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SSD Market History

Charting the Rise of the Solid State Disk Market

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com

I published the world's first comprehensive history of the SSD market here on StorageSearch.com. It has been used as the primary resource for many other "so called" SSD history articles in other web sites and publications - although the attribution is often notable by its absence.

This article lists key technical, product and market milestones from 1976 to 2014. After decades in "virtual stealth mode", and many false starts and setbacks, the SSD market is now coming out as an exciting technology which will change the way all computers are designed.
Coming of Age for SSDs

A
lthough manufacturers in the industrial controls market, like Square D and Allen-Bradley were using rewritable user removable non volatile solid state storage modules as early as the 1970s, it wasn't till much later that the SSD market evolved into a form which we would recognise today. For most of its early life, this technology remained an open secret - mainly used in embedded systems in military applications, or in high performance computer research labs.

There were many false starts with Non Volatile semiconductor technologies which didn't survive.

In the late 1970s - silicon nitride EAROMs (electrically alterable ROMs) were marketed by General Instruments. They had electrically controlled block erase (like later flash memory). The block erase took 100 milli-seconds using a 42V pulse. Read access time was 2 microseconds which was only 4x slower than other types of MOS memory in those days. Unfortunately field use showed that the extrapolated data life of 10 years wouldn't be achieved in practise. (The erase / write cycle limit - or endurance as we now call it - was later downgraded by the manufacturer to 1,000 cycles per cell - for 10 years retention - compared to a much higher figure in the preliminary datasheets.) As a result many industrial companies like the company I worked for in 1980 stopped using EAROM and switched to battery backed CMOS RAM instead.

1976 - Dataram sold an SSD called BULK CORE which attached to minicomputers from Modular Computer Systems and emulated hard disks made by DEC and Data General. Each chassis held 8x 256k x 18 RAM modules and had a capacity of 2 megabytes.

In 1978 - a gigabyte of RAM SSD would have cost $1 million. Texas Memory Systems introduced a 16 kilobyte RAM-based solid state disk system designed to accelerate field seismic data acquisition for oil companies.

1980 - Dataram marketed an updated version of their BULK CORE SSD for use with DEC PDP-11 and Data General minis.

In the early 1980s - Intel's 1M bit bubble memory created a lot excitement as a new non volatile solid state memory technology. Intel shipped design kits and boards to developers using this technology - which was positioned as a solid state floppy disk. But it failed to be scalable or cost effective. Intel spun off the magnetic division in 1987 to Memtech (who later made flash SSDs) but bubble memory dropped into oblivion.

In 1982 - SemiDisk Systems (based in Beaverton Oregon) became the first company to ship SSD accelerators for the Intel microprocessor based PC market.

SemiDisk's first disk emulator cards were S-100 form factor RAM SSDs with 512 kilobytes capacity ($1,995 price at launch). Internally they used 64Kb DRAM, worked via a proprietary interface - and were designed to work with S-100 computers (which had Z80 8 bit CPUs inside with a 64 kilobytes addressible bus). Soon after, SemiDisk built similar cards for TRS-80 Model II computers, and IBM PC's, and Epson QX-10 computers, and increased the capacity to 2 megabytes when 256Kb DRAM became available.

1985 - Curtis introduced the ROMDISK SSD for the IBM PC.

In 1987 EMC introduced SSD storage for the mini-computer market, which was the hottest part of the server market at that time. EMC's SSDs were 20x faster than the then available hard disks. But market forces and losses led to EMC exiting the "memory enhancement" business soon after.

1988 - SanDisk founded.

1989 - Adtron developed its first memory card drive for the proprietary memory cards manufactured by Epson and Mitsubishi. These 1st generation memory card drives found applications with companies such as GRiD, HP, and Trimble Navigation.

In 1990 - NEC marketed 5.25" SCSI SSDs using internal battery backed RAM. (Editor's note - I benchmarked this SSD on a Sun SPARCengine blade for a real-time embedded defense app using Oracle. But it wasn't fast enough for what my customer had in mind.)

In 1991 Digital Equipment Corp marketed the EZ5x family of Solid State Disk accelerators for use with its Vax servers.

In 1993 - Solid Data Systems was founded. The company soon after patented technology for Direct AddressingTM - which maximized SSD performance by translating SCSI addresses directly into DRAM eliminating intermediate delays.

StorageTek acquired Amperif which had been selling a RAM SSD product called Arctic Fox.

In 1994 - The SPARC Product Directory listed 2 SSD products aimed at the Sun server market.
  • T8000 - was an 80MB, 10MBps SSD on a single slot SBus card, made by Colorado based CERAM. Units in multiple slots could be chained to appear as a single SSD upto 960M. Performance was 2,000 IOPs.
  • SAM-2000 was a rackmount SSD upto 8GB, with 500MBps internal bandwidth- made by Texas Memory Systems. The transfer rate through the SBus adapter was 22MBps. Other bus interfaces included VMEbus and HIPPI.
In 1995 - EDN magazine called M-Systems' DiskOnChip® - "1994's most innovative product for embedded systems."

In 1996 - ATTO Technology marketed the SiliconDisk II. It was a 5.25" form factor SCSI-3 interface RAM SSD with 64MB to 1.6GB capacity. Throughput was 80MB/s, and performance was 22,000 IOPS.


1997 - in the SSD market

A white paper by Peripheral Concepts listed the main SSD vendors as:- Quantum, Imperial Technology, SEEK Systems, and Solid Data Systems.

Bridgeworks designed a RAM SSD with hard drive backup. Sales Director - David Trossell told me - "It was a little ahead of its time and the company dropped it after poor sales."

Altec ComputerSysteme marketed a range of SSD modules which converted flash memory cards into parallel SCSI flash SSDs.


In 1998 - STORAGEsearch.com published a daily updated online directory of solid state disk vendors - in which Megabyte was shown chipping away at a rock - which remains the current site metaphor used for general SSDs.

In 1999 - BiTMICRO launched an 18GB 3.5" flash SSD.

In November 1999 - the number of market active SSD manufacturers listed on STORAGEsearch.com had reached 11.

In January 2000 - after 8 years featuring editorial about SSDs in our various publications, Curtis became our first SSD advertiser. (By 2011 100% of our publishing company's revenue came from SSD ads - as we stopped accepting ads for any other types of storage products.)

In February 2000 - BiTMICRO unveiled the E-Disk ATE35 - the world's fastest 3.5" PATA SSD with 200µS average access time, 11MB/s burst R/W transfer rates, and 9MB/s sustained R/W. Capacity options ranged upto 19GB.

In July 2000 - SST (Silicon Storage Technology) entered the embedded mass data storage market with the introduction of a flash memory-based ATA-Disk Chip (ADC) product family packaged in a 32-pin DIP package and are available in a range of capacities upto 64 MByte. SST's ADC used a standard ATA/IDE protocol and could be used as a replacement for conventional IDE hard disk drives.

In September 2000 - VMIC embedded M-Systems' Diskonchip SSD into Linux single board computers.

