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hold up capacitors in 2.5" MIL SSDs

do you really need them?
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics
0 to 3S
Editor:- March 31, 2015 - I've been looking at different aspects of power hold up schemes in mission critical non volatile memory systems for over 30 years.

But every time I revisit this vast topic and compare fresh examples from the market - I learn something a little bit new.

My new blog - Zero to three seconds - demonstrates the extreme range of hold up times now in the market inside leading edge 2.5" military flash SSDs. the article

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What's the best way to design a flash SSD?
and other questions which divide SSD opinion

More than 10 key areas of fundamental disagreement within the SSD industry are discussed in an article here on called the the SSD Heresies.
click to read the article - the SSD Heresies ... Why can't SSD's true believers agree upon a single coherent vision for the future of solid state storage? the article
flash wars in the enterprise - MLC brand X
First you learned about SLC (good flash).

Then you learned about MLC (naughty flash when it played in the enterprise - but good enough for the short attention span of consumers).

Then MLC SSDs learned how to be good.

Now some MLC is much nicer than others. - When it's preceded by an "e" (extra-good). But it costs more.

But other people say you don't need the expensive "e" - because their controllers empathize better with naughty flash. (They really care about naughty flash being sent to bad block jail too soon.)

Is your head ready to explode yet?

It's going to get even more complicated.

......from sugaring MLC for the enterprise
flash SSD capacity - the iceberg syndrome
Have you ever wondered how the amount of flash inside a flash SSD compares to the capacity shown on the invoice?

What you see isn't always what you get.
nothing surprised the penguins - click to read  the article There can be huge variations in different designs as vendors leverage invisible internal capacity to tweak key performance and reliability parameters. the article
How big was the thinking in this SSD's design?
Does size really does matter in SSD design?

By that I mean how big was the mental map? - not how many inches wide is the SSD.

The novel and the short story both have their place in literature and the pages look exactly the same. But you know from experience which works best in different situations and why.

When it comes to SSDs - Big versus Small SSD architecture - is something which was in the designer's mind. Even if they didn't think about it that way at the time.
click to read the article - Big versus Small SSD  architectures For designers, integrators, end users and investors alike - understanding what follows from these simple choices predicts a lot of important consequences. the article
3 things that could have killed flash SSDs
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. the article
this way to the Petabyte SSD
In 2016 there will be just 3 types of SSD in the datacenter.

One of them doesn't exist yet - the bulk storage SSD.

It will replace the last remaining strongholds of hard drives in the datacenter due to its unique combination of characteristics, low running costs and operational advantages.
click to read the article -  reaching for the petabyte SSD - not as scary as you may think ... The new model of the datacenter - how we get from here to there - and the technical problems which will need to be solved - are just some of the ideas explored in this visionary article.
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2.5 to 3D architectures point the way to DDR4's successor says new blog on

Editor:- July 12, 2015 - "DDR4 will be the last version of the DDR interface route for RAM, don't ever expect to see DDR5" - says Eric Esteve , in his blog - Which High Bandwidth Memory to Select after DDR4? - on - in which - as part of getting us to contemplate the big architecture picture - he also says - "DDR4 is not only the last DDR, it's also the last protocol based on 2D (layers) only." the article, SSD glue chips, RAM in an SSD context

Avago agrees to acquire Broadcom

Editor:- May 28, 2015 - Avago today announced it will acquire Broadcom for approximately $37 billion.

IP-Maker's NVMe IP passes UNH-IOL's compatibility

pcie  SSDs - click to read article
Editor:- May 22, 2015 - IP-Maker - which is represented in the US by Fides Sales - today announced that its NVMe data transfer manager design has passed the UNH-IOL compatibility tests and is now listed on their NVMe compatibility integrator's list.

IP-Maker's IP supports performance in the range of 350K IOPS and 10µs latency in a Gen2 x4 configuration.

"We are pleased to announce this important milestone", said Mickael Guyard, co-founder of IP-Maker. "We are now able to provide a compliant and high performance NVMe solution, helping storage companies to develop PCIe SSD in a reduced design time."

Microsemi acquires Vitesse

military storage directory and news
military SSDs
Editor:- March 18, 2015 - Microsemi today announced it has agreed to acquire Vitesse Semiconductor for approximately $389 million.

Vitesse designs a diverse portfolio of high-performance semiconductors, application software, and integrated turnkey systems solutions for carrier, enterprise and IoT networks.

Avago acquires Emulex for $600 million

Editor:- February 25, 2015 - In 2014 - Avago Technologies - which until then had not seemed much involved in enterprise storage - suddenly got religion.

