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SSD news - April 1 - 7 , 2011

SSD endurance - the forever war
how long for hard drives in an SSD world?
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
Adaptive R/W and DSP ECC in flash SSD IP
Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less chips
how will Memory Channel SSDs impact PCIe SSDs?
Dataram doubles memory in XcelaSAN

Editor:- April 6, 2011 - Dataram has doubled the RAM cache available in its XcelaSAN (2U rackmount fibre-channel SAN SSD accelerator) to 256GB (the system price is approx $75,000).

XcelaSAN delivers up to 30x transparent R/W acceleration to attached disk storage arrays with a high-availability architecture (internal performance is upto 450,000 IOPS). Unlike vanilla SSD accelerators, XcelaSAN dynamically caches high I/O activity application data when it is needed, to support multiple applications many times larger than the cache itself.

"With the new capacity upgrade, the XcelaSAN storage optimization appliance allows customers to dramatically accelerate more applications with a cost-effective, easy to install storage appliance," said Jason Caulkins, Chief Technologist, Dataram. "The added cache capacity allows customers to add cache tiering to a wider range of applications in addition to their mission critical applications, resulting in improved performance across their entire business."

Editor's comments:- when Dataram launched the XcelaSAN in September 2009 - they published precious little performance data and they didn't offer a simple high availability option. Now with benefit of customer experience and a reworking of the design Dataram has a lot more info which describes the product including a useful (and overdue) FAQs page. Another factor which has changed in the meantime is that more than 20 other manufacturers now offer ASAPs (Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage) with their own flavors of interface, form factor etc making this a confusing market for potential buyers.

The simple pitch for the Dataram ASAP is:- it works with your existing FC SAN storage arrays and installs in about an hour. Because it does the hot spot tuning automatically it suits medium sized enterprises who may only need to buy a single system. These users are not so attractive to high end SSD oems who for business reasons prefer focusing their technical and sales talent on customers with high multiple repeat business potential.

One amusing thing for me in seeing today's news about doubling the memory in the XcelaSAN is that Dataram has for decades been the first memory maker to offer increased memory capacity for leading servers. Now the company is doing the same thing to itself.

Virident does that 1 million IOPS thing in 1U SGI server

Editor:- April 4, 2011 - Virident Systems today announced that working with SGI they demonstrated 1 million IOPS performance in a 1U server rack using just 2 of its tachIOn PCIe SSDs at a system list price of less than $.05 per IOPS.

Editor's comments:- among other things Virident says "this solution needs only 800GB of operating storage to achieve 1 Million IOPS, versus up to more than 5TB in some other solutions."

What this alludes to is that the more flash memory chips you've got in an SSD array the easier it is to juggle the controller design to ensure an adequate population of "ready for write" chips - which in turn gives you faster write IOPS. By not having to over provision the SSD storage users can save space, electrical power and money. Having said that -Virident like TMS - and unlike Fusion-io - only uses (more expensive) SLC flash in their enterprise SSDs.

Finally a note about performance. "million IOPS SSD" has been the common currency of SSD marketers on this site for over 8 years. What matters is whether you can afford that performance and how well its behavior correlates with the demands from your own apps and in your own servers.

...Later:- a day later - Virident issued another press release with quotes from various other oems and integrators who are using its tachIOn SSD - which should appear soon on its own news page.

Marvell flies a kite for DragonFly accelerator

Editor:- April 4, 2011 - Marvell today unveiled a PCIe compatible SSD ASAP.

Marvell claims 10x speedups can be realized using its new DragonFly Virtual Storage Accelerator - which is designed to reduce write amplification to external storage arrays and acts as an OS agnostic multiprotocol storage cache for NAS, SAN or DAS storage arrays. The product - is expected to sample in Q3.

Editor's comments:- more than 20 companies have launched similarly impressive sounding accelerators in the past 2 years in form factors ranging from cards to racks. Based on the track record of the SSD industry in this particular segment I think it would be realistic for users to think about a timescale which is more like another year than another quarter before application software issues are resolved in this new product - and the speedup ratio quoted may or may not be sustainable too.

See also:- Animal brands in the SSD market - Would users buy an SSD just because it has an animal printed on the label? If so - what animal should it be?

SMART samples XceedIOPS2 SATA SSDs

Editor:- April 4, 2011 - SMART today announced sample availability of its XceedIOPS2 6Gb/s SATA SSDs in 1.8" and 2.5" form factors which use with the latest SandForce SF-2000 series SSD processors.

Available with eMLC or commercial MLC in capacities from 50 to 400GB, the new XceedIOPS2 SATA SSD delivers upto 60K random IOPS and sequential performance of 520MB/s. Designed to deliver superior reliability (backed by a 5 year warranty) the XceedIOPS2 includes SMART's proprietary PowerGuard™ technology.

"The XceedIOPS2 SATA SSD from SMART leverages industry-leading technologies proven to meet the requirements of Tier-1 enterprise applications," said John Scaramuzzo, GM of SMART's Storage Business Unit. "This 2nd generation product incorporates advances in both established and proprietary technologies, resulting in a highly reliable design that delivers best-of-breed SSD cost and performance for the enterprise."

