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Everspin promises Gb MRAM later this year

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Editor:- April 14, 2016 - Everspin Technologies recently announced it's shipping 256Mb ST-MRAM samples to global customers and plans to sample 1Gb products later this year.

Everspin says its 256Mb ST-MRAM product breaks the record for the highest density commercial MRAM currently available in the market.

Editor's comments:- One of the key questions with MRAM's viability has always been - how does its denisty scaling compare with flash? - given that it started behind the curve and can't afford to lose comparative ground - if it is to get anywhere.

6 years ago (in April 2010) Everspin was sampling a 16Mb MRAM.

Now - 6 years later - the sampling state of the art is 256Mb. That's 16x more density in 6 years. So you can judge this for yourself.

new funding for endurance stretching NVMdurance

Editor:- March 29 , 2016 - NVMdurance recently announced it has completed a $2.5 million Series A round of financing. Existing investors New Venture Partners, ACT Venture Capital, Enterprise Ireland and NDRC have invested bringing total funding to $2.77 million.

click image to read the article - principles of bad block management in flash SSDs
naughty flash
"This financing builds on an exceptional year from NVMdurance which saw its first customer announcement – with Altera (now part of Intel)" said Steve Socolof of New Venture Partners LLC. "The NVMdurance software increases the number of program-erase cycles in Altera's FPGA-based storage reference design by up to 7x times compared to existing NAND flash implementations."

Editor's comments:- NVMdurance says the power behind its endurance stretching IP is the use of offline machine learning software that automatically learns the optimal parameter settings for the NAND device.

See also:- razzle dazzling flash SSD cell care and retirement plans

how fast is fast erase?

Editor:- January 26, 2016 - When it comes to SSD security - how fast is fast erase?

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articles
Fast Purge SSDs
Over the years I've reported many examples of this (erase) and also other methods of data destruction the rule of thumb has been:- the bigger the capacity of the drive - the more time in seconds it takes (and more electrical energy too).

A press release today from Foremay suggests a fast and scalable sanitization route may come from what they call "crypto erase" - which renders all data scrambled, scattered and useless.

It's fast. Takes only a second to complete the crypto erase of a Foremay SED SSD with capacity of up to 20TB.

new market opportunities and technical possibilities for flash as volatile memory

Editor:- December 3, 2015- The split personality of the future flash market - due to emerging uses of flash as replacements for server DRAM (a role which de-emphasizes the non volatile characteristic of flash) is one of the ideas discussed in my new home page blog on - the big SSD ideas of 2015.

TrendFocus compares worldwide raw physical storage capacity of flash and HDDs

Editor:- October 5, 2015 - A new blog by TrendFocus - How far does NAND output have to grow in order to supply all our storage devices? - says that that 80EB of NAND flash will ship this year compared to 500EB HDDs.

The author Don Jeanette concludes - "it is evident that there is not enough NAND supply to take over all the storage requirements in the world at this point."

Editor's comments:- that's true as far as it goes.

But in my classic article - meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon (2013) - I explained why I think that SSDs will easily replace all hard drives in the enterprise much sooner than this type of capacity gap comparison would lead you to think. (It's a system architecture and virtualization thing.)

See also:- terabyte talliers and storage market research directory

RRAM SSDs in 2016? - Crossbar gets $35 million series D funding

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VCs in SSDs
Editor:- September 14, 2015 - Crossbar today announced it has completed a $35 million Series D funding round bringing total investment to $85 million to date.

Crossbar plans to use the funds to continue the commercial ramp of its RRAM NVM memory technology which is based on a simple device structure using CMOS friendly materials and standard manufacturing processes. It can be stacked in 3D, making it possible to combine logic and memory onto a single chip at the latest technology node.

Crossbar is currently working with beta customers to bring products to market in 2016.

Intel, Micron 3D ReRAM

Editor:- August 24, 2015 - Back in July Intel and Micron unveiled a new bulk material based resistive memory nvRAM platform which they called 3D XPoint™ technology (later branded as Optane). At that time - the technical information about the memory technology were vague and lacking in detail.

More details emerged during the shows which immediately followed (FMS and IDF) and here's a link with the webcast.

Intel says cost per bit is likely to be somewhere between DRAM and nand flash.

Latency is said to be 1,000x faster than nand but slower than DRAM.

Storage density? A single chip can store 128Gb.

Sampling? Later this year with production in 2016.

Some of the many form factors and attach points which might benefit from this new technology are PCIe SSDs and Memory Channel SSDs.

As with any new memory technology it will take time and experience to prove whether Optane memory has enterprise grade reliability. For this reason and due to the need to establish a new software ecosystem - early uses of the memory will probably be in experimental cloud appliances and consumer gaming devices.

