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storage history - 2007, February week 3

. Megabyte's selection of storage news
Megabyte loved reading news
about the storage market
the Fastest SSDs
the SSD Buyers Guide
What's a Solid State Disk?
the Top 10 SSD Companies
Will Hard Disks Get Faster?
How Solid is Hard Disk's Future?
Why Seagate will Fail the SSD Challenge
Looking Ahead to the 2009 SSD Market
Sanitization Methods for Cleaning Up Hard Disk Drives
Calling for an End to Unrealistic SSD vs HDD IOPS Comparisons
ATTO's SAS RAID Controllers Have Broadest OS Support
SSD ad - click for more info
click to read article - the fastest growing companies
Squeak! - The Fastest Growing
storage companies
For an experienced player like
Megabyte picking winners was
just a question of pulling the right
who's eating whom in storage?
Nibble:- Who's Eating Whom in the Storage Market?
Even very young children are familiar with the concept of a food chain. We eat fish. Fish eat smaller fish or plankton. Sometimes, if we're in the wrong place at the wrong time a big fish or a crocodile may eat us.

Dinosaurs eat whatever they want...

It's comforting to believe that there is a natural order to all this.

Ok it's less comforting when you're being eaten alive by mosquitoes or your cat has fleas. And it's morbid to dwell too long on what will happen long after the coffin has gone into the ground... But most people will agree (religious and vegetarian convictions aside) on what creatures get commonly eaten by other creatures and why... Big teeth. Lots of little critters eat one big critter. Predators run faster than prey etc etc

It's not quite so easy to describe the food chain in the storage market.

Let's take a simple thread.

Tape backup got convincingly eaten in 2006 by disk to disk backup. Any tape companies surviving are keeping their heads down, not making much noise or trying to swallow potions that will make them look more like disk backup companies. So hard disks are at the top of this food chain. Right?

But take a look at what's happening to hard disks in the portable storage gadget and notebook market. Nasty little flashy diskses are quietly scrunching away there taking juicy design slots. My Precious.

Meanwhile at the high end of the hard disk market SSDs are now offering nearly as much capacity with faster speeds and better reliability than 15K RPM hard drives. Although hard drives are often cheaper to buy - SSDs are often cheaper to own - because one SSD may last as long as 3 hard drives, or because the SSD speedup lets you buy less processors - or the embedded application doesn't need much storage. So serious has the threat here become that some hard disk makers have interbred hybrid flash-magnetic products in the hope that they will look good from whatever angle you choose. My take on this is that chocolate is nice and chips are nice but I suspect that the market for chocolate coated chips may be limited and will not best please chocoholics or crisp crunchers.

But let's look at another place where hard disks are eating the cream.

It wasn't many years ago that optical storage companies were predicting their products would eat hard drive slots. Shiny 3d-holo-nano-laser-disks were going to be 100 times faster than hard disks and offer 100 times more storage at a small fraction of the price. Billions of dollars of VC funds went down that drain - but actually the hard drive archiving market became too hard to swallow - as hard disks got bigger in capacity and learned how to go into sneaky powered down mode.

But this tale of the hard disk food chain is not yet done.

Because although it's true that flash storage has replaced hard disks in some low power products (or created new niches in which hard disks had never before been viable) a new generation of smaller hard disk companies and products has evolved to meet flash SSDs head to head in phones, portable DVD players etc. It's sometimes hard to tell from the outside which one you've got. And when you hit it with a hammer to look inside - it's dead - so not much use.

Despite the rearguard action and cloning by the hard disk companies the flash storage market has grown fat (tens of billions of dollars revenue) and seems unassailable... But if you look carefully there are a whole bunch of non volatile memory technologies in the parasite hatchery (with technologies called FRAM, MRAM, NRAM and PRAM) which may start pecking away at those hard to reach morsels which the flash entities can't reach.

It's easier to explain dinosaurs and sharks.

I don't want you to think that Megabyte is obsessed with food or animals but while we're on the subject take a look at my growing article Animal Brands and Metaphors in the Storage Market or storage companies which eat other storage companies.

That idea of chocolate coated chips doesn't sound too bad now...
AMHERST, NEW YORK - February 21, 2007 - ATTO Technology, Inc. has been cited as "well armed to win battles in the emerging SAS market" according to a new product brief by the Enterprise Strategy Group.

ESG gave ATTO's ExpressSAS RAID controller technology high marks for performance features and affordability and the broadest operating system support of any SAS RAID vendors "so interoperability issues aren't even a blip on users' radars."

ATTO's new ExpressSAS RAID adapters have a true low-profile form factor that fits standard-length PCI Express slots and leverage Intel's new 800MHz PCIe IOP348 I/O Processors. Fault-tolerant features include:- hot swap, hot spares, online capacity expansion, battery back-up, and optimized disk utilization for SAS drives, SATA II drives, or any combination of the two. ...ATTO Technology profile, ...Enterprise Strategy Group profile, RAID controllers

Incipient Scores with Network World's Editors

WALTHAM, Mass. - February 21, 2007 - Network World has named Incipient's iNSP software suite, one of the "10 Best Products for Next-Generation Network Infrastructure." Network World editors and advisors selected the top 10 products deemed to offer the most innovative solutions to simplify today's "New Data Center."

