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Storage news - 2008, July week 4

SSD market history
Corsair Sets Cool Record for DDR3

Fremont, CA - July 31, 2008 - Corsair announced today that its Dominator DDR3 memory modules have again shattered the world record for frequency.

The record was set using the Asus ROG Rampage Extreme motherboard (Intel X48 chipset) and Corsair Dominator memory, utilizing Corsair's award-winning DHX technology. The world record of 2,580MHz was reached at latency settings of 9-9-9-24 using a Corsair Dominator DDR3 memory module.

Corsair achieved these results as part of ongoing lab experiments on the effect of temperature on memory performance. The memory speed was achieved with the entire test platform - including motherboard, CPU, chip set, and memory - chilled to -20 degrees Celsius. ...Corsair Memory profile, Record Breaking Storage, RAM news

Editor's comments:- the IBM research article High-end Server Low Temperature Cooling (pdf) provides a concise historic overview and practical introduction to the state of the art in accelerating CPU performance using refrigeration.

Imation Launches Half Terabyte Portable Drive

OAKDALE, Minn. -July 30, 2008 - Imation Corp. now offers a 500GB 9.5 mm thick 2.5" HDD inside its line of Apollo external hard disk drive.

The USB-powered 500GB Apollo portable hard drive has a midnight-black brushed surface with chrome details. At just over a half an inch wide and weighing less than half a pound, the drive easily fits in the palm of your hand. MSRP is $319.99. ...Imation profile, Removable Storage

CBL Data Recovery Launches a Different Type of Data Recovery Service

MARKHAM, ON / ARMONK, NY - July 29, 2008 - CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc. today announced a new service offering which shields computer users from the expense of data recovery when data loss disaster strikes unexpectedly.

The CBL Data Recovery Service Protection Plan provides 3 years of unlimited data recovery coverage of a hard drive for $99.99.

"It's not a matter of if data loss will happen; it's simply a matter of when," said CBL's President and CEO Bill Margeson. "The CBL DRSPP is a preemptive, affordable alternative to standard data recovery service fees which can exceed $1,000 when physical damage to a hard drive prevents access to files. For some computer users, such an unplanned expenditure is not financially feasible. The CBL Data Recovery Service Protection Plan shields them from the unexpected expense."

Eligibility? - Any make or model of new and existing internal or external hard drives are eligible for DRSPP coverage. The hard drive must be functional at the time of registration and accessible from a computer running a Windows operating system. The hard drive's serial number is captured during online registration so when a DRSPP customer incurs data loss, they simply ship the registered hard drive to CBL. CBL DRSPP coverage extends to data loss resulting from virtually every cause including user errors, mechanical or electrical failures, software malfunctions, viruses, and natural disasters.

The CBL Data Recovery Service Protection Plan offers 1 or 3 years of coverage for $49.99 and $99.99 respectively inclusive of parts, laboratory time and labor. Shipping and applicable taxes are extra. CBL DRSPP coverage commences 30 days after payment and registration. ...CBL Data Recovery profile, Data Recovery, Storage Services

editor's comments:- the Data Recovery market is a difficult one for vendors to operate in because no-one wants (or plans) to be a customer in this segment. It's only when disaster strikes that most customers investigate this subject.

You could argue that if users thought ahead they would spend their money on backups. But backups frequently go wrong - or can be affected by the same common mode failures which render the original data media unreadable (fire, flood, virus etc).

It will be interesting to see how successful the new business model is - and (if so) how long it will be before it gets copied.

NetApp Reports on 10GbE NAS

Sunnyvale, Calif. - July 29, 2008 - NetApp announced today the accelerated adoption of 10GbE storage connectivity by its customers.

Since launching 10GbE in 2006, NetApp has shipped more than 3,000 array ports. In fact, 54% of this total was delivered in 2008 alone, exemplifying the technology's growing popularity and NetApp's continued leadership in Ethernet storage. ...Network Appliance profile

Editor's comments:-
here at we've been reporting on 10GbE technology in storage since 2003 - 3 years before NetApp adopted it.

