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storage news - March 2009, week 4

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Pliant Announces Another $15 million Funding

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Editor:- March 30, 2009 - Pliant Technology today announced it has received $15 million in Series C funding.

This will be used as working capital to support volume production of its SAS compatible flash SSDs.

See also:- acquired SSD companies, SanDisk, VCs and SSDs

WD Enters the SSD Market
Editor:- March 30, 2009 - Western Digital has entered the SSD market by acquiring SiliconSystems for $65 million in a cash transaction.

"WD's strong balance sheet, sales reach, and operations and logistics capabilities will allow us to greatly accelerate our penetration of our existing markets, while combining our engineering expertise with WD will enable us to develop new solid-state drives to broaden our overall product portfolio and address the emerging applications for solid-state storage in WD's existing customer base," said Michael Hajeck, a founder and CEO of SiliconSystems, now senior vp and general manager of WD's Solid-State Storage business unit.

Integration into WD begins immediately, with SiliconSystems now becoming known as the WD Solid-State Storage business unit, complementing WD's existing Branded Products, Client Storage, Consumer Storage and Enterprise Storage business units. WD has published a FAQs page about this acquisition.

Editor's comments:- from the time when SiliconSystems first appeared on our SSD pages in 2004 it was clear that the company was talking in a different way to the rest of the market. Of the 4 main market segments which I identified for SSD market penetration (published 2005) - I mentioned SiliconSystems as the pioneer in "High Reliability DAS". Quoting from that article - "The customer value proposition of the High Reliability DAS SSD is that the interval between server failures will be extended by several years compared to HDD technology."

In recent years the company has avoided being sucked along the alternative currents of the small form factor SSD market and stuck to its mission of designing SSDs which are sustainable for customers to own - as reliable replacements for hard drives. The company's acquisition by WD demonstrates that those principles are valued where it counts - in the eyes of the world's fastest growing hard disk maker.

New PCIe SSD Aims at PC Acceleration Market

Editor:- March 26, 2009 - Mobile Mode has unveiled a PCIe SSD for the Vista / XP market - the G-Monster-PCIe Turbo Speed SSD - expected to ship in June.

Capacity options include:- 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. Both MLC and SLC options are available. The flash array includes onboard RAID protection. R/W speeds are quoted as 750MB/s and 700MB/s respectively.

Editor's comments:- Until now -there has been a theoretical gap in the market. Such products have only supported enterprise OS's such as Linux, Solaris and Windows Server because, frankly, consumers can't afford them. Financial traders and analysts might be a potential market for these accelerators - but I can't see many consumers deciding to forego upgrading their car and upgrading their PCs instead. See also:- animal brands in the SSD market

Hagiwara Unveils CFast Storage Card

Editor:- March 26, 2009 - Hagiwara Sys-Com has extended its range of 1" SSDs - with the launch of the CFast Storage Card which will ship in Q2.

These industrial grade SSDs are form factor compatible with CF cards, but have a SATA interface. Capacities range from 2GB to 16GB. See also:- CFast - Evolution of the CompactFlash Interface (pdf)

New Real-Time Design / Debug Tool for FC / NAS OEMs

Editor:- March 25, 2009 - Absolute Analysis has announced enhancements to its range of serial data test tools - such as...
  • ability to check system behavior in the presence of latency (failure and recovery) for Fibre Channel and Ethernet protocols, including FCoE, AFDX, iSCSI, IP, IPv6, TCP
  • ability to corrupt one or more network events in real-time and simulate data loss, data corruption, protocol errors and data errors, and check device under test error recovery procedures.
"Absolute Analysis is proud to offer engineers a much-needed single solution featuring the integration of sophisticated tools for use in data communications, telecommunications, and military communications, to capture, analyze, delay, modify, and verify data at full line rate," stated Dennis Murphy, President of Absolute Analysis. "This release... enables in-line, real-time impairment testing coupled with a powerful error injector and analysis that far exceed existing industry offerings." Storage Testers & Analyzers

Dell Joins iSCSI Compatible SSD Market

Editor:- March 25, 2009 - Dell announced SSD options for its iSCSI compatible EqualLogic PS6000 storage arrays.

