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SSD news - October 2009, week 3

Megabyte's selection of storage news
Megabyte loved reading news stories
... military SSDs
After SSDs... What Next?
flash SSD Jargon Explained
the Top 10 SSD Companies
RAM Cache Ratios in flash SSDs
3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market
Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design
How Bad is the Fallout from Choosing the Wrong SSD Supplier?
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SMART SSDs Selected for Avionics Servers

Editor:- October 20, 2009 - SMART today announced that it has been selected by Harris Corp to provide SSDs for use in its Mass Storage Unit program.

The new MSU, which is part of a larger F/A-18 program, is the first of a new family of avionics file servers.

Harris selected SMART's XceedSecure 2.5" SATA SLC flash SSD for the in-flight file server application. XceedSecure high-performance SSDs range in capacity from 32GB to 256GB and include EraSure® technology, which provides secure erase features that comply with current military data-elimination standards.

Expect 16GFC by 2011 - says FCIA

Editor:- October 20, 2009 - the Fibre Channel Industry Association announced its has completed the technical work on 16Gb/s Fibre Channel (16GFC) - which provides a natural value migration from 8GFC.

Product roll-outs are anticipated in 2011 according to FCIA Chairman - Skip Jones.

Editor's comments:- I first published a directory of Fibre-channel adapters way back in 1994. The first FC connected storage array product listed in that was the SPARCstorageArray from Sun Microsystems.

It's reassuring that users in the FC market can anticipate another level of performance evolution - but FC is no longer a growth market. So this could be the last post for FC - just as 15K RPM was the end of the road for hard disks.

For dispersed systems ethernet based storage (NAS) long ago became the dominant network storage connect - while for local use and higher performance InfiniBand and PCIe have taken hold in distinct functional pockets.

Samsung invests in Fusion-io

Editor:- October 20, 2009 - Samsung has invested in Fusion-io .

These 2 leading SSD companies have also agreed to jointly evaluate technology for new SSD applications.

Samsung's strategic financial investment will drive further solid-state innovation at Fusion-io, which is expected to result in a steady evolution of state-of-the-art storage media.

"In securing these agreements, Samsung is furthering its working relationship with Fusion-io," said Jim Elliott, VP, Memory Marketing, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. "We continue to be impressed with the technology Fusion-io is creating and are now taking our relationship with them to a new level."

"Samsung's superior quality, product consistency and close working partnership have been important contributors to our success to date," said David Flynn, president and CTO of Fusion-io. "We are honored by Samsung's recognition of our potential and are gratified that these agreements will ensure that our products use the best NAND flash on the market today."

Editor's comments:- not all flash memory is created equal - and an important part of the competitive advantage in an SSD controller is the brainpower which the SSD designer has invested into understanding the personalities of the flash he/she is using. These supplier specific personalities arise from architecture and process differences in flash memory and they yield unique distributions of parameters which are often not explicitly specified in the datasheet. But a good SSD designer can use this proprietary knowledge to design an SSD which is more economic, or faster, or more reliable than using generic assumptions.

But those technology insights can only succeed in the market if the SSD vendor can ensure that they will get a continuous supply of raw memory products tweaked or batch tested to fit their controller model. Why should the memory maker restrict their freedom to innovate their products for the whole market - compared to guaranteeing features for a single customer?

To make this work the collaborators have to share confidential technology and market information. That's how this type of investment agreement starts.

3 years ago Samsung invested in SiliconSystems - the background to that was a market in which SLC flash was expected to be in short supply. Today's investment in Fusion-io has a different market background - but it demonstrates the 2 companies think they can do better by working together. Fusion-io said it will be demonstrating new products based on this collaboration next month.

Ampex ships rugged iSCSI SSD

Editor:- October 19, 2009 - Ampex announced first customer shipments of the TuffServ 480 SSD - a rugged iSCSI SSD for airborne applications to General Atomics.

The TuffServ 480 provides 2TB of RAID protected hot swappable flash storage in a conduction cooled MIL-STD-810F certified compact package measuring 5.25" H x 7.25" W x 10" D.

"Higher performance, smaller size, and lighter weight, and all at a lower cost," is the way that Business Development Manager John Hardy described Ampex' s new airborne solid-state server system. "The TuffServ 480 system is specifically designed to meet our customers ever growing data acquisition needs."

Dane-Elec Unveils USB 3 SSDs

Editor:- October 19, 2009 - Dane-Elec Memory announced it will start shipping a range of USB 3 compatible external SSDs with 250MB/s throughput in December.

These new products leverage Intel's flash SSDs. Dane-Elec will also be offering USB 3.0-compatible adapters for desktops with PCIe slots and laptops with PCIXpress slots.

SSD Seminars - US & Canada

Editor:- October 18, 2009 - Objective Analysis announced that SSD analyst Jim Handy will be presenting at Bell Microproducts' 6 city series of SSD seminars.

