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Storage news - 2007, December week 1

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Squeak! - How Solid is Hard Disk's Future?
Squeak! - the Top 10 Solid State Disk OEMs
Squeak! - the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
Squeak! - RAM versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?
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Storage news
iSCSI Market Grew 44% in Q307

IBM Acquires Online Backup Company

Disk to Disk Backup is Product Category of the Year 2007

Seagate Acquires Another E-Discovery Toolkit

Ramtron Releases 125°C Automotive F-RAM

LeftHand's New 2U iSCSI SAN

STORAGEsearch.com Reports Top Storage Searches

STEC Samples 512GB 2.5" SSDs

Sun Chooses Emulex Fibre Channel AMC

Super Talent Launches 3.5" Flash SSDs

Samsung and Toshiba Cross License Flash Technologies

EasyCo Shows Power of Managed Flash Technology in RAID-5

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2007 Storage Market Highlights
Editor:- December 3, 2007 - what were the main highlights in the $200 billion Storage Market in 2007?

The word "terabyte" was a recurring theme.

In the hard disk market - Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital all started shipping terabyte capacity 3.5" drives. Meanwhile in the solid state disk market BiTMICRO promised to sample 1.6 terabyte 3.5" flash SSDs in the first quarter of 2008. There's a big difference in price (and performance) between terabyte hard disks and SSDs. But having reached parity in data storage packing density - it's another reason for doubting that the hard drive market will make it to 60.

2007 was a good year for revenue growth - with triple digit growth reported by many of the world's fastest growing storage companies operating in several market sectors. Traditionally this list is dominated by medium size companies - but this year multi-billion dollar WD crept in at the bottom of the list with 37% year on year revenue growth for its best quarter, and Seagate (which didn't make the list) reported a robust 23% revenue growth for its whole financial year.

From the technology point of view the biggest surprises in 2007 came in the solid state disk market. This was a revolutionary year for SSDs with a spate of announcements about faster flash SSDs from various companies which emerged from stealth mode. In the high end server acceleration market the big gap which had existed for over a decade between flash SSDs and RAM based SSDs blurred into a performance continuum. At the opposite end of the performance spectrum - the low entry price of small capacity small form factor SSDs killed off hard disk oem Cornice and in April 2007 Fujitsu announced it had terminated plans to manufacture 1.8" hard drives for portable products - because in this form factor SSDs can offer better speed, lower power, lower weight and lower cost. In 2007 all the leading notebook makers announced SSD options - although due to the fast changing pace of the market most of these products looked lame compared to products from newer SSD oems.

As predicted - the disk to disk backup market continued its momentum - trashing the tape market into a pile of rubble. Mergers, transitioning to VTLs and survival became the key activities for the declining population of tape storage oems. In April 2007 - STORAGEsearch.com reported that tape backup related searches had dropped out of the top 20 subjects viewed by readers.

The optical storage market still sounded like a confusing babel of voices all saying different things. In November Call/Recall announced it had tested the industry's first terabyte optical disk base on its 2-Photon-3D technology. I still hold to my bleak outlook for the optical storage market (first published in 2004). In my view optical storage (whether it's Blu Ray, born again DVD, UDO or the newer stuff from Call/Recall) will get increasingly sidelined as consumers move to hard disks as their preferred entertainment storage media and the internet as their preferred content delivery system.

A disturbing development in 2007 was the increasing frequency of unreliable vendor press releases making claims which were untrue, not supported by any evidence, based on inexcusable ignorance or otherwise grossly misleading. But despite that the quality of the best PR contributors actually got better.
storage history You can see the most significant news stories for the past 50 weeks (or 150 weeks) on the storage history page. That archive links to thousands of storage news articles.
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Top 20 Storage Searches
The top 20 most popular storage categories on STORAGEsearch.com in December 2007 were as follows... Figures in brackets (n) indicate rank the month before.
  1. Hard drives (1)
  2. Disk to disk backup (2)
  3. Solid state disks (3)
  4. 2.5 inch SSDs (4)
  5. NAS (5)
  6. Flash - based SSDs (6)
  7. RAM based SSDs (7)
  8. RAID systems (8)
  9. SAN (10)
  10. 3.5 inch SSDs (13)
  11. iSCSI (12)
  12. Flash memory (11)
  13. Market research (9)
  14. Removable Storage (14)
  15. Serial Attached SCSI (16)
  16. Serial ATA (SATA) (17)
  17. Acquired, dead, renamed etc (15)
  18. Backup software (19)
  19. Data Recovery (18)
  20. RAM (20)
FRAMINGHAM, Mass - December 6, 2007 - According to IDC worldwide "external" disk storage systems factory revenues in the 3rd quarter of 2007 grew 5.1% from a year ago to $4.4 billion, down slightly from the 3 previous quarters. Total disk storage systems capacity shipped grew 49%. The top 5 suppliers in Q307 were:- IBM, HP, EMC, Dell and Hitachi. Dell had the highest revenue growth (17.9%).

