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storage news - August 2009, week 2

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Samsung's New SSD Game Plan

Editor:- August 12, 2009 - Samsung Electronics announced it is targeting the PC gaming industry with its 256GB SSD.

This seems to confirm the consumer-led focus of the company's business strategy. Earlier had said it doesn't think Samsung's SSD product marketing is good enough to achieve success in the enterprise server market.

Samsung's earlier generations of SSDs a few years ago - were lamentably slow compared to others at the time from Mtron. So those earlier Samsung SSD products were not much use to PC gamers.

Samsung's so called "SSD strategy" looks like the classical case of designing products it can make - and then looking around to see how this fits in with what users might need - rather than anticipating user markets and designing products that match them well.

But to give the company credit - Samsung was the world's first multi-billion dollar storage company to declare SSDs a strategic market - which it did back in 2005.

STEC Samples 6Gb/s SAS SSDs

Editor:- August 11, 2009 - STEC today said it will ship 6Gb/s SAS flash SSDs in both 2.5" and 3.5" form factors in Q4.

STEC's new ZeusIOPS SSDs will deliver 80,000 IOPS random read, 40,000 IOPS random write with transfer speeds of 550MB/s read and 300MB/s write.

STEC also said it's sampling a faster version of its 3.5" FC compatible SSDs.

STEC also announced a new policy of offering MLC flash in so called "enterprise class SSDs".

"While we believe our core customers will continue to rely on and demand our industry leading SLC based SSDs, it is apparent that several of our price sensitive OEM customers are now looking for SSD alternatives which only a true MLC based SSD can deliver" said Manouch Moshayedi, Chairman and CEO of STEC.

Editor's comments:- the attraction of stuffing flash SSD arrays with MLC instead of SLC is simply - price.

Fusion-io's CTO - David Flynn recently told me there is as much as a 4x difference in price between MLC and SLC NAND flash.

Proponents of MLC enterprise flash SSDs say their SSD controllers do more than simply attenuate write cycles to a level where you don't need to worry about endurance.

SandForce, for example, says its SSD processor understands chip geometries and minimizes read disturb errors.

In my view there are risks in using MLC flash in some types of enterprise apps - which go far beyond than the endurance problem - as I described in Are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps? Nevertheless there are some enterprise applications where low levels of data corruption / data loss are tolerable - for example streaming video servers. Cautious users could get the best of both worlds by partitioning their SSD accelerator zones between SLC and MLC according to the risk / reward preferences for different data sets within their applications.

Hitachi Ships "Enterprise class" 2TB HDD

Editor:- August 11, 2009 - Hitachi started shipping the Ultrastar A7K2000 - a 3.5", 2TB, 7,200 RPM, SATA hard drive for applications such as data warehousing, disk-to-disk backup, cloud computing and massive scale-out storage.

SMART Announces MIL-STD-810F 256GB 2.5" SATA SSDs

Editor:- August 11, 2009 - SMART Modular Technologies announced a new range of rugged 2.5" 256GB SSDs for defense applications that will ship next month.

The SATA compatible SSDs are 16mm high. Data declassification compliance is implemented by the company's EraSure technology. The models comply with MIL-STD-810F environmental specifications for operating shock, vibration, humidity and altitude, and each drive passes a demanding 8 hour, full-temperature range burn-in test prior to shipment.

"SMART's new 256GB SSDs are ideal for applications such as tactical fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles because they require a combination of high storage density, extreme ruggedness, high reliability, defense-grade data security, and low power," explained Mark Dupaul, SMART's Senior Product Marketing Manager. "Fortunately, the continuing price decline of SSDs is making it more affordable to use them in applications that require high-capacity storage."

SandForce's 2.5" 34nm SSDs Now Available

Editor:- August 11, 2009 - SandForce announced the availability of the SF-1000 family Evaluation 2.5" SSD featuring 34nm flash from Micron.

SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers
"It's important that we have a tight, collaborative working relationship with the Flash vendors that we support in order to understand how to best optimize the total SSD solution," said Thad Omura, VP of Marketing for SandForce. "We're delighted to demonstrate our DuraClass SSD processor technology (this week at the Flash Memory Summit ) working with Micron's industry-leading NAND Flash products, showing a high quality and reliable SSD solution."

Intel Promises 3-bits-per-cell MLC Flash for Christmas

Editor:- August 11, 2009 - Intel and Micron Technology today announced the development of a new 3-bit-per-cell MLC NAND technology, leveraging their 34nm geometry process.

The new 32Gb chips, expected to ship in the 4th quarter, will typically be used in consumer storage devices such as flash cards and USB drives, where high density and cost-efficiency are paramount.

Analyst comments:- from Jim Handy, Objective Analysis - "The chip is not for all markets. Just as SLC NAND was once thought to be poorly suited to SSDs, then poorly suited to enterprise SSDs, this chip, with a very low endurance level, is currently being promoted by the companies as a device well suited to USB flash drives and flash cards for cameras and cell phones, but the companies explained that they need more experience in production volumes before they will be confident to position it as a chip suitable for the high-write environment of the SSD."

See also:- adaptive DSP ECC in flash, MLC versus SLC in enterprise SSDs, flash care claims

TB/hr NAS Indexing

Editor:- August 11, 2009 - Ever wondered how long it would take to index your corporate data to make it easily searchable?

Index Engines today published a useful benchmark answering that question.

They sustained 1 Terabyte per hour on a NAS system from BlueArc. Base price for the software is $85,000, and they say you should allow 4% to 8% of the target storage as an indexing overhead.

I thought it would be interesting to see how this compares to Google's hardware search appliance .

Google has published lots of case studies here - but I couldn't find a single magic number in the brief time before my attention span moved on to the next thing ambushing my to-do list.

Why Consumers Can Expect More Flaky Flash SSDs!

Editor:- August 10, 2009 - a new article published today in explains why the consumer flash SSD quality problem is not going to get better any time soon.

You know what I mean. Product recalls, firmware upgrades, performance downgrades and bad behavior which users did not anticipate from reading glowing magazine product reviews. And that's if they can get hold of the new products in the first place.

We predicted this unreliability scenario many years ago. And you have to get used to it. The new article explains why it's happening and gives some suggested workarounds for navigating in a world of imperfect flash SSD product marketing. the article
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Megabyte's selection of storage news
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how fast can your SSD run backwards?
11 Key Symmetries in SSD design

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top news stories in recent weeks

August 2009

Texas Memory Systems shows 100TB SSD

July 2009

week 1 - Foremay's Cheetah Enters Fastest 2.5" SSD List
week 2 - IronKey launches most secure USB memory stick
week 3 - Flash Price Slope will Flatten says Denali
week 4 - WD profitable despite soft hard disk market
11 Years of
Editor:- August 12, 2009 - Exactly 11 years ago today I registered the domain name

I'd already been publishing workstation and server product directories since 1992 - and readers had asked me to do something similar for the storage market. went live in September 1998 with several features including the 1st continuously updated online directory for the RAID systems market.
click to  read storage history In a celebration article next month I'll be reviewing the biggest changes in the storage market in the past decade - and predicting what it will look like in 10 years time.

Spellerbyte will polish up his crystal ball so we can see what lies ahead more clearly.

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