...Later:- Initially I had serious doubts about the market readiness state of the Intel / Micron preannouncement because it appeared to leapfrog previously known memory offerings. And storage history has taught us 2 valuable lessons about new memories.
  • the new memory is usually a small increment (2x, 4x etc) what was done before - to minimize the risk of new problems creeping into the next scaled geometry iteration, and
  • I've heard such "market breakthough stories" from the anti-flash nvm world many times in the past 12 years - usually precipated by a need for more investment cash.
Where can you find more reliable information about ReRAM?

I've found a website which seems to have a more measured and informed approach to what has been happening in ReRAM land - and reading it may help you guess better when these advances might really intersect with the mainstream SSD market.

Take a look at

Avalanche Technology samples 64Mb STT-MRAM made using 55nm CMOS process

Editor:- July 1, 2015 -Avalanche Technology today announced it is sampling the industry's first STT-MRAM chips manufactured using standard CMOS 300mm wafer processing.

Avalanche's new memory device is a 64Mb chip with an industry standard SPI interface built on a 55nm node geometry.

Nantero gets $31 million funding for 300º C retention nvram

Editor:- June 2, 2015 - Nantero today announced a $31 million Series E financing round for its NRAM technology which the company says is scalable to below 5nm and which has >1,000 years retention at 85º C or more than 10 years at 300º C.

Editor's comments:- Nantero was founded 14 years ago, and the last time I wrote about them was in 2006.

But the size and educational sophistication of the SSD ecosystem today means that designers (and investors) can appreciate the nuances of difference which might be useful in extreme boundary applications.

Offering a scalability roadmap below the current commercial limits of flash, and ruggedness way beyond flash - Nantero's technology has attractive features which might lure SSD designers out of their 40 year comfort zone of trapped charges in semiconductor cells.

Micron in production with 2D 3 bits per cell 16nm nand flash

Editor:- June 2, 2015 - 2 years after sampling its first 16nm nand flash - which was 2D with MLC nodes (2 bits per cell) - Micron today announced it has progressed to the next evolutionary step and is now shipping 16nm (which is still 2D) but is now 3 bits per cell (TLC).

In both cases the products were 16GB memory chips.

Micron says it believes that TLC will account for almost 50% of the total NAND gigabytes shipped in 2015.

update on the readiness of non flash NVMs to participate in SSDs

Editor:- May 28, 2015 - In various interview clips in a recent article - 3D NAND, MRAM, RRAM: Emerging opportunities and challenges in Solid State Technology - the author Paula Doe reports how some of the contenders to flash memory see their roles within the SSD ecosystem. For example:-
  • "Demand for ST-RAM is coming from buffer storage applications, such as high-end enterprise-class SSDs..."
  • ReRAM has already been promised for delivery in military SSDs (Jan 2015 news) but forthcoming advances in repairable vertical architecture could increase the desnsity to the point where it's attractive as an intermediate level of memory in servers too...
Some of these applications have been intuitively obvious for some while - but this article gives a better idea of commercial readiness and an indication of whether the next generation problems are being tackled in a fast enough timeframe to be relevant to the SSD market. the article

How much 3D flash in 2015?

Editor:- May 5, 2015 - TrendForce estimates that 3D will make up just 7% of NAND flash's average annual output for 2015.

who's who in ReRAM? - IHS article

Editor:- May 1, 2015 -Who's doing what re the commercialization of ReRAM - one of the seldomly heard from NVM cousins - can be learned in a new article - Taking Embedded ReRAM to 28nm - written by Peter Clarke which appeared in IHSElectronics360.

Among other things re ReRAM - Peter Clarke says - "It has been the subject of much research over the last decade because it had been predicted that NAND flash memory would fail to scale beyond critical dimensions of 20nm."

The article tells you which companies are still in this technology and discusses current memory densities and controllers. the article

Toshiba 3D flash
Toshiba samples 48-layer 3D nand

Editor:- March 26, 2015 - Toshiba today announced it is sampling the world's first 48-layer 3D stacked 2 bit nand flash memory in 16GB chips aimed at the high capacity SSD market.

Mass production is anticipated to be in the first half of 2016.

Intel and Micron promise 32 layer 3D nand SSDs by 2016

Editor:- March 26, 2015 - Micron today announced it is sampling a new 32 layer 3D nand flash memory using floating gate cells - which has been designed in collaboration with Intel - and which provides 32GB MLC (2 bits per cell) in a single chip.

A higher density TLC (3 bits per cell) version with 48GB capacity will sample in the next few months.

