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the 2006 Solid State Disks Buyers Guide - by Zsolt Kerekes editor - December 2006

... solid state disks
Solid State Disks
on STORAGEsearch.com
Michelangelo found David inside a rock.
Megabyte was looking for a solid state disk.
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RamSan-630 - 1 million IOPS
10TB FC / InfiniBand SLC flash SSD
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the Fastest SSDs
the SSD Heresies
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SSD Jargon Explained
this way to the petabyte SSD
SSDs - the big market picture
SSD's past phantom demons
decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
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Editor's intro This is the 4th annual edition of this popular guide. You can still see the earlier ones here (2005 SSD Guide, 2004 SSD Guide / 2003 SSD Guide). STORAGEsearch.com is the leading publication covering the SSD market and we have regular contact with most vendors. The earlier edition was the one of the most popular articles viewed by our readers in the past year. Some of the main predictions made from our 2004 SSD survey have proven to be exactly correct - which shows that our readers are on the leading edge of this technology wave.
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How is this Guide Organized?

Scrolling down this page you will see 5 main tables grouped by form factor, interface type and memory type. Those are the most important initial selection criteria cited by most users.

What are the Main Changes in the Market Since the Last Edition?

the notes below are from the article:- Charting the Rise of the Solid State Disk Market

In January 2006 - NextCom was the first notebook maker to qualify true flash SSDs.

In March 2006 - Samsung Electronics started shipping 1.8" 32GB flash SSD drives. Quoting projections from Web-Feet Research, Samsung said it expected that the SSD market would double to $1.3 billion in 2007 and reach $4.5 billion by 2010.

Also in March 2006 - the number of market active SSD manufacturers listed on STORAGEsearch.com had reached 36.
In April 2006 - Solid Access Technologies became the first SSD manufacturer to display end user pricing online for the full range of its SSD products. Previously the volatile nature of memory pricing and fear of price led competition had meant that most SSD oems declined to publish any pricing data. The SSD pricing exclusion zone included their own websites, press releases related to product launches, and even our own SSD Buyers Guide.

In May 2006 - Samsung launched the world's first high volume Windows XP notebook using SSDs.

In June 2006 - SiliconSystems launched its SiliconDrive Secure family which included the widest range of available storage security features in a solid state disk.
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In July 2006 - market research company In-Stat predicted that 50% of mobile computers would use SSDs (instead of hard disks) by 2013.

Also in July 2006 - Xiotech announced support for solid state disks as accelerators in its Magnitude 3D 3000 virtual storage systems - making it the first Fibre channel SAN switch maker to support SSD technology.

In August 2006 - the number of market active SSD manufacturers listed on STORAGEsearch.com had reached 41.

In September 2006 - Samsung Electronics announced first working prototypes of PRAM - Phase-change Random Access Memory. This is a new non-volatile RAM technology. Samsung said PRAM is expected to replace high density NOR flash within the next decade.

In October 2006 - SimpleTech acquired UK SSD maker Gnutek.

In November 2006 - Microsoft announced business availability of its new Vista operating system - the first PC market OS which included SSD-aware support and native SSD cache management.

Also in November 2006 - SimpleTech demonstrated the first single chip SSD with USB or IDE interface. The chip is available with upto 4GB capacity.

Also in November 2006 - SanDisk acquired M-Systems which had been the fastest growing storage company in 2004.

In December 2006 - Microsoft published an article:- Windows PC Accelerators - which described in detail how the recently launched Windows Vista OS supports solid state disks.

