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the SSD reliability
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enterprise SSD users want?
11 key Symmetries in
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Guide to Enterprise SSDs
Challenges in flash SSD Design
Efficiency - making the
same SSD - with less chips
12 key SSD
ideas which emerged and clarified in 2014
failures in time and faulty
thinking in SSD reliability analysis
|new edition of the Top SSD
Editor:- March 2, 2015 - Although it's nearly 8 years
began publishing its landmark series the Top SSD Companies
and we now have more types of
market data about SSD
related trends than ever before - the need for a proven, focused,
crowd-intelligence based list based on search data hasn't gone away. You could
indeed argue that the need is even greater now as we still live in chaotic
times for SSD where the disruptive influences now include more technology types
and the outcomes of the market blender includes the complex interplay and
co-existence of multiple SSD software generations.
To save you time
and manage risk - there's a
new edition of the
list - based on market metrics in Q4 2014. ...read the article
Nimble video discusses 5 9's in 5,000 systems
February 21, 2015 - Nimble
Storage recently disclosed (in a
sponsored video fronted
by ESG) that its
customer deployed rackmount storage systems are achieving better than
9's uptime - 99.999%
has been attained in a field population of 5,000 arrays representing 1,750
years of system run time thanks to a combination of factors including the crowd
sourced intelligence of its
management system which can alert users to potential down time events so they
can take evasive action before bad things happen.
comments:- While useful in telling us how many systems Nimble has sold it's
less useful as an indicator of availability given that the average run time
across the population is about 4 months.
It would be more impressive
if they could repeat the disclosure in a few years time and selectively extract
the up-time of systems over different run times, upto 1 year, 1 to 2 years etc.
If indeed Nimble is still in a position to do so, and if it would
still meaningful given the
in hardware and software which lies ahead for the enterprise SSD market may
mean that vendors will be using the same hardware.
shared vulnerabilities may be another factor in pausing Cisco's
UCS Invicta shipments
Editor:- October 24, 2014 - The discovery of
single points of failure which could compromise the availability of the
by Cisco last
year - are among several design issues contributing to the continuing pause in
shipments - according to
HA SSD arrays - are now mainstream
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
R G 'Ben' Bennetts at Southampton
University suggested we should read a paper about how
NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs used triple
(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" -
You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems -
Editor:- October 7, 2014 - Worried about
"None of the thousands of
products (fast rackmount SSDs) which IBM has shipped has ever
worn out yet! - says Erik
Eyberg, Flash Strategy & Business Development at IBM - in his new
storage reliability: Aligning technology and marketing. "And our
metrics suggest that will remain true in almost all cases for many, many years
(certainly well beyond any normal and expected data center life cycle)"
goes on to explain that's the reason IBM can now officially cover flash
storage media wear-out as part of its standard IBM FlashSystem warranty and
maintenance policies - without changing the prices for these services.
his blog has a
to a white paper about the reliability architecture underlying this product
(although it's behind a sign-up wall - which seems counter productive to me.)
comments:- Don't expect all other flash array vendors to follow suit (with
no cost endurance guarantees) - because this product range from IBM is based on
design rules and memory reliability architectures experience in FC SAN
compatible enterprise SSD racks which have evolved since the 1st generation
RamSan from TMS (in
2000). And for more than a decade
using other popular enterprise storage interfaces.
Holly Frost - who founded
Texas Memory Systems - and who was the CEO when TMS was acquired - told me a
revealing story about TMS's policies concerning the reliability of their SSD
systems and customer care procedures.
This conversation took place
in December 2011
- when the company was launching its first high availability SSD - which
became the basis of IBM's FlashSystem.
It still makes interesting
reading today. You can see it in
this article -
in the right hand column - scroll down to the box titled - "no single point
of failure - except..."
HGST announces 2nd generation clustering software for FlashMAX
Editor:- September 9, 2014 - HGST today
a new improved version of the
clustering capability previously available in the
PCIe SSD product line
acquired last year from Virident.
allows clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices to deliver
one or more shared volumes of high performance flash storage with a total usable
capacity of more than 38TB.