As a heavyweight interface chip and IP maker in other markets Avago must have asked themselves - what are the key interfaces we need to be the #1 enterprise storage connect company? - especially as more enterprise storage becomes solid state. And that's the way to interpret the acquisitions (last year) of LSI and PLX followed now (as announced today) by the acquisition of Emulex - for approximately $606 million.

Northwest Logic has FPGA support for Everspin's MRAM

Editor:- February 9, 2015 - Northwest Logic today announced controller support for Everspin's ST-MRAM - with interoperability proven on a Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA platform.

MRAM's core IP also supports traditional volatile DDR3 SDRAM - so the new support for MRAM will simplifiy the design of power fail protected low latency caches.

Mobiveil supports Spansion's HyperBus NOR

Editor:- February 3, 2015 - Mobiveil today announced it will provide authorized controller support for Spansion's HyperBus flash memories.

HyperBus flash interface
HyperBus flash chips are low capacity, low pin count, faster (5x) NOR flash (BGAs) suited for some applications in the automotive electronics market.

Mobiveils HyperBus flash interface IP (pdf) delivers upto 333MB/s using this 12-pin interface.

Microsem licenses DPA countermeasures from Rambus

Editor:- January 29, 2015 - Rambus today announced that Microsemi will serve as reseller in the government and military sectors for certain differential power analysis (DPA) technologies developed by Rambus's cryptography research division.

As the first major FPGA company to license DPA countermeasures, Microsemi has identified DPA as a significant vulnerability in chip security, specifically for the mission-critical applications found in government and military settings.

Emulex's 16GFC technology supported by DataCore

Editor:- January 28, 2015 - Emulex today announced that DataCore is releasing target mode support in its new SANsymphony V10 software-defined storage platform, for Emulex's Gen 5 (16GFC) HBA technology.

See also:- SSD software, rackmount SSDs

Novachips acquires HLNAND

Editor:- January 26, 2015 - Novachips today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire HyperLink NAND fllash memory technology assets, including approximately 260 related patents, from Conversant (formerly known as MOSAID).

Due to its low capacitance expansion footprint - HLNAND enables large-capacity SSDs.

California Court halts sales of ULLtraDIMM SSDs

Editor:- January 13, 2015 - Netlist today announced that the US District Court for the Northern District of California has granted Netlist's motion for a preliminary injunction against Diablo Technologies for controller chips used by SanDisk in its high-speed ULLtraDIMM SSD product line.

Under the court's order, Diablo and SanDisk are prohibited from manufacturing and selling the controller chipset used by SanDisk in the ULLtraDIMM and as a result, from further sale or distribution of the ULLtraDIMM itself.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers - also rejected SanDisk's motion for reconsideration, asking that it be allowed to sell existing inventory of the enjoined products.

The court advanced the trial date to March 9, 2015, for Netlist's claims upon which the motion was decided, including claims against Diablo for trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, and other causes of action related to the components supplied by Diablo for the ULLtraDIMM.

The court's order specifically identifies the ULLtraDIMM as well as the eXFlash modules from IBM, although the injunction affects all modules containing Diablo components.

Editor's comments:- the possibility of such a injunction has been discussed in these pages before. At the heart of the dispute are whether an earlier design collaboration between Netlist and Diablo included the rights for both companies to use a critical interface design in the DIMM bus facing part of Diablo's memory channel storage design. A patent ruling on December 29, 2014 upheld Netlist's patents related to this.

The court case related to the injunction stems from Netlist's argument that if Diablo did not have the right to use the interface technology - then it follows that any design - such as the ULLtraDIMM SSD - which relies on such internal technology - should only be disallowed - pending any future agreement about licensing such a technology. (Which it may not choose to do.)

Netlist wants to create a low latency memory channel SSD product line of its own.

And even though Netlist is more than a year behind the productization of this integrated technology (compared to the first generation ULLtraDIMM designed Diablo and SMART Storage - which was acquired by SanDisk) the case from Netlist is that the market must wait for its own design or any designs for which it grants licenses.

From the Diablo side - its argument has been that they thought they had an agreement which allowed them to use the DIMM interface technology (in whose implementation they participated) in products which were different to Netlist's flash backed DIMMs.

At stake is a future market for server based accelerators which could be worth a low double digit percentage of the entire enterprise PCIe SSD market.

It's inconceivable that a small company like Netlist or Diablo would be able to satisfy such demands on their own - especially given the fact that neither has any core IP related to enterprise flash.

But future licensing partners (or wouldbe acquirers) need to be satisfied that the core technology they're using - is patent troll proof.