Also in December 2006 Advanced Media entered the SSD market taking the total number of SSD manufacturers listed on STORAGEsearch.com to 44 - which is 4 times as many as in 1999.
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Solid State Disks by Form Factor - Part 1 - Classic HDD Types
The most popular form factor based on STORAGEsearch.com's reader pageviews in June/July/August 2006 was the 2.5" form factor.
1.8" 2.5" 3.5" rackmount
Advanced Media
Memtech
M-Systems
PQI
Samsung Electronics
SanDisk
SiliconSystems
SMART Modular Technologies
Super Talent Technology
A-DATA
Adtron
Advanced Media
BiTMICRO Networks
Afaya
Altec ComputerSysteme
GalaxyStor
Hagiwara Sys-Com
Memtech
M-Systems
Mtron
Pretec Electronics
PQI
Samsung Electronics
SiliconSystems
SimpleTech
SMART Modular Technologies
Super Talent Technology
Targa Systems Division
Unigen
Winstation Systems
Adtron
Altec ComputerSysteme
BiTMICRO Networks
Curtis
Gnutek
Hagiwara Sys-Com
Memtech
M-Systems
Mtron
SimpleTech
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
Broadbus
Curtis
Fuji Xerox
Imperial Technology
SEEK Systems
Solid Access Technologies
Solid Data Systems
Taejin Infotech
Texas Memory Systems
TiGi
Vanguard Rugged Storage
ViON

Solid State Disks by Interface - Part 1 - the Usual Suspects
The most popular interface type based on STORAGEsearch.com's reader pageviews in June/July/August 2006 was SATA.
SCSI SAS Fibre-channel Parallel ATA / IDE SATA
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
Curtis
Memtech
M-Systems
SEEK Systems
Solid Access Technologies
Solid Data Systems
Targa Systems Division
TiGi
Vanguard Rugged Storage
Solid Access Technologies BiTMICRO Networks
Curtis
Gnutek
Imperial Technology
SimpleTech
Solid Access Technologies
Solid Data Systems
Taejin Infotech
Texas Memory Systems
TiGi
ViON
Accelerated Logic
Adtron
Advanced Media
Afaya
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
GalaxyStor
Hagiwara Sys-Com
Memtech
M-Systems
Mtron
Pretec Electronics
SiliconSystems
SimpleTech
SMART Modular Technologies
Super Talent Technology
Targa Systems Division
Unigen
White Electronic Designs
Winstation Systems
Accelerated Logic
A-DATA
Adtron
Advanced Media
GIGA-BYTE Technology
Memtech
M-Systems
Mtron
PQI
SimpleTech
SMART Modular Technologies

Solid State Disks by Interface - Part 2
The Infiniband market took many more years to gain user acceptance than analysts had predicted. Texas Memory Systems shipped the first SSDs with native InfiniBand in Q1 2006.
iSCSI NAS InfiniBand FireWire
none BiTMICRO Networks
Taejin Infotech
Targa Systems Division
BiTMICRO Networks
Texas Memory Systems
Altec ComputerSysteme
BiTMICRO Networks
Universal Solid State Disk USSD 200 from Solid Access Technologies with SAS, FC, SCSI or custom interfaces
SAS, FC & SCSI enterprise solid state disks
from Solid Access Technologies

How Much Do Solid State Disks Cost?
Due to the volatile nature of memory prices, most manufacturers have been historically reluctant to quote indicative pricing in past editions of this guide.

There are 2 main factors which will drive down the price points of SSDs are
  • falling memory prices. Typically the price of memory capacity halves every couple of years due to semiconductor process improvements, following Moore's Law.
  • greater market efficiency. As the SSD market grows and products become more standardised, users will need less education about choosing and evaluating products. Consequently the marketing and distribution costs, which are currently a high percentage of the selling price of many products, will be amortised over a larger number of units. In the next few years this could deliver as much cost reduction as the technology improvements (above).
In December 2006 Advanced Media announced that its 32GB 2.5" SATA SSD costs $1,000.

In another priced case study, SSD Speeds Up Eve Online, a SAN based SSD from Texas Memory Systems provided a 40x speedup in a system running on 150 IBM servers with 17,000 concurrent users. The system which TMS supplied for this application,, and has a list price (Q405) of $142,000.
Squeak! - Why are Most Analysts Wrong About Solid State Disks?
read the article - Why are Most Analysts  Wrong About Solid State Disks?
Most analysts and editors of other computer publications don't really understand the solid state disk market. They show their ignorance and naivete by prefacing every discussion of SSDs with a superficial analysis which compares the cost per byte of storage between flash and hard disk drives. That's the wrong answer to the wrong question. And it's far removed from why the SSD market is racing to become a multi billion dollar market seemingly in blithe ignorance of the cost per byte proposition.