HGST says its Virident HA provides a "high-throughput,
low-latency synchronous replication across servers for data residing on FlashMAX
PCIe devices. If the primary server fails, the secondary server can
automatically start a standby copy of your application using the secondary
replica of the data."
For more details see -
Virident Software 2.0 (pdf)
Editor's comments:- This
capability had already been demonstrated last year - and
ESG reported on the
technology in January
But at that time - the clustering product called vShare -
was restricted to a small number of servers - and the data access fabric was
restricted to Infiniband
With the rev 2.0 software - the number of connected devices has
increased - and users also have the lower cost option of using
Ethernet as an alternative
say hello to high availability CacheIO
10, 2014 - CacheIO
announced results of a
benchmark which is
described by their collaborator Orange
Silicon Valley (a telco) as - "One of the top tpm benchmark results
accelerating low cost iSCSI
CacheIO says that the 2 million tpm benchmark on
CacheIO accelerated commodity servers and storage shows that users can
deploy its flash cache to accelerate their database performance without
replacing or disrupting their existing servers and storage.
comments:- The only reason I mention this otherwise me-too sounding
benchmark is because although I've known about CacheIO and what they've been
doing with various organizations in the broadcast and telco markets for over a
year - I didn't list them on StorageSearch.com before.
partly because they didn't want me to name the customers they were working with
at that time - but also because with
SSD caching companies
becoming almost as numerous as tv channels on a satellite dish - I wanted to
wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing. (And now I think they
PS - I asked Bang Chang,
CEO of CacheIO if he had a white paper which talked more about the company's
cache architecture and philosophy. He sent me this -
Availability Deployment (pdf) - from which I've extracted these quotes...
- re network cache appliances - "At CacheIO we believe that network
cache appliance is the best storage architecture to decouple performance from
capacity and achieve the best of both worlds.
Once deployed as a "bump
in the wire" performance accelerator, our network cache appliance can also
deliver additional value added services... Compared to server-side Flash cache,
our network cache appliance is a shared resource that is more scalable, more
reliable, supports clustered applications, and most importantly allows
customers, especially cloud service providers, to monetize performance by
dynamically allocating resources based on changing SLAs."
I found it
interesting to see that in addition to conventional connections (SAN and
InfiniBand) their HA
paper also mentions emerging PCIe fabric.
- re operational transparency - "Implementing CacheIO network appliance
requires no change to existing applications, servers, or storage. CacheIO can be
slotted in, turned on to accelerate applications, and turned off if necessary,
often without needing to stop the applications."
Violin enters the fast HA SSD apps server market
April 22, 2014 - Violin
general availability of its
Flash Array (WFA) - a new 3U fast 10GbE
SSD accelerated apps
server (64TB raw flash capacity) - for Microsoft enterprise software
environments (with unique software developed by Microsoft) which opens up a new
market opportunity for Violin and which enables it to compete head to head
with vendors who sell enterprise servers accelerated by
PCIe SSDs or
SSDs with its own proprietary solution - which integrates servers preloaded
and configured with Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 with fast RDMA memory access
to an internal fabric of Violin
Editor's comments:- This product announcement is
the nexus of several past business strands for Violin and also I think marks
another major reset point for the company in terms of its positioning and
business potential in the SSD market.
Here are a couple of things
for you to be thinking about this new product.
- Violin was already one of the
leading companies in
the rackmount SSD
market before this product line. Its previous products provided various ways
to accelerate apps by connecting their storage to existing servers.
this new product - if you're using enterprise apps from Microsoft - Violin can
now provide the servers too. And the fast flash is already integrated in the
server blades with a low latency software connection into server RAM via
custom VIMM acceleration code written by Microsoft.
While not as
scalable as some of the new vendors in the general cloud / SDS market
(Violin's new system currently scales to 4 arrays) - Violin's box will be one
of the 2 or 3 fastest boxes in the market today.
- Look Ma - no PCIe SSDs!
Less than a year after Violin made its
late entry into the PCIe SSD market (in January 2013) the company's new
management in 2014 was saying that it would soon exit that business.
exit strategy made sense even before today's announcement - because it's a
different type of business. - Violin was late to market - and PCIe SSDs
requires different technical and marketing support than systems. (You saw a
mirror image of some of those problems with
boostrapping of itself into also being a systems company last year.)
