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SSD news - July 2010, week 2

SSD Bookmarks - from SandForce's CEO

Editor:- July 14, 2010 - today published SSD Bookmarks - suggested by Michael Raam, CEO SandForce.

It seems like nearly everyone in the SSD industry wants to know what SandForce is doing and thinking.

Michael Raam's suggestions include some great SSD resources which I had never seen before - which is why the SSD Bookmarks Series was created.

Do you want to understand more about the issues that drive SandForce's thinking? If so - read the article

SSD tuning is not "set and forget"

Editor:- July 14, 2010 - a regular correspondent asked for my comments about a recent article - Driving Down Storage Complexity with SSD - by George Crump, founder of Storage Switzerland.

I was surprised to see - that in its enthusiasm for SSD - the article contains a potentially misleading statement:- "SSD is as close to a 'set it and forget it' option that storage I/O performance tuning has."

In my view - this statement is only true in 2 cases.

1 - that 100% of the data is put in the SSD - which is extremely rare in enterprise apps, and

2 - that the SSD is an ASAP

In all other cases - SSD tuning needs to be revisited whenever the shape of the data or the ratio of SSD to HDD changes. In the worst case the tuning can drift from the ideal and offer no worthwhile acceleration whatsoever.

This error comes in an article which come from a respected author whose other work - has in fact - been cited in the SSD Bookmarks . It shows we can all make mistakes when we get carried away by the flow of our prose - and ignore the reality of the analysis - which sometimes tells a more complex story.

LaCie launches rugged USB flash stick

Editor:- July 13, 2010 - LaCie today launched a rugged USB flash drive - the XtremKey - with upto 64GB capacity inside a 2mm metal pipe casing.

Sealed with wear-resistant screw threads and a rubber O-ring, it is watertight up to 100meters. The LaCie XtremKey is also resistant to 5-meter drops, fierce heat and bitter cold. Non operating temperature is claimed to be (+200°C / -50°). R/W speeds are upto 40MB/s and 30MB/s respectively. the flash key abuse video

Editor's comments:- The XtremKey is not an SSD. If you're not sure about the critical difference between a flash drive and a flash SSD - it's wear leveling.

For rugged HDD and SSD drives see military storage. If you liked the LaCie video - check out ioSafe's video linked in our SSD video page - which inspired it

return to - Are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps?

Editor:- July 13, 2010 - I still get a lot of questions about my classic article (June 2008) - Are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps?

The original article was aimed at readers with an electronics background - and was (I thought) clear and unambiguous in its presentation of the risks and benefits for different types of flash in differing types of enterprise app.

But as more users in the enterprise server space are now looking at these issues - the article has caused confusion - because some SSD jargon terms like "endurance" are getting more widely known - whereas other electronics terms used in the article - which are equally important to understanding the issues - are not understood.

Why should users need more than a degree in electronics to make safe choices in today's SSD market?

I've discussed with some of the SSD industry's leading thinkers and company founders. But sadly - we are agreed - users do need to understand deep matters (physics, electronics and computer architecture) when buying SSDs today - because not all SSD vendors understand the underlying physics and architectural implications of what they are doing.

Your SSD is only as good as the people who designed it. SSD Architecture is not an established computer science and is not taught at universities. Until it is - maybe in 2016 - most SSD design teams are still learning what is important as they go along. And the rules - of what is possible and sensible- are still evolving.

Going back to where I started with this note... I've updated my "Are MLC SSDs Safe" article - with answers to 2 recent reader questions - asking if better SSD controller technology and enterprise MLC flash have changed the views I originally expressed. the article

New fitness service for Tape Library dinosaurs

Editor:- July 12, 2010 - Crossroads Systems today announced a new service for users of tape libraries.

The library overview analysis service provides comprehensive analytics on the health, performance and utilization of tape libraries and helps users identify the any sources of inefficiencies which can otherwise lead to backups exceeding allocated time windows.

"Rather than tossing out perfectly good media, storage administrators can avoid unnecessary costs and headaches by viewing the precise status and health of their environment," said Elaine Pleshek, senior product manager at Crossroads Systems. "It's a service that pays for itself. By gaining a reliable tool that continually diagnoses operational backup errors, organizations can experience impressive performance improvements." See also:- Storage Services

New NAS systems will scale to 100Gbps

Editor:- July 12, 2010 - designing quad port 100Gbps ethernet will be made easier by a new interface (PHY) from NetLogic Microsystems .

