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Storage news - September 2010 - week 2

DIMM wars
consumer SSDs
the fastest SSDs
the Top 10 SSD Companies
Branding Strategies in the SSD Market
Write IOPS - inflation problems in flash SSDs
How will the hard drive market fare... in a solid state storage world?
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Megabyte loved reading news stories
about the storage market
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STEC samples anti-SandForce 2.5" SATA SSDs

Editor:- September 14, 2010 - STEC today announced it is sampling a new range of fast enterprise optimized 1.8" and 2.5" SATA SSDs - called the MACH16 which is available in SLC and MLC versions for commercial and industrial temperature operation.

The SLC models have upto 200GB capacity, R/W speeds of 240Mbytes/sec and 190Mbytes/sec respectively, average latency of 50 microseconds and 30,000 / 10,000 sustained R/W IOPS.

Editor's comments:- the new SSDs compete in the same market segment as others which have SSD controllers from Anobit or SandForce inside. From the limited info I've seen when posting this news it looks like the access time of the STEC units is superior.

You may well ask - what's the point of having better latency if the headline IOPS and throughput etc (which are consequentially related metrics) aren't as good as the best of the competitors? I guess an STEC pre-sales engineer would say - real-life apps don't behave exactly the same as benchmarks. If other things are nearly equal - latency is more impotant.

Something which STEC does have - which none of its direct competitors have yet - is a longer track record of delivering reliable products. But the sheer number of companies in the market with SandForce controllers - for example - means that when you multiply SSD units times operating hours - they may catch up real soon in that respect.

And just in case some of you were squinting at the performance numbers and wondering if you could squeeze them to look like someone else's SSD IP - a spokesperson I put this to today, Kenn Durrence, said "STEC only utilizes internally developed controllers and firmware. Third party SSD controllers do not provide the quality and reliability that our customers require."

See also:- my flash SSD lasts longer than yours

another $25 million funding - for SandForce

Editor:- September 14, 2010 - SandForce today announced it has closed $25 million in Series D funding, led by Canaan Partners.

Existing investors who also participated include DCM, Storm Ventures, Translink Capital, LSI Corporation & UMC Capital.

"We are increasing volume shipments of our Enterprise and Client SSD Processors to leading drive manufacturers around the globe and continue to receive exceptional market acceptance of our DuraClass technology in I/O intensive storage applications," said Michael Raam, president and CEO of SandForce. "This new funding will help us bring our next-generation products to market, expand our customer and partner support infrastructure, and accelerate our core technology development that will extend our market leadership." See also:- Michael Raam's SSD Bookmarks, SSD Controllers / IP, VCs in storage

SSD talk at IDF

Editor:- September 13, 2010 - SSDs is one of the themes of the Intel Developer Forum this week in San Francisco.

You can see what they'll be talking about by clicking the "themes" link above.

SSDs cheaper than HDDs in some new DVRs

Editor:- September 9, 2010 - SanDisk today announced that NDS (a tv set top box designer with with over 30 million DVR units deployed) has successfully has designed SanDisk SSDs into a new range of lower cost set-top DVRs.

The new solution allows for the deployment of energy-efficient STBs with decreased power consumption, small form factors and virtually silent operation.

SanDisk says its SanDisk P4 is substantially less expensive in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities than hard disk drives, which are often only available in higher capacities. Editor's note - This floor price SSD penetration model was 1st proposed in the 2005 article by Jim Handy - Flash vs. Hard Disks - Which Will Win?

"For the first time, SSDs are now a cost-effective alternative to hard drives in the STB market," said Doron Myersdorf, senior director, SSDs, SanDisk.

Editor's comments:- flash storage has been used in STBs for a long time. Samsung shipped 117 million units of its 0.5GB OneNAND devices in 2006 into various markets including STB.

Low acoustic noise was mentioned as a desirable factor in the world's 1st SSD user preferences survey (2004). In those days - because of the cost of SSDs - we were talking about silent running in submarines.

For DVRs with terabytes of storage - HDDs will remain a lower cost option for a while. And you will probably continue seeing HDDs in new consumer products long after HDDs have disappeared from the datacenter - because the cost of ownership and performance envelopes will diverge.

Previously the subject of tv data storage has been scattered throughout many regions of the mouse site - filed away by media technology and interface. All that is going to change soon as I recycle the old DVD page with new tv storage content in the coming week.

Pliant does U turn in $A$ SSDs

Editor:- September 8, 2010 - Pliant Technology announced it is sampling MLC versions of its 2.5" SAS SSD family with upto 400GB capacity and >10K sustained IOPS.

Editor's comments:- new dynasty SSD maker Fusion-io has successfully demonstrated that there is a healthy market appetite for MLC SSDs in some "enterprise apps". How many is "some"? Enough to make a VC wake up in your powerpoint presentation!

Most new 2.5" SSD makers are taking the opposite route to Pliant in that the majority started with consumer grade (MLC) SSD products with SATA interfaces and are busily reworking their products to add SAS (spelt $A$) so they can charge higher prices.

Pliant - on the other hand - made a conservative choice by launching only SLC SSDs when it started sampling its 1st SSDs 12 months ago. Will Pliant add SATA SSDs to its line up too? - Unlikely it could survive in that fiercely competitive market. But if the company is still around in another 12 months - I wouldn't be surprised to see them extend their range with a PCIe SSD. Because you have to give enterprise customers what they want. Even if the market appears inconsistent about what it wants. If the money is there you have to pay attention.

today's storage news

Capacitor hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
exploring the extreme limits of design
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If you spend a lot of your time analyzing the performance characteristics and limitations of flash SSDs - this article will help you to easily predict the characteristics of any new SSDs you encounter - by leveraging the knowledge you already have.
flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations
It's by no means inevitable that the biggest memory companies will go on to become the biggest SSD companies.
an SSD guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles
Now we're seeing new trends in pricing flash arrays which don't even pretend that you can analyze and predict the benefits using technical models.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing
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SSDs - the big picture
Editor:- was the world's 1st publication to provide continuous editorial coverage and analysis of SSDs (in 1998) and in the 12 years which have followed 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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