Both devices are expected to be available in SSDs within the next year.

3D InCites blog re Samsung's 3D TLC

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - What happens when you combine 3D and 3 bits per cell in the same flash?

A recent blog - Samsung's V-NAND Flash at the 2015 ISSCC published on 3D InCites summarizes the key parameters of Samsung's approach to combining 3D and TLC and offers some critical analysis.

Commenting on the directions for future advances - the blog's author Andrew Walker says "I also heard that they may be looking at 4 bits/cell."

See also:- Samsung's V-NAND page, Unveiling XLC Flash SSD Technology (March 2008 )

Western Digital invests in Skyera's MRAM supplier

Editor:- January 26, 2015 - Western Digital's investment unit was among the investors in a $29 million series B funding round in Everspin Technologies announced today.

Phill LoPresti President and CEO of Everspin said "With a leading worldwide foundry and storage customer participating in Everspin's Series B investment round, the entire industry spectrum is acknowledging ST-MRAM as the leading contender to drive beyond the limits of current mainstream memory."

Editor's comments:- Everspin's MRAM is one tier of the non volatile caching technology used in Skyera's rackmount SSD systems.

Western Digital recently bought Skyera - and my guess is that this investment in Everspin is to take out some of the risk of future availability of these memory parts at a time when an assured supply at higher volume may soon be needed.

So you want x3 and 3D?

Editor:- January 23, 2015 - Even if you already thought that adaptive R/W and DSP was an essential way for getting usable SSDs out of smaller 2D nand flash - then there are even more reasons for using this technology on the journey into 3D.

That's the conclusion you'll come away with after seeing a paper (presented by DensBits at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit) called the Necessity for a Memory Modem in 3D Memories (pdf)

Among other things in this paper:- DensBits says that the scope for inter-cell interference grows from 8 identifiable routes in 2D to 26 for each cell in 3D.
3d interference effects in nand cells
But memory modem technology (DensBits's branding for their collection of adaptive R/W DSP IPs) will (over and above everything it already does for 2D) intelligently decouple read operations according to the severity of read operations expected in the new 3D architectures - and even supports the notion of TLC (x3) within 3D. (Which "needs state of art decoder and signal processing".)

Their conclusion? - Memory Modem technology is required for 3D NAND scaling the article

See also:- data integrity in SSDs, why adaptive DSP?

renewing the spin on MRAM's bright future

Editor:- December 18, 2014 - Everspin Technologies said at a recent event they have shipped over 40 million MRAM devices.

That's one of several interesting observations on the state of the MRAM and RRAM market contained in a new blog - Making Computers that Don't Forget - by Tom Coughlin, President - Coughlin Associates - who predicts that the market for MRAM devices may exceed $2 billion by 2019. the article

Cypress merges with Spansion

Editor:- December 1, 2014 - Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion today announced a definitive agreement to merge in an all-stock, tax-free transaction valued at approximately $4 billion.

"...Our combined company will be a leading provider of embedded MCUs and specialized memories" said T. J. Rodgers, Cypress's founding president and CEO.

SSDs are made of this

Editor:- October 14, 2014 - Without memory - there would be no SSDs.

And while naturally the emphasis in SSD thinking is mostly on - how can we do useful and affordable things with SSDs? - despite how terribly flawed the raw material is which we have to work with (which leads you to architecture, controllers, data integroty and software) - it can nevertheless be strategically useful for SSD specifiers to sometimes brace themselves for a deep dive down into the cold details of how much better (or worse) those raw memory characteristics are going to get - so you can anticipate future developments.

This week the best place to look is MemCon.

Here's the agenda page.

We need new software abstractions to efficiently handle all the different emerging flavors of persistent enterprise memory - says SanDisk

Editor:- October 3, 2014 - New enterprise software abstractions are needed in order to efficiently utilize all those unruly developments in flash, tiered flash-DRAM architecture and NVDIMMs.

And laying the educational framework for those ideas - along with some practical suggestions for where applicable solutions might be coming from - is the theme of a recent blog - the Emergence of Software-Defined Memory - written by Nisha Talagala, Fellow at SanDisk & Fusion-io - who (among other things) says:-

"We're seeing excitement build for a new class of memory:- persistent memory - which has the persistence capabilities of storage and access performance similar to memory.

"Given this richness of media technologies, we now have the ability to create systems and data center solutions which combine a variety of memory types to accelerate applications, reduce power, improve server consolidation, and more.

"We believe these trends will drive a new set of software abstractions for these systems which will emerge as software-defined memory – a software driven approach to optimizing memory of all types in the data center." the article

See also:- are you ready to rethink enterprise DRAM architecture?