Violin's case - seen from the company's business perspective - with its WFA
product - you can now see why decoupling from the PCIe SSD market makes even
more sense than it did before for 2 more reasons.
1- If Violin isn't
using its own PCIe SSD form factors in its own servers (but using its
proprietary VIMMs instead) then why should anyone else use them?
Another reason in the balance is that the WFA will compete directly with server
makers who are in the market for PCIe SSDs. If Violin found it hard trying to
sell PCIe SSD to server makers before - the company's entry into the SSD
server market would shrink such design prospects even more.
Going back to the WFA
product launch. I think the WFA is the most significant new product direction
for Violin since the company switched away from using DRAM in its rackmount SSD
arrays - and over to using flash (in
- A new style of marketing.
When I spoke last week - ostensibly
about the WFA product briefing - to Eric Herzog,
Violin's new CMO - I started by repeating something I'd already said to him
earlier by email.
Violin's big Achilles heel in recent years in my view
had been its marketing.
Since September 2011 (long before the
company's IPO) I had been saying to readers on these pages as directly as I
could that Violin's marketing communications and advertising was not fit for
I told Eric that I regarded his arrival in the company as a
way to change all that.
He told me that he agreed - and had already
taken steps to correct a lot of past obvious mistakes.
On the business
development side he said the new management team at Violin included a strong
hybrid of skills in both big enterprise companies and startups.
personal level - having left a lot of money on the table from his previous post
in coming to join Violin - he believed there was a great opportunity for
Violin to be much more successful than it has been upto now. And a part of what
he would be doing is ensuring that the company communicated more clearly - in
the same kind of language that its customers used - what Violin was all about
and how its solutions made good business sense.
coming soon - an incrementally denser rackmount SSD from Nimbus
February 25, 2014 - What does a
petabyte of pure
flash enterprise SSD look like?
It depends on who makes it, the
relative speed category
of the storage itself and the user's own preferences for
schemes and associated
the densest (best) level - a petabyte of enterprise SSD can occupy as little as
2U rack space (skyEagle
The upper limit in size depends a lot on the internal
and memory type
- but typically occupies 10x to 20x more physical space than the example I've
On that theme - Nimbus Data today
that in April it will sample the next generation of its own fast
featured SSD systems - the Gemini X - which will provide an incremental 2x
capacity density improvement over the company's previous offering.
Gemini X implements 960TB (raw) unified SSD storage with 100 microseconds
latency (at under 6W / TB) in 24U of rackspace (40GB/s internal bandwidth)
with external connection via 10 dual ports which can be
40Gb Ethernet or
Like most leading vendors -
Nimbus likes to
think that its product are better than some other named competitors.
But all such comparisons are very selective.
new blog by PernixData describes the intermediate states of play
for its HA clustered write acceleration SSD cache
November 5, 2013 - In a clustered,
SSD ASAP VM
environment which supports both read and write acceleration it's essential to
know the detailed policies of any products you're considering - to see if the
consequences - on data vulnerability and performance comply with strategies
which are acceptable for your own intended uses.
In a new blog -
Tolerant Write Acceleration by Frank Denneman
Technology Evangelist at PernixData
describes in a rarely seen level of detail the various states which his
company's FVP goes through when it recognizes that a fault has occured in
either server or flash. And the blog describes the temporary consequences - such
as loss of acceleration - which occur until replacement hardware is pulled in
and configured automatically by the system software.
