| Flash Hype
Leads to SSD Myopia - Says Solid Data|
Editor:- September 29, 2009
- Steve Topper, CEO of Solid Data Systems
today commented on market perceptions about
RAM SSD versus
flash SSD positioning in a press release about the company's updated range
of FC compatible terabyte class
is a market perception that only NAND flash is solid-state storage and that DRAM
is too expensive and too volatile," said Steve Topper. ""The
market is being told that flash drives are the way to go as they are cheaper and
can best deliver enterprise-class performance and reliability. This simply is
not true. While flash is somewhat less expensive than DRAM, they cannot beat us
on latency and performance, and large numbers of customers have told us that the
endurance of these products simply is not there. In many cases, these drives
wear out after only days of use."
while I wouldn't agree exactly with all the details in these comments. I do
agree with some of it. It's important to realize that the most competitive RAM
SSDs are best regarded as part of a product continuum which starts with flash
and extends up to RAM. If a flash SSD can do the job - it generally will be
chosen because of the lower cost.
But in some applications access-time
replaces random-IOPS as the key determinant of application performance.
Let's say for example that a critical bottleneck in your application
looks like a small table resident on the SAN which involves 5 consecutive R/W
modify cycles to the same block of memory. At the system level - a
RAM SSD can be 10x
to 20x faster than a flash SSD - even if it has the same nominal
random IOPS* and data throughput. It's an undeniable fact that RAM SSDs do a
better job at application speedup for a small group of applications -
regardless of the 9x higher typical cost for the same capacity. That's
why customers still buy them.
* There are rare exceptions.
Violin Memory has
patented a non blocking write in their flash SSD array - which enables a read
operation to immediately follow a write on the same block (without waiting for
the erase write to complete). But I don't know how many consecutive operations
would be speeded up in that architecture - maybe just the next one in the
sequence - but not the whole set.
Pillar's CEO Has Strong Views About SSDs
September 29, 2009 - a lot of raw (and sometimes emotional) SSD soundbites
emanating from DISKCON
are quoted in an article written by Stephen Lawson and published
yesterday in Techworld.
colorful phrases are not the kind of toned down polite things which appear in a
typical press release. There is real passion here.
My take is - when
companies haven't braced themselves for a new market they are more likely to
be disturbed by the waves which hit them. Human nature hasn't changed in the 97
years since that
went down - so why should hard diskophiles (lovers of hard disks - a new word
I invented - so no need to look it up) be any different?
Dataram eliminates waits for the SSD Hot Shot / Hot Spot Engineer
September 28, 2009 - Dataram
- a fast 2U
rackmount flash SSD with 450,000 random IOPS performance (assuming 50/50
R/W and 4k blocks), and upto 8x 4Gbps FC ports - aimed at the
acceleration market. Pricing starts at $65,000 for a unit with approx 360GB
internal flash, of which 128GB is effectively used as a cache.
is now well understood that the benefit of a solid state infrastructure for
compute-intensive environments is higher application performance with less
equipment and lower operational costs," said Jason Caulkins, Dataram Chief
Technologist. "The question is no longer 'How can I benefit from solid
state storage?' but 'How do I best implement solid state in my existing
infrastructure?' With XcelaSAN, we enable organizations with performance
intensive applications to seamlessly add a dynamic, intelligent solid state
storage tier to their existing SAN environment."
comments:- At 1st glance this product looks like many others which have
aimed at the traditional market of SAN users. But its revolutionary design opens
a new market - for SSD
ASAPs - which has been inaccessible to traditional
FC SSD vendors.
Dataram's product includes proprietary software - which does away with the need
for an SSD expert engineer to identify hotspots and relocate critical data. The
company says the XcelaSAN will automatically learn and self optimize during the
1st few hours of operation - and it will maintain application speedups even
when applications and loads change - which is not possible with human tuned
The search for a self
SSD software layer which sits between a SAN server and conventional rotating
disk bulk storage has been the Holy Grail of SSD oems for over a decade. None
have actually achieved it - till now. Although many vendors have developed
semi-automated tuning kits and strategies for common applications - they require
considerable expertise on the part of the applications engineer to make them
work well. That has slowed down the adoption rate of SSDs in many midsized
organizations which don't have a big enough installed base to attract the start
SSD talent to look at their problems. And it's also why SSD accelerators, have
not been viable as a reseller product.
