for enterprise SSDs
11 key SSD symmetries
About the publisher
Acquisitions in the SSD
R/W & DSP ECC in SSDs
Advertising SSDs - 15
years of SSD ads
Analysts - SSD market
Animal brands in
and blogs - top 50
Architecture guide - storage
ASAPs / auto tuning,
caching, tiering SSDs
Backup - SSD enhanced
management in flash SSDs
Banner ads for SSDs
Best SSD for your
PC? - sorry I can't say
Big market picture of
versus Small - in SSD architecture
Bookmarks from SSD
- citing StorageSearch.com
Strategies in the SSD market
Buyers Guide to SSDs
Cache ratios inside
software and SSD appliances
Calling for an
end to SSD vs HDD IOPS
Can you tell me the best
way to SSD Street?
- storage interface / processors
Chips - SSD on a chip &
CIO - a
day in the life of
storage - with SSD twists
Consumer SSDs guide
Consumer SSDs - why are they
chips for SSDs
Cost of SSDs
users in enterprise SSD
Data integrity in
Recovery - all
recovery - for flash SSDs
hidden segments in the enterprise
markets and SSD
DSP in flash
SSD controller IP
- for SSDs and HDDs
in enterprise SSDs
Education - re SSDs
Efficiency - comparing
SSDs - overview
- impacts in notebook SSDs
Endurance - in
the SSD market - 3 easy ways
Failure model flaws in SSDs
Fast purge / erase SSDs
Fibre-Channel SSDs - market
(failures in time) & SSDs
flash SSD vs RAM SSD
Forecasts for SSD market
Garbage Collection - SSD
drives in an SSD world
HDD vs SSD
Heresies - SSD fans
History of SSD
of enterprise flash
History of data
Hostage to the
fortunes of SSD
caching / tiering appliances (enterprise)
syndrome - invisible SSD capacity
Inanimate Power, Speed
& Strength Metaphors
IOPS and flash SSDs
IOPS Comparisons -
SSDs and HDDs
- flash SSD
Legacy vs New Dynasty
research (all storage)
Market research (SSDs)
MLC - in SSD jargon
MLC in enterprise
era of the SSD market
MRAM, PCM & other
threats to flash in SSDs
- mentions on this site
in flash SSDs
Petabyte SSD roadmap
protection in SSDs
Power, Speed &
Strength in SSD brands
PR Agencies & SSDs
Price of SSDs - where does
the money go?
RAID systems (incl RAIC RAISE
RAM cache ratios in
RAM SSDs versus Flash
SSD capacity - server vs SAN
Record breaking storage
Reliability - in SSD
- HDD, tape and other storage
Riddle games and
enterprise SSD boxes
SAN - IP
Serial ATA (SATA) storage
Silos in the solid
SLC vs eMLC
Software (for SSDs)
SPARC market history
1987 to 2010
to enterprise SSDs
Symmetry impacts in
SSD companies - 7 years tracker
UlltraDIMM SSDs etc
propositions for buying SSDs
VC funds in storage
Videos - about SSDs
What's an SSD?
What's the best way to
design a flash SSD?
Where are we now
with that SSD software?
WORM hard drives
amplification in SSDs
SSDs killed 20K hard drives
editor - StorageSearch.com
|When Betterbyte's boss said
"Accelerate your SSD sales"
he knew just the right
way to do it.
StorageSearch.com was the world's first
online advertising platform for enterprise SSDs.
This is our 15th
year running ads for enterprise SSDs.
We're proud to be part of the
SSD ecosystem. SSD has been 100% of our revenue for the past several years.
StorageSearch.com is published by
ACSL. © 1992
to 2014 all rights reserved.
Editor's note:- I currently talk to
more than 600 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are
closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere.
Most of these SSD
companies (but by no means all) are profiled here on the mouse site.
I learn about new SSD companies every day, including many in stealth mode. If
you're interested in the growing
big picture of
the SSD market canvass - StorageSearch will help you along the way.