In the past decade the typical time taken for new storage interfaces to get widely adopted from the time they're first announced has been 4 to 7 years. At the shorter end of the scale was SATA. In the middle range SAS, followed by iSCSI at the tail end. Meanwhile InfiniBand never reached the volumes originally predicted. But that could still change in the future depending on what happens in the RAM SSD market.

BTW the reason you don't hear so much in these pages from some big name companies is that our mission statement is "leading the way to the new storage frontier" - not "following on behind" - as in other storage publications.

Hifn & AMCC Collaborate on D2d Platform

LOS GATOS, Calif. - July 28, 2008 - Hifn and AMCC today announced a working alliance to provide a series of reference designs for storage solutions.

Customers will be able to take the joint AMCC (PowerPC core) and Hifn reference designs and deliver wireless base stations, access points, NAS, virtual tape libraries, disk- to-disk backup, and other networking and storage solutions. ...AMCC profile, ...Hifn profile

Sandisk Proposes New Way to Specify Flash SSD Endurance

Editor:- July 28, 2008 - Forward Insights has published a presentation by Sandisk's Director of Marketing Don Barnetson called - "SSDs the MLC Challenge".

Based on a presentation given last week at MemCon - the article predicts market volumes for flash SSDs, and suggests a new simple way to specify endurance - Longterm Data Endurance - the total amount of data writes allowed in the SSD lifespan. ...Forward Insights profile, ...SanDisk profile

Editor's comments:-
the idea of having a simple way for users to compare overall flash SSD endurance from different vendors isn't new.

2 years ago, in May 2006, this publication,, contacted all the flash SSD oems in the market (including SanDisk) to ask them to collaborate on an industry standard way to do this. I called my original proposal the "SSD Half Life".

Most of the oems I talked to (in 2006) agreed that it might help to speed up SSD market adoption - but didn't want their own products to be "devalued" by such a simple measure - as they had proprietary reliability tweaks built into their controllers which such a simple standard might not take fully into account. Will the new proposal from SanDisk fare any better?

The SSD market is more complicated now. Where do you measure the write cycles? There are now middle-ware products, like EasyCo's MFT that reduce the writes seen by the SSD, and we may see some of these functions starting to appear in RAID controllers too.

SanDisk recently reported that its product revenue was 5% less than a year ago. SanDisk's SSDs offer mediocre performance compared to the best in the market. Maybe customers already understand the flash market well enough to recognize a better suited product when they see it.

WD Reports 48% Annual Revenue Growth

LAKE FOREST, Calif. - July 24, 2008 - Western Digital Corp today reported record financial results for its fiscal year ended June 27, 2008.

The company posted 48% annual revenue growth to reach a total of $8.1 billion. Net income was $867 million. In the 4th quarter 63% of revenue was derived from non-desktop sources, while 37% came from hard drives configured into desktop PCs. This compares with a mix in the year-ago quarter of 46% non-desktop sources versus 54% desktop PC revenue. ...Western Digital profile, Will Hard Disks Get Faster?

Editor's comments:- WD's results demonstrate the seeming paradoxes which I wrote about in How Solid is Hard Disk's Future?.

That the hard disk market can grow in revenue even while it's losing slots to flash SSDs at both the low end (in the suicide segment notebook market) and at the high end (in the 15k RPM server market - which mostly dents Seagate and Hitachi).

As I explained to one venture capitalist this week - overall HDD revenue will continue to grow because of new markets in consumer content storage systems - at the same time as the viable applications footprint in the IT market declines.

Within the IT market the fastest growing markets will be medium performance high capacity drives for disk to disk backup and entertainment bulk storage. HDDs no longer have a future at the cutting edge of high performance server apps.

It's more economic to pack server RAID with low cost 7,200 or 10,000 RPM drives and then leverage the whole caboodle with some fast SSDs - than to stuff the RAID with so called "faster" 15K RPM drives. It's more complicated for users to engineer these hybrid systems - but the simpler it gets the more slots that WD gains and Seagate loses.

HP BladeSystems Get iSCSI Accelerators

ALISO VIEJO, Calif - July 24, 2008 - QLogic Corp. today announced a performance-enhanced iSCSI mezzanine adapter for HP BladeSystem servers.