Who Needs 10Gbps USB?

Editor:- October 29, 2014 - SSDs are at the forefront of the thinking in a new article today - Who Really Needs USB 3.1? by Eric Esteve.

Eric's blog sketches out a 5 years into the future application picture for this new (10Gbps) iteration of the USB connected story.

See also:- market research , USB and SSDs

GUC announces new low power SSD IP portfolio

Editor:- September 25, 2014 - Global Unichip today rolled out an expanded interconnect low power IP portfolio for ASICs targeting SSD applications.

The expansion covers ultra low power PCIe 3/4 PHY, DDR3/4, LPDDR3/4 CTRL/PHY and ONFi4.0 IO/PHY. IP based on the 28HPM/HPC processes in the expanded portfolio are available now, while 16nm macros will be available in Q4 of this year.

Among all NAND applications Global Unichip says SSD is the fastest growing with the Data Center and Enterprise segments showing the greatest potential. GUC is meeting that demand with a complete low power IP portfolio for SSD controllers, including NAND I/O (ONFI, Toggle), DDR I/F (DDR3/4, LPDDR3/4) and Serdes I/F (PCIe-3/4, SATA3/SAS3).

Dell uses Avago's 12Gb/s SAS chips in new RAID systems

Editor:- September 10, 2014 - Avago Technologies today announced that Dell has selected Avago's 12Gb/s SAS technology (recently acquired from LSI) for use in RAID controllers in Dell's new PowerEdge Servers. See also:- SAS SSDs, storage glue chips

Avago agrees to acquire PLX

Editor:- June 23, 2014 - PLX Technology today announced that it has agreed to be acquired by Avago Technologies for approximately $309 million.

"The core PLX PCIe silicon business fits very well with the Avago business model and broadens Avago's portfolio serving the enterprise storage and networking end markets," stated Hock Tan, President and CEO of Avago. "Following the closing of the transaction, we are excited to welcome the PLX team to Avago, and we are committed to continue to invest in the PLX PCI Express platform."

Editor's comments:- to get a taste of the big ideas to come in PLX's PCIe fabric vision see - an SSD conversation with PLX

is it time for the SSD market to reconsider RapidIO?

Editor:- May 14, 2014 - You'd think that with all the interfaces already in use within the enterprise SSD market - there wouldn't be enough of a market gap to justify introducing yet another one. - Particularly when that interface strays across low latency server-storage territory which is dominated by PCIe SSDs, under attack by memory channel SSDs and has been flanked historically by InfiniBand.

I thought so too.

But a recent article - Do You Really Know RapidIO? - by Eric Esteve , founder of IPnest says - "Maybe it's time for the server/storage industry to give a second chance for the RapidIO protocol."

Editor's comments:- That's a bold statement - coming as it does from someone who was involved in designing one of the first generation PCIe controllers 10 years ago. Eric argues that the intrinsic fabric architecture and routing support in RapidIO - would make many of the things which architects are trying to do today - such as interconnecting large numbers of servers and SSDs for example - easier and faster.

See also:- Comparing RapidIO, PCIe and Ethernet as sub microsecond CPU interconnects - view from RapidIO (ORG)

Micron's HMC controller team win design award

Editor:- April 7, 2014 - Micron today announced that one of its design teams has been named "design team of the year" by EE Times and EDN for the design work - done in collaboration with Altera - which led to the industry's first working Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) controller.

PLX is ready with 1st Gen3 PCIe switches

Editor:- February 4, 2014 - PLX Technology today announced it is the 1st PCIe switch vendor to have achieved Gen3 compliance having passed the compliance testing procedures of PCI-SIG.

Editor's comments:- the new standard doubles the maximum data bandwidth of PCIe SSDs to 1GB/s per lane in each direction - which enable 32GB/s total throughput for a x16 link.

See also:- storage ORGs, PCIe SSDs, Gen3 faqs, PCI Express 3.0 Integrators List

Netlist says ULLtraDIMM SSDs infringe patents

Editor:- January 29, 2014 - Netlist today announced it had filed motions to add two additional patents to the lawsuits against the previously announced ULLtraDIMM memory module from Diablo Technologies and Smart Storage Systems.

The 2 newly added patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,881,150 and 8,081,536) are generally related to load reduction, a critical feature in low latency memory modules. Netlist has now asserted a total of 7 patents against the ULLtraDIMM, in addition to trade secret theft, trademark infringement and other claims.