Many SSD company CEOs read our site too - and say they value our thought leading
SSD content - even when we say something that's not always comfortable to hear.
I hope you'll find it it useful too.
never compile email lists from this web site, not for our own use nor anyone
else's, and we never ask you to log-in to read any of our own content on this
web site. We don't do pop-ups or pop-unders nor blocker ads and we
don't place cookies in your computer. We've been publishing on the web since
1996 and these have always been the principles we adhere to.
pages which have Google site search boxes do insert cookies from Google
(not from us).
|re - HA enterprise SSDs|
|Editor:- October 13, 2014 - I've long had an
abiding interest in the architecture of fault tolerant / high availability
electronic systems - ever since learning that such concepts existed - when (in
about 1976) our digital systems design lecturer Dr R G 'Ben'
Bennetts at Southampton
University suggested we should read a paper about how
NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs used triple
modular redundancy. |
(I can't remember the details of that paper - but
the JPL people and their collaborators and descendants have never stopped
inspiring and writing a rich literature about the design aspects of computer
systems which operate a long way from a service engineer.)
In the early
part of my career - such ideas were good to know about - but far too exotic and
expensive to incorporate into most products. But I was reminded about them in
the 1990s - when in the publication
which preceded StorageSearch.com - some of my customers were advertising
their FT/ HA SPARC servers for the telco market.
The more you
investigate the architecture of FT/ HA computer systems the more you realize
it's a philosophy rather than a technology which you can implement as a plug
and play inconsequentially within the cost goals of mere mortals.
results are always compromises - which balance reliability (aka functionable
survivability) against other tradeoffs - such as performance. (And
performance itself has many internal
fault tolerance too.)
Violin's 6000 SSD and HA
years ago (in September
2011) when I was talking to Violin's CEO (at that
Basile about the launch of Violin's first 6000 series (the first no
single point of failure, competitively priced, fast flash rackmount SSD) he
expressed some concern about how I would tell you (my readers) what was unique
about this product and signal whether it was relevant to you or not - as it was
competing for attention with thousands of other SSD stories for applications
ranging from phones to drones.
I didn't see that as a problem - because
my readers are smart - and I had been publishing a directory page dedicated to
But just to make sure that the systems embodiments of
FT/HA/SSD architecture from a growing base of competitors didn't get washed
away by other stories - I launched
a dedicated ft/HA
enterprise SSD directory in
January 2012 - to
serve an emerging base of reliability focused readers - which in those days
measured around 10,000 readers / year in that niche topic. (Until recently
HA SSDs have rarely entered the
top 30 SSD
articles viewed by my readers.)
But something in the market has
I noticed this week that the topic of
has risen to be 1 of the top 10 topics that you've been looking at this month.
Which means it's mainstream.
Looking back at other past niche
10 years ago I didn't think that more than a few hundred
people would be interested in the intricacies of
And to begin with - SSD vendors were nervous about even acknowledging that
there was such a thing as SSD wear out. Now you can't shut them up. They all
want to show you how clever they are at handling it
types of flash memory and
different generations of arcane
flash care schemes spawned a huge industry literature of understanding and
misunderstanding - so I wouldn't be surprised if the enterprise FT/HA flash
array market now started to do something similar.
PS - After a
communications gap of 37 years - I exchanged some emails with my old
university lecturer - Ben Bennetts while writing this - to see if I had
remembered things correctly.
He said - "Yes, that was me. I
lectured on fault-tolerant systems and JPLs Self-Test And Repair, STAR,
computer, based on triple modular redundancy, used to feature in my
So that enables me to pin point the original
source of that inspirational IEEE Transactions paper about fault tolerant
computing - which I remember having read in 1976 (although I haven't read it
since) to Prof.
Algirdas Antanas Aviienis - whose visionary work on - what is
today called - "Dependable Computing and Fault-Tolerant Systems" -
| updating 10 key SSD ideas
editor - September 2, 2014
|It's September already, and 8
months of another new year in
already behind us! |
As we approach what is traditionally another busy
quarter of search and business activity in the SSD market I realized - that
simply too much has changed already since I wrote my previous annual SSD market
roundup article -
changed in SSD year 2013?.
