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SSD & Storage news - 2011, February 1 - 14

SandForce oems shipped over 100 Petabytes of new SSDs

Editor:- February 14, 2011 - SandForce today announced it has shipped more than one million of its SF-1500 and SF-1200 SSD Processors since they were released into production in 2010.

SandForce Driven SSD manufacturers shipped more than 100 Petabytes of NAND flash into the mainstream computing markets.

"We designed the SandForce SSD Processors to kickstart the SSD market by bringing enterprise-class performance and longevity to SSDs made with cost-effective commodity MLC flash, and that's exactly what has happened," said Michael Raam, President and CEO for SandForce. "...We anticipate our shipment volumes to increase by several multiples as the value proposition of SSDs based on our technology further proliferate into the mainstream market."

Editor's comments:- are you surprised? If you are - then maybe you haven't been reading very long. I suggest you start reading back issues of the top 10 SSD lists - to avoid any more future SSD shocks.

See also:- Petabyte SSDs - roadmap and market milestones

SanDisk promises 64GB miniature SSDs in Q3

Editor:- February 14, 2011 - SanDisk preannounced details of a new miniature SSD which will ship in Q3 2011 - the iNAND has upto 64GB (x3 MLC) capacity in a 12mm x 16mm x 1mm package.

"For smartphones and tablets, every millimeter of thickness counts," said Amir Lehr, VP, embedded business, SanDisk. "Designers are constantly looking for new ways to make mobile devices as small and thin as possible. To meet that need, SanDisk's advanced NAND process and packaging technologies allow us to pack more storage into smaller and slimmer footprints. This in turn enables OEMs to design more compact devices while freeing up precious board space for other needs, such as larger batteries."

STEC's revenue bucks SSD market trend

Editor:- February 14, 2011 - STEC today announced that its revenue for full-year 2010 was $280 million, a decrease of 20.9% from $354.2 million for 2009.

At the current rate of progress STEC's SSD revenue - on the way down - may intersect with that of OCZ during 2011 going up - contrasting the fortunes of a company (STEC) which once had technical leadership in the SSD market - with a company (OCZ) which never had technical leadership in any SSD segment - but knows how to market and sell SSDs.

Now you see it. Now you don't.

Solaris support for Foremay's PCIe SSDs

Editor:- February 14, 2011 - I recently I had a complaint from a reader who said that our editorial indicated that Foremay - a manufacturer of PCIe SSDs - supported SPARC Solaris.

But the reader told me that when they asked about Solaris support they were told by Foremay they'd have to pay a very significant sum to get it developed sooner. Had I misunderstood something?

If so I was not alone. Confusingly similar - but incompatible SSD models and numbering and the lack of a clear technology roadmap are some of the issues at the heart of this problem. You can read more in the editor's column on the right hand side of this page.

Kingston lends hand to JMicron

Editor:- February 11, 2011 - Media reports have said that Kingston Technology is investing $3 million in JMicron.

from the garage to a top 10 SSD company

Editor:- February 10, 2011 - OCZ's CEO, Ryan Petersen reveals in a new article on the difficulties he faced when he decided his business had to get out of the memory business and focus on SSDs. the article

See also:- the top SSD companies, storage people, VCs in storage

Dataram validates ASAP concept for EMC VMware

Editor:- February 10, 2011 - Dataram has published a new benchmark white paper (pdf) which shows how EMC users could significantly improve the performance obtainable from 15k RPM based SAN storage arrays in VMware environments at about 1/10th of the cost by using Dataram's XcelaSAN (FC SAN compatible SSD ASAP).

The simulated workload was based on a concept described in VMware's 100K IOPS, one ESX host blog (2008).

"XcelaSAN allows IT managers to easily and cost effectively accelerate application data in VMware environments without the need to install additional midrange storage or migrate to high-end storage," said the report's author - Eric Schwartz, Sr. Systems Engineer with Dataram. "In a virtualized infrastructure, XcelaSAN reduces the need to overprovision by providing more efficient resource utilization. The result is significant reduction of the total cost of computing."

Editor's comments:- while it's not news that SSDs can slash user costs in high IOPS environments - the difficulty has always been getting someone you can trust who has SSD tuning expertise related to your apps environment to give you the time of day to look at your problems.

What is news is that Dataram is starting to talk more about validating the concept of its auto tuning acelerators. That's the value proposition of SSD ASAPs - no more waiting for the SSD hot-spot hot-shots - because the software does the analysis and caching for you.

Frankly if you're not already a top tier SSD customer then you have a better chance of chatting to President Obama about world problems at your coffee machine than talking to a genuine SSD tuning wizard.