"We have spent years developing our industry-leading technology, and are encouraged by the progress we've made defending our intellectual property in these lawsuits," said Netlist President and CEO, C.K. Hong. "We will continue to vigorously defend our IP, uncovering any and all theft of our technology and infringement of our patents, and will not allow others to profit from this unlawful activity."

As reported in its 8-K last December, Netlist says it received a whistleblower letter describing in detail how Diablo "stole Netlist's detailed architecture and design" of its flagship product, HyperCloud, to create the ULLtraDIMM.

Editor's comments:- SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM is a new class of product in which cheap high capacity MLC flash emulates many DRAMs in a module which contains little or no DRAM itself but which nevertheless plugs into a DDR3 module.

In contrast - Netlist's "similar sounding but very different" product families include real DRAMs which accomplish power fail data protection aka non volatility - by means of fast backup and restore to onboard flash - all in the same DDR3 module.

Netlist doesn't appear to be saying that it could design a product like the ULLtraDIMM - because it doesn't to my knowledge have the flash controller IP to do anything remotely similar.

Instead - what Netlist appears to be saying is that techniques in DDR3 design - which enable lots of circuitry to be placed behind a RAM interface - without placing too much load on it and slowing it down - which Netlist has itself patented - are suspected to have been used within the design of the ULLtraDIMM.

Diablo appoints new VP Engineering to advance Memory Channel Storage roadmap

Editor:- January 23, 2014 - Diablo Technologies today announced the appointment of Jim Miller as the company's new VP Engineering - in which rolse he will be responsible for advancing the company's Memory Channel Storage roadmap and engineering accomplishments. See also:- memory channel SSDs

Avago acquires LSI

Editor:- December 16, 2013 - LSI today announced that it has agreed to be acquired by Avago Technologies Limited in an all-cash transaction valued at $6.6 billion.

Editor's comments:- I hadn't heard of Avago before. But I had heard of Agilent Technologies - the former name of this company - which was a spinoff from HP. Avago was a semiconductor spinoff from Agilent.

Part of Avago's rationale (they're a semiconductor company with over 1/2 their business in wireless technology) is to get into the enterprise storage market and become a leader in this market "overnight".

A big chunk of the investment - about $1 billion is coming from Silver Lake - a VC company - which a few years ago reintegrated another company in the SSD market - SMART. The rest of the funding is coming from bank loans.

MOSAID resumes the conversation about HLNAND

Editor:- September 23, 2013 - Growing market demands for capacity and performance in the enterprise SSD market is highlighting the intrinsic weaknesses in standard flash memory interfaces.

That's the theme of a recent blog - about HyperLink NAND technology and scalability by Peter Gillingham, VP and CTO Conversant (the new name for MOSAID Technologies) who writes - "In the enterprise server space, where PCIe is often used to connect storage hardware, SSDs require as many as 25 to 50 channels to provide the throughput demanded by the system interface... but even 2nd generation flash interfaces such as ONFi and toggle mode are not up to the job."

Editor's comments:- MOSAID - which will legally change its name to Conversant in January 2014 - first started talking about its HLNAND architecture in May 2007. But the company - which recently changed its name - has been licensing its patents in fast memory systems design since the 1990s.

Among the many reasons - why the company says its HLNAND simplifies the design of ultra high bandwidth scalable SSDs (pdf) are the low loading on each device which means that latency is not degraded to the same extent by capacitive bus load as in traditional memory topologies.

Seagate invests in eASIC

Editor:- August 5, 2013 - eASIC today announced it has got a strategic investment from Seagate.

"eASIC has demonstrated innovative custom silicon technology with our... solid state hybrid drives" said Rocky Pimentel, chief sales and marketing officer at Seagate. "eASIC's ability to quickly develop custom solutions while meeting stringent cost, power and performance requirements will enable us to rapidly improve our product position in both SSD and SSHDs."

Overview of PCIe topologies for enterprise SSDs

Editor:- July 17, 2013 - PLX Technology recently published a white paper - Enterprise Storage and PCI Express - which gives an overview of past, current and future PCIe SSD connection topologies along with a list of detailed reference articles. the article

See also:- interface chips and IP, 7 silos for enterprise SSDs

the challenges facing ULL SSDs

April 29, 2013 - today published a new article - Memory Channel Storage SSDs - will the new ultra low latency SSD concept fly? - should you book a seat yet?

Hybrid Memory Cube spec ready for chip designers

Editor:- April 3, 2013 - back in October 2011 - I reported on this page the formation of a new industry ORG - the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium - which could have an impact on future SSD packaging densities.

It takes a while to get these things going - but according to a press release this week by one of the founding companies - Micron - the 100 plus companies which are collaborating in this enterprise have agreed on an interface specification (pdf).