The fully integrated QLogic QMH4062 1GbE dual-port iSCSI Adapter offers TCP/IP and iSCSI offload, iSCSI boot from a SAN and IPv6 compliance. It is pre-certified with a wide range of storage systems in both Microsoft Windows and Linux environments.

"Customers are looking to simplify their operations and reduce the cost of their data centers," said Jim Ganthier, director, marketing strategy, HP BladeSystem. "The single-step iSCSI boot feature of the QMH4062 allows customers to boot their BladeSystem c-Class servers from a remote operating system image located on an Ethernet-based storage network, resulting in lower costs while simplifying the boot process for IT administrators." ...QLogic profile

Editor's comments:-
6 years ago I wrote an article the New Goldrush? - Network Accelerators in which I listed all the companies talking about TCP/IP accelerator and iSCSI offload cards. A combination of the last recession, slowness to develop standards and Microsoft's drag on the storage software market meant that many of those products never got beyond prototypes. The only company to have consistently ploughed this furrow has been Alacritech. Good technology ideas don't die. They resurface when the ecosystem looks more favorable. I was wrong before about the iSCSI Accelerator Goldrush so, like you, I'll just wait and see what happens now.

Another Warning about Backup Strategies

Editor:- July 24, 2008 - you can never have too many warnings about the things that can go wrong with backup and data recovery strategies.

I had a reminder this week on Tuesday when a series of flaky virus protection updates eventually trashed my pc. I was irritated with myself that I had wasted over a day rebooting, re-installing, defragging, de-installing and debugging to no avail. Then sanity prevailed. I said to myself - I don't care if I can get that machine working again - it's quicker for me to go into disaster recovery mode.

As I hadn't been affected by the 3 F's fire, flood or feft (theft? - sorry about that one) - it was easy.

I got a clean PC with no applications on it, installed my data and apps and was going again within a few hours. About 5 years ago my strategy was to have a spare PC with apps already installed on it. But when I went to test it one day - I found it was dead. Safer by far to plan for the worst case scenario.

An article published yesterday on, written by David LaGesse - called "Online Storage Site Fails Amid Lost Files " reminds readers that backup strategies can fail, and you need redundancy.

This point has been made many times in these pages - if you haven't encountered an unrecoverable error in your backup system then you probably aren't doing enough backups..

Building Solaris / Linux Servers in Hours not Days

Cork Ireland - July 24, 2008 - Tapasol Ltd is looking for resellers / integrators / partners for its new bare metal server restore technology.

Tapasol supports the Solaris OS (on both SPARC & X86/64 architectures) and Redhat Enterprise Linux . Tapasol say that their technology reduces installation time by upto 85% and this can be done from a single piece of media or from another server, without needing skilled engineers. For more info contact Managing Director, Dan Hayes ( ...Tapasol profile, SPARC VARs, SPARC Product Directory

TCP/IP Acceleration and VTL Leaders Collaborate on Faster Offsite Backup

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - July 22, 2008 - NetEx today announced that its HyperIP bandwidth optimization appliance has been certified by FalconStor Software, Inc. providing mutual customers with a proven application acceleration solution.

The certification follows joint performance testing by NetEx and FalconStor to prove interoperability of HyperIP in accelerating data rate performance across TCP/IP transports for FalconStor data protection solutions, including the FalconStor VTL, DiskSafe, and FileSafe solutions. ...FalconStor Software profile, ...NetEx profile, iSCSI

Editor's comments:-
FalconStor's software is built into disk backup appliances sold by many oems. So it's good news for customers of those products who can soon expect to be offered a simple way to incrementally speed up their offsite backup.

Texas Memory Systems Launches Fastest RAM SSD

Houston, Texas - July 22, 2008 - Texas Memory Systems today launched the world's fastest SSD - the RamSan-440,

The RamSan-440 is a 4U rackmount fibre-channel connected RAM SSD with upto 512GB of storage capacity. It can sustain up to 600,000 random IOPS and over 4GB/second of random read or write bandwidth, with latency of less than 15 microseconds.

the RamSan-440 is a 4U RAM SSD delivering 600,000 random IOPS - click for more info

It's the first RAM SSD to use RAIDed flash memory modules for data backup (instead of hard disk) and the first system to incorporate Texas Memory Systems' patented IO2 (Instant-On Input-Output) technology.