Business opportunities from Intel's imperfect bridge chips

Editor:- February 9, 2011 - Intel Knowingly Sells Faulty Chipsets. are they Crazy? is a new article on which discusses how Intel is dealing with the issue of a bridge chip with known defects in some SATA ports.

I rarely read that publication because my interests are enterprise storage and SSDs - but the author Keir Thomas had linked to from another recent article he wrote - Seagate: SSDs are Doomed (at Least for Now) - which showed up in my web stats.

When I started my storage reliability directory in 2006 - I knew that large storage vendors would ship flaky SSDs and hard drives - but I assumed that would be due to the unwitting and creeping use of inappropriate design and testing methodologies - rather than deliberate business decisions.

Another characteristic of this Intel chip is that if oems populate all the RAM slots which it "supports" - the speed drops down to unattractive levels.

But that's not bad news for everyone. Adrian Proctor, VP of of Marketing at Viking told me last month it means there's a growing population of DIMM slots on motherboards which can't be used for RAM - but could be used instead to save space and power by installing their SATADIMM SSDs to replace HDDs as boot drives. Other companies make 1 inch and smaller SSDs too.

network SSDs stack profits for Nimbus

Editor:- February 8, 2011 - Nimbus Data Systems announced that it achieved profitability in its fiscal year ending December 31, 2010.

"Today's announcement of achieving profitability marks Nimbus' maturity from an innovative startup to an established storage player intent on achieving rapid market expansion, unmatched innovation, and leadership in the emerging sustainable storage and flash memory storage market," stated Thomas Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus. "Our commitment to customer satisfaction and responsible growth reflects in this important company milestone."

Editor's comments:- I said in my 2011 SSD forecast that this year will be a year of reality checks for SSD makers.

Getting to profitability in a fast growing market like the enterprise SSD market is a noteworthy achievement - which stems from "owning the stack from the choice of silicon up through the OS and into the network" - as Thomas Isakovich explained to me in an interview last year.

how times change - the fastest SSDs

Editor:- February 8, 2011 - I've updated the fastest SSDs list again today.

This article actually gets updated many times each month - and attracts a lot of vendor emails - when companies aren't listed - or get bumped off the list.

I also thought it might be interesting to look back again at the 1st edition of the fastest SSDs list in 2007 (which you can see on the internet archive).

The fastest SSDs today are about 3x to 5x faster than they were back in 2007 (which I called - the Year of SSD Revolutions.)

was it worth it? - the ROI of a web page is the beating heart of all web business

Editor:- February 8, 2011 - in a new blog today - what's the life of a web page? - I look at the economics of online content.

Does Google calculate ROI on the cost of indexing different web pages? - That's something I muse about too. the article

Violin announces $35 million Series B funding

Editor:- February 7, 2011 - Violin Memory today announced a $35 Million Series B funding round which includes Toshiba - a strategic investor since April 2010.

Also joining this round is Juniper Networks, along with other corporate partners, crossover investment funds, high net worth industry leaders and private equity general partners.

Google cites SMART defense in HyperCloud memory patent dispute

Editor:- February 3, 2011 -SMART today announced that the US Patent & Trademark Office has granted its request to re-examine and invalidate 2 Netlist patents related to "rank multiplication" technology associated with high density registered DIMMs that support the server market.

SMART believes that its filed SMART Patent Application No. 2006/0117152 shows that SMART engineers developed "rank multiplication" technology in 2003. Since SMART's '152 application was filed before the Netlist 7,619,912 Patent, SMART believes that Netlist is not entitled to the '912 patent. Thus, in addition to the request for reexamination, SMART has previously also filed a Continuation Application as the necessary initial step in the USPTO to have the '912 patent awarded to SMART.

Google, Inc. and Inphi Corporation have both been sued by Netlist for potentially infringing the '912 patent, which Netlist refers to as enabling HyperCloud Memory. Google is using the SMART '152 patent application in its defense.

View from the SSD Viking Longboat

Editor:- February 3, 2011 - I had a briefing recently in which I learned more about Viking's SSD business.

They're in the embedded market - so most of you won't be familiar or interested in what they do. But if you move in those (physically restricted and confined) circles you can read my article in their profile page.

SolidFire secures $11 million to bring flash to clouds

Editor:- February 3, 2011 - SolidFire announced it has raised $11 million in financing this month which followed an earlier seed round of $1 million.

The company is developing SSD enabled cloud storage.

Editor's comments:- SSDs are the perfect example of virtualized storage - because they enable you to create products with any mix of performance and capacity characteristics you want.

As I've discussed in various futuristic articles - not all SSD paths lead to the fastest performance. Instead the enterprise SSD market will have a spectrum of products which cover a range of performance more than 1,000 to 1 - and capacity costs which range from the price of a bunch of servers at one end down to below the cost of rotating hard drives at the other - depending on what is being replaced and why in the application slot they are designed to fill.