Micron's enterprise SSD revenue grew 79% QOQ

Editor:- September 25, 2014 - In its Q4 earning conference call today Micron said that about 66% to 75% of its nand flash had gone into client SSDs - with the remainder being enterprise. However Micron also said its enterprise SSD revenue was up 79% quarter-on-quarter. ...full transcript on

STT-MRAM? - update report

Editor:- July 18, 2014 - IEEE Spectrum today published an interesting state of the art article about spin-transfer-torque MRAM - Spin Memory Shows its Might.

Among other things the article's author - Rachel Courtland Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Spectrum Magazine - says "STT-MRAM may be claiming some of the enthusiasm once reserved for other alternative memories, such as ferroelectric RAM, phase-change memory, and resistive RAM. But its success will come down to manufacturing technology and how well it can compete on cost." the article

SanDisk and Toshiba collaborate on 3D nand fab

Editor:- May 13, 2014 - SanDisk and Toshiba today announced that they have begun work on demolishing and converting a 2D NAND fab at Yokkaichi Operations, in Mie prefecture, Japan over to 3D capability with a view to enabling 3D output in 2016.

Samsung starts 3D nand production at new fab in China

Editor:- May 9, 2014 - Samsung announced that its new memory fabrication line in Xi'an China - which will make 3D V-NAND - has begun full-scale manufacturing operations.

50% of global NAND flash is made or processed in China.

I just wanted solid-state memory at a cost per bit as low as a CD-ROM or a DVD - said Contour Semiconductor's founder - whose company yesterday named a new CEO

Editor:- April 23, 2014 - Contour Semiconductor is a new (long time in development) company which I only learned about this week via a couple of my linkedin contacts.

You might want to learn more about them too.

Why's that?

"Contour's new chip technology has the potential to be every bit as disruptive to the solid state flash market as flash was to hard disks drives" says Saul Zales who was named Contour's new CEO in a press release yesterday.

Saul Zales is well qualified to judge those markets - as his background includes flash or SSD related business development at some well known SSD companies - namely Fusion-io and Intel.

3D NAND flash challenges - an industry roundtable discussion

Editor:- February 6, 2014 - The best article I've yet seen about the practical implications of increasing the adoption of 3D NAND flash is - Experts At The Table: Commercial potential and production challenges for 3D NAND memory technology published by Semiconductor Manufacturing and Design.

Among the many practical considerations discussed in this article was the question of - "how is the semi industry preparing for the transition to 3D memory?"

On the issue of scalability limits and market pacing - the article reveals that vertical scalability currently appears feasible in roadmaps upto about 100 cell stack layers.

But the rate of 2D shrinks in successive 3D designs will slow down from the recent historic average of 20% per generation to 5% - due to the problems of registration which accumulate up as you add more layers. the article

new technology report - How 3D NAND flash Stacks Up

Editor:- January 15, 2014 - "In the 2D planar era, the basic underlying floating gate technology (with a few exceptions) was essentially the same amongst all the NAND flash manufacturers, however in the 3D era (which has recently begun) all NAND flash memory manufacturers are developing different 3D architectures" said Gregory Wong, President, Forward Insights in a recent email introducing a new market report ($5,499) called How 3D NAND Stacks Up (outline pdf) - which is co-authored with NaMLab (Nano-electronic Materials Laboratory) - in Dresden, Germany.

The new report describes the various different approaches to 3D NAND design and provides an independent view of the technical challenges which memory vendors have to solve to deliver viable competing memories at different geometries.

Half Micron's nand flash now used in SSDs

Editor:- January 7, 2014 - In a conference call related to financial results reported for the quarter ended November 28, 2013 - which headlined on improved DRAM results - Micron said:-
  • its nand flash business surpassed $1 billion revenue for the 1st time
  • SSDs accounted for 48% of trade volume in nand flash (of which 2/3 was consumer SSDs)
  • in addition to traditional demand from the mobile market (phones etc)- the company had identified industrial embedded applications in automotive markets as a business opportunity which itself was taking around 10% of flash volume
  • the big volume ramp for 3d nand flash was anticipated to be in the 2nd half of 2015

Crocus petitions for dismissal of core STT patents

Editor:- October 30, 2013 - Within the SSD market all those other types of of non volatile memory appear as mere driblets compared to a sea of flash memory - but that could change one day so it's worthwhile cementing sound patent foundations.

"We already done that thing" - aka "prior art" - is the root of a petition (announced yesterday) by Crocus Technology for the US Patent and Trademark Office to dismiss patent 6,980,469 (high speed low power magnetic memory device stuff) which is part of the IP potfolio of competitor - Spin Transfer Technologies.

by 2017 most flash will be 3D - says iSuppli

Editor:- October 4, 2013 - In a market forecast yesterday IHS iSuppli said - "by 2017 65% of all NAND flash memory chips shipped worldwide will be produced using 3-D manufacturing processes, up from less than 1% this year."