The device supports 10Gbps SFI-to-XFI, 40Gbps XLPPI-to-XLAUI and 100Gbps CPPI-to-CAUI modes to enable a seamless migration of data centers from 10 Gigabit to 100 Gigabit throughputs. See also:- NAS, chips.

SNIA publishes draft SSD performance testing doc

Editor:- July 12, 2010 - SNIA today announced the availability of its Solid State Storage Performance Test Specification (version 0.9) for public review.

A typical flash SSD taken "fresh out of the box" and exposed to a workload, experiences a brief period of elevated performance, followed by a period of transition to an eventual performance Steady State. The new SNIA methodology will close the gap between performance measurements in the lab and in normal working life and make competitive vendor comparisons more useful.

Editor's comments:- The SNIA initiative is welcome but long overdue. All standards ORGs are slow to react to market trends.

2 years ago I published an article called - Can you trust flash SSD specs & benchmarks? - because it had been clear to me that many oems and publications didn't know about what I called the "halo effect" - which could make flash SSDs look better than they really were. Prior to that I had asked some vendors to retest their devices using longer test runs before publishing their benchmarks.

new directory of old style (parallel) SCSI SSDs

Editor:- July 9, 2010 - today published a new directory of (parallel) SCSI SSDs.

SCSI SSDs aren't exactly a new topic in the history of the SSD market. I benchmarked a SCSI SSD 20 years ago for use with an embedded SPARC server. And there was a time when 95% of SSD manufacturers made SCSI SSDs. Today that figure is 8%..

This is a market which has resisted the upward suction of the SSD market bubble. Despite that - I know from many reader inquiries that customers with legacy servers, and equipment designers with legacy products still search for SCSI drives - and in many cases SSDs are replacing HDDs - simply because the original hard disk manufacturers have end of lifed SCSI models. But many of the new SCSI SSDs available today aren't simply fossilized versions of old designs. They include new security, performance and reliability features.

As an editor - creating a new SCSI SSD list has been low on my priorities - because I thought the market had nearly gone away - and I hoped I wouldn't have to do it. I was wrong. More SCSI SSDs are being shipped today than at any time in the past. It's never going to be a huge market - but for those of you who have been looking - here it is.

upgrading old PCs with SSDs

Editor:- July 9, 2010 - Upgrading Old PCs with SSDs is a cautionary tale published on Denali Software's blog.

I've often told readers who asked me about this subject - that they could be wasting their time trying to upgrade old notebooks with PATA or SATA SSDs - because most of the speedup benefits - if any - will be lost by the latency damping effects of cheap and slow bridge chips on the motherboard - and that - unlike in a server - notebooks have precious little CPU headroom. It's nice to see these views are shared by the author of this article who works for an SSD IP vendor. the article

Renice Technology looking for SSD partners

Editor:- July 9, 2010 - Renice Technology became the 166th SSD manufacturer to be added to our SSD directory today.

Based in PRC - they are looking for international channel partners - email Rena, if you're interested.
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Significant news stories in past 12 months
Each link below takes you to a week of news.

Anobit aims at SandForce SSD slots - June 2010
SandForce brings branding to SSD chips - May 2010
Nimbus designs own SAS SSDs for arrays - Apr 2010
OCZ gets $15 million funding - Mar 2010
Seagate ships 2TB SAS HDD - Feb 2010
ioSafe launches disaster proof SSD - Jan 2010
Micron samples SATA 3.0 SSDs - Dec 2009
Google's new SSD based OS - Nov 2009
Active Media launches USB 3 SSDs - Oct 2009
Dataram ships auto-tuning SAN SSD - Sep 2009
STEC samples 6Gb/s SAS SSDs - Aug 2009
What's the best way to design a flash SSD?

and other questions which divide SSD opinion
More than 10 key areas of fundamental disagreement within the SSD industry are discussed in an article here on called the the SSD Heresies.
click to read the article - the SSD Heresies ... Why can't SSD's true believers agree upon a single coherent vision for the future of solid state storage? the article
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