Judging an SSD by its interface

Editor:- February 1, 2011 - What does the interface say about an SSD? - is the subject discussed in a new blog written by Woody Hutsell, Application Acceleration Practice Director at ViON.

The author takes you on a brief tour of the interface types you'll find in the enterprise SSD market with a note about the place of each. here to read the article

Editor's comments:- I agree with the author that the interface type is a good starting point for narrowing down most SSD vendor searches. The only exception being SATA SSDs which encompasses such a large number of suppliers and products - that it's not the most useful starting point any more - compared with other descriptors such as form factor or intended market (notebook, rugged, enterprise etc).

You can navigate SSD content by popular interface type here on using this alphabetic list of links:- expressCard SSDs, fibre-channel SSDs, InfiniBand SSDs, iSCSI SSDs, parallel SCSI SSDs, PATA SSDs, PCIe SSDs, PMC SSDs, SAS SSDs, SATA SSDs, USB SSDs and VME SSDs.

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Foremay needs clearer OS support info and technology roadmaps
Editor:- In February 2011 - one of my readers who wanted to evaluate Foremay's PCIe SSD cards for Solaris apps was told that it wasn't actually available - but could be expedited for a considerable development fee. It looked as if Foremay might have preannounced a feature that doesn't yet exist! It's not unusual for SSD "unveiling" announcements to be done 6 to 12 months in advance . But this OS support feature was listed in a press release 16 months ago.

...Later:- February 14, 2011 - Foremay emailed me about the above statement and said "We feel the comment is not fair. As you may know, our EC188 D-series PCIe is in the market for quite a while and well accepted by various customers. It supports various OSs such as Windows, Mac, Linux and some Unix such as FreeBSD, but we did not claim our current EC188 D-series PCIe SSD support Solaris."

Editor:- But when I checked these documents original press release and current datsheet I found these statements respectively...

"The EC188 D-Series PCIe SSD card supports various operating systems including Window 7 /Vista/XP/2000/Server, Mac OS X 10.4/5/6, Solaris, Linux, UNIX and more"

"The EC188 also supports all major operating systems for server and workstations such as Windows server OS, Mac server OS, Linux enterprise versions, Unix, Solaris, etc"

Editor:- I queried this and got a better explanation.

There are 2 version of the EC188 D-series - (models X and V). One is a popular older version which supports Solaris - and the other is a newer thinner version which doesn't. The material on Foremay's public website doesn't say there are 2 nearly identical part numbers for 2 non interchangeable products.

I've suggested Foremay should publish an OS support matrix for their SSDs. Without that the info on their site is so liable to misinterpretation that it's unusable. I've been told they're going to do that.

the need for technology roadmaps

There's another issue in here - which applies to many other SSD companies too and not just to Foremay - and that's the fact that a driver for the newer "apparently" similar PCIe SSD would either involve a considerable cost or delay. It suggests to me that the new product has a very different internal architecture.

In general oems and users can't be sure when they qualify a particular SSD product that they will be offered a smooth transition to successive product generations. SSD oems need to talk more about their internal architectures and - if they own the IP in their designs - talk about their roadmaps to create confidence in their ability to supply products which their customers will like in the future. Without that - customers and vendors risk regular requalification costs and churn.
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Apps Acceleration Guides
Editor:- 2011 is my company's 20th year publishing enterprise buyers guides. The problem remains the same... How to make server apps run faster. Only the solutions have changed (or become more affordable).

In the early 1990s there were only a handful of SSDs listed in my directories. So what did I spend my time researching and writing about?

In those days the big moves in apps acceleration - which I wrote about in the SPARC Product Directory - were escalating CPU clock rates (which went from 40MHz to 1,000MHz in the 1990s), widening data busses for microprocessors (from 16 bits to 64 bits in the 16 years upto 1995) , the move to multiprocessing support in standard desktop operating systems (starting with SunOS in 1991), the seemingly slow adoption of RAID systems (from about 1987 to 1998), the use of optical links (in early fibre-channel) and ever faster parallel SCSI.

Today the single biggest factor which will advance performance and reliability in all segments of the computer market is solid state disks.

After 2010 - which I christened the Start of the SSD Bubble - SSDs are now indisputably a multi-billion market - with the potential (I think) to grow by another order of magnitude in the next 10 years.

It's always fun (and also a serious undertaking - if you get it wrong) to guess what the future holds.

I've finished my List of 11 SSD market predictions for 2011 - which emerged daily in the closing days of 2010.

In past years these SSD market predictions have accurately anticipated the tone of market twists and shifts.

How about other types of storage? And other people's predictions?
click here for storage market research directory For those looking for market reports, numbers and other educated guesses and analysis - see the companies listed on the storage market research and analysts directory.
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