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SSD news - December 2011

SSD market history, a historical perspective of the SSD market
Kaminario agrees 2012 could be a "kick ass" year for SSD

Editor:- December 22, 2011 - SSDs are ready for take-off! - is a new 2011 SSD market year end review - written by Dani Golan founder of Kaminario.

BiTMICRO seeks SSD software talent in India

Editor:- December 21, 2011 - BiTMICRO has opened a design office in India.

"India is known for its highly skilled design engineers. We wanted to tap their technological expertise to support our chip and storage network system development ..." said Rey Bruce, CEO of BiTMICRO.

Texas Memory Systems want to be acquired

Editor:- December 21, 2011 - A recent report on CNBC confirms that Texas Memory Systems is looking for a potential buyer.

Editor's comments:- earlier this month when I interviewed the company's CEO - Holly Frost the thought of what TMS might be worth had crossed my mind. That's one of the legacies of the 2011 SSD market - that we look at companies in a different way.

I'm not going to hazard a guess at a valuation today - because I'm recovering from flu and my brain is still populated by bad blocks of flash.

See also:- SSD company acquisitions

HDD warranties to be cut

Editor:- December 20, 2011 - The warranties offered on many new hard drives will be reduced next year - according to an article in TomsHardware.

In a duopolistic market there's no need to make claims which are any better than they need to be. The regulators should have seen this coming.

SSD price timeline on

Editor:- December 19, 2011 - when blogger Magnus Nystedt contacted me earlier this month saying he was working on an article which would compare historic price trends in HDDs and SSDs I wasn't very supportive.

I said - "SSD price per GB is a very unreliable metric on which to base storage comparisons and I've written several articles explaining why it gives a meaningless picture."

Anyway that didn't stop him writing his article as you can see by clicking on the link. The SSDs in that data set are consumer drives.

Here are some wider scoped articles which I've previously written on this theme.
  • Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go? Includes indicative price data for different types of SSD - including enterprise SSDs.
  • And in my roadmap to the Petabyte SSD article - I explained why even if HDDs are given away free - they will be uneconomic compared to SSDs in the datacenter of the future. Storage is about more than just raw capacity. It's the ability to do useful things with data in a timely fashion in a physical space which you can sustainably afford.
Enterprise storage is more about the value of doing things with data. Consumer storage is more about the color and the shape of the box..

How Fusion-io changed the SSD market

Editor:- December 15, 2011 - continuing the home page series - Who's who in SSD? - I've written a new article today about Fusion-io which discusses the 3 main contributions they have made to altering the course of enterprise SSD market history.

Who's next? - Anobit may go the way of Pliant and SandForce

Editor:- December 13, 2011 - Industry rumors are discussing the possible acquisition of Anobit by Apple for $400 to $500 million.

As I said in my 2011 summary - there's a growing realization that "SSD companies are valuable."

SandForce enables enterprise oems to tweak the flash capacity iceberg

Editor:- December 12, 2011 -SandForce today announced it is sampling a new SSD controller - the SF-2481 - which provides increased data security and integrity features compared to earlier models from the company.

Editor's comments:- the new SandForce controllers are aimed at enterprise bulk storage applications / cloud storage. Performance is about the same as before - and the encryption strength is better - but the 2 main differences are:-
  • New improved media health test diagnostics.
The over provisioning feature is a key parameter which directly impacts the competitiveness of the oems who deploy SSDs with SF controllers - who can now decide for themselves how they want to adjust the flash in their systems between reliability - coping for endurance at high IOPS - or cost effectiveness in lower IOPS systems - where the SSD is being used in a large storage array to replace HDD storage.

Previous models of SF controllers hard coded this parameter - which meant that arrays of (small architecture) SF inside SSDs were uncompetitive compared to big architecture SSD systems from Violin or Texas Memory Systems.