Stating the design
principles of this product - Frank Denneman says - "Data loss needs to be
avoided at all times, therefore the FVP platform is designed from the ground up
to provide data consistency and availability. By replicating write data to
neighboring flash devices data loss caused by host or component failure is
prevented. Due to the clustered nature of the platform FVP is capable to keep
the state between the write data on the source and replica hosts consistent and
reduce the required space to a minimum without taxing the network connection too
SSD ASAPs - auto tiering /
McObject shows in-memory database resilience in NVDIMM
October 9, 2013 - what happens if you pull out the power plug during
intensive in-memory database transactions? For those who don't want to rely on
batteries - but who also need ultimate speed - this is more than just an
Recently on these pages I've been talking a lot
about a new type of
SSDs which are hoping to break into the application space owned by
PCIe SSDs. But another
solution in this area has always been DRAM with power fail features which save
data to flash in the event of
loss. (The only disadvantages being that the memory density and cost are
constrained by the nature of DRAM.)
products include in-memory database software) yesterday
published the results of
benchmarks using AGIGA
Tech's NVDIMM in which
they did some unthinkable things which you would never wish to try out for
yourself - like rebooting the server while it was running... The result?
Everything was OK.
"The idea that there must be a tradeoff
between performance and persistence/durability has become so ingrained in the
database field that it is rarely questioned. This test shows that mission
critical applications needn't accept latency as the price for recoverability.
Developers working in a variety of application categories will view this as a
breakthrough" said Steve Graves,
Here's a quote from the whitepaper -
Persistence, Without The Performance Penalty (pdf) - "In these tests
eXtremeDB's inserts and updates with AGIGA's NVDIMM for main memory storage
were 2x as fast as using the same IMDS with transaction logging, and
approximately 5x faster for database updates (and this with the
transaction log stored on RAM-disk, a solution that is (even) faster than
storing the log on an SSD). The possibility of gaining so much speed while
giving up nothing in terms of data durability or recoverability makes the IMDS
with NVDIMM combination impossible to ignore in many application categories,
including capital markets, telecom/networking, aerospace and industrial
Editor's comments:- last year McObject
published a paper showing the benefits of using PCIe SSDs for the transaction
log too. They seem to have all angles covered for mission critical ultrafast
databases that can be squeezed into memory.
another $150 million for Pure Storage
fastest growing storage company in history"
29, 2013 - Pure
Storage today -announced
that it has closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with
institutional investors which brings the company's total capital raise to $245
million. The company has shipped hundreds of units of its FlashArrays
(fast-enough rackmount SSDs) to a diverse global customer base and claims
it's one of the fastest growing storage companies in the industry's history.
Editor's comments:- in 2001 I started an annual series which
listed the fastest growing
storage companies - based on revenue growth. I ended the series in 2007/8
when the credit crunch kicked in. But you can still see many of the archived
In the last year of the series there were 3 storage
companies which reported over 300% year on year revenue growth. Today Pure
Storage is hinting that its year on year revenue growth is north of 400%.
VCs and SSDs
OCZ ships PCIe SSD based SQL accelerator
July 23, 2013 - OCZ
the general availability of its
Accelerator - an SSD
ASAP appliance - delivered as a PCIe SSD (600GB, 800GB or 1.6TB) and
bundled software - which optimizes caching of SQL Server data in Windows
environments - and can provide upto 25x faster database performance.
functionality works through Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn technology, so that
in the event of planned or unplanned downtime, can continue operations from the
stopping point, retaining all of its data as if no downtime had occurred.
"We believe that the industry is primed for this type of tightly
integrated, plug-and-play use-case acceleration solution..." said Ralph Schmitt,
CEO - OCZ Technology.
Editor's comments:- One of the
differentiators in SSD caching products is the sophistication of their
behavior when viewed from a time basis. This is 1 of the
11 key SSD
symmetries - which I call "age symmetry".
In this respect
- a key feature of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator is its business-rule pre-warming
cache engine and cache warm-up analyzer that monitors SQL Server workloads and
automatically pre-loads the cache in advance of critical, demanding or important
SQL Server jobs. It achieves this by identifying repeated access patterns that
enable DBAs to set periodic time schedules to pre-load the cache.
