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Storage news - May 2010, week 2

Megabyte's selection of storage news
Megabyte loves reading storage news.
... what happened in SSD year 2010?
Are MLC SSDs safe in enterprise apps?
SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
This way to enterprise SSD platform consolidation
BOM control and the mythical "standard" industrial SSD
The enterprise flash story... could it have been simplified?
Decloaking hidden preference segments in enterprise flash
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Will hybrid SSD/HDD products succeed?

Editor:- May 14, 2010 - a new article in discusses prospects for the hybrid SSD/HDD market and SSD ASAPs.

It arose when I was having a discussion with their experienced storage commentator Chris Mellor. He asked what I thought about a recent web posting that Toshiba might be thinking of new hybrid SSD products.

I said - "I've always thought that 2.5" hybrids (SSD + HDD) were a waste of space - ever since the idea surfaced. It doesn't matter who makes them." - I then went on to explain why. the article

...Later:- May 17, 2010 - after seeing the above article - a thoughtful SSD reader asked me to say more. See what I said in this sequel (and prequel).

What's the best / cheapest - PC SSD?

Editor:- May 14, 2010 - I often get emails from readers which ask the above question.

A long overdue new article published today on - called What's the best / cheapest PC SSD? - is my attempt to create a simple FAQs page - which answers the question - of why I can't answer your question - and follows on to pose some probing questions which you can ask yourself. the article

flash SSD integrity architectures for space-craft

Editor:- April 13, 2010 - for those interested in flash SSD data integrity issues - Phil White, President of ECC Technologies has released a white paper - NAND Flash Memories for Spacecraft (doc).

Phil has been working with ECC for almost 37 years and his company is developing future ECC designs to allow systems architects to develop NAND flash memories that are highly reliable and fault-tolerant even if the NAND flash chips themselves are not so reliable.

NASA is using ECC Tek's designs in multiple missions. 2 of the designs are in space at the present time and are working perfectly. Phil White recently wrote a document for NASA and JPL which outlines how to design NAND Flash memories for spacecraft. The 22 page "preview" document excludes confidential data but gives a taste of the technology available for licensing. the article

5 Cloud Storage Tips from Nasuni

Editor:- May 13, 2010 - Nasuni recently published a guide to the top 5 issues you should consider when looking at cloud storage.

This is a very hype-laden market - which has taken 10 years to get nowhere substantial very fast - but I suppose others might (wrongly) say something similar about the 35 years it's taken for the SSD market to get seriously started.

Because I have grown suspicious about all new storage software companies - I let this one sit in my inbox for a few days before looking at it in more detail.. But the points made seem quite sensible. the article

Mushkin's 2.5" SandForce SoC SSD

Editor:- May 12, 2010 - Mushkin has joined the throng of SSD companies marketing SandForce (inside) 2.5" SSDs.

Mushkin's new Callisto range includes a 240GB SATA model with R/W speeds upto 285MB/s and 275MB/s respectively, and shopping cart price of $666.49.

Fusion-io's SSDs validated for Oracle

Editor:- May 12, 2010 - Fusion-io today announced that it has validated its PCIe based flash SSDs with Oracle Enterprise Linux.

Monica Kumar, senior director OpenSource Product Marketing, Oracle said "By collaborating with our partners such as Fusion-io (a Gold level partner) Oracle continues to focus on helping customers deploy better, faster and cheaper Linux solutions."

Cost reductions can arise from being able to run less servers to achieve application performance goals due to the speedup obtained by appropriately configured SSD accelerators (SSD CPU Equivalence ).

Editor's comments:- The idea of optimizing database performance with fast storage and parallel processing goes right back to the birth of these database products.

In 1988 I was lucky enough to be development manager of a Unix oem called Databasix - where we played with every technology we could think of to make applications go faster including designing array processors, prototype RAID controllers and SSDs. We were lucky to have customers who could afford to buy technology - if it could be proven to run an order of magnitude faster than anything else that was available. I used to joke with our sales people that we'll charge more for any systems that run faster than the speed of light or break any other cherished rules of physics or computer architecture. This was mostly for an application segment which I used to refer to as "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or Superman?" (You can replace the "Superman" part with the name of any particular bad guys on government wanted lists.

But an important lesson learned from this expensive education - which I'll pass on to you free - is that not all applications do in fact speed up. You've got to know what you're doing and put the fast bits in the right place. The bottleneck is not always where you think it is. Or if it is and you fix it in one place - then you may have to fix the next bottleneck upstream too. That's why "try before you buy" is the golden rule for enterprise SSD acceleration.

In 2004 - 44% of big budget SSD users said that try before you buy would be a necessary step in their decision making process ( SSD survey) and I don't think the results would be very different today.