Editor's comments:- the transition towards a new way of making flash memory (by vertical stacking of deposition layers at the chip level) currently looks like a more viable way of increasing flash densities in the long term - compared to shrinking the geometry of cells - which is already straining the ingenuity of circuit designers to counteract and manage the impact of intrinsic defects in the materials which become more significant as the stored charge for each virtual data bit gets smaller.

Some aspects of this trend toward shrinking 2D (aka planar) geometry - at the SSD level - manifest as worsening raw metrics such as - endurance, remanence, reliability and data integrity.

See also:- market research directory, Can you trust SSD market data?

Samsung offers 1st generation 3D nand flash SSDs for enterprise

Editor:- August 13, 2013 - Samsung today announced it has started production of 2.5" SATA SSDs aimed at the enterprise market - which use the company's new 128Gb 3D Vertical NAND flash memories. Samsung says its 3D flash is intrinsically more reliable, faster and uses less power than traditional 2D flash at the same (10nm class) line geometries.

Editor's comments:- As SSDs - and compared spec by spec to any other SSDs - the new V-NAND SSDs aren't remarkable - 960GB capacity and 35K write endurance - which is what the market (in this case - cloud storage array makers want).

But Samsung's new V-NAND SSDs are simply the first step in the journey towards characterizing this new technology and to achieve customer acceptance.

Samsung says its 3D technology could deliver upto 24 cell layers vertically, using special etching technology that connects the layers electronically by punching holes from the highest layer to the bottom.

When that happens - each wafer will be able to deliver an order of magnitude more storage capacity from the same number of wafer starts - using the same line resolution as traditional (planar) flash cells. (If you think about the difference it made when the market went from SLC to MLC and then again to TLC - the eventual market impact will be bigger than all those combined.) But getting the chips and production equipment proven and economic for double digit 3D cells will take years from where we are now.

Adding each vertical layer takes additional processing time. In some ways it's like adding more layers to your pizza - except that - the successive layers of topping have to match up very precisely. (Around 2,000x more precisely than the state of the art in metal additive technology - to give you an idea of the difficulty and the elapsed time element.)

Crossbar has silicon for 3D RRAM

Editor:- August 5, 2013 - Crossbar today emerged from stealth by announcing a working silicon demonstration of its 3D stacking technology which the company says will enable the commercial use of RRAM in much higher capacity drives than before.

Micron samples 16nm nand

Editor:- July 16, 2013 - Micron today announced it will be in full production of 16nm nand flash (128Gb MLC memory devices) in Q4 this year - and is designing SSDs around this process geometry - to ship in 2014.

Crocus gets funding for x8 multibit magnetic semiconductor memory

Editor:- April 8, 2013 - Crocus Technology today announced it has been awarded a contract from IARPA to develop an 8-bit per cell memory based on its Magnetic Logic Unit technology.

This will greatly reduce the energy consumed per written-bit compared to any other memory technology, including DRAM, Flash, SRAM and MRAM.

Douglas Lee, VP, product development at Crocus compared the 8 bits per cell which the company thinks it can get from its MLU technology with the state-of-the-art in nand flash - which is 3-4 bits per cell and also compared to alternative magnetic semiconductor technologies like MRAM - which is still only 1 bit per cell storage (SLC).

2017 could be 1st billion dollar year for non-flash nvm

Editor:- February 18, 2013 - Yole Developments recently published a new market report - Emerging Non-Volatile Memories (5,990 euros) which describes why and how emerging alternative NVM (FRAM, MRAM/STTMRAM, PCM, RRAM) could grow from $209 million revenue in 2012 to $2 billion in 2018.

Among other things - the report says 3D RRAM could start to be used in SSDs in 2017-2018, when 3D NAND's scalability prospects are anticipated to worsen.

Everspin quadruples MRAM chip R/W

Editor:- February 26, 2013 - Everspin Technologies today announced it will sample the first of a new family of MRAM chips in Q2.

The MR10Q010 (1Mb in a 16 pin SOIC) has a quad SPI serial interface instead of the single line interface offered in earlier MRAM devices. This makes it more attractive for applications which need the simplicity of no wear-out non volatile memory and fast write performance in low capacity and small footprint applications.

Proton gets funds to rejuvenate flash

Editor:- February 7, 2013 - Proton Digital Systems today announced the completion of its $2 million seed round to support continued development and expansion of its LDPC-based flash read channel IP products that increase the endurance and longevity of flash memory.