In November 2000 - Solid Data Systems published an article - Solid State File-Caching for Performance and Scalability - which discussed the declining performance (versus capacity) in new generations of hard drives - and showed how SSDs could boost the performance of legacy servers and RAID systems by x4.

In May 2001 - Winchester Systems introduced a product called - FlashSSD - as an option in its OpenRAID enterprise storage SAN products. This non-volatile solid-state disk was for the typical 1% to 5% of an application's "hot files" that account for 50% or more of all disk requests. FlashSSD delivered a sustained and constant 12,000 IOPS and 40MB/s data throughput. The company said - this data rate is consistent for all types of I/O including all reads and writes, all sequential and random transactions and for all large and small block transfers. It could speed up disk based applications by 2x to 5x.

In June 2001 - Adtron shipped the world's highest capacity 3.5" flash SSD. The S35PC had 14 gigabytes capacity and cost $42,000.

In July 2001 - Cenatek entered the SSD market with the launch of its Rocket Drive - a PCI bus RAM SSD which was designed as a performance accelerator "delivering performance of up to one million transactions per second." The product's designer Jason Caulkins - went on later to become the CTO of Dataram's SSD business.

In Q1 2001 - SSDs were the 18th most popular subject with our readers.

In October 2001 - the number of market active SSD manufacturers listed on STORAGEsearch.com had reached 21.

Texas Memory Systems began running ads on StorageSearch.com to promote its RamSan-210 - which was a 2U RAM SSD - with 32GB capacity, 4x FC ports, 100,000 IOPS and 20 microseconds access times.

Also in October 2001 - Adtron - with revenue of $25 million in 2000 - was named in the Inc 500 list of fastest-growing private companies.

In December 2001 - Platypus Technology announced a channel strategy for its high-performance RAM SSD accelerator systems to "free applications from the I/O bottlenecks caused by hard drive-based storage, allowing mission critical files to run from silicon, rather than from rotating platters."


2002 - 1st NAS flash SSD




In Q1 2002 - SSDs was the 4th most popular subject with our readers.

In August 2002 - M-Systems and Toshiba announced a collaboration to market a 16MB version of M-Systems' DiskOnChip MLC flash SSD (which later grew to 2GB capacity in 2004.)
In April 2002 the banner ad (below) ran here on StorageSearch.com. 2002 was our 3rd year running SSD ads..
click for more info - banner ad from 2002
In October 2002 - BiTMICRO set a new density record with a 77GB dual ported fibre-channel 3.5" flash SSD.

Also in October 2002 - M-Systems launched a patent suit against a company called JMTek LLC - for infringing patents on USB flash drive technology.

Also in October 2002 - Michael Hajeck, Dave Merry and John Conklin co-founded SiliconSystems.
In November 2002 - Bill Gates, talking about Tablet PC's said:- "There are also a lot of peripherals that need to improve here. ...Eventually even the so-called solid state disks will come along and not only will we have the mechanical disks going down to 1.8 inch but some kind of solid state disk in the next three to four years will be part of different Tablet PCs."

The product shown on the right - from Imperial Technology (which is no longer in business) - is an example of a 3.5" parallel SCSI RAM SSD featured here on StorageSearch.com in June 2002.

In Q4 2002 - we ran our first ad for a NAS SSD. It was the NAS-168F from IEI.
MegaRam-35 solid state disk from Imperial Technology - click for more info
MegaRam-35 - 3.5" SCSI SSD
from Imperial Technology

2003 - terabyte SSDs become commercially available

With the benefit of hindsight it can now be clearly seen that 2003 marked the beginning of the Modern Era in the SSD market (after which date - the only serious technology which could displace an SSD from its market role was another SSD or SSD related technology).

In February 2003 - Competitors Texas Memory Systems and Imperial Technology announced the world's first terabyte class SSD systems.

The Tera-RamSan, from TMS, provided 2 million IOPS, a 1024 gigabyte capacity, and 128 2-Gbit Fibre Channel links. It required 2 racks and 5000 watts.

The MegaRam-10000, from Imperial, cost $2 million for a 1TB subsystem with 48 fibre channel ports.

In Q1 2003 - SSDs were 2nd most popular subject with our readers..

In May 2003 - Imperial Technology launched the WhatsHot SSD analysis tool.

In July 2003 StorageSearch.com announced that "the Solid State Disks (SSD) page was the number #1 product category out of more than 60 storage focused directories visited by StorageSearch.com readers in the quarter ending June 30, 2003" That's why we researched and compiled the world's first annual Solid State Disks Buyers Guide in July 2003 which collected together in one convenient document pricing information from across the whole SSD industry. It covered the range of budgets from under $50 up to $2 million and everything in between.

Also in In July 2003 - BiTMICRO announced the availability of the E-Disk SafeCapacity software suite - which identified "hot" files as candidates for migration to the fast tier of solid state storage.

In August 2003 - Ramtron began sampling the first FRAM (ferroelectric random access memory) built using 350nm design rules. The FM25CL04 was a 4-kilobit SPI interface nonvolatile RAM that ran on 3 volts. It could R/W continuously up to 20 MHz with no write delays and was not restricted by endurance limits. It offered 10 years data retention and was rated over the industrial temperature range of –40 to +85 degrees C.

In 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.

In November 2003 - SanDisk was added to the NASDAQ-100 Index of premier, non-financial, growth companies.
Solid State Disks in VMEbus form factor from BiTMICRO Networks
VMEbus solid state disks
from BiTMICRO Networks
- circa 2003

2004 - StorageSearch.com asks - what do SSD buyers want?

In 2004 StorageSearch.com conducted the world's 1st survey of SSD Buyer buyer preferences. We also published the 1st SSD Buyers Guide which included prices, and the 1st market model estimating the $10 billion / year potential of the SSD market.

In March 2004 - StorageSearch.com reported that SSDs had become the #1 most popular topic with our readers in Q1 2004. At that time there was a 2 to 1 difference in capacity between the highest density 3.5" SSD and HDD drives.

In July 2004 - Adtron began shipments of the industry's first SATA flash SSDs aimed at the industrial and defense markets. The A25FB was available with upto 40GB capacity, had 40MB/s sustained R/W speeds, and included fast secure erase. Pricing for the 16GB model was $11,200.

In August 2004 - BiTMICRO launched its Ace-Disk 2.5" Series PATA SSDs. These rugged industrial SSDs had burst read/write rates of up to 8.3 MB/sec and sustained R/W rates of 2.5 MB/sec and 1.2 MB/sec, respectively. Capacities ranged from 64 MB to 2 GB of pure solid-state storage.

In September 2004 - BiTMICRO announced it was developing iSCSI SSDs. But due to the hyped iSCSI market in 2004 being 10x smaller than analyst predictions - this product was quietly shelved.

In October 2004 - Sun Microsystems signed an agreement to resell rackmount SSD accelerators from Texas Memory Systems.

In Q3 2004 - a solid state disk manufacturer, Texas Memory Systems, became the #1 company profile viewed by our readers (out of more than 1,000 storage company profiles in September 2004). We also disclosed that the Solid state disks directory (still at #1) got 42% more pageviews than the year ago period.