When I spoke to Dataram's CTO,
Jason Caulkins, I was impressed by the depth of marketing thinking behind the
new product launch.
Dataram realized that simply launching a me-too SSD box would have an
uncertain outcome in a market that's already so crowded. And Dataram's corporate
memory goes back over 30 years to pioneering SSDs for minicomputers which
they launched in
all memory companies know that in the future SSDs will use more memory than
traditional markets - such as server or pc motherboards. So it's important to
stake out ground in the SSD market.
I asked - where did the technology
come from? Jason said some of it came from Dataram's acquisition of
Cenatek - where he had
already been thinking about the SSD business model problem for many years. With
much bigger resources available after Dataram's acquisition - he's had teams of
software engineers working on the XcelaSAN concepts and licensed essential glue
Will it work? Dataram says the XcelaSAN has been tested
and working in customer sites. Product shipments in the US start in the next
quarter. And the product is storage agnostic - meaning the customer can replace
their SAN arrays at a future date and retain the acceleration speedup. XcelaSAN
seems to offer a viable route for mid-budget user enterprises - who have
been neglected by SSD vendors for economic reasons - to join the march of the
Is it competitive? - If you use my quick and dirty
magic number for SSD sever accelerators - (write IOPS divided by cost per TB) -
it's in the same order of magnitude as leading PCIe SLC flash SSD cards - so
it's definitely worth a look.
Fast Purge flash SSDs
Editor:- September 25, 2009 -
published a new directory of Fast Purge flash SSDs.
need for fast and secure data erase - in which vital parts of a flash SSD or
its data are destroyed in seconds - has always been a requirement in military
projects. Although many industrial SSD vendors are offering their products with
extended "rugged" operating environment capabilities - it's the
availability of fast purge which differentiates "true military" SSDs
which can be deployed in
PCIe SSDs Snatch #1 Storage Search Crown
September 24, 2009 - StorageSearch.com
disclosed today that search volumes for
PCIe form factor SSDs
have surpassed that for
2.5" SSDs for
the 1st time.
"This is a tsunami warning event for SSD vendors
addressing the enterprise server acceleration market" said Zsolt Kerekes,
editor of StorageSearch.com.
"In the 25 years that I've been
involved in the enterprise storage - there were just 3 great waves of user
mass adoption for new disk form factors - starting with 8.5", moving
onto 5.25", then 3.5" and finally 2.5".
3 decades of
sleepy stealth mode development the SSD market is now streaming ahead on
SSD time. Users have woken up to what the SSD market can do for their servers -
and for new systems they don't want to plow through their data fields dragged
down by the clutter and dead weight baggage of the
rotating disk peddlers.
A year ago interest in 2.5" SSDs was an order of magnitude higher than
PCIe SSDs. Both have grown in search volume - but PCIe SSDs seem to have
captured the imagination of this market to a degree which only its most
optimistic supporters would have predicted."
Samsung Wheels Out PRAM (Problematic RAM)
September 22, 2009 - Samsung
it has begun producing 512Mb PRAM memory.
combines the speed of RAM for processing functions with the non-volatile
characteristics of flash memory for storage.
"We believe PRAM will make a highly significant contribution to
the efficiency of mobile phone designs, particularly for multimedia handsets and
smartphones," said Sei-Jin Kim, vice president, mobile memory planning and
enabling group, Memory Division, Samsung Electronics. "We expect it to
become one of our core memory products in the future."
comments:- let's do a reality check here. This has been a Problematic
(rather than a Perfect) RAM technology. Samsung originally announced a working
prototype of the
512Mb PRAM 3 years earlier - in September 2006.
SMART Chooses SandForce SSD SoC
22, 2009 - SMART
Modular Technologies today announced it has selected the SandForce
SSD processor for use in its next-generation enterprise-class
SATA SSDs sampling in
both 1.8" and
2.5" form factors
later this year.
"Considering SMART's longstanding history as a memory and
storage solutions provider to Tier-1 OEMs, we are excited to support them as an
early adopter of our technology," said Steffen Hellmold, VP Business
Development for SandForce. "We expect that our SF-1500 SSD processor will
bring tangible competitive advantages to SMART's new SSD product offering."