STEC may reshuffle SSDs to stay in the game

Editor:- May 12, 2010 - an article in suggests that STEC will soon launch a PCIe SSD to compete with the likes of Fusion-io and Texas Memory Systems.

That's not a real surprise. The enterprise server acceleration market is STEC's biggest market. And the PCIe SSD market has - in less than 3 years - established itself as the most important enterprise SSD form factor - based on SSD search volume.

The author of the Register article - Chris Mellor - also said that STEC has been sampling a low capacity RAM SSD.

5 to 10 years ago - RAM SSDs in hard disk form factors from companies like Curtis and TiGi were used by server and switch oems to stealthily boost high end product speeds - but the smashing of the flash endurance barrier and steep flash SSD performance roadmap coupled with much lower flash vs RAM capacity prices has nearly killed off that market segment.

Nearly - but not quite. DDRdrive has found a niche for its own low capacity RAM SSD (launched a year ago) which is the same market eyed by STEC.

The difference being that STEC will most likely maintain its volume oem route to market - whereas end-users can buy the DDRdrive in quantities as low as a single unit. (And STEC's product, being newer, should be faster.)

...Later:- soon after publishing the above I was contacted by Chris George, Founder and CTO of DDRdrive who questioned my speculative anticipation that the (as yet unreleased) STEC product would be faster than that the low latency DDRdrive X1 - which delivers 300,000 IOPS.

The point I had intended to make is that STEC has been in the habit of setting performance records with its flagship enterprise SSDs. But if they haven't done their market research - and instead launch an underwhelming RAM SSD acceleration product then they will have missed an important market opportunity. We'll have to wait for news and details.

...Much later:- In 2013 STEC was acquired by HGST. STEC's main IP assets at that time were adaptive controller technology and product lines in the SAS SSD and SATA SSD markets.

60GB SandForce inside SSDs - $220 from OWC

Editor:- May 11, 2010 - OWC launched the Mercury Pro SSD family - which are 2.5" SSDs with SandForce designed SSD controllers inside.

R/W speeds are upto 285MB/s . At the time of launch prices and capacities were as follows:- 60GB - $219.99, 120GB - $379.99, 240GB $699.99 and 480GB $1,579.99.

DCIG publishes buyers guide - midrange storage array market

Editor:- May 11, 2010 - DCIG has published the DCIG Midrange Array Buyer's Guide (100+ pages) which contains product information on over 70 different midrange arrays from 20 storage providers.

DCIG says the guide is intended to narrow down the playing field to develop a list of competitive products that have comparable features to meet specific application or business needs. Developed to be the go-to resource for IT professionals, the guide provides direct comparisons of storage systems classified as midrange arrays and delivers insight into the range of offerings available on the market.

New for 2010, the DCIG Midrange Array Buyer's Guide provides product comparisons among the widest range of storage array options and identifies the winners and losers across five categories, including FC/iSCSI, FC only, iSCSI only, hardware and software.

Pricing ranges from $5,000 for 1 print copy - upto $20,000 which includes:- internal distribution, 1 hour of analyst debriefing and marketing citation rights.

TwinStrata names customers using its CloudArray software

Editor:- May 10, 2010 -TwinStrata announced new customer deployments of its CloudArray software - which delivers cloud storage functions (such as data replication, backup/restore, data archiving and DR) piped through an iSCSI connection.

TwinStrata says its software supports all market-leading hypervisors: VMware ESX/ESXi, Citrix XenServer, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

PMC-Sierra acquires Adaptec's SSD ASAP and RAID business

Editor:- May 10, 2010 - PMC-Sierra announced a definitive agreement to acquire Adaptec's channel storage business for approximately $34 million in cash.

This deal includes Adaptec's RAID storage product line, its global VAR customer base, board logistics capabilities, and SSD cache performance solutions.

Editor's comments:- I had heard that Adaptec's storage business was up for sale a few months ago.

In my storage market outlook 2010 to 2015 article - published last year - I explained why I thought that the RAID controller market couldn't stay as it was.

These companies have to get into offering complete SSD solutions in the long term. In the short term PMC-Sierra may be able to do a better job aggregating a bigger percentage of whatever remains of the untied RAID controller business.

I expect the RAID business (for hard disks) will eventually become a consumer / SMB market - while the enterprise storage array part of this market will morph through an SSD ASAP phase - while users struggle to redefine new storage architectures for the datacenter.

earlier storage news

SSD ad - click for more info
what's the best PC / MAC SSD? - click to read article
What's the best / cheapest PC SSD?
Megabyte settled down to pen a convoluted
reply to an apparently simple reader question.
Significant news stories in past 12 months
Each link below takes you to a week of news.

RunCore samples SAS SSDs - 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
Denali says flash price slope will flatten - Jul 2009
Fusion-io pitches consumer PCIe SSDs - Jun 2009
more SSD articles...
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