So here's my new list of 10 key
SSD ideas - each of which there has been associated with significant
progress in 2014.
|key SSD idea #1|
This is about closing important gaps in the
intelligence of message passing and the speed of data access between
application processors and SSD controllers.
(SSD controllers which -
in the vast majority of SSDs - come attached with their own offload processors
or associated data movement engines.)
Traditionally SSDs have been
designed to reduce the access times to data - but within the framework of
commands, APIs and data structures which have been designed for applications
agnostic data storage drives.
And in order to make SSDs easier to
use - classic SSD controllers also perform a lot of house-keeping and
related functions - in a way which is the apps processor doesn't need to know
about (although it can collect stats related to endurance etc).
is much evidence to support the idea that both applications performance and
data storage efficiency
can be greatly improved if the flash management and apps management processor
are either the same CPU - or if they can talk to each other in a more
These improvements (which enable data handling
responsibilities to be partitioned downwards to the flash or upwards to the
apps host - depending on which has the best view of what is needed) have
already been implemented by various SSD vendors in experimental or custom
These concepts - which first took root in large web scale server
farms - have also delivered useful results in some industrial SSDs when
scaled down to a single SSD.
A handful of SSD vendors have already
done work in this area - notably
Fusion-io (in whose
non offloaded SSD
controller architecture - the flash management and apps processors were
the same processor).
But in 2015 and 2016 these concepts will become
much more explicitly talked about.
Related SSD drive companies:-
SSD array companies (who probably already do some degree of in-situ SSD
|key SSD idea #2|
This year - as part of a continuing trend - we've seen an
upswing in the number of companies who offer
PCIe compatible SSDs
in form factors like M.2 and 2.5".
The barriers to market have
been reduced by standards such as NVMe and SATA express - which by creating
frameworks of software and hardware interchangeability - have minimized the
risks for oems who incoprorate such SSDs into their storage and computing
An important new factor for the PCIe SSD market this year
was the materialization of product announcements centered around the core
concept of using PCIe as an interconnection fabric between racks.
key pioneers driving these efforts have been
|key SSD idea #3|
random access memory doesn't have to be RAM
The idea of using
flash as a new memory tier isn't new. And neither is the idea of using flash in
DRAM memory slots. But in 2014 there were several developments which added
weight to the usefulness of these ideas.
- Applicable to any kind of standard flash SSD -
software (described by StorageSearch.com as "one of the most significant
SSD software products launched in 2014") is an API toolset which gives
software designers the freedom to treat flash in a similar way to DRAM - thereby
being able to rely on much higher capacities within any given monetary budget
Although the performance characteristics of such memory
won't suit all applications - the ability to experiment and invest in a
technology platform which promises to avoid lock-in to any particular SSD form
factor - will encourage the development of new types of data repurposing
are you ready to
rethink enterprise DRAM architecture?
- Those who may have been disappointed by the low aspirations of
Diablo's 1st generation
memory channel SSDs - were given a glimpse of something more akin to what they
might have been wishing for - in the unveiling of an ambitious 2nd
generation architecture which promised to go much further in 2015.
key ingredient here is a new software framework (Carbon2) with features like
The new software is being offered as part of
developer packages which anticipate 2nd generation MCS hardware which will be
fast flash DIMMs compatible with DDR4.
|key SSD idea #4|
micro tiering and micro clouds
One of the trends in computer
architecture in recent years is that new software architectural concepts which
deliver sustainable efficiency or management efficiencies have found it easier
to get their benefits established and recognized at a large scale - as part
of big web entities or cloud infrastructure.
But the lessons learned
have been duly noted and reapplied to other use cases and are now finding
their way into individual rack scale products too.
3 companies which
stand out for their different approaches in this respect are:-
|key SSD idea #5|
R/W (including DSP) data integrity management in flash
2 years ago
- there were only 10 companies with
technologies in their SSD product lines.
It was important to know
who they were at the time.