In October 2004 - STORAGEsearch opened the SSD Survey a 3 month major market research study to learn more about SSD buyer preferences, applications and attitudes. Results from the survey were published in articles in 2005 and detailed findings helped SSD vendors understand the needs of buyers better, and helped them develop marketing plans which worked around the prevailing disinhibitors to product take-up and leverage the enablers cited by buyers in the survey.

Also in October 2004 - BiTMICRO Networks shipped the world's first Ultra320 SCSI flash solid state disk.

In November 2004 - Ramtron announced that its FRAM had been used in an embedded server card aimed at applications like gaming machines which required fast and secure data access and where data integrity is unaffected by power dropouts.
low profile, high capacity  3.5" IDE military temperature range solid state disks from Memtech
3.5" low profile IDE
mil temp solid state disks
from Memtech
- 2004
..... Also in November 2004 - STORAGEsearch published the 2nd annual Solid State Disks Buyers Guide. This listed every type of SSD available in the market by interface type and form factor. It also included a summary of major developments in the SSD market in the preceding year.

In December 2004 - It was revealed that Solid State Disks were the Product Category of the Year 2004 on STORAGEsearch.com based on reader pageviews. The Solid State Disk page was the #1 category (out of more than 70 vertical storage subjects) viewed by readers for 44 of the first 50 weeks in 2004. In previous years - the product category of the year in 2002 and 2003 (2 years running) was SATA. Three of the world's fastest growing storage companies in 2004:- (M-Systems, SimpleTech and Texas Memory Systems) were solid state disks manufacturers.

2005 - Samsung declares SSDs a strategic market




In January 2005 - STORAGEsearch disclosed results of the SSD Survey to strategic oem customers. The results included buyer preferences for form factor and interface, budgetary data and factors which would make it easier for SSD vendors to do more business in future. Selected extracts from the survey results also appeared in articles and editorial.

In March 2005 - SiliconSystems announced that Bell Microproducts would distribute its SSD products in North America. This would greatly simplify the access to this technology for thousands of systems integrators and oems.

Also in March 2005 - Curtis (which had shipped over 15,000 RAM SSDs worldwide) revealed that its Nitro SSDs (3.5" FC RAM SSDs) had accelerated the network infrastucture in a major phone provider in China. The customer, the GuangDong Branch of China Mobile was the biggest provincial branch in the Chinese Telecom industry, with over 30 million users. ...read the case study (Word)

In March 2005 - 5 out of the top 10 company profiles viewed by STORAGEsearch.com readers in March were SSD Makers (out of more than 1,000 storage company profiles). Site readership grew 6% compared to the year ago period and pageviews grew by 25%.

In April 2005 - Texas Memory Systems offered the world's first performance related guarantees for SSD products. That they would outperform any competing storage system, or meet the customer's agreed application speedup expectation - or the customer would get their monry back. This approach was founded on market research data from STORAGEsearch.com's Q405 SSD User Survey - which said that users would be more likely to try SSD systems if vendors offered such guarantees.

Solid Access Technologies made the first SSD with a Serial Attached SCSI interface.

SiliconSystems published (what turned out to be) a classic white paper - Increasing Flash SSD Reliability.

In May 2005 - Samsung Electronics announced it was entering the SSD market with 1.8" and 2.5" drives. This is the first time in this phase of the SSD market's development that a multibillion dollar company (Samsung's 2004 revenue was $55.2 billion ) has entered the market.

Also in May 2005 - this was the first time that the term "solid state disk" generated enough volume to show up on the top referring searches to this site.

Also in May 2005 - M-Systems announced volume shipments of the highest capacity 3.5" SSD. The FFD Ultra320 SCSI - which met MIL-STD-810F and was rated for industrial temperature operation - had upto 176GB SLC capacity (in a 1" high case) and delivered throughput rates upto 320MB/s peak through its parallel SCSI interface. It also supported various fast purge options.

In June 2005 - M-Systems announced availability of the industry's highest capacity 2.5" SATA SSD with 128 gigabytes of storage. SATA had been identified in STORAGEsearch.com's Q404 market research survey as the #1 most popular interface for future applications. But at this stage in the market's development (Q205) only 10% of SSD vendors (3) actually offered products with this interface.

In July 2005 - Texas Memory Systems launched the industry's first SSDs with a 4Gb/s Fibre Channel interface. The 3U rackmount system offered upto 128-gigabytes capacity and 500,000 random I/Os per second performance.

In August 2005 - SimpleTech acquired Memtech. The acquisition of one SSD company by another had (so far) been a rare occurrence but could become more common in future.

In September 2005 - SimpleTech launched the world's first dual interface SSD. At launch time the Zeus Dual Interface SSD, with both a USB and SATA interface, offered capacities up to 192GB in a 3.5-inch form factor, and sustained read/write rates of 60 MBytes per second.

In October 2005 - Texas Memory Systems and CCP Games revealed that the world's largest game universe was accelerated by a 64GB RamSan SSD. A record breaking 17,000+ concurrent users interacted together within the EVE Online (science fiction) game environment running on 150 IBM servers. The SSD resulted in a 40x improvement in performance.

In November 2005 - STORAGEsearch published a new updated market penetration model for the SSD market called - Why are Most Analysts Wrong About Solid State Disks?

Also in November 2005 - Texas Memory Systems demonstrated the first solid state disk with a native InfiniBand interface at the Supercomputing conference.

Here below is one of the banner ads we were running in November 2005.

Adtron banner ad

In December 2005 - Fusion-io was founded.


2006 - SSD awareness flares into notebook user market




In January 2006 - NextCom became the first notebook maker to qualify flash SSDs for use in Windows XP, Linux and Solaris notebooks.

Also in January 2006 - SiliconSystems announced a new technology called SiSMART built into the company's entire SiliconDrive product line. By monitoring read/write activity, SiSMART technology enabled designers of SSD systems to collect raw data from which to extrapolate flash wear out effects and predict application specific SSD operating life.

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.

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.

DV Nation became the first US reseller to market SSDs online aimed at consumers and SMBs.

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

Also in September 2006 - the growth of market interest in SSDs was revealed by STORAGEsearch.com's web statistics. Pageviews on our main SSD page increased 50% in September compared to the year before period, even though readership had only grown by 10%. The pageview growth happened despite the fact that the SSD page had slipped down to #3 (out of hundreds of storage categories.) This indicates a concentrated shift by readers towards the hottest subjects that matter most to their future plans. At the same time a greater proportion of the most popular storage articles were about SSDs.

Also in September 2006 - Broadbus was acquired by Motorola.

In October 2006 - STEC acquired UK SSD maker Gnutek. Gnutek's Maracite - a 3.5" FC flash SSD with R/W IOPS performance of 52K and 18K - provided core founding IP for what later became STEC's most successful enterprise focused SSD product line - the ZeusIOPS.

In November 2006 - Microsoft announced business availability of its new Vista operating system - heralded as being the first PC market OS to include 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.


SSD Market History - 2007

I called 2007 - the "Year of SSD Revolutions".