Proton's IP is currently licensed for enterprise and consumer applications and has already been adopted by some of the world's largest flash memory companies.

See also:- adaptive R/W and DSP IP in SSDs, SSD controllers, how to market flash management care schemes for SSDs

1/3 of Micron's nand flash trade sales go into SSDs

Editor:- December 20, 2012 - Micron today announced that revenues from sales of its NAND flash products were 4% lower in the quarter ended November 29, 2012 than they had been a year ago.

Sales volume of the company's nand flash decreased by 9% - but average selling prices increased 5%. Overall Micrion reported a net loss in the quarter of $275 million on sales of $1.8 billion.

In a conference call Micron said that SSD shipments had grown 20% compared to the previous quarter. SSDs are 17% of Micron's nand business and the company estimates that 35% of the nand flash it supplies to trade customers end up in SSDs. MLC was about 80% to 85% of nand flash wafer production with SLC and TLC making up the rest.

experimental technique eliminates flash endurance limit

Editor:- December 2, 2012 - An article in IEEE Spectrum - Flash Memory Survives 100 Million Cycles - summarizes a recent research paper by Macronix - which described an experimental technique to redesign flash cells to improve endurance.

The technique - which does not think is feasible to scale for commercially competitive memory densities - involves designing addressable heaters in the memory array which can pulse upto 800 degrees C for a few milliseconds. This thermal "refreshing cycle" anneals the chip material and heals common wear-out defects while also enabling the cells to be run faster.

"Afterward, we realized that there was no new physics principle invented here, and we could have done this 10 years ago" said Hang-Ting Lue, the project director at Macronix

Micron in volume production of 1Gb PCM

Editor:- July 18, 2012 - Micron today announced it was the 1st company to be in volume production of Phase Change Memory (PCM).

The company's 45nm memories have upto 1Gb in a multichip package.

Editor's comments:- PCM fans will get excited about this.

But before we get carried away on a tidal wave of PCM SSD speculation let's recall the reason we still use flash to implement the bulk storage capacity in nearly all SSDs (despite flash's many defects and complex ramifications).

It's economics.

PCM can be viable as an alternative to battery backed RAM in the cache part of a flash SSD. Some SSD oems have already done that. But PCM's storage density is too low to replace flash in mainstream SSD applications for at least the next 3 years.

You can read more about various nvm technologies which were going to make flash obsolete (including details of the 1st PCM PCIe SSD which was unveiled a year ago) in my article flash SSD's past phantom demons

Hynix acquires DSP SSD IP company LAMD

Editor:- June 20, 2012 -SK Hynix today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire California-based storage solution company Link_A_Media Devices.

The reason for the acquisition should be clear if you read the article on my home page yesterday about the new generations of adaptive SSD controllers. The roadmap for flash memory is dependent on these technologies to enable workable SSDs.

TrendFocus launches new memories in SSDs report

Editor:- May 2, 2012 - have you ever wondered what percentage of a memory maker's SSD output is SLC or MLC or TLC? and other things like that?

TrendFocus has launched a new NAND/SSD Information Service which includes that kind of data. The company says that the SSD section of the report will include client and enterprise SSD memory shipments and forecasts.

new nv market size report from Web-Feet

Editor:- April 13, 2012 - Web-Feet Research has consolidated the reported shipments from 17 main flash makers to conclude that the flash memory market in 2011 was worth nearly $29 billion - an increase of 8% from 2010.

Web-Feet's market report - the 2011 Non Volatile Memory Market Shares by Vendor report ($2,500) includes market shares by vendor for total nv memory (all types) and includes breakdowns by vendor and forecasts. For more info contact:- Alan Niebel -

STT secures $36 million A round for OST-MRAM

Editor:- February 15, 2012 - Spin Transfer Technologies today announced it has secured $36 million in Series A funding - led by its parent company, Allied Minds and Invesco Asset Management - to accelerate development of STT's patented orthogonal spin transfer magneto resistive random access memory technology (OST-MRAM).

STT says "the company is poised to create the next generation of memory applications combining the non-volatility of flash with the read and write performance of DRAM and SRAM into one, seamless product."

Rambus gets into the nv memory IP market

Editor:- February 6, 2012 -Rambus today announced it has acquired Unity Semiconductor for an aggregate of $35 million in cash.

As part of this acquisition, the Unity team members have joined Rambus to continue developing innovations and solutions for next-generation non-volatile memory.

world's first PCIe PCM SSD

Editor:- June 14, 2011 - NVSL ( the Non-Volatile Systems Lab at UCSD) recently demonstrated a prototype PCIe PCM (phase-change memory) SSD - with R/W speeds upto 1.1GB/s and 327MB/s respectively and 8GB usable capacity.