A key feature of the new multiplane memory architecture is that distributed memory controllers in an HMC module will handle the data I/O packet requests for the bunch of stacked memory chips in its own vault. This is similar to the distributed intelligent data mover concept which is already used in all proprietary big architecture SSD controller designs - because it's the only way you can get good aggregated global system performance while also dealing with low level local memory management issues at low latency.

As with earlier generations of remote distributed memory interfaces - such as InfiniBand - HMC is designed to optimize the request of small packets - which in the case of HMC is 16 to 128 bytes of data.

With today's semiconductor speeds - accessing the data in those distributed memory chips within the same HMC module presents similar technical problems to distributed memory cards in traditional computer designs - because traversing inches of physical space at high speed is as difficult as moving data across tens of feet at slower speeds.

HMC has been born as a DRAM technology - but don't ignore it - just for that reason. (Or because the data packet sizes are small compared to the block sizes in nand flash.) If and when these HMC packaging ideas result in viable products - the ideas and methodologies will spill into SSDs too -regardless of what the underlying memories used in SSDs may be at that time.

It's all about speed and scalability. According to the HMC faqs page - A single (1st generation) HMC unit can provide more than 15x the bandwidth of a DDR3 module. See also:- SSD interface glue chips.

Crocus steers R&D efforts to simplify and accelerate adoption of magnetically enhanced semiconductors

Editor:- February 21, 2013 - Crocus Technology today announced the appointment of Dr. Ken Mackay as VP of technology development in which role he will manage and overview nano-magnetic materials research and CMOS teams - within the company and in partner organizations - towards the goal of fully integrating Crocus' magnetically enhanced semiconductor technology to the needs of industrial markets.

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

PCIe everywhere?

Editor:- February 1, 2013 - Is PCIe the Natural Next-Generation Data Center Fabric?

That's what Larry Chisvin, VP of strategic initiatives PLX Technology believes and he'll try to convert you to his way of thinking next week at the Linley Tech Data Center Conference in Santa Clara. PLX is the worldwide market leader in PCIe switch products.

See also:- enterprise SSD silos, PCIe SSDs, SSD glue chips.

Diablo sets up compatibility team for new SSD interface

Editor:- January 29, 2013 - Diablo Technologies today announced it has set a compatibility advisory team for its new SSD interface - which the company is apparently positioning as a faster alternative to PCIe SSDs.

"As we prepare to launch our line of Memory Channel Storage products that enable next-generation enterprise server and storage system designs, we have set our sights on unprecedented levels of performance for current and future applications To that end, we have assembled a group of top industry innovators to help refine the development of our revolutionary NAND-flash system solutions..." said Diablo's CTO - Maher Amer.

Cypress article re nvSRAMs in fast SSDs

Editor:- November 5, 2012 - A new article in EETimes discusses the theoretical advantages of using nvSRAMs as the RAM cache in enterprise SSDs in the context of simplifying design for surviving sudden power loss.

The author Pramodh Prakash from Cypress Semiconductor describes how the company's nvSRAMs transfer data in a parallel cell by cell operation from run-time RAM to down-time SONOS in about 8mS.

Back in September 2008 (in a comment which can still be seen in the hybrid SSDs page) I too speculated that this technology from Cypress might find uses in fast flash SSDs.

Now I have doubts, however. And here are my reasons.
  • Cypress's nvSRAMs still require hold up capacitors - to support the store to nvm operation - although they don't need as much capacitance as DRAM designs.
  • Cypress's nvSRAMs offer memory capacity (16Mb sampling) which is too small to be useful in any of the RAM flash cache SSD architectures I know about. Too big for skinny designs and too small for regular designs.
My guess is that this technology could still be useful if it was integrated as a small part of an SSD controller chip (supporting the very low capacities needed by skinny designs) - but a lot of fast enterprise SSD controllers are implemented by FPGAs or eASICs. FPGA makers would have to preguess how much capacity to offer in their chips - because the SONOS cells require a mask level design - not simply a firmware routing.

the Future of Semiconductor Memory

September 18, 2012 - "Anybody can produce 100K chips, but it's a whole different beast to produce 80 billion chips. Resistive, phase change, any technology - it's how to make the transition from 100K to 80 billion" said Bill Gervasi, Discobolous Designs in a discussion at MemCon about the manufacturability of new memory types such as RRAM, MRAM and PCM - the Future of Semiconductor Memory.