This was the year in which 2.5" and 3.5" flash SSDs from Mtron and Memoright broke away from the me-too performance pack - and showed that single flash SSD drives in traditional HDD form factors could economically challenge the R/W throughput and random IOPs of the fastest enterprise hard drives.

Meanwhile rackmount flash SSDs from EasyCo (array of COTS SSDs) and Texas Memory Systems (proprietary flash array) showed that flash SSDs could replace some market niches previously held by RAM SSDs - at much lower cost and without worrying about wear-out.

For all SSD milestones in 2007 - click here. Below is just a partial list.

In February 2007 - amid competing claims from various other oems Mtron launched the fastest 2.5" PATA SSD - with 80M bytes / sec sustained write time.

In March 2007 - SanDisk joined the overheating market for 2.5" SATA SSDs.

In April 2007 - Fujitsu announced it had terminated plans to manufacture 1.8" hard drives for portable products - because in this form factor it said SSDs can offer better speed, lower power, lower weight and lower cost.

In May 2007 MOSAID Technologies announced its new flash chip technology could deliver 800M bytes / second sustained throughput for flash SSDs using today's technology.

In June 2007 - SiliconSystems said that it had received an additional patent for its PowerArmor voltage detection and regulation technology. PowerArmor, used in the company's SiliconDrives protects critical operating system files and application data from corruption due to power disturbances.

In August 2007 - Violin Memory launched world's fastest 2U SSD.

In September 2007 - Texas Memory Systems launched the RamSan-500 - which delivers 2 terabytes of high speed flash SSD in a 4U rackmount package. Performance is 100,000 IOPS sustained random read, 10,000 IOPS sustained random write. Throughput performance from fibre-channel hosts to internal flash storage is 2G bytes / sec sustainable (3G bytes / sec peak).

In October 2007 - Memoright launched itself on the international SSD market when they demonstrated a range of 2.5" 64GB PATA and SATA flash SSDs which were the fastest in the market at that time - with 100MBytes/sec sustained read and write transfer rates.

In November 2007 - Micron Technology said it would launch a family of SATA 1.8" and 2.5" flash SSDs in Q1 2008 bringing the total number of market active SSD oems to 60.

In December 2007 - SSD Alliance is founded to develop compatibility standards for flash SSDs.

Also in December 2007 - Toshiba said it will enter the SSD market with 1.8" and 2.5" SATA models which will be sampled in January 2008.


SSD Market History - 2008

Year of the SSD Centurians. This is the year which the number of SSD oems passed 100 companies, and in the server market fast flash SSDs broke the asymmetric R/W IOPS barrier!

For all SSD milestones in 2008 - click here. Below is just a partial list.

In January 2008 - After a 20 year gap EMC re-entered the SSD market with the launch of its Symmetrix DMX-4 networked storage systems populated with SSDs from STEC.

In February 2008 - SMART acquired Adtron.

In March 2008 - OCZ entered the SSD market with a 2.5" flash SSD - taking the number of SSD oems listed on STORAGEsearch.com to 70.

In April 2008 - Seagate filed suit against STEC alleging patent infringements related to hard disk interfaces. The case was seen by many SSD proponents as a potentially deadly but seriously misguided missile launched at the entire SSD market. It was later dismissed without merit.

In May 2008 - California based SiliconSystems opened its first office in the People's Republic of China.

In June 2008 - Fusion-io said it was adapting its flash SSDs to provide acceleration in HP's BladeSystem servers.

1.0" 2.5" 3.5" reliable industrial flash SSDs from Hagiwara Sys-Com
1.0" / 1.8" / 2.5" / 3.5" industrial flash SSDs
from Hagiwara Sys-Com
- circa 2008 to 2010


In July 2008 - STORAGEsearch.com published an article - Can you trust flash SSD specs & benchmarks? as a warning to readers about the unreliability of many SSD test results which were being published on the web which we knew weren't set up properly.

In August 2008 - Violin Memory said it had delivered 1 million IOPS on a single interface port (a world record) using the latest version of its Violin 1010 memory appliance. Violin also said that its new technology would deliver 100K write IOPS on a future flash SSD version of their product.

In September 2008 - Samsung published an open letter aimed at shareholders offering to buy SanDisk in an effort to subvert SanDisk's rejections of its earlier attempts to acquire their company and flash IP.

In October 2008 - Intel started shipping the X-25E - a fast 2.5" 32GB SATA SLC flash SSD. Read latency is 75 microseconds and a 10 parallel channel architecture enables it to sustain R/W throughputs of 250 / 170 MB/s. Random IOPS performance is impressive with a 10 to 1 R/W ratio which is inline with the best designed enterprise flash SSDs. Using 4kB blocks - random R/W IOPS are 35,000 and 3,300 respectively.

In November 2008 - Violin Memory announced availability of a new 1010 Memory Appliance - a fast 4TB SLC flash SSD in a 2U rackmount. Its patent pending non blocking architecture delivers the best ratio of flash R/W IOPS in the industry - over 200K random Read IOPS and 100K random Write IOPS (4K block). Interface options include:- PCIe, Fibre Channel and Ethernet.

In December 2008 - SiliconSystems published a significant whitepaper - NAND Evolution and its Effects on SSD Useable Life (pdf). Starting with a tour of the state of the art in the flash SSD market the paper introduces several new concepts (including write amplification and wear leveling efficiency) to help systems designers understand why current wear usage models don't give a complete picture.


SSD Market History - 2009

I explained why I thought 2009 would go down in history as the Year of SSD Market Confusion. This is the year in which search volume for PCIe SSDs surpassed that for any other SSD form factor - knocking 2.5" SSDs off the #1 slot.

It was also the year that flash SSDs reached the same storage density as hard drives in the same form factor.

For all SSD milestones in 2009 - click here. Below is just a partial list.

In January 2009 - pureSilicon said it is sampling the highest density 2.5" SSD - with 1TB capacity in a 9.5mm high form factor. Sustained read / write performance is 240MB/s and 215MB/s respectively. The SATA SSD has latency under 100 µsec and is rated at 50,000 read IOPS, and 10,000 write IOPS. I asked if compression was involved in achieving the capacity - but was told - no. Internally it's got 128 pieces of 64Gb MLC NAND.

In February 2009 - Steve Wozniak became Chief Scientist at Fusion-io.

In March 2009 - SiliconSystems announced that it has shipped over 4 million SiliconDrives integrated with the company's SiSMART technology.

In April 2009 - SandForce unveiled its SF-1000 family of SSD Processors - aimed at oems building SATA flash SSDs. Its 2.5" SSD reference design kit is the fastest 2.5" SATA flash SSD on the market - with 250MB/s symmetric R/W throughput and 30,000 R/W IOPS.

Fusion-io was named the #1 company in StorageSearch.com's list of the the Top 10 SSD OEMs based on search volume in Q1 2009. This was the 1st time that the #1 slot has been held by a company which does not make traditional hard-disk form-factor SSDs.