A spokesperson for the Moneta SSD design team - Professor Steven Swanson said "...Moneta gives us a window into the future of what computer storage systems are going to look like, and gives us the opportunity now to rethink how we design computer systems in response."

Swanson says he hopes to build the 2nd generation of the Moneta storage device in the next 6 to 9 months and says the technology could be ready for market in just a few years as the underlying phase-change memory technology improves.

Editor's comments:- in a white paper Protoype PCM Storage Array (pdf) the team outlines the design and architecture of their PCM SSD prototype and also compares aspects of performance with entry level PCIe flash SSDs from Fusion-io. In a recent article I warned that you should not pay too much heed to comparative PCIe SSD benchmarks - because from different arbitrary selected angles they can "prove" different arbitrary performance rankings. I wouldn't be surprised if some investors take fright that a PCM SSD scored higher than a Fusion-io SSD in some of the published graphs. But for those who understand SSD architecture it doesn't reveal anything new.

In my view this prototype clearly demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of PCM as an SSD technology.

PCM SSD strengths vs flash

The granularity of writes in PCM is smaller and faster - which means that small R/W operations have higher IOPS. If you have apps where that is important you can simply buy SSDs with various ratios of integrated RAM cache. That would give you small block IOPS better than PCM - end of story. PCM has higher endurance than SLC - which means that the SSD controller overhead applied to endurance can be lighter than in most flash systems. Hence potentially faster latency through to the media.

PCM SSD weaknesses vs flash

The prototype PCIe SSD card provides capacity which is similar to RAM SSD density - but with a large block R/W throughput which is much lower than flash arrays. This implementation used 16MB PCM chips.

Flash allows higher capacity writes to a single chip - and this gives better peak performance results than PCM when exploited in parallel architecture arrays. You can't get those flash peak performance numbers from a PCM array in the same board footrpint - because many PCM chips have to be written to concurrently to achieve the same capacity R/W as a single flash chip. That means with today's technologies - flash SSDs have a higher proportion of ready to write memory chips in the same chip count population as PCM SSDs.

For more about alternative SSD technologies - see SSD's past phantoms.

new report looks at NAND flash succession

Editor:- January 11, 2011 - Forward Insights and its research collaborators have compiled an in-depth, independent analysis which analyzes the options for various non volatile memory technologies which could become viable in storage after floating gate NAND flash hits fundamental scaling limitations

What's after NAND? (pdf outline) is the product of experts in floating gate and charge trap flash, and resistive and emerging memory technologies. This new report (price $10k) evaluates 3D NAND and cross point memory concepts from Hynix, Intel, Macronix, Micron, Samsung, SanDisk, Toshiba and Unity and concludes with a roadmap till the end of the decade.

Toshiba integrates ECC into raw flash

Editor:- April 5, 2011 - Toshiba announced it is sampling SmartNAND - 24nm flash memory chips (with upto 64GB capacity) with integrated ECC controllers to simplify the design of consumer products which need storage.

"Toshiba's new SmartNAND will provide our customers a smoother design experience into 24nm generation and beyond," said Scott Nelson, VP, Memory Business Unit, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. "By enabling the system designer to directly manage the NAND using a standard or custom host NAND controller, while leaving the function of error correction within the NAND package, SmartNAND results in faster time to market, access to leading geometries and potentially lowers design costs when compared to conventional NAND flash implementations with external ECC."

will Micron's enhanced flash really eliminate error concerns?

Editor:- December 3, 2010 - Micron recently announced availability of enhanced 16GB to 64GB 25nm MLC flash memory chips with integrated error management - which the company says - removes the burden of ECC from the host and simplifies the use of flash in enterpise apps.

Editor's comments:- as discussed in my recent article - bad block management in flash SSDs good blocks and less good blocks have always coexisted in flash memory. But as device geometries shrink (to increase capacity and speed) the margin of error between usable and non usable cells has shrunk too. In practical terms this means that the raw media quaility of new flash chips has declined in the past decade from under 1% defects, then 2%, 5% and I've seen projections as high as 10% for emerging MLC. read longer version of comments

new book - Inside NAND Flash

Editor:- November 17, 2010 - Forward Insights (an SSD analyst company) is one of the contributers to a new book called - Inside NAND Flash Memories.

The publishers say that SSD designers must understand flash technology in order to exploit its benefits and countermeasure its weaknesses. The new book is a comprehensive guide to the NAND world - from circuits design (analog and digital) to reliability.

new Samsung phone flash

Editor:- September 7, 2010 - Samsung Electronics today introduced high-performance 16GB e-MMC 4.41 compatible moviNAND embedded memory chips for use in smartphones.

