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SSD news - February 2012 - 4th week

Amplidata gets $8 million C funding for - (don't call it RAID)

Editor:- February 29, 2012 - apparently you can still raise VC funding for HDD based storage array companies.

Amplidata today said it got $8 million in a Series C round of funding for its multi-petabyte scalable, efficiently data protecting and healing BitDynamics technology.

The idea is to implement the cheapest possible and easily expandable bulk storage capacity - what they call unbreakable object storage for petabyte-scale unstructured data (pdf) - so the storage nodes are stuffed with low power hard drives. But the controller racks can be internally accelerated by SSDs.

Greenliant ships industrial secure SATA NANDrives

Editor:- February 28, 2012 - Greenliant Systems has started volume shipments of its industrial grade rugged SATA SLC SSDs on a chip (BGA - 14mm x 24mm x 1.95mm) - NANDrive GLS85LS - which have upto 8GB capacity, 70/60MB/s R/W, include zoneable password security and fast erase, and strong power fail data protection.

"The SATA NANDrive GLS85LS product family is backward compatible with the same pin-out across all capacities and temperature ranges - commercial and industrial - giving customers added flexibility when using solid state storage in their designs," said Nobu Higuchi, VP of application engineering and product marketing, Greenliant Systems.

Editor's comments:- I never understood before where the "Green" part in the company's name came from - but it makes sense now - if they're offering a stable chip footpprint across multiple flash generations.

Greenliant is 1 of over 30 companies in the tiny SSDs directory. It's surprising how many applications are now viable for tiny SSDs.

The Disk on a Chip product concept goes back a long way...

In 1995 - EDN magazine cited DiskOnChip as 1994's most innovative product for embedded systems. In those days it provided 1 to 2 Mbytes of data storage.

Commenting on the (1995) award - Dana Gross, president of M-Systems said - "DiskOnChip represents the innovation and efficiency of M-Systems' technology. This award-winning product has found applications in embedded computer systems, where it provides a highly reliable solution for designs faced with space and power consumption constraints."

STEC reports continuing decline in SSD market share

Editor:- February 28, 2012 - STEC today announced its financial results for the 4th quarter and full-year ended December 31, 2011.

Revenue for Q4 2011 was $58.1 million, a decrease of 38% from the year ago quarter and a decrease of 20% from Q3 2011. Revenue for full-year 2011 was $308 million, an increase of 10% compared to 2010.

"As we reported last quarter, our business remains in a relatively stable pattern as we continue to qualify our new products with customers," said Manouch Moshayedi, STEC's Chairman and CEO. "We are encouraged by the signs of the market growth for enterprise SSDs and by the specific feedback we are getting from our early customer engagements around our new products. ...While we acknowledge that competitive challenges persist, we are confident in the robustness of our solutions and in our abilities to innovate to meet our customers' needs. We are still anticipating that many of our customers will complete their qualification of our (new) products by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2012. However, until qualifications are completed, we cannot accurately project what the sell-through of these products will be."

TMS packs 24TB fastest HA eMLC in 1U

Editor:- February 28, 2012 - I was just getting used to getting the measure of how much enterprise flash capacity can fit into 1U rackspace - when Texas Memory Systems changed things yet again by doing even more.

TMS today announced a 24TB high availability system called the RamSan-820. This has similar internal architecture to their 720 which I discussed with their CEO Holly Frost last December - but it uses eMLC instead of SLC - hence the doubling of the storage density.

TMS today revealed more about the internal features of their proprietary rackmount SSDs. Their RamSan-OS has been in continuous development for over 5 years, initially shipping with the RamSan-500 flash SSD in 2007. The RamSan-OS is designed from the ground up to run on a cluster of CPU nodes and FPGAs distributed throughout the RamSan systems.

Speed is still a core differentiator from TMS.

"Many of our competitors claim they are software companies and that their products are Application Accelerators. While this may be fundamentally true, all TMS products are 2x faster than any other Application Accelerators shipping today," according to TMS CEO Holly Frost. "It comes down to very simple technical and business questions: Why put key functions into slow software when you can speed up these functions in fast hardware?"

Power consumption is an important part of the reliability budget too - and to drive this point home - TMS say they are happy to supply customers with a wattmeter so they can compare these new SSDs with competing products.

NEC Hitachi Memory dream ends in Elpida bankruptcy

Editor:- February 27, 2012 - Elpida today announced it is reorganizing under the code of the bankruptcy laws in Japan.

Editor's comments:- The company's press release (pdf) relates a detailed history of problems starting in 2007 with the credit crunch, over capacity, falling RAM prices, increasing strength of Yen etc. The company - Japan's biggest surviving RAM maker - started out as NEC Hitachi Memory in 1999 and changed its name to Elpida in 2000.

Elpida never got into the SSD market. Now it looks like it never will.

A report in the New York Times says - "Elpida's bankruptcy filing is the biggest ever by a Japan-based manufacturer..."

NeoMagic demos FPGA simulation of USB MagicVault controller

Editor:- February 27, 2012 - NeoMagic today announced that the company is ready to demonstrate MagicVault, its USB 3.0 based UFD USB Flash Drive Controller solution on an FPGA platform.

NeoMagic says FPGA platform test results for the MagicVault flash drive solution indicate a significant performance improvement over currently available products. In addition to testing, NeoMagic is discussing MagicVault and other new products in development with potential strategic partners and investors.

SMART sets new competitive level in STEC-class enterprise SSDs

Editor:- February 22, 2012 - when you've got a memory business which also designs SSDs that creates hard to reconcile business tensions.

Success in the memory market comes from caution and long term planning to enable survival in the inevitable feast and famine memory business cycles.

Success in the SSD market comes from...

Well it's too early to say definititively what it comes from - but investing in your own IP and understanding a small set of focused customer application cases better than anyone else - is a good starting point (judging by those in the top 10 SSD companies list) and being prepared to do things which are different to the way that others are already doing them may be a good plan too - (as long as you are eventually proved right).

Several leading companies in the past, including STEC and OCZ, have found that the best thing to do if you're the SSD part of a memory business is to forget about those memories and do your own SSD thing.

The latest company to follow this route is SMART Storage Systems which has officially been spun out as a separate entity - it was announced today.

The SSD bit is the only bit of the company I've been interested in - and probably the same goes for most of you too. So you could say - what's changed? - apart from a few legal formalities.

Last week I spoke to SMART's president John Scaramuzzo and learned more about the company's new enterprise SSD controller - which is used in their new Optimus Ultra (a SAS SSD) launched today. The new controller has reliability characteristics above and beyond the industry standard products - from SandForce - which SMART also uses. SMART's new SSD design - like those from STEC - can guarantee an industry leading level of SSD write longevity - while using low cost consumer grade flash.

Some tier 1 storage customers have been sufficiently impressed to qualify the new SSD family in their systems. More about SMART, and how their new SSD was developed - in the article - Who's who in SSD? - SMART - (in their company profile page).
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"If you look back at past editions of this top SSD companies list you'll see that STEC's belief that future enterprise SSD business would always come in the next batch of oem customer POs - has been a commonly recurring theme."
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