In May 2009 - DDRdrive emerged from stealth mode and launched the DDRdrive X1 - a PCIe compatible RAM SSD with onboard flash backup. Load / restore time is 60S. Performance is over 200K IOPS (512B). R/W throughput is 215MB/s and 155MB/s respectively. Capacity is 4GB. OS compatibility:- Microsoft Windows (various). Price is $1,495.

In June 2009 - DTS won a best of show award at Interop Tokyo 2009 for its Platinum SSD. The company says it will ship a 2.5" version of this product - which delivers about 40,000 IOPS and 250MB/s R/W - later this month.

In July 2009 - STEC announced it had received $120 million order for its ZeusIOPS SSDs from a single enterprise storage customer (later confirmed to be EMC) for delivery in the 2nd 1/2 of 2009.

In September 2009 - Intel said it will deploy up to 10,000 SSD notebooks this year to its own employees following an internal review of the benefits.

In October 2009 - Seagate disclosed it has started sampling its 1st SSD product to major oems.

In November 2009 - Fusion-io unveiled details of a very fast PCIe form factor, InfiniBand compatible, flash SSD designed for 2 undisclosed government customers. Each ioDrive Octal card, occupies 2 slots and delivers 800,000 IOPS (4k packet size), 6GB/s bandwidth and has upto 5TB maximum capacity (implemented by 8x ioMemory modules).

In December 2009 - Micron announced it is sampling 6Gbps SATA MLC SSDs in 1.8" and 2.5" form factors. Micron's C300 SSD can achieve a read throughput speed of up to 355MB/s and a write throughput up to 215MB/s.


SSD Market History - 2010


As 2010 was about to dawn I explained why I thought this would be seen as the start of the SSD market bubble. This was the first year that SSD market revenue reached billions of dollars.

2010 1st quarter - among other things...
  • Fusion-io (the #1 company in the quarterly top 10 SSD companies list) announced 300% annual revenue growth - thereby confirming that its New Dynasty approach to the market was getting a positive reaction to those with budgets and the company was not simply a favorite with editors and analysts.
  • ioSafe launched the ioSafe Solo SSD - an ultra rugged USB / eSATA external flash SSD with upto 256GB capacity ($1,250) designed to provide data protection against disasters such as fire, flood, and building collapse. At this stage of the SSD market development less than 3 companies had talked seriously about the subject of using SSDs as backup. It would be several years later before that market emerged with a strong identity and became a billion dollar market in its own right.
2010 2nd quarter - among other things...
  • Anobit announced it is sampling SSDs based on its patented Memory Signal Processing technology which provide 20x improvement in operational life for MLC SSDs in high IOPS server environments. This guarantees drive write endurance of 10 full disk writes per day, for 5 years.
2010 3rd quarter - among other things...
  • Foremay announced it is shipping 2TB 3.5" and 1TB 2.5" SATA flash SSDs in its EC188 M-series model V product range. R/W speeds are up to 200MB/s. ECC is 24-bit. The SSDs are bootable and support all major operating systems.
  • NVELO launched Dataplex - a software product aimed at PC oems - which provides SSD ASAP functionality inside a notebook. Dataplex said it will begin shipping from select Tier 1 PC OEMs in 2011.
  • SanDisk announced that NDS (a tv set top box designer with with over 30 million DVR units deployed) has successfully has designed SanDisk SSDs into a new range of lower cost set-top DVRs. SanDisk asserted that SSDs are cheaper than HDDs in entry level DVRs
2010 4th quarter - among other things...
  • Samsung said it is shipping 200GB 3.5" SATA SLC SSDs to EMC. Sequential R/W speeds are 260MB/s and 245MB/s respectively. R/W IOPS are 47,000 and 29,000. The new Samsung SSDs have an 'end-to-end data integrity' function and encryption.



SSD Market History - 2011 - year of the Fusion-io IPO

Business activity in the SSD market was energized by the realization that SSD companies were worth a lot of money. Initially indicated by the valuation of Fusion-io's IPO in the 1st half of the year - a spate of acquisitions of SSD controller companies later in the year revealed that the storage industry had great expectations for the future size of the SSD market.

among other things... here were the main highlights
  • March 2011 - OCZ acquired Indilinx for for approximately $32 million. WD announced it will acquire Hitachi GST for approximately $4.3 billion. Fusion-io announced it had filed with the SEC for a proposed IPO. When this went ahead - in the following quarter - the company's market cap was nearly $2.5 billion. That created a lot of excitement and confidence in other enterprise SSD companies who were thinking about what their own private companies might be worth.
  • June 2011 - FlashSoft launched its first product - software which enables enterprise flash to be used as a cost-effective, server-tier computing resource (ASAP functionality in software) which is available for free evaluation through a 30-day "Try Before You Buy" program.
  • July 2011 - OCZ is sampling a new dual core ARM based SSD controller for 6Gbps SATA SSDs which can deliver upto 500MB/s sequential throughput and 200 mega transfers per second. The Indilinx Everest platform supports up to 1x nm NAND Flash with 1, 2, or 3 bits per cell, has 70 bits of BCH ECC per sector, end to end data protection, fast boot options (50% faster than competing SSDs) and enhanced power fail protection. The new platform - supports 1TB flash capacity and has a 400MHz DDR3 DRAM cache interface with support for up to 512MB.
  • September 2011 - Anobit announced it is sampling the fastest (yet) 2.5" SATA SSDs based on its own controller design. The new Genesis SSDs (upto 400GB) delivers up to 70,000/40,000 IOPS (4K block size) and 510 MB/s sequential read/write with non-compressible data using 2xnm MLC NAND. Anobit says its patented Memory Signal Processing technology elevates MLC endurance from 3,000 write cycles to over 50,000.
  • October 2011 - LSI announced a definitive agreement to acquire SandForce for approximately $370 million.

    Viking shipped the industry's 1st flash backed hybrid DRAM DIMMs. The DDR3 ArxCis-NV plugged into standard RAM sockets and provided 8GB RAM which was backed up to SLC flash in the event of a power failure - while the memory power was held up by an external 25F supercap pack. Viking said these new memory modules eliminated the need for battery backup units in servers and the maintenance logistics associated with maintaining them.
  • December 2011 - Apple acquired Anobit for a sum thought to be in the range $400 to $500 million.

SSD Market History - 2012 - adaptive R/W DSP IP market > 10 companies

I anticipated 2012 would be the year of the enterprise SSD market goldrush but 2012 turned out to be more complicated than that - being at the pivotal point in several long term multi-year Strategic Transitions in SSD.
  • April 2012 - DensBits sampled a new SSD controller - the (adaptive R/W DSP based) DB3610 - which supported the latest 2Xnm and 1Xnm TLC (3 bits/cell ) MLC flash with an extreme endurance figure of more than 10K P/E cycles and R/W performance of up to 95MB/s / 65MB/s and 4,000 / 1,100 R/W IOPS (4KB), for sequential and random operations, respectively.