This article tells you what's important to users and the main applications in which SSDs are already being used and new applications where they will be used in the next 3 years. ...read the article, Solid State Disks
Solid State Disks on Cards by Bus Type
In the past year PMC has been the card form factor which has witnessed the greatest increase in SSD vendor support.
chip / PCB module PCI compactPCI PMC VMEbus
Afaya
BiTMICRO Networks
M-Systems
SanDisk
Silicon Storage Technology
SiliconSystems
White Electronic Designs
BiTMICRO Networks
Cenatek
GIGA-BYTE Technology
Micro Memory
Taejin Infotech
Adtron
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
Targa Systems Division
Vanguard Rugged Storage
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
Curtiss-Wright
Vanguard Rugged Storage
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
Targa Systems Division
Vanguard Rugged Storage
Solid State Disks in VMEbus form factor from BiTMICRO Networks
VMEbus solid state disks
from BiTMICRO Networks

Solid State Disks by Memory Type

...Later:- see the popular 2007 article:- Flash Memory vs. Hard Disk Drives - Which Will Win?

All SSDs in the market today use either RAM or flash memory as the primary storage media.

RAM based SSDs have been around for decades. They rely on batteries to retain data when power is lost. Some models, such as those from Texas Memory Systems, also include internal hard disk drives to which data is saved under battery power, so that data is not lost when the battery runs down. This hybrid technology means that RAM based SSDs are more bulky than flash counterparts and RAM SSDs are unable to operate in the same range of hostile environments as flash products. RAM based SSDs are mostly used in enterprise server speedup applications. The fastest RAM SSDs are faster than the fastest flash SSDs.

Flash based SSDs use non volatile semiconductor technology to store data, and do not need any batteries to retain data when they are unpowered. Because they have no moving parts they are inherently more reliable than hard disks and use less operating power. Flash SSDs can operate in hostile environments including industrial, military and even outer space applications. Flash SSDs are physically smaller than RAM SSDs. The densest flash SSD products available today offer nearly the same storage capacity in 2.5 inch form factors as hard drives. The fastest flash SSDs can offer random IOPs which are 10 to 50 times as fast as 15k RPM hard disks, and this makes them also suitable for enterprise server speedup applications.

One disadvantage, compared to RAM SSDs is that flash has an intrinsic limit on the total number of write cycles to a particular destination. The limit varies, according to manufacturer but is over millions of cycles in the most durable products. Internal controllers within the flash SSD manage this phenomenon and can reallocate physical media transparently to prolong media life. In most applications, high endurance flash SSDs can have a reliable operating life which is typically 3 times as high as that of a hard drive. But I would hesitate about installing a flash SSD as a server speedup in a university maths research department, for example, or in other applications where the ratio of data writes to data reads is unusually high.

...Later:- as technology improved - these assumptions were re-evaluated in the popular 2007 article:- SSD Myths and Legends - "write endurance"
Flash SSD vendors RAM SSD vendors
Adtron
Advanced Media
Afaya
Altec ComputerSysteme
Apacer
Asine
BiTMICRO Networks
Curtiss-Wright
DataDirect Networks
GalaxyStor
Gnutek
Hagiwara Sys-Com
Memtech
Micro Memory
M-Systems
Mtron
Pretec Electronics
PQI
Samsung Electronics
SanDisk
SEEK Systems
SiliconSystems
SimpleTech
SMART Modular Technologies
Super Talent Technology
Taejin Infotech
Targa Systems
Unigen
Vanguard Rugged Storage
White Electronic Designs
Winstation Systems
Accelerated Logic
Broadbus
Cenatek
Curtis
Dynamic Solutions International
GIGA-BYTE Technology
Imperial Technology
Solid Access Technologies
Solid Data Systems
Texas Memory Systems
TiGi
ViON
.

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