IDT samples controllers for NVMe compatible 2.5" PCIe SSDs

Editor:- August 21, 2012 - IDT today announced it's sampling single chip NVMe compatible flash SSD controllers for designers in the PCIe SSD market.

2 models are available:- a 16-channel with PCIe x4 Gen 3 (89HF16P04AG3 for smaller footprints such as the 2.5" PCIe SSD market - supports upto 2TB capacity) and 32-channel with PCIe x8 Gen 3 (89HF32P08AG3 for the conventional size cards upto 4TB capacity) - in 27 x 27 mm and 40 x 40 mm FCBGA packages respectively.

Both products support connection to 2 hosts and failover for HA applications.

Editor's comments:- for those of you who like videos - I suggest you see IDT's video which starts with an introduction to acceleration SSDs, explains the advantages of having a standard such as NVMe - which means that oems can have a single common set of drivers which work with SSDs from multiple vendors and describes more features of the products - including hot pluggability.

the future of PCIe SSDs - series 6, episode 192 - will the Semicos take it all?

Editor:- July 24, 2012 - You can see how an anticipated 45 second discussion with Texas Memory Systems about bootable PCIe SSDs turned into a 45 minutes discussion about the future of the PCIe SSD market on the SSD news page today.

Virtium screens for cooler running DRAM

Editor:- June 13, 2012 - Virtium Technology has launched a new range of low power DDR3L memory modules - in 4GB and 8GB capacities - which have been designed using a combination of techniques including screening for lowest total electrical current and thermal-relief copper pour methodology PCB design.

This reduces DRAM surface temperatures up to 10°C which can also increase performance in hot systems - because the need to perform double refresh rates (at or above 85°C) is obviated.

SSDs and USB 3

Editor:- June 13, 2012 -Does my NAND flash need USB 3.0? - is a good summary of the value that USB 3 can bring to the SSD market - written by Eric Huang, at Synopsys

BiTMICRO acquires mixed signal IP assets from QualCore

Editor:- June 5, 2012 - BiTMICRO has obtained over 600 IP assets from QualCore whose portfolio includes analog, digital, and mixed-signal IC design.

Engineers retained from QualCore's IP and ASIC services team have joined the recently established BiTMICRO India. The acquisition also brings BiTMICRO closer to its goal of bringing the entire development cycle in-house, from ASIC design to characterization testing.

MOSAID samples high density fast flash modules for SSD makers

Editor:- April 3, 2012 - MOSAID Technologies today announced that it is sampling a 16 die NAND flash stack integrated with its HLNAND bridge interface in a single 100-ball BGA measuring 18mm x 14mm - which provides 512GB raw capacity and 667MB/s aggregate simultaneous R/W throughput as a building block for use by SSD oems to build multi-terabyte SSDs with GB/s throughput by adding their own SSD controllers.

MOSAID's VP of R&D - Jin-Ki Kim said - "HLNAND's ring architecture allows a virtually unlimited number of NAND die to be connected on a single channel without performance degradation."

Greenliant ships industrial secure SATA NANDrives

Editor:- February 28, 2012 - Greenliant Systems has started volume shipments of its industrial grade rugged SATA SLC SSDs on a chip (BGA - 14mm x 24mm x 1.95mm) - NANDrive GLS85LS - which have upto 8GB capacity, 70/60MB/s R/W, include zoneable password security and fast erase, and strong power fail data protection.

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.

Intel buys InfiniBand line from QLogic

Editor:- January 24, 2012 - Intel yesterday announced an agreement to acquire the InfiniBand 40Gbps (pdf) related product lines, IP and business assets of QLogic.

SandForce nominated in GSA awards

Editor:- November 8, 2011 - SandForce has been nominated for the 2011 Global Semiconductor Alliance Awards - in the category "most respected private semiconductor company."

Volume shipments of 16Kb self powered EEPROM

Editor:- November 4, 2011 - STMicroelectronics today announced volume production of a new type of dual function RFID 16Kbit EEPROM which harvests energy from ambient carrier wave energy to power attached electronic components.

The energy harvesting capability of the EEPROM will enable new types of miniaturized electronics. ST has demonstrated the M24LR16E energy-harvesting wireless memory by illuminating indicator LEDs. Other potential applications include e-paper devices such as electronic shelf labels and personal healthcare products.

Editor's comments:- the Russians pioneered the concept of harvesting radio energy to power circuits. In 1952 a bug was found in the US embassy in Moscow which was powered when bombarded with microwaves from a nearby building. It was built into a wooden model of the Great Seal of the US which had been given to the ambassador as a present. ...from the book - GCHQ, by Richard Aldrich.