Editor's comments:- I asked for more info about PowerGuard technology because it touches on a reliability topic (SSD sudden power loss) that has recently been become popular with readers.

In January 2011 - SMART published an application note - SSD Power Failure Protection (pdf). It describes the 3 most vulnerable SSD areas which can get corrupted due to sudden power loss - and describes typical architectures to prevent it.

SMART's view is that supercaps aren't reliable enough for enterprise SSDs. "For every 10°C of ambient operating temperature rise, the life expectancy of a supercapacitor can be cut approximately in half." So instead they use NbO capacitors in an array. These have MTBFs 100x better than Al based supercaps, have little degradation of capacitance with temperature and fail to open circuit (which is acceptable) and the array guarantees there is sufficient capacitance remaining if this happens.

Daily storage searches spiked in March

Editor:- April 1, 2011 - readership and pageviews on in March were at their highest monthly levels for 6 months - with peak daily pageviews higher than at any time in our 15 years on the web - despite the fact I'm covering a much narrower range of subjects nowadays - the twists and turns and transitions towards a solid state storage future.

A lot of stuff to analyze - and as soon as it makes any sense to me - I'll write more about it - including the quarterly update of the top 10 SSD companies - which will be next Wednesday. If it was just a simple list - it would be sooner. It's the 25 or so supporting articles which take a little bit of time for me to write - not to mention everything else that's going on in the meantime.

Thanks to the many thousands of you who have linked to my content or mentioned it in other electronic communications. I don't spend nearly enough time looking at what web marketers call "backward links" - and when I do discover something nice that someone has said - it's often years after the event. Anyway thanks again and have a good weekend.

today's storage news

SSD ad - click for more info
"For every 10°C of ambient
operating temperature rise, the life
expectancy of a supercapacitor can
be cut approximately in half."
...SMART - in a news story on
this page (April 4, 2011) scroll
down to see more.
SSD ad - click for more info
Retiring and retiering enterprise DRAM was one of the big SSD ideas which took hold in the market in 2015.

Since then more than 20 companies have already announced products for this market among which are Memory1, 3DXPoint etc

But what are the underlying reasons that will make it feasible for slower cheaper memory to replace most of the future DRAM market without applications noticing?
latency loving reasons for fading out DRAM

"One petabyte of enterprise SSD could replace 10 to 50 petabytes of raw HDD storage in the enterprise - and still run all the apps faster and at lower cost."
meet Ken and the SSD event horizon

SSD ad - click for more info

Top 50 SSD articles on - in April 2011
(updated monthly)

  1. SSD Myths - "write endurance"
  2. the Top 20 SSD OEMs
  3. the SSD Buyers Guide
  4. Magneto-flash wars - HDDs v SSDs
  5. the Fastest SSDs
  6. SSD news (all)
  7. PCIe SSDs
  8. RAM v Flash SSDs - which is Best?
  9. 2.5" SSDs
  10. Flash v Hard Disks - Which Will Win?
  11. RAM SSDs
  12. are MLC SSDs safe in Enterprise Apps?
  13. 1.8" SSDs
  14. 3.5" SSDs
  15. SSD market history
  16. SSD controllers & IP
  17. SSD jargon
  18. SATA SSDs
  19. SAS SSDs
  20. the 10 biggest storage companies in 2012?
  21. SSD pricing explained
  22. SSD market analysts
  23. the problem with Write IOPS in flash SSDs
  24. Surviving SSD sudden power loss
  25. What's the best / cheapest - PC SSD?
  26. Top 50 SSD articles on
  27. 1" SSDs
  28. the SSD Reliability Papers
  29. SSD Data Recovery
  30. the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs?
  31. Storage Market Outlook to 2015
  32. this way to the Petabyte SSD.
  33. What's a Solid State Disk (SSD)?
  34. rackmount SSDs
  35. notebook SSD market overview
  36. Flash Memory Chips, Cards & nvRAM
  37. Data Integrity in flash SSD Design
  38. InfiniBand SSDs
  39. a new way of looking at Enterprise SSDs.
  40. 5 good reasons to buy SSDs
  41. Fibre-Channel Solid State Drives
  42. Calling for an End to Unrealistic SSD vs HDD IOPS Comparisons
  43. the Flash SSD Performance Roadmap
  44. Can you trust flash SSD specs & benchmarks?
  45. ExpressCard SSDs
  46. Hybrid Storage Drives
  47. Flash vs DRAM Price Projections - for SSD Buyers
  48. Increasing Flash SSD Reliability
  49. flash SSDs
  50. Fast Purge SSDs
  51. SSD ASAPs
  52. iSCSI SSDs
  53. PATA SSDs
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Significant news stories in past 3 months

Kaminario carves out new market for RAM SSDs - March 2011

SandForce driven SSDs pass 100PB shipments - February 2011

Micron quarantines errors in flash - December 2010

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