product won Best of Show Award at an event called Interop in
Violin's new blog on PCIe vs FC SAN SSDs
June 11, 2013 - How much confidence do you have in the
of the SSD system which you're deploying? - And how different are the
reliability costs when you scale
PCIe SSDs compared to
are some of the issues discussed in a new blog by Violin -
Memory: too Array or to Card - written by the company's CTO of Software -
Goldick - who warns that when you're estimating the latency
advantages between different ways of connecting SSDs - "Always be
cognizant that you may just be moving the bottleneck to the software." ...read
Kaminario drops PCIe and turns to SAS to get costs down in new
Editor:- April 18, 2013 - "You don't have to be
an investment bank like JP Morgan to afford our style of fast, scalable high
availability SSD systems any more" - was the key message I got talking to
VP Business Development at Kaminario earlier
this week when discussing with me aspects of the company's newest series of
FC SAN compatible SSD
arrays - the
K2 v4 which was
Phil was referring to the expectation that their products -
which in the first generation were entirely
RAM based SSDs - and
then moved onto RAM / flash hybrids and then mostly pure flash (the flash
components being implemented in the previous generation of K2's by
Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs
- a relationship direction which I suggested in a much earlier briefing
conversation with Kaminario's CEO few years ago BTW ) - had acquired a
reputation of being out of reach pricewise - and not just in a class of their
own for resilience and
of the ways that Kaminario has pulled off the affordability trick is to drop
PCIe SSDs as the internal flash components and use instead
said before that in the enterprise arrays space - "SAS is the new SATA"
- because there are so many companies which have moved into this segment
that there's stiff competition. Unlike the PCIe SSD market -which is mostly sold
on high performance - the SAS market includes a number of vendors who have been
R/W ECC to enable them to use cheap flash to build reliable
Because Kaminario still has a lot of
RAM cache in
its server based architecture - it doesn't need the raw
and performance of
FIO's ioMemory to deliver multi-gigabyte throughput at the rack level. And
another factor is that Fusion-io itself is on course to become a significant
supplier of rackmount SSDs (although not aimed at the same kind of customers.)
Kaminario didn't want to say which SAS product they're using. They
might say later. But it doesn't really matter.
The K2 v4 also
demonstrates that the key IP component in Kaminario's box is SSD software.
When I suggested that future boxes could equally well discard SAS SSDs if
2.5" PCIe SSDs
offered a better set of characteristics - Phil agreed that the company wasn't
tied to any particular internal SSD drive form factor or interface.
has paid Taneja Group
to do some new testing on the performance aspects of simulated hard faults.
These will be very useful for customers - and take the uncertainty out of the
picture - giving hard numbers for various scenarios.
For example - when
running at just under 200K
5GB/s throughput - an entire node (controller) was removed to simulate a fault.
I/O resumed after 23 seconds and performance dropped by less than 15% for 2
minutes before recovering fully.
IBM paper on SSD's data challenges
4, 2012 - I've been browsing the
papers from last week's Server
If you can only read one - it should be this:-
do we handle all the data? (pdf) - by Andy Walls, Distinguished
Engineer, Storage Hardware Chief Architect, IBM.
I won't give
away the plot - because I think you'll enjoy it more if you read it yourself.
But here are a few bullet points which resonated with me.
things - Andy Walls says...
- "90% of all the data in the world today was created in the last 2
the article (pdf)
- "Flash is starting to free up the IO bottleneck - but the bottleneck
is more complicated..."
future SSD capacity
ratios , SSD
are we now with SSD software?
HA Support in Fusion-io's ION SAN kit
2, 2012 - Yesterday - Fusion-io
its new ION software
- which is a toolkit for bulding your own network compatible
SSD rack by
adding some Fusion-io SSD cards and their new software to any leading server.
The concept isn't entirely new - because oems have been doing this
with various different brands of
PCIe SSDs for years
and this is a well
established alternative market segment for PCIe SSDs. What is new - is
that it makes the whole thing much easier.
Fusion-io says this new
software product "delivers breakthrough performance over
iSCSI using standard
protocols." (1 million random IOPs (4kB), 6GB/s throughput and 60
microseconds latency in a 1U rack.)