    SMART announced that it was able to get 5x more endurance using unmodified industry standard controllers from LSI/SandForce - by preconditioning the flash memory based on better write pulse parameters learned from its own Optimus DSP based controller.
  • June 2012 - Hynix acquired DSP SSD IP company LAMD.
  • August 2012 - IBM acquired TMS

    Skyera launched its first product - a 1U half-depth 10GbE SSD rack with 44TB usable capacity costing $131,000 approx - which used adaptive R/W flash IP.
  • September 2012 - 3 of the top 10 SSD companies (Virident, OCZ and STEC) announced new CEOs for a variety of reasons.
  • October 2012 - Virtium outlined a new 4 part categorization scheme for matching embedded industrial temperature rated SSDs to user cases and needs.

    OCZ slimmed down its catalog and headcount - by 150 products and about 30% respectively - to re-engineer business efficiencies.

    Proton Digital Systems emerged a bit more from stealth mode.

2013 - a new threat and new roles for PCIe SSDs

In the 6 years leading up to 2013 - the embodiment of what was the fastest type of flash SSD which could cozy upto apps servers plugged into enterprise CPU motherboards had been PCIe SSDs. There had been indications in 2012 that PCIe SSDs could reach out and do more within the enterprise - and in 2013 we witnessed some of those anticipated changes:- such as the wider software support for "beyond the same box" clustering and fabrics for PCIe SSDs - which simplified high availability and began to encroach on SAN-like functionality - albeit at a much reduced - cabinet-like physical distance. The market for 2.5" PCIe compatible SSDs - also became served by more vendors.

A new role for "slower" PCIe SSDs also began - in the shape of products designed for consumer PCs and ultrabooks. These offered latency and throughput which was vastly superior to anything which had previously been available in mainstream notebooks - which had been hampered by an over reliance on fossilized hard drive interfaces such as SATA.

A new competitive pressure in the fast PCIe SSD market space also emerged this year - with the debut of a new class of motherboard SSDs designed to provide flash style capacity but designed to operate transparently within standard DRAM sockets - memory channel SSDs.

Here are some of the highlights and milestones for 2013 extracted from the archived SSD news for each month.

In January 2013 - BiTMICRO launched a marketing program to license its Talino SSD controller.

Foremay shipped 2TB industrial 2.5" SATA SSDs with standard 9.5mm thickness.

In February 2013 - Virident Systems announced beta availability of a new software suite - called FlashMAX Connect - which enables a single PCIe flash card - made by the company - to service multiple servers.

Skyera announced $51 million in financing led by Dell Ventures and including an investment by WD.

In March 2013 - EMC said it was sampling flash arrays which are designed and managed using the big SSD controller architecture based on leveraging IP from its acquisition of XtremIO.

In April 2013 - Diablo Technologies named SMART Storage as its exclusive flash partner to pioneer a new type of (faster than PCIe SSD) memory channel SSDs.

Fusion-io acquired NexGen Storage (an iSCSI hybrid array IP company) for $119 million.

In May 2013 - Fusion-io announced that its co-founders - David Flynn (who had been CEO and President) and Rick White (who had been CMO) have resigned and will pursue future entrepreneurial investing activities together.

Micron announced it's sampling a new model in the hot swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs market - the P420m has upto 1.4TB MLC capacity and can deliver 750K R IOPS. Micron specifies endurance as "50PB of drive life".

In June 2013 - WD announced that it had agreed to acquire Stec for approximately $340 million. Stec will be absorbed into HGST.

Samsung entered the PCIe SSD market - with models aimed at notebooks.

In July 2013 - SanDisk announced a definitive agreement to acquire SMART Storage Systems for approximately $307 million.

Samsung announced its entry into the 2.5" PCIe SSD market. Its NVMe SSD had upto 1.6TB capacity, read throughput upto 3GB/s, and up to 740K IOPS.

In August 2013 - SMART Storage Systems announced it had begun sampling the first memory channel SSDs compatible with the interface and reference architecture created by Diablo Technologies. SMART's first generation enterprise ULLtraDIMM SSD (ULL = ultra-low latency) can be deployed via any existing DIMM slot and provides 200GB or 400GB of enterprise class flash SSD memory with upto 1GB/s and 760MB/s of sustained read/write performance, with 5 microseconds write latency.

Pure Storage -announced it had closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with institutional investors which brought the company's total capital raised to $245 million.

In September 2013 - Micron began sampling the first implementation of the Hybrid Memory Cube. Micron's new SR (short reach) HMC provided 2GB DRAM in a BGA - with upto 160GB/s bandwidth.

Violin Memory began trading on the NYSE Friday as "VMEM". The company got the money it wanted - $162 million - but those who bought at the original price didn't consider themselves quite so lucky. Business Insider commented on Violin's Awful IPO

In October 2013 - DensBits announced that it has licensed its advanced Memory Modem technology (a variety of adaptive R/W and DSP flash controller IP) to Toshiba for use in new designs of SSDs.

In November 2013 - LSI launched its 3rd generation SandForce SSD controller family - the SF3700 - which offered native SATA or gen 2 PCIe interfaces - and incorporated adaptive R/W DSP ECC management. StorageSearch.com described the underlying business concept as "SSD market on a chip" - and described the design as the most ambitious design of a single chip SSD controller in SSD market history.

Primary Data - which had been founded less than 6 month earlier by the departure of the two cofounders of Fusion-io - announced it had secured a $50 million funding round.

Maxta launched its first product - the Maxta Storage Platform - a hypervisor-agnostic software platform for repurposing arrays of standard servers (populated with cheap standard SATA SSDs and hard drives) into scalable enterprise class apps servers in which the global CPU and storage assets become available as an easily managed meta resource with optimized performance, cost and resilience.

In December 2013 - LSI announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Avago Technologies Limited in an all-cash transaction valued at $6.6 billion.


2014 - SSD software platforms redefine the enterprise?

see also:- updating 10 key SSD ideas in 2014

In January 2014
  • - IBM disclosed it had shipped over 1,500 fast rackmount SSDs in its FlashSystem 800 range - based on the RamSan product line acquired from Texas Memory Systems. IBM also launched a new range of servers which were the first in the market to include - as standard - memory channel SSDs (low latency DDR3 DIMM flash SSDs) supplied by SanDisk and based on the design created by SMART and Diablo.
In February 2014
  • A3CUBE unveiled a new PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class architectures. The RONNIEE Express (pdf) remote shared broadcast memory network provided 700nS raw latency (4 byte message) and promised message throughput - via standard PCIe - which would be 8x better than InfiniBand.
  • Marvell announced it was sampling a new eMMC 5.0 controller - the 88NV1088 - thereby enabling "SSD class" performance (280MB/s read speed and 5K random IOPS) in a smartphone compatible footprint.
In March 2014
  • VMware enterd the SSD software market with the launch of VSAN version 1.0 (an SSD ASAP / hybrid virtualizing appliance) - which supports 3-8 server nodes.
  • Coho Data announced general availability of its first product - a 2U SSD ASAP called the DataStream - which integrated PCIe SSDs, hard drives and a server into a web scale expandable unit (using an internal 52 port 10GbE fabric switch) to implement what the company refers to as a "MicroArray" with 180K IOPS performance (4KB).
In April 2014
  • SanDisk began sampling 4TB SAS SSDs in a 2.5" form factor. The Optimus MAX was rated at 1-3 DWPD
In May 2014 - Seagate agreed to acquire LSI's flash business for $450 million.