If you're selling a controller which can go into such a diverse range of apps - it's impossible for the controller designer to choose a single set up which is best for all apps. Fusion-io has always enabled its oem partners to tweak this paramater in its PCIe SSDs. My headline comes from the article flash SSD capacity - the iceberg syndrome which discusses these tradeoffs in more detail.

will new RamSan rattle Violin?

Editor:- December 6, 2011 - Texas Memory Systems today announced imminent availability of the RamSan-720 - a 4 port (FC/IB) 1U rackmount SSD which provides 10TB of usable 2D (FPGA implemented) RAID protected and hot swappable - SLC capacity with 100/25 microseconds R/W latency (with all protections in place) delivering 400K IOPS (4KB), 5GB/s throughput - with no single point of failure (at $20K/TB approx list).

The new SSD uses a regular RAM cache flash architecture which in the event of sudden power loss has an ultra reliable battery array which holds up the SSD power for 30 seconds while automatically backing up all data in flight and translation tables to nonvolatile flash storage. On power up - the SSD is ready for full speed operation in less than a minute.

Aimed at HA tier 1 storage markets - the RamSan-720 consumes only 300-400 W - which makes it practical for high end users to install nearly 1/2 petabyte of SSD storage in a single cabinet - without having to worry about the secondary reliability and data integrity risks which can arise from high temperature build-ups in such enclosures.

Editor's comments:- I've been talking to TMS every month for over 10 years - and I've been writing about their memory appliances since the early 1990s - so you might think that I would have run out of things to say by now. When I saw the preliminary specs for the new RS-720 - the features which jumped out at me were:-
  • the low R/W latency for this class of SPOF product. Which is 2x as good as the next fastest product I know - the 6000 series fron Violin - and several times faster than some other tier 1 SSD vendors such as Kaminario and Huawei Symantec
  • the high storage density - over 3x better than Violin delivers in SLC - and close to the usable RAIDed capacity that a Fusion-io 1U server can deliver in MLC when using Octal.
A few days ago I spoke to Holly Frost, CEO and Dan Scheel, President of Texas Memory Systems about their new SSD, what they think about what's going on in the SSD market, and the philosophy that steers the design of their SSDs. In a hour long discussion I learned enough new stuff to write several new articles. So instead of condensing it down here into a couple of bullet points - I'm going to give you the benefit of what I learned in a new article tomorrow called - "StorageSearch talks SSD with Holly Frost."

Going back to my headline - will new RamSan rattle Violin? - I'm sure that Violin would say that this simply validates what they are doing (and shipping) already - and that the enterprise SSD market is big enough for all vendors in this category to keep growing at a healthy clip. It make you wonder how much a company like TMS might be worth too...

new article - re SSD ASAPs

Editor:- December 6, 2011 - today published a new article - the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs .

What's an SSD ASAP? - When I use this term it includes:-
  • auto-tiering SSD appliances
  • SSD cache - the automatic kind
  • SSD acceleration As Soon As Possible
  • Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage
  • combinations of the above
It's going to be a huge market. SSD ASAPs are 1 of the 6 main SSD product types that will be around in the pure solid state storage datacenter of the future in the 2016 to 2020 timeframe.

The word "new" in the title is deliberate. It replaces an article I wrote about SSD ASAPs when the market started in 2009.

Since then - my thinking - and that of key players in the market has developed. This should no longer just be regarded as a tactical market to bring the advantages of SSD acceleration to legacy hard drive arrays. ASAPs are an essential interface between different levels of SSD storage. the article

OCZ's revenue growth accelerated by enterprise SSDs

Editor:- December 1, 2011 - OCZ reported preliminary revenue for the past quarter (ended November 30) to be in the range $100 and $105 million - an increase of approximately 90% compared to the year ago quarter.

"We expect to report record revenue in Q3'12, driven primarily by increased traction for our enterprise and server SSD offerings along with initial shipments of our new PCIe-based offerings," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology. "Based on the exit bookings rates from November, interest in these products is exceeding our expectations, due to accelerated adoption of our SSDs by server OEMs and enterprise customers," added Petersen.

what's unique about FIO's ioDrives?