Because looking ahead from the perspective
of 2012 they and their licensees or acquirers were going to be among the first
vendors who could leverage the economics of next generation flash.
did this by moving away from classical flash controller technologies - which
relied on anonymous industry wide characterization statistics for key flash
parameters - and moving towards an adaptive model - which was able to
recognize and grade different qualities of individual flash blocks (even
within the same SSD).
The new adaptive DSP technology was able to
choose from a wide bandolero of timing and ECC techniques instead of being
dependent on a single caliber flash manage bullet.
By the middle of
2014 - adaptive R/W had become a mainstream technology - deployed by most
leading enterprise SSD systems (in applicable products) - so its strategic
advantage as a competitive differentiator has diminished.
has become the new "standard technology" for handling all sub 20nm
planar MLC flash devices.
But it would be wrong to think of it as a
uniform technology. There are significant differences in the scope,
granularity and associated controller and power footprints of the many
different adaptive DSP flash IP sets used in the SSD market.
|key SSD idea #6|
Although 3D nand flash SSDs have been shipping in the
market - the current technology doesn't deliver enough efficiency and cost
advantages to replace 2D in the short term. Many manufacturability and design
problems remain to be solved before that is likely to happen in mainstream SSD
On the other hand the raw
1st generation 3D flash seems to be 3x to 4x better than 2D at
the same line geometries - according to early work done by an
company FMJ Storage.
these early impressions are confirmed in later volume production - this could
open up the possibility of alternative markets for this type of flash.
also:- flash memory news
and articles, DWPD -
endurance in industry leading enterprise SSDs
|key SSD idea #7|
reported in 2014 seemed to indicate that SSD companies aren't worth as much as
Although there are special factors which complicate any
particular analysis - as I discussed in the cases of
LSI's SSD business,
and SanDisk acquiring
Fusion-io - it's
clear that from the viewpoint of the people who matter (those with the money)
an SSD company with a rich set of IP and strong market recognition in 2014
isn't generally worth as much as you might have thought if you had extrapolated
from SSD company values in 2013.
Why is that?
In one way it
seems perverse - given that the overall market opportunity for SSDs is now
generally assumed to be much larger than it was before.
I think the
key factor at work here is evidence (as reported in financial reports of some
leading SSD companies) that competition is much tougher than before (due to
the growing number of competitors and also the rise in the quality of such
But another key risk factor (for any encumbent SSD
vendor) is vulnerability to future technology shocks - which can disrupt
their business prospects.
These technology shocks don't just stem
from new startup SSD companies - but can also occur as a result of macro changes
in the market as users
change the way they use and deploy the same type of SSDs when using
|key SSD idea #8|
pricing and business models
How much should you pay for an
enterprise SSD array?
And what exactly is it that you're getting?
SSD vendors had always been enthusiastic about what their products and
technologies could do in the first decade of enterprise flash - the language
with which they bundled their pricing offers did not show the same leaps of
creative imagination which they were expecting their customers to make.
in 2014 - a small number of SSD pricing pioneers designed new enticing
pricing models for their flagship flash arrays which broke away from the
formulas of the past.
Behind these new pricing models was the explicit
recognition that there is always a high degree of uncertainty involved in
such purchases for various technical and business reasons.
This was the
subject of my previous home page blog -
the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing - which describes why the
change is happening now and names the companies who are leading this charge.
|key SSD idea #9|
re rackmount SSDs
given its already substantial size and gravitational business pull for SSD
drive makers - there are still significant parts of the enterprise SSD market
which remain uncharted and unsatisfied.
For investors and SSD
startups the opportunities to grow business in under exploited high value user
territories may be a source of comfort - given the potential upside.
for users who are still waiting for vendors to offer them the kind of products
and services they really need - it's a source of frustration.
described the reasons for these market voids in a recent article -
hidden segments in the enterprise.
|key SSD idea #10|
importance of SSD software
One of the key ideas which permeates
everything now in the SSD market is the importance of software to the SSD
an article in
January this year I said
"the SSD software market is getting
ready for a world in which all enterprise data touches SSDs"
elsewhere in the same article I also asserted
"the winners in
SSD software could be as important for data infrastructure as Microsoft was for
PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
from any confirmatory events in 2014 - when I think about to what might
happen in the next few years - the overwhelming importance of SSD-centric
software seems like a no brainer.