Pricing starts at $25,000. This brings the number of rackmount SSD oems to 34. That number is expected to reach 300 in 2010.

How Bad is - Choosing the Wrong SSD Supplier?

Editor:- March 24, 2009 - I've published a article called - How Bad is - Choosing the Wrong SSD Supplier?

I've spoken to countless VCs, oems and end-users about how difficult it is to know you've got the best SSD company in your sights as a potential acquisition target, supplier or technology partner. If you know what you're doing - it takes time. And in the past 9 weeks while you've been doing that - another 30 new companies have entered the SSD market to make things more complicated. It's a big decision. How big a deal - if you decide later - it was the wrong choice? Trust me. We live in difficult times. The vampires are coming. If the pointy stick breaks you may not get another chance. the article

Compellent Inches Slowly Closer to SAN Acceleration Market

Editor:- March 23, 2009 - Compellent today announced it would demonstrate its tiered SSD technology at a user event in May 2009.

The physical layer is based on STEC's ZeusIOPS SSDs. The soft part - something which Compellent calls - policy driven Data Progression apparently " minimizes the number of SSDs required while providing the highest levels of performance for mission-critical applications."

Editor's comments:- Compellent has been slowly drip feeding press releases and blogs about its SSD plans since last October. Unlike pure rackmount SSDs which aim at ultimate performance apps - Compellent's solution looks like it's pitched at a less ambitious (but maybe larger market) of users who would be happy with the kind of performance tweak which comes from replacing 2 hard disk slots with 2 flash SSDs. See also:- Fibre-Channel SSDs

Samsung Ships Highest Density DDR3

Seoul, Korea - March 19, 2009 - Samsung Electronics announced today that it has just made the initial shipment of the world's 1st and smallest high-density memory modules based on 2Gb, 50nm-class DDR3.

Samsung is shipping 18 configurations of its new DDR3-based modules, which are designed for servers. They include a 16GB RIMM and an 8GB RDIMM.

Editor's comments:- although Samsung's press release talks about how much RAM you can get in a server (192GB for a 2-socket CPU server system) the new products will also advance the density and lower the cost of high end multi-terabyte RAM SSDs.

IDEMA Names Sun's Flash Guru to Lead SSD Standards

Editor:- March 18, 2009 - IDEMA today announced that Michael Cornwell will lead its standards program for HDDs and SSDs.

Cornwell, the Lead Technologist for Flash at Sun Microsystems since 2007, has a long history in storage technologies and collaboration between manufacturers and customers. He spent 5 years with Quantum in various engineering and design roles. In 2002 he moved to Apple, where he was a lead storage architect on that company's iPod digital content player. See also:- Storage ORGs, Storage People

MemoRight Shoots for MIL-STD-810F SSD Market
Shenzhen, China - March 18, 2009 - MemoRight says it will ship new industrial grade 2.5" flash SSDs in May.

The new MemoRight rSSD is designed to operate from -40 to 85 degrees C and the company says its testing processes satisfy MIL-STD-810F. MemoRight expects the military, defense, aviation & astronautics industries to be early adopters and key users of their new SSD.

The rSSD also features MemoRight's "In-Drive" UPS, which ensures 100% data integrity at all times. The capacitor simply flushes the cache upon experiencing any power-off or voltage changes and writes this data to the flash.

The new rSSD performs at 120MB/s read & 120MB/s write speeds, with 0.1ms access time. It will be available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB & 128GB capacities, with a choice of SATA II or IDE interfaces. Like the MemoRight GT Series eSSD, the new model will be manufactured in a 2.5" form factor, with an optional 3.5" casing. ...Memoright profile

EMC says - it's Leading the SSD Charge - (is it April 1st already?)