BiTMICRO nurtures chip design training in Philippines

Editor:- October 25, 2011 - the Bruce Institute of Technology is a new training institute in the Philippines - focused on microchip design - which has been set up in a collaborated effort led by BiTMICRO in partnership with Synopsys, Cadence and leading universtities.

The name celebrates the family name of the Bruce brothers - who founded BiTMICRO in 1995 as an ASIC design consultancy - before embarking on their pioneering market developments in flash SSDs.

BiTMICRO's Chairman and CEO, Rey Bruce said "The Philippines' traction in the global microelectronics industry is almost entirely concentrated in assembly, fabrication and manufacturing. BiTMICRO is practically the only Filipino founded and owned company engaging into actual microchip design and engineering. We will do our part in uplifting the industry to higher valued services and service capabilities with the technology and products that we develop and produce in the country but this will be not enough. Our goal with BIT is replicate our success at BiTMICRO in developing microelectronic design skills."

Rudy Bruce, President of BIT, said "We hope to eventually build a critical mass of locally developed engineers that can make the Philippines a favored destination of the world's best microelectronic design companies. We still believe in the Filipino's ingenuity and their ability to be relevant in the world stage."

Hybrid Memory Cube will enable Petabyte SSDs

Editor:- October 7, 2011 - Samsung and Micron this week launched an new industry initiative - the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium - which will standardize a new module architecture for memory chips - enabling greater density, faster bandwidth and lower power.

"HMC is unlike anything currently on the radar," said Robert Feurle, Micron's VP for DRAM Marketing. "HMC brings a new level of capability to memory that provides exponential performance and efficiency gains that will redefine the future of memory."

OCZ nabs PLX team to speed new PCIe SSDs

Editor:- October 5, 2011 - OCZ has has agreed to acquire the UK Design Team (approximately 40 engineers located in Abingdon) and certain assets from PLX Technology which will enable OCZ to accelerate the development of its next generation of SSDs - while also reducing development costs.

Editor's comments:- in addition to traditional storage interfaces - PLX's special focus in the past year has been technologies related to faster PCIe SSDs.

Samsung acquires more nv RAM IP

Editor:- August 3, 2011 -Samsung has acquired Grandis - an nv RAM company which has been developing spin transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM).

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. my views

STEC shifts from FPGAs to ASICs in ZeusIOPS

Editor:- May 10, 2011 - STEC announced it will transition the hardware used in its high performance ZeusIOPS (2.5" and 3.5") SSDs from a dependence on FPGAs to ASICs. And the same ASIC design will be used in new PCIe SSDs later this year.

STEC also announced that its revenue in the most recent quarter was back in alignment with the growth rates for the enterprise SSD market - following a decline in the preceding year attributed to over stocking by its biggest customer EMC.

TMS updates SSD patents list

Editor:- May 3, 2011 - new (to me) is a patents directory on Texas Memory Systems' website which lists the company's US patents which are mostly related to ensuring the integrity of data in fast SSDs.

The most recent - issued a few weeks ago - is related to dealing with timing skews which occur in all digital systems - but which become more significant when data throughput approaches the speed limits of the associated chip driver technology and board layout environment. The patent covers a TMS technique for fine tuning set-up and hold times and extracting reliable data. Other TMS patents in the last year relate to variable size page data striping in flash arrays and a scheme for reducing read disturb errors. See also:- SSD patents (editor mentions on

Anobit sources vital analog IP for SSDs

Editor:- April 12, 2011 - Anobit today announced it has licensed IP cores from Cosmic Circuits for several of its SoCs.

The analog IPs which consisted of linear regulators, a power-on-reset and a silicon oscillator (with integrated clock multiplier) were implemented in 65nm CMOS process. These IPs were integrated into Anobit's flash memory controllers to enhance reliability and performance.

Kobi Blechman, VP R&D at Anobit said, "We had a need for a diverse set of IPs, and were looking for a supplier who had proven expertise in each of these areas. Cosmic fit the bill perfectly. With the strong support provided by their team, we were also able to quickly address any integration issues, making the process smooth and seamless."

Editor's comments:- although this press release only gives partial details of the IP supplied (which relate to managing sudden SSD power loss) I'm also guessing that Cosmic's ADC technology might also be in the mix.

Anobit uses DSP techniques to get better discrimination of the state represented by stored charge in MLC flash. Sampling that charge itself is an error prone process - but the "disturbance noise" filtering by DSP can produce more reliable results if you can improve the ADC's resolution or repeatability. Even a small incremental improvement or tweak in design at this end can produce dramatic increases in data integrity.