In Active Backup mode, the RamSan-440 continuously backs up data to the internal flash array without impacting system performance. The RamSan-440 can back up or restore the entire 512GB of data in just 6 minutes. (That's a process which could take over an hour with HDD backed SSDs of this capacity.) TMS's patented IO2 technology further improves system availability by making user or application-requested data instantly accessible after the system is powered on. ...Texas Memory Systems profile

Editor's comments:-
I spoke to Woody Hutsell at TMS at some length about the new RamSan-440. The notes below are based on that interview. I joshed that I might be the only editor he spoke to who didn't raise that old question of HDD versus SSD pricing. But I did ask the price. It's $290k for the 0.5TB model.

Delivery? - that's where I got a surprise. I've got used to flash SSD oems preannouncing new products months in advance. Woody said that TMS has already delivered the new models into customer sites. They decided to wait for the public launch till they had sufficient inventory to meet demand.

Who are the customers for the new SSD? - Woody said he expected them to be existing users of RAM SSDs. They already know the cost benefits of SSD server acceleration. Traditionally big RAM SSD users have been in the financial and federal markets - but in recent years that has been expanding into other markets. And Woody reaffirmed something that I've already heard from other RAM SSD oems. The greater awareness of SSDs created by the flash SSD market has increased inquiries for high-end RAM SSDs.

What is the problem the new SSD addresses? - Woody said it was scalability. Terabyte RAM SSDs have been available in the market from several vendors for about 5 years. TMS noticed that a lot of customers just bought the highest capacity model. When TMS looked into what such customers ideally wanted beyond speed and price - scalability was cited as a significant issue. Many of these customers have limited rack space - so the higher density RamSan-440 addresses that. But the unique difference in the new product is the immediate availability on power up - and 6 minutes to full performance. TMS already had experience with flash SSD arrays - with their 2TB RamSan-500 launched about a year ago. That made it easier for them to engineer the new faster backup and boot in the new product launched today.

As we were talking about the SSD market - I asked for Woody's insights and views about the confusing range of products which were now available.

"The SSD market is multi-dimensional" - he said. Although flash SSD arrays may take business away from the low end of the RAM SSD market - when they are deployed that could increase upstream demand for IOPS on storage networks - and increase demand for RAM SSDs.

One worrying factor - he voiced - is that a lot of new vendors are offering what they claim are enterprise SSDs based on less reliable MLC flash. The focus of SSD customer education for many years was simply - what's an SSD? As SSDs get more widely deployed Woody agreed the industry will have to do more to help customers understand the nuances, risks and benefits which come from using different types of SSDs.
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After SSDs... What Next?
Flash SSDs / RAM SSDs
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the Top 10 SSD Companies
this way to the petabyte SSD
SSDs - the big market picture
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Increasing Flash SSD Reliability
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Data Recovery from Flash SSDs?
RAM Cache Ratios in flash SSDs
Hard way ahead for hard drives?
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Can you trust your flash SSD specs?
Is the SSD Market Recession-Proof?
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2009 - Year of SSD Market Confusion
Encryption - impacts in notebook SSDs
35 Years of SSDs - SSD Market History
Overview of the Notebook SSD Market
Why Seagate will Fail the SSD Challenge
the 10 biggest storage companies in 2012?
Are MLC SSDs Safe in Enterprise Apps?
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs
SSD Myths and Legends - "write endurance"
Market Trends in the Rackmount SSD Market
RAM SSDs versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?
Flash Memory vs. Hard Disks - Which Will Win?
How Bad is - Choosing the Wrong SSD Supplier?
Using SSDs to Boost Legacy RAID Performance
3.5" Terabyte SSDs with Gigabyte / S Performance
Hybrid Storage Drives - winners, losers and maybes
Flash vs DRAM Price Projections - for SSD Buyers
War of the Disks: Hard Disk Drives vs. Flash SSDs
SSDs Pushing the Envelope in Blade Server Design
Z's Laws - Predicting Future Flash SSD Performance
Why Consumers Can Expect More Flaky Flash SSDs!
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
Fast Purge flash SSDs - when "Rugged SSDs" won't do

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