In June 2014 - SanDisk launched a new enterprise software product - ZetaScale - designed to support large inmemory intensice applications. ZetaScale's technical roots came from the earlier acquisition of Schooner. At the time of the launch - StorageSearch.com said that ZetaScale was likely to be one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014.

In July 2014 - NxGn Data exited stealth mode - promising it would sample M.2 form factor SSDs for the enterprise market with in-situ SSD processing APIs in 2015.


In Augist 2014 - Samsung began production of SAS SSDs using 10nm nand flash. The SM1623 has R/W IOPS upto 120K/26K respectively. But DWPD wasn't that great - Samsung said it's about 1 (which is restrictive).

Diablo announced details of a new 2nd generation memory channel SSD - low latency flash SSD accelerators in DDR-4 sockets - which will sample in the first half of 2015.


what happened next?

Take a look at SSD news

what's really important in SSD now?

The best place for raw SSD market buzz is the home page of StorageSearch.com

what about other types of storage?

Take a look at Storage History - which includes thousands of past news stories, articles and references from StorageSearch.com and the publication which preceeded it.
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industrial grade Compact Flash cards
from Cactus Technologies
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About the publisher - 22 years of enterprise buyers guides.
SSD History image  Squeaks-a-Bit -
Megabyte's ancestor could remember
the days when computers were made
from clickety metal switches.
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industrial SATA SSDs
efficiently matched to embedded needs
StorFly – from Virtium
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Since the early 1970s there have been 3 revolutionary disruptive influences in the electronics and computing markets:-
historic perspectives - on the SSD market

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As has oftentimes happened in SSD history - any good architectural ideas which first prove their worth in system level rackmount SSDs soon trickle down and reappear at component levels.

And so it was with the flash backed RAM concept.
flash backed DIMMs and hybrid DIMMs (timeline)

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world's first SSDs for use in Intel PCs
In 1982 - SemiDisk Systems (based in Beaverton Oregon) became the first company to ship SSD accelerators for the Intel microprocessor based PC market.

SemiDisk's first disk emulator cards were S-100 form factor RAM SSDs with 512 kilobytes capacity ($1,995 price at launch). Internally they used 64Kb DRAM, worked via a proprietary interface - and were designed to work with S-100 computers (which had Z80 8 bit CPUs inside with a 64 kilobytes addressible bus).
SemiDisk 1
Soon after, SemiDisk built similar cards for TRS-80 Model II computers, and IBM PC's, and Epson QX-10 computers, and increased the capacity to 2 megabytes when 256Kb DRAM became available.

SemiDisk's founder - Jim Bell - told me (in 2014) "the R/W throughput of these SSDs was limited by the Z-80 block transfer function speed. (INIR, OTIR) So it was about 500 kilobytes/second speed. But that was considered VERY fast in the early 1980's... Speed was always the main benefit (and reason for buying)... It was mostly consumers and businesses who bought it."

Jim also said "One notable feature of these cards is that they 'carpeted' the card with memory sockets that were literally as close together as it was possible to push them! They used 'dipguard' type decoupling capacitors, too."

Jim said he designed the prototype of the SemiDisk in "about October 1980" - when he was working for Intel in Aloha Oregon. He went on to say - "I built a device on a wirewrap, prototype card, using 2118 5-volt 16kbit DRAMs. It had 32 sockets, and I installed the chips 8-high. (Looked like a brick!; heavy, too, because the chips were ceramic, specifically 'cerdip' devices.)"

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the SSD story - market survival of the fittest?
The emerging size of the flash SSD market as you see it today was by no means inevitable. It owes a lot to 3 competing storage media competitors which failed to evolve fast enough in the Darwinian jungle of the storage market in the past decade.

One of these 3 contenders is definitely on the road to extinction - but could one of the other 2 still emerge to threaten flash SSDs?

The article - SSD's past phantom demons explores the latent market threats which hovered around the flash SSD market in the past decade. They seemed real and solid enough at the time.
SSD past phantom demons image - click to read the article Getting a realistic perspective of flash SSD's past demons (which seemed very threatening at the time) may help you better judge the so-called "new" generation of nv memory contenders - which are also discussed in the article. ...read the article

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TMS's founder writes about 20 years of DoD SSDs
Editor:- September 20, 2010 - Holly Frost founder of Texas Memory Systems has written a paper (pdf) which describes how variants of the company's newer SSDs like the RamSan-630 have been used recently by the US DoD and Intelligence Community.

In another article he describes some features of their 1st DoD SSD in 1988. The company launched its 1st commercial enterprise SSDs in 2001 - but has continued evolving its defense based array processing capabilities.

Later:- in December 2011 - I talked to Holly Frost - who says the SSD market is the most exciting place to be working - about a wide range of subjects related to SSD design and the SSD market.

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The History of Solid State Memory Storage (pdf)
This is a guide written by ViON and accurately sums up one of the problems which faced SSD accelerator makers from the late 1980s to mid 1990s period until FC SANs got established.

Here's an extract...

"Over time many other vendors have entered, and left the business of providing solid state storage systems. Solid state developed a reputation of being really great, if you could afford it. This was due to an inherent flaw in the basic design theory. In short, the flaw arises from the fact that while the storage mechanism of a solid state device is fast, the interfaces required to connect to a host system were not fast enough to take advantage of the performance potential.

"During this timeframe (and continuing to the present time) most solid state systems employ slow SCSI connections. During the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s, SCSI was a slow interface and could sustain data transfer rates of only 40 to 80 MB per second. At these speeds, host computers could not really realize the benefits necessary to capitalize on the very high initial investment solid state storage is expensive!"

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when did it become clear that SSDs would be a huge market?
Editor:- SSDs have been listed in the buyers guides I've published since 1992. And in 1998 - I published the world's 1st continuously updated directory of SSD oems (the url of which is now our main SSD news page).

By talking to people in the SSD market and in processor chip companies (as part of my SPARC market acceleration work) in the late 1990s and early 2000s I guessed that SSDs had the potential to become an economic mainstream solution (instead of an expensive niche) to counter the flattening of the peak performance growth curve in enterprise CPUs.

But how big would that SSD market be?

When I started talking to enterprise SSD companies about my market models in 2003 (at that time "enterprise SSD" was synonymous with "RAM SSD") they were initially skeptical. Each SSD company was only seeing a small part of the market. But my SSD pages were acting as a focus point for all vendors and most users in the industry. It was easy for me to get an overview picture which no one else was in a position to see.

I talked to many SSD company founders at that time - explaining my ideas, learning more about what their technologies could do. And they told me about customer success stories which their customers didn't want to publicize - because it would give their customers' competitors too many insights into how they had solved strategic business problems using SSDs.

As a consensus view started to emerge from these many 1 on 1s - some SSD companies (including some in their early years of stealth mode) adapted their business plans around the concept of a greatly expanded SSD market future.

A few years later - in 2005 - I published a new version of my SSD market penetration model which looked at all the possible market segments for SSDs instead of just the enterprise. That model was precipitated by the steep dive in flash memory pricing which meant that flash SSDs would soon be 100x cheaper than just a few years before.

