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SSD news - March 2011

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2011 SSD market milestones - full year summary
latency reasons for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory mix
Microsemi advances the envelope in rugged SSDs

Editor:- March 21, 2011 - Microsemi today announced initial production and availability of its TRRUST-Stor a rugged 2.5" SATA SSD designed for mission critical applications in the aerospace, defense, and military markets.

Security features in the new SSD include:- AES encryption with a 256-bit key with XTS, a fast purge feature called SnapPurge which destroys key in less than 30mS and hardware-based fast clear of the entire drive which takes less than 4 seconds. Uncorrectable bit error rate is one sector per 1030 bits read. Other reliability oriented features include:- BIST and power interruption protection with over and under voltage detection and protection which does not rely on super caps or batteries.

Jack Bogdanski, Director of New Product Development said that . "...Unlike commercial offerings, our proprietary IP and controller technology guarantees our customers a stable platform whose future is not dictated by 3rd party or commercial product design cycles." Microsemi emphasize they can support a long customer supply cycle with no premature EOL because they control all the IP in the design including the processor core.

Editor's comments:- from the time when I saw an advanced product datasheet for this product I was impressed by its balanced set of design features for military applications and especially its industry leading data integrity and security features. So I looked forward to speaking with the product's architect Jack Bogdanski.

As an opener to the conversation I had today I asked about the SSD's power down management - is there any other type of non volatile memory inside their new SSD (apart from flash)?

Jack said he wasn't prepared to disclose proprietary details of how they solve design problems. But a team of 5 people had worked for nearly 2 years on the SSD power management alone. He promised to send me more information about what this system does as an update to my recent SSD power down article.

I said - "there are so many interesting features in this new SSD that it's hard to just narrow down my questions to 1 or 2 topics. How did the design come about?"

Jack said that the company first considered getting into the military SSD market in 2002 - because it was a natural extension of their abilities to integrate memory packages and systems. There were a lot of changes going on in the SSD market at that time. Jack made the point several times in our conversation - that unlike other markets for SSDs - in the military you have to get the design right and deliver a product which works reliably.

So WEDC/ Microsemi asked their military customers - "What are you not getting from other SSDs which you would like to see in a new true mission critical SSD?" That's where the feature set came from. Customers set a high value on data security and operational reliability as well as performance. He said the TRRUST-Stor is a working operational product that's already being shipped to a military customer. It's not just a datasheet.

See also:- SSD data integrity, military SSDs

the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list(s)

Editor:- March 18, 2011 - today published a new article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list(s).

Are you tied up in knots trying to shortlist flash SSD accelerators ranked according to published comparative benchmarks? You know the sort of thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs against each other. This article explains why in the case of the fastest PCIe flash SSDs - that's just a waste of time. the article

iSuppli says SSD revenue in 2011 will reach $4.4 billion

Editor:- March 17, 2011 - iSuppli today announced it expects SSD revenue in 2011 to hit $4.4 billion - up 91% from $2.3 billion in 2010.

By 2014, iSuppli expects SSD revenue to reach $7 billion.

The industry's hottest segment in 2011 will be SSDs for consumer usage, iSuppli predicts, as shipments of SSD-outfitted high-end notebooks skyrocket. SSD's other growth segment this year lies in the enterprise, which increasingly employs flash storage to overcome performance bottlenecks.

SSD shipments this year will be on an upswing, projected to reach approximately 15 million units compared to 6.9 million in 2010. Yet SSD shipments still remain miniscule compared to those for hard disk drives, which will total roughly 161 million units in the 1st quarter of 2011 alone. At the same time, the hard disk drive market is consolidating and seeing much slower growth.

Editor's comments:- the SSD market size numbers and growth rates tally with other estimates published in recent months.

Personally - in the short term I'm more bullish on the enterprise SSD market (which delivers immediate quantifiable value) than I am on consumer SSDs (which have often suffered from poor oem integration and delivered little more benefit than fashion accessories). For more like this take a look at the SSD market analysts directory.

PLX ready to play part in PCIe SSD growth

Editor:- March 16, 2011 - PLX Technology today announced it's working with system partners worldwide to accelerate adoption of PCIe SSDs.

PLX has been providing PCIe switches to manufacturers of both HDD and SSD based storage solutions for years and has 65% market share in this segment. PLX is a founding member of the (Intel led) enhanced Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface (NVMHCI) Work Group whose goal is to enable the broad adoption of SSDs using PCIe.

"Enterprise SSD products have attracted significant interest over the past few years," said Michael Yang, principal analyst for memory and storage at iSuppli. "...PCI Express-based products will be the primary catalyst for the segment with 40% compound annual growth rate in shipments through 2015."

Pangaea unveils new self destruct SSDs

Editor:- March 16, 2011 - Pangaea Media has recently entered the SSD backup market with a removable 2.5" SSD which integrates backup, encryption and a completely new (to me) patented fast purge technology.

Editor's comments:- this appears to be a classic case of a company which isn't very good at online marketing. For example they sent me the press release late and most of the info a serious reader needs to know doesn't actually appear in the press release or on their web site.

If it was just another "me-too" SSD - I'd just forget about it and you wouldn't be seeing this note here. But they do have a uniquely secure SSD. I asked the company to fill in the gaps and you can read what they said today in my article which appears in their company profile page - introducing SecureDrives' SSDs.

Seagate's new 2.5" SAS SSDs

Editor:- March 15, 2011 - Seagate announced details of new 2.5" SAS SSDs - marketed under its Pulsar brand - which will ship in the 2nd quarter.

Available capacities are 400GB (SLC) and 800GB (MLC). R/W speeds are upto 360MB/s and 300MB/s respectively. Sustainable random R/W IOPS are 48K and 22K respectively. Endurance is quoted as 35 / 10 full drive writes per day SLC / MLC. Unrecoverable read errors (data integrity) for the SLC model are 1 in 1016 . Seagate also quotes a permissive rate of ambient temperature change for its MLC SSD - which is something else we may be hearing more about in future.

Editor's comments:- one of the problems Seagate has in being a latecomer to the SSD market is that it hasn't yet racked up enough "million customer operating years" to support reliability messages tagged to the new SSD launch. So instead it's using cross over references from its HDD business - as in this statement - "Over 200 man-years of development went into the 2nd-generation Pulsar SSD products, with enterprise reliability verified by a team with over 1,500 collective years of experience in the storage industry."

SSD market history in recent years teaches us that experience in other markets (even within the semiconductor industry) doesn't always guarantee that new SSD designs will be as reliable, trouble free or as fast as their creators anticipate. That's because many new design features in flash SSD architectures get their first reality checks in the market. I expect that if all goes well - next year Seagate's new SSD announcements will start referring back to their SSD market track record. And if all doesn't go well - we're hear about it on these news pages.

today's storage news

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"Over 200 man-years of development went into the 2nd-generation Pulsar SAS SSD products..."

news story further doen this page (March 15, 2011 )
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
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"Don't believe everything SSD companies tell you about the past, present or future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
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