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storage news - May 2009, week 1

Megabyte's selection of storage news
Megabyte loved reading news stories
about the storage market
... the fastest SSDs
the SSD Buyers Guide
After SSDs... What Next?
the Top 10 SSD Companies
Reaching for the petabyte SSD
SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
Write IOPS - inflation problems in flash SSDs
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Ramtron's F-RAM Casualty of Auto Market Crash

Editor:- May 7, 2009 - Ramtron said its revenue declined 26% in the 1st quarter of 2009 compared to the year ago period.

A sharp decline in orders from the automotive market was cited as a principal cause.

Ramtron also announced an update on a legal suit related to in-field failures of one of its F-RAM memory products in an unspecified application. (In July 2008 Ramtron confirmed that specific batches of product had failed due to manufacturing process defects in one of its partners fabs.)

Ramtron also announced today that, over the next 2 years, it will transition the manufacturing of products that are currently being built at Fujitsu's chip foundry located in Iwate, Japan to its foundry at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas and to its newest foundry at IBM Corp in Essex Junction, Vermont.

APOGEE Mars SSD Aims at Gamers Market

Editor:- May 7, 2009 - Walton Chaintech launched its APOGEE Mars SSD for the "hardcore gamers market".

Includes 512MB mobile SDRAM buffer, capacity upto 250GB, R/W speeds upto 250MB/s and 180MB/s respectively.

New Book on Enterprise Storage

Editor:- May 7, 2009 - EMC has published a new book (480 pages $60) - "Information Storage and Management".

The book's 40 contributing writers cover the evolution of storage technology, including traditional deployment, consolidated storage networking and storage virtualization, while also addressing the most prevalent storage technologies, including direct attached storage (DAS), networked attached storage (NAS), storage area networks (SAN), content addressed storage (CAS), and IP SAN.

Here's a quote from the intro... "Not long ago, information storage was seen as only a bunch of disks or tapes attached to the back of the computer to store data..."

Yes - I remember those bad old days (pre 1998) before people thought of storage as a single market. It sounds like an interesting book.

You can never learn too much about storage. The 9 year old classic Storage Architecture Guide is still a popular article today. See also:- Storage Training

How are things going at

Editor:- May 7, 2009 - I've been asked that question a lot recently.

Nearly everyone is talking about how their business is being hit by the credit crunch. And even Google has been hit by a sequential slowdown in web advertising. My answer is a little embarrassing - but here goes.

Sun Turns Up Heat on flash SSD Hype

Editor:- May 5, 2009 - Sun Microsystems re-entered the hype zone today with an announcement that hundreds of customers across a range of industries have purchased its flash SSD accelerated storage systems.

I don't wish to be unkind to anyone still working for the company... But if they had followed the advice which I offered 5 years ago about the unique opportunities for them in the SSD market - and done something about it a lot sooner than they in fact did - perhaps Sun itself as a company would have been worth a lot more (to Oracle, IBM or whoever) than merely the accumulated sum which Sun had spent on acquiring other storage companies. Or maybe they wouldn't have been up for sale at all.

STEC Confirms IBM Server Connection

Editor:- May 5, 2009 - STEC today confirmed rumors that its Zeus-IOPS SSDs have indeed been oemed by IBM in several popular servers and storage systems.

Editor's comments:- oem announcements generally follow 1 of 2 patterns.
  • lovey-dovey - in which the companies say nice things about each other. That's definitely the tone of this one... "We enjoyed collaborating with STEC as a key solid state technology provider," said Mike Desens, VP of systems design, IBM.
  • legalese - in which it's easy to imagine that the text of the press release is simply a lightly edited version of the contract between the 2 companies.
If you're interested in who's oeming whose SSDs - see the table in my recent article.

Aleratec Names New VP Sales and Marketing
Editor:- May 5, 2009 - Aleratec today named Howard Wing to lead the company's sales and marketing activities.

Howard Wing's recent experience includes VP of Sales and Marketing at Plextor where he was actively involved in industry initiatives to bring USB 2.0 and SATA interfaces to the optical disc markets.

Sonics Solves Complex On-chip Connectivity Problems

MILPITAS, Calif., - May 5, 2009 - Sonics, Inc. has announced the Sonics Network for AMBA Protocol or SNAP.

The product is a cost-effective, turn-key solution designed to simplify the on-chip bus design for complex embedded SoCs by turning multilayer bus designs into an IP block. SNAP's easy-to-use development environment allows developers to quickly and intuitively capture their design with little or no training.

As the number of IP cores in embedded SoC designs continues to grow, current bus structures are becoming complex and time consuming to design. In addition, memory access problems can arise because there are now multiple processors competing for memory resources. SNAP addresses both of these problems by first turning the complex interconnection of multiple cores into a customized IP block, thus reducing the chip design effort. And 2nd, SNAP improves the overall data flow in the systems, thereby improving bus performance and eliminating memory bottlenecks. ...Sonics profile

Editor's comments:- this is the kind of technology needed inside very high speed next generation SFF SSDs.