I think we will see not only new
predictable generations of SSD software coming to market (which will be
designed to work with currently known computer architecture models) but also
entirely new data architectures and ecosystems whose very existence has
been predicated on the assumption of a widely deployed SSD enhanced base
|other key SSD ideas in 2014?|
top SSD companies...
the notes above I've focused on significant market wide SSD trends rather
than significant SSD companies.
There are many significant SSD
companies who have done noteworthy things in 2014 or who have had noteworthy
things done to them.
For a summary of 2014 (so far) as seen from
an SSD company list perspective - then as usual - the best place to look is
the Top SSD Companies
Series. In particular:-
October 2003 -
Memtech announced that its Wolverine - a military 5GB 2.5" 9.5mm high
PATA SSD designed for use in submarines, space vehicles and aircraft carriers
- was guaranteed to exceed a minimum of 8 million erase/write cycles. |
|Hmm... it looks like you're seriously
interested in SSDs. So please bookmark this page and come back again soon. |
|About the publisher - 22
years guiding the enterprise market|
|"The winners in SSD
software could be as important for data infrastructure as Microsoft was for
PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."|
|all enterprise data
will touch an SSD |
|Many factors at play in
enterprise SSD market behavior still don't appear as explicit assumptions in SSD
product marketing plans.
There hasn't been a stable market template for vendors to follow from
one seemingly chaotic year to the next as they encroach on new markets.
hidden segments in the enterprise|
|How adaptive is the SSD
behavior to changes within itself? |
All SSDs rely on processing data
about the quality of the memory as part of their normal data integrity
They wouldn't work without it.
But some companies have SSD IP sets in which knowledge about different
parts of the SSD can be optimized and fed back to control and enhance SSD
functionality over and beyond the standard accepted SSD function block
The degree to which this passing of the intelligence -
(regarding the state of past and future anticipated data flows, priorities
of the application and the flash array's own readiness and health condition)
- can impact behavior in other parts of the SSD - is what I call adaptive
intelligence flow symmetry.
|11 Key Symmetries in
design of memory controllers, and in particular memory scheduling algorithms,
leads to uncontrolled interference of applications in the memory system" -
said Onur Mutlu, Assistant Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering -
Carnegie Mellon University.|
|Are you ready to
|The new economics of SSD
storage took the CPU designers and OS software developers by surprise. |
Instead of weaving in SSD support into computer architecture over a 10 year
period - based on an incremental technology roadmap - the SSD market has
gate-crashed the server party - and the SSD roadmaps are changing too fast for
the old style computer vendors to keep up.
|the New Business Case
for SSD ASAPs |
|"Bottlenecks in the
pure SSD datacenter will be much more serious than in the HDD world - because
responding slowly will be equivalent to transaction failure."|
|will SSDs end my
| Today - if you're in a
big company in a traditional market - and hoping to do something equally big in
the SSD market - then $1 billion may not be enough - but $5 billion may be too
|VCs & SSDs|
|Why can't SSD's true
believers agree on a single shared vision?|
|the SSD Heresies|
|"A critical test of
whether you really understand the dynamics of a complex market like enterprise
SSDs - is whether you can predict what rational buyers might do when offered new
product options at the extreme limits of - for example - price."|
Analysis in SSD Market Forecasting|
|One thing which hasn't
changed since the early days of enterprise flash - is the concept of "naughty
This is a new type of brash flash memory which
sensible, cautious types point at while waving their fingers sternly and
declaiming dire warning - that's never going to be reliable enough for the
This has happened many times.
|enterprise flash -
a 10 year history|
|Sorry - this isn't a magic
formula which resolves neatly into 5 easy bullet points|
|SSD education |