Editor:- December 1, 2011 - I've been meaning to do this for the past year - but I've finally got around to writing up an analysis of Fusion-io's ioDrive and ioMemory accelerator SSDs - which is designed to help you quickly understand why this product line from Fusion-io is different - and whether those are differences which matter to you.

I'm an analytical person - I started my career as an electronic engineer - which requires numeracy and modeling skills (rather than just an ability to cut and paste press releases and operate a spell checker) but this is one of those rare cases of where the raw numbers - without the narrative - fail to tell the full story the article
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"When markets get big enough to make the bean counting visible - there's no hiding place. If you shine - it shows. And if you stink - people move away."
what will set the tone of the SSD market in 2012?
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3 things that could have killed flash SSDs
The emerging size of the flash SSD market as you see it today was by no means inevitable. It owes a lot to 3 competing storage media competitors which failed to evolve fast enough in the Darwinian jungle of the storage market in the past decade.

One of these 3 contenders is definitely on the road to extinction - but could one of the other 2 still emerge to threaten flash SSDs?

The article - SSD's past phantom demons explores the latent market threats which hovered around the flash SSD market in the past decade. They seemed real and solid enough at the time.
SSD past phantom demons image - click to read the article Getting a realistic perspective of flash SSD's past demons (which seemed very threatening at the time) may help you better judge the so-called "new" generation of nv memory contenders - which are also discussed in the article. the article
fast erase / purge MIL SSDs
The 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.

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articlesAlthough many industrial SSD vendors offer products with extended "rugged" operating environment capabilities - and even notebooks SSDs come with encryption - it's the availability of fast destructive data purge which differentiates "truly secure" SSDs which can be deployed in sensitive applications.

Who makes these SSDs? How do they work? And what are the characteristics and limitations of the various methods used? Click on the link above to find out more in my special article / directory about fast purge SSDs.
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Surviving SSD sudden power loss
Why should you care what happens in an SSD when the power goes down?

This important design feature - which barely rates a mention in most SSD datasheets and press releases - has a strong impact on SSD data integrity and operational reliability.

This article will help you understand why some SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of application) might fail in others... even when the changes in the operational environment appear to be negligible.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. the article
Where does all the money go? - inside SSD pricing
SSDs are among the most expensive (and complex) computer hardware products you will ever buy and understanding the factors which determine SSD costs is often a confusing and irritating process... ...which is not made any easier when market prices for apparently identical capacity SSDs can vary more than 100x to 1!
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go? - click to read the article Why is that? There are good reasons for these cost differences. But more expensive isn't always better for you. To find out what goes into the price - and whether you need it - the article
How big was the thinking in this SSD's design?
Does size really does matter in SSD design?

By that I mean how big was the mental map? - not how many inches wide is the SSD.

The novel and the short story both have their place in literature and the pages look exactly the same. But you know from experience which works best in different situations and why.

When it comes to SSDs - Big versus Small SSD architecture - is something which was in the designer's mind. Even if they didn't think about it that way at the time.
click to read the article - Big versus Small SSD  architectures For designers, integrators, end users and investors alike - understanding what follows from these simple choices predicts a lot of important consequences. the article
"You can't just multiply last year's revenue figures by x100 to estimate the eventual size of the enterprise SSD market. But it's a good place to start..."
......from the article:- will the enterprise SSD market be big enough for all these companies [list] to grow?
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the 3 fastest flash PCIe SSDs - list / lists
You know the sort of thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs against each other. It would be nice to have a shortlist so that you don't have to waste too much of your own valuable time testing unsuitable candidates wouldn't it?

StorageSearch's long running fastest SSDs directory typically indicates 1 main product in each form factor category but those examples may not be compatible with your own ecosystem.

If so a new article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help you cut that Gordian knot. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
the 3 fastest  PCIe SSDs  - click to read article But in this case you'd be wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) the article

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