A new feature enables the host to interrupt a previously written write so as to respond sooner to a higher priority read.

SSD readers intro to Nanocrystal Memories

Editor:- June 30, 2010 - a recent blog from Denali Software describes the characteristics of nanocrystal memories - a flash-like nv memory technology from Freescale Semiconductor.

This comparison table on Freescale's web site suggests 10x faster write cycle - and upto 30x endurance (10 million cycles) than traditional flash. The technology is shipping in some embedded microprocessors.

Macronix research pushes flash density

Editor:- June 16, 2010 - Macronix today announced its research results related to its patented BE SONOS (barrier engineering) charge-trapping technology which could make terabit NAND flash feasible.

Using 3D stacking, NAND Flash may achieve higher data storage capacity and effectively lower fabrication cost without relying on advances in lithography technology. Consequently some memory manufacturers have invested in 3D research recently.

Samsung ships 512Mb PRAM

Editor:- April 28, 2010 - Samsung Electronics today announced shipments of a 512Mb PRAM MCP which is is backwards compatible with 40nm NOR flash memory in both its hardware and software functionality allowing mobile handset designers the convenience of retrofitting the 3x faster writing PRAM into exisiting designs based on NOR.

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1PB of enterprise SSD could replace 10 to 50 petabytes of raw HDD storage in the enterprise and still enable all the apps to run faster.
utilization ratios enabled by the SSD software event horizon
click to read pdf re memory types
Datalight's SSD firmware to boldly go
Editor:- September 17, 2015 - Datalight today said its embedded filesystem (Reliance Nitro) and FTL (FlashFX Tera) have been selected by NASA for use onboard future manned spacecraft in the Orion program.

rocket image from one of my novelsEditor's comments:- NASA has had a lot of mentions by SSD and storage vendors in articles and news here on the mouse site. Some of the application contexts have been ground based - but many have also been in space.

FYI the spacecraft image shown here isn't from NASA - it's from my 1990s unfinished online SF novel. One of many which I may resume when the SSD market slows down and becomes more predictable. (That's an excuse you can borrow and use yourself.)
SSD ad - click for more info
"The three largest markets for NAND Flash are smartphones, SSDs and tablets in that order."
Technology Roadmap for NAND Flash ) by Tech Insights (2014)
"If these new memories really are as good as the claims, why are we not seeing them in production applications today? The answer appears to be inertia" - says Brian Bailey, Technology Editor - Semiconductor Engineering

Dave Lazovsky, CEO of Intermolecular expands on this by saying - NAND flash is a $30B industry that has tens of billions of dollars in capital infrastructure that would need to be retooled. The big 4 players represent 95% of the market and they have a lot of existing investment. The entire cost equation is CapEx, so they need to milk the tail of the revenues as long as they can."
Big Memory Shift Ahead (May 2014)
"The leading replacements for NAND in storage are phase-change and ReRAM. STT-MRAM could be a DRAM replacement, but it is too costly for storage."
Alan Niebel , Web-Feet Research quoted in an article - What's After 3D NAND? (September 2013)
"The most significant change over the past 10 years is the growth of NAND flash wafer demand.

NAND wasn't even reported as a discrete category by the SIA in 2000.

In 2005, all NAND products only required 4.4% of total production wafers...

this had grown to almost 18% in 2012."
Joanne Itow, Managing Director
Semico Research (October 2012)
In the quarter ended November 28, 2013 - Micron said that about 50% of its nand flash memory bits went into SSDs.
the Top SSD Companies - Q4 2013
February 4, 2014
"....nobody really knows how long NAND can keep scaling. So we have to keep trying and we have to be innovative. But we are aggressively working on the future NAND, future technologies beyond NAND...."
Ritu Shrivastava
V.P., Technology Development SanDisk
SanDisk technology roadmap presentation (April 2012)
10+ years of "MRAM will soon replace flash"
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.
SSD past phantom demons image - click to read the article The article - SSD's past phantom demons explores the latent market threats which hovered around the flash SSD market in the past 10 years. They seemed real and solid enough at the time.
Surviving SSD sudden power loss
Why should you care what happens in an SSD when the power goes down?

This important design feature - which barely rates a mention in most SSD datasheets and press releases - has a strong impact on SSD data integrity and operational reliability.

This article which reviews the architecture of power line disturbance data integrity mitigation schemes in every major type of SSD will help you understand why some SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of application) might fail in others... even when the changes in the operational environment appear to be negligible.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. the article

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