Incipient's software suite is a fully embedded switch-resident storage virtualization solution with enterprise-class scalability. Using it storage administrators can build SAN storage tiers with zero planned downtime. iNSP software abstracts the SAN data path, eliminating application downtime normally associated with data migrations and device reconfigurations. the article, ...Incipient profile, SAN software

AoE Towers Above iSCSI Rackmounts

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif - February 21, 2007 – Coraid Inc. today announced it is introducing a tower configuration of its SR1521 EtherDrive Storage Appliance.

The Coraid Storage Tower can hold up to 15 standard 3.5-inch SATA drives. Hard drives are hot swappable. The SR1521T is available now and is priced at US $4,495. Customers are able to buy disk drives of their choice.

"Not all customers want rack mounted storage equipment, especially in an office environment. The newly configured SR1521T suits those customers that need powerful and scalable network storage readily available at the departmental level," said Coraid CEO Jim Kemp. "A single SR1521T EtherDrive Storage Appliance can provide 11.25TB of shared storage on the network, as your needs grow, you simply add more SR1521T's to the network using standard Ethernet."

AoE is a block level storage protocol that is simpler to implement than other SAN technologies and at less cost than iSCSI and Fibre Channel solutions. AoE is a non-routed protocol, therefore eliminating the need for TCP/IP processing overhead or expensive network adapters. Servers simply connect to EtherDrive storage appliances using ordinary Ethernet connections. AoE is native in the Linux 2.6 kernel and software drivers are available for Mac OS X, Windows, Solaris, and FreeBSD. ...Coraid profile, Storage Boxes, NAS

Molex Announces Fully Buffered DIMM Socket

Lisle, IL - February 20, 2007 - Molex announces the new Fully Buffered DIMM (FB DIMM) Socket.

Unlike the limited capacity of current shared bus architecture, the FB DIMM channel features a point-to-point serial memory interface that uses a bi-directional serial memory bus to pass data through each memory module to increase storage capacity and speed.

"The market need for higher performance servers has doubled memory bit density every two years," said Paul Ee, senior product engineer, Molex. "At this rate, current shared bus architectures will not be able to support the increased size and memory capacity that is required. The Molex FB DIMM Socket handles this increased capacity at 6 times the current speed of DDR2 to meet customers' present and future high-end memory needs." ...Molex profile, RAM

Aleratec Super Tower Duplicates 120 DVDs Per Hour

CHATSWORTH, Calif - February 20, 2007 - Aleratec, Inc. unveils its new 11 way DVD duplicator.

The new model can produce more than 120 typical DVDs per hour. The Super Copy Tower supports DVD-RAM and 8.5GB Double Layer technology. Also featured is a new removable 160GB hard disk drive for secure storage of frequently used source discs. Estimated street price is $1,999. ...Aleratec profile, DVD duplicators

SiliconSystems Signs New European Distributors for SSDs

ALISO VIEJO, Calif - February 20, 2007 - SiliconSystems, Inc. today announced the expansion of its European sales channel by signing agreements with 5 of Europe's top manufacturers representative organizations.

The new reps, which have long-standing relationships in the Enterprise System OEM and embedded systems market include:

ActiveComp in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland;
Cedar Technologies Ltd in the UK and Republic of Ireland;
Cedar Scandinavia AB in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden;
IC-4S in Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain; and
OVERTEK S.r.l. in Italy.

Michael Hajeck, CEO at SiliconSystems said "European OEMs will now be able to take advantage of the design and application engineering expertise of our local sale channel partners to accelerate their design-in process for our high performance, high reliability SiliconDrive technology which provides them with the lowest total cost of storage ownership in the industry." ...SiliconSystems profile, UK Storage VARs, storage chips

Adtron Ships 160G 2.5" SSDs

Phoenix, AZ - February 20, 2007 - Adtron Corp today announced the immediate availability of 2.5" SSDs with upto 160GB capacity in its new Flashpak® Family.

The Adtron products are available with IDE or SATA interfaces and deliver sustained read/write performance in the 70MB/sec range far exceeding the capabilities of rotating media (HDDs). Adtron's Flashpak SSDs also offer a broad range of security and sanitization functions

"New geometries and chip densities in SLC NAND enable Adtron to significantly expand the capacities of its industry leading high performance products," stated Alan Fitzgerald, Adtron Chief Technology Officer. "In addition, the economics of these new flash drives combined with the increased capacities in standard form factors, greatly expand the applications among our historic flash disk customers in the industrial and defense markets, as well as addressing bandwidth intensive server and storage acceleration applications in a much broader emerging market previously the domain of HDD products." ...Adtron profile

Hard Disk MTBF Specs Incredible - Say User Reports

Editor:- February 20, 2007 - Researchers at Google recently published a paper at the recent Usenix conference about hard disk reliability and failure prediction - based on their own experiences as a large user of hard disk drives.