It also supports fault tolerance
HA support in OCZ's PCIe SSD software
3, 2012 - OCZ
published a white paper today -
MS SQL Server 2012 with OCZ Flash Virtualization (pdf) which describes
the performance of the company's
PCIe SSDs (Z-Drive R4)
caching and virtualization software in this kind of environment.
interesting angle (for me) was in the aspect of
tolerance rather than the 16x VM speedup.
author Allon Cohen
(who has written many thought provoking
explains in this paper - "VXL software has a unique storage virtualization
feature-set that enables transparent mirroring of SQL Server logs between 2
flash cards, thereby assuring that the log files can be accessed with ultra high
performance, while at the same time, are highly available for recovery if
the article (pdf)
SSD FITs & reliability
Editor:- June 20, 2012
-the component level isn't always the best level of abstraction in modeling
enterprise SSD reliability.
Extrapolating from the single SSD
component level can give you a misleading idea - because SSDs are data
recent article on my SSD news
page on this subject started with an email from a reader who knew a lot more
about SSD component reliability than me.
GridIron's SSDs can serve hundreds of concurrent databases
Editor:- May 30, 2012 - GridIron Systems
describes the setup required to exceed 1 million (4kB) IOPS in a 40x MySQL
environment with mirroring - all in a single cabinet (including servers) using
SSD systems (upto 80TB in this configuration), and some 10GbE and 16GbFC
fabric switches in a new
"In large-scale MySQL environments it's not uncommon to see
hundreds or even thousands of database servers," said Dennis Martin,
President of Demartek
(which tested this configuration). "This reference architecture opens a
new, more efficient architectural approach for serving increasing numbers of
users and database queries per cabinet."
Pure Storage unveils new HA deduped array
May 16, 2012 - Pure
a new generation of fast-enough
(100K write IOPS)
HA/FT SSD arrays
today - with upto 100TB compressed capacity - which are clustered around
new article on Enterprise SSD Array Reliability
March 1, 2012 - Objective Analysis
has published an article -Enterprise
Reliability, Solid State Speed (pdf) - which examines the conflicts which
arise from wanting to use SSD for enterprise acceleration - while also
preserving data protection in the event of SSD failure.
and architectures are required - because traditional methods can negatively
impact performance - or - as in the case of RAID - don't always work.
"RAID is configured for
HDDs that fail
infrequently and randomly. SSDs
fail rarely as well, but fail predictably" says the author Jim Handy -
who warns that "SSDs in the same RAID and given similar workloads can be
expected to wear
out at about the same time."
He examines in detail one of the
many new aproaches to high availability enterprise SSD design - that's used in
the article (pdf)
the SSD reliability
availability enterprise SSD directory and
SSD market analysts.
TMS packs 24TB fastest HA eMLC in 1U
February 28, 2012 - I was just getting used to getting the measure of how much
enterprise flash capacity can fit into 1U rackspace - when Texas Memory Systems
changed things yet again by doing even more.
announced a 24TB
system called the
This has similar internal architecture to their 720 which
I discussed with
their CEO Holly Frost last December - but it uses
eMLC instead of
SLC - hence the doubling of the storage density.
TMS today revealed
more about the internal features of their proprietary rackmount SSDs. Their
RamSan-OS has been in continuous development for over 5 years, initially
shipping with the RamSan-500
flash SSD in 2007.
The RamSan-OS is designed from the ground up to run on a cluster of CPU
nodes and FPGAs distributed throughout the RamSan systems.
is still a core differentiator from TMS.
"Many of our competitors
claim they are software companies and that their products are Application
Accelerators. While this may be fundamentally true, all TMS products are 2x
faster than any other Application Accelerators shipping today,"
according to TMS CEO Holly Frost. "It comes down to very simple
technical and business questions: Why put key functions into slow software when
you can speed up these functions in fast hardware?"
consumption is an important part of the
- and to drive this point home TMS say they are happy to supply customers with
a wattmeter so they can compare these new SSDs with competing products.
Huawei Symantec publishes SPC-1 results for Dorado2100 SSD
January 12, 2012 - Huawei
Symantec has published an
Benchmark report (66 pages pdf) for its high availability FC SAN rackmount
SSD - the
A 1 terabyte (approx) usable protected (mirrored) SSD
system (2.4TB raw) delivered over 100K SPC-1 IOPS at a market price of$0.90/SPC-1
here for summary (pdf)
Editor's comments:- these
reports are very technical and the $ per SPC-1 IOPS headline
figures include a lot of detailed factors including 3 years of 4 hour on-site
response warranty etc. But the documents also include market prices for
everything which goes into these calculations. From which we learn that a
2.4TB Dorado2100 SSD system with 16x 8Gbps FC ports costs about $52,000. See
also:- SSD pricing
will new RamSan rattle Violin?