PLX Unveils Single Chip PCIe-to-USB 2.0 Host Controller Bridge

Editor:- May 4, 2009 - PLX Technology announced volume production of the OXPCIe200 ($7.65) - a high-performance PCIe-to-USB 2.0 single-chip host controller bridge.

The new device delivers up to 62.5Mb/s data throughput, has a low power requirement of 300mW, and a small footprint (9x9mm) Thin Array Plastic Package. storage chips

DDRdrive Launches Low Cost PCIe RAM SSD

Editor:- May 4, 2009 - DDRdrive emerged from stealth mode and launched the DDRdrive X1 - a PCIe compatible RAM SSD with onboard flash backup.
Load / restore time is 60S. I/O performance is over 200K IOPS (for 512B blocks). For 4kB blocks IOPS is:- 50k (reads) and 35K (writes). R/W throughput is 215MB/s and 155MB/s respectively. Capacity is 4GB. OS compatibility:- Microsoft Windows (various). Price is $1,495. ..... DDRdrive X1 PCIe SSD - click for company profile
Using Microsoft Windows built-in RAID support, DDRdrive X1's can be spanned (capacity), striped (performance), mirrored (redundancy), and RAID-5 configured.
Editor's comments:- the DDRdrive X1 looks competitively priced for accelerating database applications in which the hot files can be squeezed into a capacity range from about 4GB to 12GB. Above that - you get into the region of entry level rackmount SSDs and high performance PCIe flash SSD cards from companies like Fusion-io and Texas Memory Systems.

There's definitely a gap in the market for this scale of product (low entry price, low capacity - high IOPS). For the past year or so DDRdrive shipped an earlier generation of its SSD accelerators exclusively to a large enterprise for secret internal projects.

BakBone Acquires Effective Assets of Asempra

Editor:- May 4, 2009 - BakBone Software has acquired certain assets from Asempra Technologies.

Under the terms of the agreement, BakBone has agreed to issue 3,846,154 common shares and to pay cash consideration of approximately $350,000, plus accrued royalties.

Editor's comments:- an article in TheRegister speculates that Asempra's VCs (having already invested $29 million) pulled the plug on the cash draining Asempra. This brings the gone-away storage companies list to 491.

Emulex says "No" to a future "Connecting everything®"

Editor:- May 4, 2009 - Emulex announced today it has rejected an unsolicited acquisition offer from Broadcom.

...Later:- May 5, 2009 - Broadcom extended the deadline for their offer and published a press release saying what a great deal it would be for shareholders. "Broadcom's all-cash offer is not subject to a financing condition. Broadcom intends to fund the offer with its existing cash holdings."

Emulex, in its rejection letter, had pointed to the potential value in recent design wins. Broadcom rubbished this assertion with this pithy analysis.

"... while Emulex has touted its "design wins" in its response to Broadcom and in other communications with the financial community, it has failed to demonstrate an ability to convert design wins into either revenue growth or market share. Over the last several years, including this most recent quarter, Emulex has continued to lose share to its larger competitor (QLogic)."

Editor's comments:- the FC, 10GbE and InfiniBand adapter markets used to be pivotal enabling tools for fast SANs in the enterprise server computing market. However, in recent times these network technologies have become commodities - and their prospects have waned..

As I've said before, the future of fast storage interconnects will be dominated by the requirements of the SSD market instead of the HDD market. Redeploying the intellectual property of these storage connections into closer proximity with solid state storage is something which the traditional HBA business model cannot achieve - or which takes too long.

Broadcom's mission statement "Connecting everything®" is more in line with the future vision of the computer market than the old-style duopoly of Emulex (and QLogic) which dominate a market that's going to become irrelevant.

RunCore Offers 256GB SSD Upgrade for $890

Editor:- May 1, 2009 - RunCore announced pricing for its new Pro IV 2.5" SSD user installable PC / Mac upgrades which will ship in 2 weeks.

These SSDs clone externally via USB and then run internally via SATA. Street price for the 256GB model is expected to be approx $890.

earlier storage news

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Why should you care what happens in an SSD when the power goes down?

This important design feature - which barely rates a mention in most SSD datasheets and press releases - has a strong impact on SSD data integrity and operational reliability.

This article will help you understand why some SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of application) might fail in others... even when the changes in the operational environment appear to be negligible.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. the article
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the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs?
Are you tied up in knots trying to shortlist flash SSD accelerators ranked according to published comparative benchmarks?

You know the sort of thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs against each other. It would be nice to have a shortlist so that you don't have to waste too much of your own valuable time testing unsuitable candidates wouldn't it?

StorageSearch's long running fastest SSDs directory typically indicates 1 main product in each form factor category but those examples may not be compatible with your own ecosystem.

If so a new article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help you cut that Gordian knot. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
the 3 fastest  PCIe SSDs  - click to read article But in this case you'd be wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) the article

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