PLX ready to play part in PCIe SSD growth

Editor:- March 16, 2011 - PLX Technology today announced it's working with system partners worldwide to accelerate adoption of PCIe SSDs.

PLX has been providing PCIe switches to manufacturers of both HDD and SSD based storage solutions for years and has 65% market share in this segment. PLX is a founding member of the (Intel led) enhanced Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface (NVMHCI) Work Group whose goal is to enable the broad adoption of SSDs using PCIe.

"Enterprise SSD products have attracted significant interest over the past few years," said Michael Yang, principal analyst for memory and storage at iSuppli. "...PCI Express-based products will be the primary catalyst for the segment with 40% compound annual growth rate in shipments through 2015."

OCZ acquires Indilinx

Editor:- March 14, 2011 - OCZ today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Indilinx for for approximately $32 million of OCZ common stock.

Intel publishes new standard to increase efficiency of PCIe SSDs

Editor:- March 1, 2011 - Intel published version 1.0 of a new proprietary standard for designers of PCIe SSDs in systems which use Intel processors - the NVM Express Optimized PCI Express SSD Interface.

The interface efficiently supports multi-core by ensuring thread(s) may run on each core with its own queue & interrupt without any locks required. For enterprise class solutions, there is support for end-to-end data protection, security & encryption capabilities, as well as robust error reporting and management capabilities.

Intel says that more than 70 companies have contributed to the standard - which will make it easier to write software drivers which support multiple vendors. The new standard will also make it easier for oems to adopt new SSD products from alternative vendors which implement a consistent feature set.

Link_A_Media sues Marvell re HDD data integrity IP

Editor:- February 16, 2011 - Link_A_Media Devices has filed a lawsuit against Marvell asserting that Marvell has infringed on Link_A_Media's U.S. Patent No. 7,590,927 ("Soft Output Viterbi Detector With Error Event Output").

In the complaint, Marvell is accused of willfully and deliberately manufacturing and selling read channel products for storage devices that infringe the '927 Patent. Link_A_Media is seeking monetary damages and an injunction to stop Marvell from continued infringement of the company's patent.

Link_A_Media 's CEO, Hemant K. Thaparcommented that, "Link_A_Media's pioneering work enables manufacturers of hard disk drives to increase the storage density of mobile storage devices and to lower manufacturing costs for these products. We intend to enforce and defend the intellectual property on our work to ensure that Link_A_Media's inventions are not unfairly exploited."

Business opportunities from Intel's imperfect bridge chips

Editor:- February 9, 2011 - Intel Knowingly Sells Faulty Chipsets. are they Crazy? is a new article on which discusses how Intel is dealing with the issue of a bridge chip with known defects in some SATA ports.

I rarely read that publication because my interests are enterprise storage and SSDs - but the author Keir Thomas had linked to from another recent article he wrote - Seagate: SSDs are Doomed (at Least for Now) - which showed up in my web stats.

When I started my storage reliability directory in 2006 - I knew that large storage vendors would ship flaky SSDs and hard drives - but I assumed that would be due to the unwitting and creeping use of inappropriate design and testing methodologies - rather than deliberate business decisions.

Another characteristic of this Intel chip is that if oems populate all the RAM slots which it "supports" - the speed drops down to unattractive levels.

But that's not bad news for everyone. Adrian Proctor, VP of of Marketing at Viking told me last month it means there's a growing population of DIMM slots on motherboards which can't be used for RAM - but could be used instead to save space and power by installing their SATADIMM SSDs to replace HDDs as boot drives. Other companies make 1 inch and smaller SSDs too.

companies you can trust to speed your SandForce SSD to market

Editor:- January 31, 2011 -SandForce has started a directory of companies, tools, technologies and services to help SSD designers integrate its SSD processors and get them to market more quickly.

Each member company in the new SandForce Trusted™ program ensures that their products and/or services fully support SandForce SSD Processors and provides response to SandForce customer inquiries within 24 hours while committing to high-priority support for fastest problem resolution.

Editor's comments:- 6 out of the 7 initial companies in the new program provide test / design verification products.

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.

will Micron's enhanced flash memory 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 article - bad block management in flash SSDs

Editor:- November 26, 2010 - today published a new article - principles of bad block management in flash SSDs.

It's a non technical introduction to the thinking behind one of the many vital functions inside a flash SSD controller. The new article - started out life this morning as a long email reply to one of my readers. the article

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.

News to me - Seagate has MRAM technology

Editor:- November 5, 2010 - an interesting article on Denali's blog site discusses Seagate's relationship with MRAM.
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