Editor:- December 6,
Texas Memory Systems today
imminent availability of the
- a 4 port (FC/IB) 1U
which provides 10TB of usable 2D (FPGA implemented)
RAID protected and hot
swappable - SLC
capacity with 100/25 microseconds R/W latency (with all protections in
place) delivering 400K IOPS (4KB), 5GB/s throughput - with no single point of
failure (at $20K/TB approx list).
The new SSD uses a
regular RAM cache
flash architecture which in the event of
loss has an ultra reliable battery array which holds up the SSD power for 30
seconds while automatically backing
up all data in flight and translation tables to nonvolatile flash storage. On
power up - the SSD is ready for full speed operation in less than a minute.
at HA tier 1 storage markets - the RamSan-720 consumes only 300-400 W - which
makes it practical for high end users to install nearly 1/2
petabyte of SSD
storage in a single cabinet - without having to worry about the secondary
risks which can arise from high temperature build-ups in such
Editor's comments:- I've
been talking to TMS every month for over 10 years - and I've been writing
about their memory appliances since the early 1990s - so you might think that I
would have run out of things to say by now. When I saw the preliminary specs
for the new RS-720 - the features which jumped out at me were:-
- the low R/W latency for this class of SPOF product. Which is 2x as
good as the next fastest product I know - the 6000 series fron
Violin - and several
times faster than some other tier 1 SSD vendors such as
A few days ago I spoke to
Holly Frost, CEO
and Dan Scheel,
President of Texas Memory Systems about their new SSD, what they think about
what's going on in the SSD market, and the philosophy that steers the design
of their SSDs. In a hour long discussion I learned enough new stuff to write
several new articles. So instead of condensing it down here into a couple of
bullet points - I'm going to give you the benefit of what I learned in a
new article tomorrow called -
talks SSD with Holly Frost."
- the high storage density - over 3x better than
Violin delivers in SLC -
and close to the usable RAIDed capacity that a
Fusion-io 1U server
can deliver in MLC when using Octal.
Going back to my headline - will
new RamSan rattle Violin?
I'm sure that Violin would say that this
simply validates what they are doing (and shipping) already - and that the
enterprise SSD market is big enough for all vendors in this category to
at a healthy clip. It make you wonder how much a company like TMS might be worth
Violin unveils naked cost advantages in reliable SSD arrays
September 27, 2011 -
new models and options in its range of fast
FC SAN rackmount SSDs.
series - designed for high availability applications with no single point
of failure and hot swappable "everything" - provides 12TB SLC, or
22TB MLC usable capacity with 200/600 microseconds mixed latency, 1 million /
500K sustained RAIDed spike free write IOPS, in 3U rackspace at a list price
around $37K / $20K per terabyte.
For less demanding applications (but
still featuring hot swap memory modules) the company has also extended its
to 16TB SLC usable capacity.
Editor's comments:- when I spoke
to Violin's CEO -
Basile about the new 6000 series he was curious about how I would tell
you what's unique about this product and signal whether it's relevant to you or
I said - when it comes to reliability -
you've either got it - or you haven't - and there aren't too many enterprise
SSD systems which have hot-swap everything. That's one of the reasons the
latency looks slow - compared to many other fast SSDs - because the figures
quoted here include the latency of the internal factory built protection
Another angle - I said is your product is an example of
architecture". When I explained what I meant - Don agreed and said
what it means for the customer is
Because when you look at the raw capacity that's lost to over-provisioning
and RAID like protection
and get down to the usable capacity that the customer sees in an MLC rack - say
- then Violin's 6000 delivers about 70% of the raw capacity - versus nearer to
30% in an array of 2.5"
SSDs for example. That confers a 2 to 1 native cost and density
(SSD TB/U) advantage.