Editor:- March 18, 2009 - EMC announced today it has qualified higher capacity 400GB flash SSDs for use in its storage systems.

Barbara Robidoux, EMC VP, Storage Marketing, said, "It is clear that Enterprise Flash drives are revolutionizing the way information is stored and EMC is leading the charge. We are delivering the 2nd generation of this technology as a result of significant investments in research and development, testing and integration, while other vendors struggle to deliver their 1st flash drive offerings at much lower capacities."

Editor's comments:- EMC's implication that they are "leading the charge" to place flash SSDs in enterprise servers apps is absurd. To see which companies did in fact lead the flash SSD charge into servers - take a stroll down memory lane - and look at SSD market history.

And here's another way of looking at EMC's flash SSD market leadership.

EMC has never appeared in the the Top 10 SSD Companies - which has tracked reader search volume on over 1.4 million readers viewing SSD content.

Its highest ranking was #11 - achieved in Q1 2008 - when the company re-entered the SSD market after a 20 year absence. But it wasn't the leading SSD vendor back then either.

Tom's Hardware Inflamed by Solidata's Watts Guzzling SSD

Editor:- March 18, 2009 - a test report published yesterday on Tom's Hardware says it was shocked by the high power consumption of Solidata's 2.5" flash SSDs.

The publication said it was an "insult" to other oems in the SSD market, effectively tarnishing the reputation which hard-disk-form-factor SSDs had established in delivering better performance at lower power consumption than HDDs. the article

SiliconDrives Get Speedups

Editor:- March 17, 2009 - SiliconSystems today announced it will ship a new, faster - 3rd generation - of its SLC SiliconDrives in the 2nd quarter of 2009 - with capacities up to 128GB.

SiliconDrive III products include 2.5" SATA and PATA and 1.8" SATA products that offer read speeds up to 100MB/s and write speeds to 80MB/s.

"The faster speeds and larger capacities of SiliconDrive III will help enable new multimedia data streaming applications such as IPTV, Video on Demand (VOD) and digital video surveillance appliances that require a high level of performance and reliability where failure is not an option" said Gary Drossel, vp of product planning at SiliconSystems.

Editor's comments:- SiliconSystems' SSDs have never been the fastest and I had always assumed this was because of design trade-offs which included more intensive reliability-related processes in the on-board controller while coming in at a low power budget. But in a recent discussion Gary Drossel told me they had some design techniques in the pipeline which would do all those things plus beef up the speed too.

New ExpressCard SSDs Directory

Editor:- March 17, 2009 - today published a new directory on the subject of ExpressCard SSDs.

Until now - the list of ExpressCard SSD vendors has been buried in a table in the SSD Guide. It's still a small market. But what really distinguishes the ExpressCard SSD market, is that it's the easiest way for users to perform an SSD upgrade on their own notebooks. the article
A reader told me that he was interested in knowing DWPD at different operating temperatures but he didn't have much confidence in the numbers vendors had given him.
what's the state of DWPD?

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top news stories in recent months
March 2009

week 1 - Pretec Samples Highest Capacity ExpressCard SSD
week 2 - Viking Launches SATA Cube SSD
week 3 - Dolphin Launches PCIe Rackmount SSD

February 2009

week 1 - SalvationDATA Unveils Data Recovery for flash SSDs
week 2 - SanDisk Announces Imminent X4 Flash
week 3 - Viking Launches SSD Backup Module for RAID Cache
week 4 - Hitachi GST Buys Desktop SSD Company

January 2009

week 1 - EMC Aims to Cut 2,400 Positions
week 2 - pureSilicon Unveils Terabyte 2.5" SSD
week 3 - Thousands of USB Sticks Left at Dry Cleaners
week 4 - World's 1st 2 Terabyte Hard Drive
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513 gone-away storage companies (2000-2009)

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Zero RPM SSDs killed 20K hard drives
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