The fascinating paper describes how Google measured available metrics and status reports generated by the drives themselves and how this correlated with actual failure patterns. One of the key insights in the report is Google's view of how useful SMART parameters were for predicting failures.

"Our results are surprising, if not somewhat disappointing. Out of all failed drives, over 56% of them have no count in any of the four strong SMART signals, namely scan errors, reallocation count, offline reallocation, and probational count. In other words, models based only on those signals can never predict more than half of the failed drives... ...even when we add all remaining SMART parameters (except temperature) we still find that over 36% of all failed drives had zero counts on all variables." the article, Hard disk drives, storage reliability

PS - the measured data on the percentage of disks which fail each year over a 5 year cycle under various conditions is essential reading for disk to disk backup contingency planning.

the Fastest Growing Storage Companies

Editor:- February 19, 2007 - today published the 6th annual edition of - "the Fastest Growing Storage Companies."

2006 was the best year ever for cumulative storage revenue growth. That set the bar higher than ever for a listing in this popular feature. The top 3 fastest growing companies reported growth over 300%. the article

iGLASS Improves Response Times with SAS SSD

Editor:- February 19, 2007 - Solid Access Technologies and LSI Logic have published an article study about the use of solid state disks by online network monitoring services company iGLASS.

The article says that "Many customers are on the fence when budgeting and assessing SSD implementation. However, they evaluate the wrong metric, looking at cost per GB storage capacity when the relevant metric should be cost per IOPS."

iGLASS Networks monitors over 7 million servers / devices in real-time for its own customers. By using Solid Access Technologies' SAS connected SSD iGLASS was able to reduce the number of of data gathering servers from 7 down to 4 and improve reliability while speeding up the generation of reports to its customers. the article (pdf), ...Solid Access Technologies profile, ...LSI Logic profile, SAS SSDs

NetApp Wants More of that Bloated (with Money) Feeling

Editor:- February 16, 2007 - NetApp would like to be a $6 billion storage company - according to Dave's Blog.

And they play serious management games to see how they might get there.

The answer probably lies in what happens outside their company and outside their thinking - so it's unlikely they will acheive it even though they are a fast growing company - and a graph would suggest all they need to do is double revenue and then some. That won't happen with conventional thinking because most of NAS is going to change before that to a consumer market - and what's left for the enterprise will be a commodity market for crates of low cost white boxes.

To get up to the next level of the top 10 biggest storage companies - means doing something clever with silicon storage. And I think that's a revolution too far for a company so long rooted in networking hard drives. The switch companies are already ahead of them there. ...Network Appliance profile

PS - Megabyte would like to be taller and have a smaller stomach. But the genetic dice are loaded against him. I think that's what I'm saying about NetApp. It's better to be a good healthy mouse than a smelly dead rat.

SanDisk Announces Layoffs and Salary Freeze

Milpitas, CA - February 16, 2007 - SanDisk Corp today announced cost cutting measures.

These include:- up to 10% reduction of headcount, a reduction in salaries for VPs and above and a freeze in salaries for all other employees.

"Industry wide NAND component pricing has deteriorated by approximately 50% in the past two months due to excess supply... coupled with first quarter seasonally weak demand. This is impacting pricing for our retail and OEM products at a steeper rate than we had been anticipating and in order to maintain market share we now expect to lower Q1 prices for many of our products to 30%-40% below fourth quarter levels" said Chairman and CEO Eli Harari. ...SanDisk profile

LSI Acquires More SAS RAID Glue

MILPITAS, Calif - February 16, 2007 - LSI Logic Corp today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SiliconStor, Inc.

The acquisition aligns with LSI's strategy to offer server and storage system customers complete solutions including IC controllers, ROC (RAID-on-Chip), expanders, RAID software, and HBAs for the fast growing SAS market. ...LSI Logic profile, ...SiliconStor profile, storage chips

Solid Data Opens Up SSD Acceleration Articles Archive

Editor:- February 16, 2007 - readers interested in viewing articles about SSDs but who (like me) regard signing up to read an online article as an unnecessary intrusion - may be interested to know that Solid Data Systems this week opened up its SSD archive.

Solid Data's many articles span a period of about 10 years - and provide insights and tips into the type of applications and server environments which can benefit from SSD acceleration - also giving an indication of the speedup effects achieved in practise. ...Solid Data Systems profile

Coraid Quadruples Revenue

SAN CLEMENTE, CA – February 15, 2007 - Coraid, Inc. today announced it has ended its 2006 fiscal year with almost 4x the revenue over 2005.

Coraid has experienced 6 consecutive quarters of profitability and growth. EtherDrive storage has been integrated into high performance, massively scalable networked storage solutions for Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Mac OS X, and Windows-based environments.

Coraid EtherDrive Storage products use standard Ethernet and the open AoE storage protocol to provide fast, low cost and scalable networked storage with none of the complexities, overhead or costs typically associated with iSCSI or Fibre Channel based systems. AoE eliminates the need for expensiveTCP/IP off-load Engine cards or Host Bus Adapters. Using AoE enables disks to be shared on a network, creating a highly scalable storage system at a low price. ...Coraid profile, Squeak! - the Fastest Growing Storage Companies

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