I said Violin's density looks good too - compared
say to Kaminario's K2.
also said - that our SSD readers would recognize what was meant by "spike-free"
IOPS - because of various
about this - and because another enterprise flash vendor -
Virident Systems -
had made that one of the
talk about compared to some other flash
PCIe SSD companies. I
knew that in Violin's case that was due to their patented non-blocking write
architecture - which was explained to me when their
products came to market in 2008.
Don said - that inside their
protection array they're actually doing 5x more IOPS than the customer
is seeing outside the box and on the datasheet - and that helps too.
also asked about price - and where they were relative to $30K / TB - which is
the ballpark for this type of product - and you can see where Violin are above.
That's a competitive figure for a no SPOF SSD.
I said that for people
who are serious about enterprise SSDs it's relatively easy to decide what
products you may want to focus in on after just seeing a couple of simple
Don did also mention a comparative write up - about their
SSD versus another so called "tier 1" storage solution - from
EMC. Violin think it
makes them look pretty good - but I can't understand why anyone cares how they
stack up to EMC - who never understood the SSD plot - which is why their (at
one time) prime SSD supplier
STEC has had a bumpy
revenue stream in recent years.
I had one final question for Don -
which wasn't about Violin's new SSD - but about
which had come to my attention while I was googling the company just before
When can we expect to see a picture of a naked man
featured on a
poster ad? - I asked.
He laughed and indicated it wouldn't be
|The world's first
hot-swappable SCSI SSD was launched in November 2000 by BiTMICRO. |
market for factory configured HA / FT SSDs|
Zsolt Kerekes ,
editor - January 26,
It's always been relatively easy for users and
systems integrators to configure high availability rackmount SSD systems by
failover and clustering techniques designed for traditional
FC SAN or
IP SAN storage systems -
so you may ask - why have a different directory page which is focused on factory
designed HA SSDs?
The answer is:-
(performance in the failed vs unfailed state), ease of use, risk, complexity,
Customer designed fault tolerant wrap arounds
usually operate outside the
SSD controller loop.
(The rare exceptions are
big web / cloud
entities like Baidu, Google etc.)
In cases - where the HA / FT
scheme doesn't have native controller support - and simply engages data at the
host interface level - these schemes incur considerable losses in latency and
failure recovery time compared to systems where the HA fault tolerant
architecture has been designed inside the SSD system - and is aware of what's
happening between the host interface and the SSD memory arrays.
customized HA SSD designs can introduce software complexities and
controller configuration issues - because even if the native SSD systems look
like virtual storage - the FT wraparound introduces its own peculiar
Anyone who has done a formal hazard analysis or
failure analysis in a critical industry knows that it's all too easy to think
that a particular FT problem has been solved whereas in fact there are still
common modes of failure.
One of the invisible risks of "configure
your own" HA arrays is that the user may incur the cost of assembling a DIY
HA configuration only to discover that when a fault does occur - their solution
became part of the problem instead of solving it.
reason that factory designed HA SSDs are superior. They reduce risk - due to the
fact that they have been designed by people who spent more time thinking about
the problems than you can afford to do yourself.
Vendors I've spoken to
in the HA SSD market are excited that their products will open up new businesses
- but a particular concern - first voiced to me in November 2011 by
Basile, CEO of Violin
was that HA SSDs could just get lost amidst a sea of other SSD announcements.
And if you're reading through a bunch of pages which talk about
SSD performance and
see some latency and performance figures for an HA SSD in the wrong context -
you may well think - that doesn't sound so great - whereas in the context of a
protected performance metric - it may instead be truly amazing.
past 20 years of publishing enterprise buyers guides - I've developed an
instrinct for judging when the market is ready for a new focused directory.
Sometimes I've been too early - but with the memontum in the SSD market and the
number of HA SSD vendors dipping into double digits - I think this is
exactly the right time for a new directory.
|Overview of PCIe
topologies for enterprise SSDs|
|Editor:- July 17, 2013 - Taking PCIe Out of the
Box - is just one of the many different topologies discussed in a new white
paper about PCIe and enterprise storage from PLX Technology called -
and PCI Express|