This series will take place in October and November 2009 in urban centers across North America and is focused on the theme "The State of Solid State." Presentations will underscore the innovative features, capabilities and benefits of SSDs, including a look at total cost of ownership and detailed technical knowledge.

Samsung Puts its Stamp on Consumer Flash Upgrades

Editor:- October 16, 2009 - Samsung is launching a branded range of flash cards aimed at the consumer market - initially in Taiwan.

Previously Samsung manufactured "white-label" digital memory cards for a variety of leading electronics companies and memory card companies.

Samsung's new premium "Plus" memory cards, which comply with the Secure Digital class 6 ratings for performance, are available in SD, microSD and CF formats with densities of 4GB and 8GB, with a 16GB density for an SD Plus card. Designed to ensure that valuable data is not lost, Samsung memory cards are shock-resistant, water-resistant and protected from damage caused by magnetic interference. iSuppli estimates the NAND flash-memory retail market is already worth $12 billion in revenues annually.

Foremay Ships TRIM Compliant SSDs

Editor:- October 15, 2009 - Foremay today announced that its PC166 Leopard W-Series SSDs - designed and tested for compliance with Windows 7 SSD TRIM - are shipping in volume.

With the TRIM function enabled, the SSD can significantly improve sustainable writing speed, as well as prevent writing performance degradation when an SSD is at greater than 50% capacity. "One of the key features of Windows 7 is its support of the TRIM command," stated Jack Winters, Co-founder and CTO of Foremay. "Without this support, we had to implement our proprietary active garbage collection algorithm in our high end solid state drives that are listed as the Fastest SSD. Now I am glad to see that Windows 7 supports TRIM so that we can implement more cost-effective passive garbage collection techniques into the PC166 Leopard WSeries and other Foremay SSDs."

Editor's comments:- all good fast enterprise flash SSDs already had "active garbage collection" - so TRIM makes no difference to those. But (if it works) Microsoft's TRIM - means oems can use slower and cheaper controllers in their PC SSDs - and let the OS do the job.
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SSD Jargon explained - click to see article
flash SSD Jargon Explained on
Megabyte didn't always understand the signposts
he saw on the trail to the new storage frontier.
Fusion-io fast SSDs - click for more info
(still) the standard for enterprise PCIe SSDs
by which all others are judged
ioDrives from Fusion-io
top news stories in recent weeks

September 2009

week 1 - PCIe SSD Searches 6x Higher
week 2 - Pliant samples fast 2.5" 3.5" SAS SSDs
week 3 - Foremay launches military SSDs
week 4 - Dataram eliminates waits for the "SSD Hot-Spot Engineer"

October 2009

week 1 - Active Media launches market's 1st USB 3 SSDs
week 2 - Storspeed unveils NAS SSD Appliance
SSDs - the big picture
Editor:- was the world's 1st publication to provide continuous editorial coverage and analysis of SSDs (in 1998) and since then we've led the market through many interesting and confusing times.
click to read the story about why SSDs are taking up so much time on so many web pages If you often find yourself explaining to your VC, lawyer or non technical BBQ guests why you spend so much time immersed in SSD web pages - and need a single, simple, non very technical reference to suggest - this may be the link they need.
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There's no shortage of ideas and opinions about the SSD market.

What's sorely lacking - and is in short supply - is reliable insights.

If you don't like unpleasant surprises and want to improve your own understanding of the SSD market, stimulate new ideas, or change the world (many founders of SSD companies have told me they read the mouse site and learn useful things from it) then why not set aside more of your time for looking over the articles here on - starting with some of those listed below.

how fast can your SSD run backwards? - 11 key symmetries

How will hard drives fare in an SSD world? - If you step back and look across the whole SSD infrastructure investment in the enterprise - a useful top level cost metric might dollars per user who gets a satisfactory apps experience.

Where are we now with SSD software? - (And how did we get into this mess?)

the new SSD efficiency - making the same (functional) SSD - but with a lot less chips

why use SSDs? - user value propositions - the classic article

adaptive R/W flash care management IP (including DSP ECC) for SSDs - what is it? and who does it?

memory channel storage SSDs -what are the technical challenges? How will these new SSDs affect the PCIe SSD market?

enterprise SSDs - exploring the limits of the market in your head - is about enterprise SSD futurology.

Surviving SSD sudden power loss - the power management system is one of the most important parts of the SSD which governs reliability.

what do enterprise SSD users want? - and why aren't vendors asking.

The big market impact of SSD dark matter - some of the very biggest direct customer opportunities for SSDs aren't the big name computer and storage oems.

Can you tell me the best way to SSD Street? - I'm like the Old Woman of the SSD Village who talks to everyone that passes through.

comparing the SSD market today to earlier tech disruptions - applying a sense of perspective to what's happening now with SSDs

RAM Cache Ratios in flash SSDs - Knowing whether a flash SSD is skinny, regular or fat tells you a lot. Each SSD type has common modalities.

more SSD articles - sometimes it's hard knowing where to look next...

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