The iSCSI SAN market posted 44% revenue growth year over year, reaching $207 million in the 3rd quarter. Network Appliance continues to lead this market with 20.5% market share.

"Although the mid- and high-end pricebands performed well, the majority of networked storage growth (10% growth year on year) was driven by the low-end price bands (upto $15K)," said IDC analyst Liz Conner. ...IDC profile, Market research


ARMONK, N.Y. - December 6, 2007 - IBM today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Arsenal Digital Solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Upon completion of the acquisition, Arsenal will become part of the BCRS business unit in IBM Global Technology Services. IBM says Arsenal brings unique capabilities in the on-line data protection market, complementing IBM Tivoli's flagship data protection offerings. ...Arsenal Digital profile Solutions, ...IBM profile


Editor:- December 6, 2007 - STORAGEsearch.com today revealed that the Product Category of the Year in 2007 - ranked according to reader pageviews for the 2nd year in a row was Disk to Disk Backup. Let's be frank. Nobody likes doing backup. The time, money and resources consumed by backup are considerable. It's only the fear of what can happen when disaster strikes and the consequential cost of losing critical information - that keeps the industry going.

Of all the backup media available - (hard disk, tape and optical) D2d which many vendors genteelly refer to (by the less-aggressive sounding but equally lethal-to-tape moniker) as "VTL" has evolved during the past decade from a niche activity into the most popular way of routinely replicating critical data and applications. With the current mess of hyped incompatible technologies being offered by the optical industry - the position of hard disk based backup as a convenient, economic method of corporate backup is likely to remain safe for at least the next 5 years till 2012.

After that? - the reliability and speed of hard disk backup compared to solid state alternatives may start to be questioned in the same way as the early tape versus disk debates back in 2001. But I don't expect to see widespread adoption of solid state backup to start before around 2014.

In previous years, the "subjects of the year" here on STORAGEsearch.com were as follows:- Our readers have a strong track record of seeing the future of storage before others and then, by their actions, making storage history.


SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif - December 6, 2007 - Today, Seagate Technology announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire MetaLINCS. Founded in 2003, MetaLINCS is a privately held company with more than 50 employees. MetaLINCS's enterprise-class E-Discovery software automatically analyzes emails, documents and associated metadata, and presents visual analysis of people, conversations, concepts and communication patterns. Leveraging this product with E-Discovery technology acquired from EVault earlier this year - Seagate says it will be able to offer corporations, law firms, and litigation service partners one stop sourcing for tools and services related to archive analysis, recovery and review. MetaLINCS, ...Seagate profile, Acquired storage companies, Storage Services


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - December 4, 2007 - Ramtron International Corp today added another 4 kilobit F-RAM memory device to its automotive product line. The FM25040A-GA is now specified to operate at +125C and is guaranteed to retain data for 9,000 hours at that extreme temperature. Ideal for advanced powertrain systems, the FM25040A-GA offers fast writes, virtually unlimited endurance, and low power. It's a direct hardware replacement for equivalent EEPROMs but offers No Delay writes. The FM25040A-GA is guaranteed to retain data for 17 years at +55 degrees C. ...Ramtron profile


BOULDER, Colo - December 4, 2007 - LeftHand Networks today announced the availability of its NSM 2120 iSCSI SAN offering. The NSM 2120 provides up to 9TBs of storage capacity in a 2U form factor, and is available with SAS or SATA hot swappable disk drives. The NSM 2120 also includes centralized SAN/iQ management and a full feature set including advanced thin provisioning, distributed clustering, snapshots, synchronous multi-site SAN replication, asynchronous remote copy replication, volume migration and volume cloning. Prices start at $22,000. ...LeftHand Networks profile, iSCSI, Rackmount Storage


Editor:- December 4, 2007 - STORAGEsearch.com today updated its monthly list of the top subjects viewed by storage searchers in November. The top 5 subjects were:-

(1) - Hard drives - up 1 place
(2) - Disk to disk backup - down 1 place
(3) - Solid state disks - no change
(4) - 2.5 inch SSDs - no change
(5) - NAS - no change

Overall pageviews grew 7% compared to the year ago period. For a complete listing of the top 20 storage searches and top 20 storage articles see market research.