Marketers in flash SSD companies liked the new model even better. And were happy to tell me privately how useful it was. They even started to quote from it - although by the time the text had made it into their sales collaterals and web sites the original attribution was mostly lost.

Where are we now?

2012 - year of the enterprise SSD goldrush

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Skyera's history of flash memory and storage video
Editor:- March 27, 2014 - I was a few weeks late in discovering this talking heads SSD video... But I don't think 2 weeks matters too much when the subject is the history of flash memory and storage (video) - and the main speaker is Frankie Roohparvar, COO - Skyera - who's been in the non volatile memory business for 30 years and has over 480 patents (in a conversation with David Davis EnterpriseStorageGuide.com)

In a really non technical way (which even a VC or lawyer can understand) Frankie Roohparvar covers the ground from the earliest nvm (cavemen making marks), lists the iconic use cases for flash based products like ipods and cameras - which kept this market alive and innovating - and brings things right up to date with the business thinking inside Skyera's petabyte scale SSDs.
Skyera talks about histroy of flash memory
If your education didn't include semiconductor physics - and you're still struggling with imagining how MLC differs from SLC and eMLC, and how endurance, adaptive R/W controllers and all those electrons (locked in leaky cells) inter-relate to each other - Frankie's verbal explanation will make it all fit into place.

On the business case for Skyera's approach - Frankie Roohparvar reaffirmed something which I think the company has always been clear about - "When 90% of the system cost is flash you really need to understand the internal workings of flash (to drive the cost down to a new lowest level)." ...listen to the video

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flash storage in notebooks predated SSDs
I originally stated that - in January 2006 - NextCom became the first notebook maker to qualify flash SSDs*.

I later added the note "for use in Windows XP, Linux and Solaris notebooks."

Thanks to Robin Harris, editor StorageMojo.com for this email note (April 19, 2006).

"The original HP Omnibook 300 offered a PCMCIA flash disk as a several hundred dollar option ($400?) back in (I think) 1993.

"I know because I bought it and used one for years. The option had 10MB of capacity and HP packaged in a compression utility that automatically compressed everything on the flash card, so the effective capacity was 20MB.

"The real benefit wasn't weight, as the 300 weighed in at 2.9lbs with or without a hard disk. The win was battery life - which went to 10 hours with the SSD from about 3-4 hours with the HDD.

"With an instant-on feature that really worked, and a decent PDA and terminal emulation, built in Word & Excel (to which I added Powerpoint) I had a very solid, unfussy machine that I only had to charge every few days. Lived with it daily for 5 years until I had to give it up because it would no longer do what I needed."

Editor:- strictly speaking the Omnibook drive wasn't an SSD, because it didn't include wear-leveling. But it was an early example of flash replacing hard disk storage in a notebook style product.

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..."Let me introduce a new concept in computer architecture - SSD CPU Equivalence. ...The SSD accelerator market should be viewed as a replacement for part of the server CPU market. Not as a percentage of storage spend."
from the classic 2003 article - could SSDs become a $10 Billion Market?

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products from SSD market history

The DiskOnChip shown below - from M-Systems
(no longer in business) - was the 1st "SSD chip" ad
featured on StorageSearch.com.

It ran here from April 2004 to February 2006.
DiskOnChip family from M-Systems
DiskOnChip® - flash solid state disks
upto 2G bytes from M-Systems

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sugaring MLC for the enterprise
When flash SSDs started to be used as enterprise server accelerators in 2004 - competing RAM SSD makers said flash wasn't reliable enough.

RAM SSDs had been used for server speedups since 1976 - and in 2004 they owned the enterprise market. (Before 2004 - flash SSDs weren't fast enough and had mostly been used as rugged storage in the military and industrial markets - and in space constrained civilian products such as smartphones.)

By 2007 it was clear that the endurance of SLC flash was more than good enough to survive in high IOPS server caches. And in the ensuing years the debate about enterprise flash SSDs shifted to MLC - because when systems integrators put early cheap consumer grade SSDs into arrays - guess what happened? They burned out within a few months - exactly as predicted.

Since 2009 new controller technologies and the combined market experience of enterprise MLC pioneers like Fusion-io and SandForce have demonstrated that with the right management - MLC can survive in most (but still not all) fast SSDs.

Now as we head into 1X nanometer flash generations new technical challenges are arising and MLC SSD makers disagree about which is the best way to implement enterprise MLC SSDs.

Which type of so called "enterprise MLC" is best? Can you believe the contradictory marketing claims? Can you even understand the arguments? (Probably not.)

And that's why marketing is going to play a bigger part in the next round of enterprise SSD wars as SSD companies wave their wands and reveal more about the magic inside their SSD engines to audiences who don't really understand half of what they're being told.
click to read article Unlike the Cola Wars - you can't take the risk of a bad enterprise MLC SSD taste test. ...read the article

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SSD past, present and future
Editor:- November 16, 2012 - I was curious to see what Greg Schulz, StorageIO and Jim Handy, Objective Analysis might say in their iTunes compatible talk posted today - SSD past, present and future.

I'm glad I took the time to do so.

In a little over 15 minutes they cover a lot of history, remind you that we're nearly 10 years past the time that Intel once proclaimed that flash would run out of steam.

Then they discuss what might happen to controller IP designers if new nvm ever replaces flash in SSDs and - to my surprise also mention me and StorageSearch.com. ...tune in and listen



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"It's clear now why it take so long
for the software industry to
wake up to the idea of SSDs."
where are we now with SSD software?


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suggested SSD articles on StorageSearch.com
The big market impact of SSD dark matter - As Fusion-io found out years ago, and OCZ and STEC are reportedly seeing now - some of the very biggest direct customer opportunities for SSDs aren't the big name computer and storage oems.

how fast can your SSD run backwards? - 11 Key A/Symmetries in SSD design - what they are and why you need to know

Enterprise SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide - some simple rules to help you stay on the safer side of the tracks in this maddenly unruly market.

adaptive R/W flash care management IP (including DSP) for SSDs - what is it? and who does it? This will be a disruptive transition.

enterprise SSDs - exploring the limits of the market in your head - is about enterprise SSD futurology.

Can you tell me the best way to SSD Street? - I'm like the Old Woman of the SSD Village who talks to everyone that passes through. No wonder I have a unique perspective. It would be strange if I didn't.

comparing the SSD market today to earlier tech disruptions - applying a sense of perspective to what's happening now with SSDs

what do enterprise SSD users want? - and why vendors aren't asking.

How will hard drives fare in an SSD world? - If you step back and look across the whole SSD infrastructure investment in the enterprise - a useful top level cost metric might dollars per user who gets a satisfactory apps experience.

Where are we now with SSD software? - (And how did we get into this mess?)




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In the 2nd quarter of 2014 - A3CUBE moved into the Top 10 SSD Companies List - which showed that the SSD industry was becoming interested in learning about a new network model which had at its core PCIe fabric connectivity.
the Top SSD Companies - 2014 Q2