SANTA ANA, Calif - December 4, 2007 - STEC, Inc. today announced it is sampling its MACH8-MLC PATA / SATA flash SSD optimized for the notebook and portable media player markets. The new models offer high capacity - upto 128GB for 1.8" (7mm high), and upto 512GB fpr 2.5" (15mm high). Sustained sequential throughput is 90MB/s (reads) and 60MB/s (writes). Pricing has historically precluded SSDs from wide adoption in notebooks. STEC says its new MLC based implementation contributes to competitive pricing and offers this SSD family at $5/GB today, declining to less than $2/GB within 2 years. ...STEC profile, 2.5" Solid State Disks

Editor's comments:-
MLC (multi level cell) flash memory stores 2 (or more) bits of data in a single cell. Intrinsically it has a higher error rate than SLC (single level cell). Because of its low cost it has traditionally been used in applications such as MP3 players or phones - where dropping the odd bit is not noticeable. However when used with stronger error detection and correction logic - and bigger data blocks - there is no reason why overall data error rates can't equal that of traditional SLC SSDs.

The historic concerns about error rates have (until now) been a factor in MLC flash not being deployed in SSDs for computer applications. However, if you look at the internal technology in a hard disk drive - media error rates are much more flaky than in flash memory. It's only the magic of the controller technology that makes hard disks useable. For the same reason it's likely that MLC SSDs will start to creep into consumer products.

A more serious concern is that MLC flash has typically 10x worse endurance than SLC. But using bigger capacity SSDs mitigates the problem. Typically a 320GB MLC SSD will have the same operating life (limited by wear-out) as a 32GB SLC SSD.

In the long term I expect the MLC vs SLC debate will resolve itself - but for now it's an issue for integrators designing high reliability servers. I remember similar past controversies when oems said that 8" hard drives were more reliable than 5.25" drives, and when new SATA hard drives were said to be less reliable than traditional parallel SCSI drives. Whoever uses a technology in a new way always takes some flak. But the rewards may be worth it.


COSTA MESA, Calif - December 4, 2007 - Emulex Corp today announced its LightPulse adapter cards have been selected by Sun Microsystems for its new Netra family of blade servers. The new Sun StorageTek 4Gb/s Fibre Channel ATCA HBAs are based on the Emulex 4Gb/s LightPulse LPe11000 family. They were designed for use within Sun Netra Blade Servers, and use an AMC (Advanced Mezzanine Card) form factor which supports the ATCA chassis. ...Emulex profile


San Jose, California - December 4, 2007 - Super Talent Technology - today launched a pair of 256GB 3.5" SATA SSDs. The new products, which have a 3 year warranty, are available in consumer and industrial temperature range versions. ...Super Talent Technology profile, 3.5 inch Solid State Disks


TOKYO - December 3, 2007 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and Toshiba Corp today announced a flash technology licensing agreement. Under terms of the agreement, Samsung will license product specifications of its integrated OneNAND and Flex-OneNAND "fusion" memory chips to Toshiba, while Toshiba will license product specifications of its single-package LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND flash chips to Samsung. Both companies will develop and market products that are compatible with the respective original-source technology. ...Samsung profile, ...Toshiba profile, storage chips, Flash Memory


Wallingford PA - December 2, 2007 - EasyCo LLC (a North American distributor for Mtron Flash SSDs) has just completed detailed performance testing on Mtron drives, both as single drives and in RAID-5 arrays. These tests provide concrete performance numbers for using Mtron drive in performance critical applications such as database and transaction servers, as well as in more widely used products such as laptops.

Of special interest will be confirmation that Flash SSDs operate differently in RAID-5 arrays. Hard drives running RAID-5 normally perform significantly slower than those configured RAID-10. With Flash, RAID-5 and RAID-10 perform virtually identically.

At large block sizes, the Mtron drive is 10-40% faster than a 15K RPM hard drive, mostly depending on what part of the HDD you are accessing. When coupled with the MFT management layer, the Mtron drives are basically 50x faster than a 15K HDD regardless of the read/write mix. ...read the article (pdf), ...EasyCo profile, ...Mtron profile
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