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SSD news - January 2012 - 1st week

Remember the 1st SSD company who did 1 billion IOPS?

Editor:- January 6, 2012 - in a historic demo yesterday showing the capabilities of its latency reducing Auto Commit Memory (ACM) extension Fusion-io announced it had exceeded 1 billion IOPS (64 byte data packets) in a configuration which used 8 HP servers each configured with 8x ioDrive2 Duo PCIe SSDs.

Steve Wozniak, Fusion-io's Chief Scientist said - "...As an engineer, what really excites me about extensions to our core technology such as ACM are the possibilities introduced when flash is utilized as a new memory tier. Instead of treating flash like storage, where data passes through all of the OS kernel subsystems that were built and optimized for traditional storage, our core ioMemory technology offers a platform with new programming primitives that can provide system and application developers direct access to non-volatile memory."

David Flynn, Fusion-io Chairman and CEO said. "This breakthrough is not something that could be achieved with hardware alone. Intelligent software that optimizes NAND flash as a low latency, high-capacity, non-volatile memory solution for enterprise servers can transform the way organizations process the immense amounts of data that powers our lives today."

Editor's comments:- although we're used to thinking about SSD IOPS in terms of bigger packets - such as 4kB - instead of the very small packet size in this demo - IOPS is simply a convenient and not always reliable way of comparing the relative performance of storage products.

In real life - users don't have a choice of what size the R/W operations are which take place in their apps. They occur at all sizes (mostly smaller than 4kB) and when these R/W operations take place in traditional storage architecture systems - which internally impose their own restrictions on the minimum size of atomic data packets - that's where latencies and performance become discontinuous compared to the value of the data update due to amplification and packetization effects.

In my view - the important thing about this demo - is that the same PCIe SSD product which can perform useful work as a storage device - can also be deployed as a super scaler memory device - when it is running the appropriate software.

The difference is that with traditional storage software - you might expect that a 64x PCIe SSD system might hit 64M IOPS or some similar figure (regardless of the small size of the data packet). Instead the demo shows that apps developers can get 16x more performance in small R/W transactions if they are willing to invest the effort to make their apps work with FIO's new APIs.

It's that order of magnitude difference which is the attraction for some markets - because it closes the gap in performance between RAM SSDs and flash SSDs. And when you can run apps 10x faster than other flash competitors at the same price - or support 10x bigger data sets than competitors using RAM SSDs - that create new markets. See also:- Record Breaking Storage

NVMe compliant IP core aims at PCIe SSD designers

Editor:- January 6, 2012 - IP-Maker released a data transfer manager core - for use in PCIe SSD designs fitting between the media and the flash controller. The design is compliant with the NVM Express specification.

"PCIe SSD manufacturers will benefit from a performance increase thanks to the IP-Maker NVMe IP core" says Mickaël Guyard, Product Marketing Director at IP-Maker. "This efficient DMA manager ensures the data flow up to the NandFlash, therefore off-loading the motherboard CPU."

Samsung enters fast erase SSD market

Editor:- January 5, 2012 - Samsung has entered the fast purge SSD market - which currently numbers about 25 companies.

The company says that models of its PM810 2.5" SATA SSD family with its Crypto Erase technology deletes targeted data in a couple of seconds regardless of the overall volume of data or the capacity of the SSD. These models have been validated for compliance to NIST FIPS 140-2

SandForce joins LSI's new Flash Components Division

Editor:- January 4, 2012 - LSI today announced it has completed the acquisition of SandForce.

"Customer response to the announcement has been very positive and we are pleased to now be able to fully demonstrate the benefits of the combined technology capabilities of LSI and SandForce," said Jeff Richardson, executive VP and COO. "Together, we offer the broadest storage technology portfolio in the industry, and are well positioned to help customers manage their growth and the explosive growth in data across enterprises and the cloud."

Editor's comments:- most of the leading companies in the earth shaking PCIe SSD market use large architecture controllers or software - which provides cost and efficiency advantages when you compare usable capacities with maximun fault protection enabled.

That puts competitors who use small SSD architecture (such as OCZ and LSI - who use SandForce's controller - and STEC which has yet to establish a stronghold in this market with its own ASIC) at a potential disadvantage as capacities scale up.

One of the design challenges for LSI will be to see if they can extract the proven flash management features in past SandForce controllers and scale them up to support bigger capacities and faster throughput without adding latency penalties (which currently accrue with arrays of SFPs) or which uses a new processor core or split controller architecture to better support larger flash chip populations.

Make no mistake about it. This acquisition is about developing better tools for the enterprise SSD goldrush.

And the truest seams that vendors are looking for are the user server caverns that will be stuffed with PCIe SSDs. Billions of dollars of revenue will be the prizes for the lucky strikers.

Opening the SSD market in 2012

Editor:- January 3, 2012 - Happy New Year.

What's the comparative state of the SSD market in 2012? - In a previous article I already said it would be the Year of the Enterprise SSD Goldrush.

In a new article today - I compare the SSD market with checkpoints in 2 earlier disruptive markets - the microprocessor and the internet.

Later this week there will be updates from the Storage Visions 2012 Conference and new articles about the status of the SSD market in 2012 - which I expect will be a fantastic growth year for the enterprise SSD market.

The new edition of the top SSD companies - based on search metrics in Q4 2011 - will be published on January 19.
Significant news in the past 12 months - from 35 Years of SSD Market History

Texas Memory Systems launches 10TB SLC FT 1U SSD - December 2011

Virident ships 1.4 Million IOPS PCIe MLC SSD - November 2011

LSI buys SandForce (a top 5 SSD company) - October 2011

OCZ launches auto-tiering hybrid PCIe SSD - September 2011

SANRAD launches front loadable PCIe SSD - August 2011

STEC loses market share in enterprise SSDs - July 2011

world's first phase-change memory PCIe SSD - June 2011

SanDisk gets serious about enterprise SSDs - May 2011

Samsung exits shrinking HDD market - April 2011

Kaminario carves new niche for RAM SSDs - March 2011

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top SSD articles - in January 2012

  1. SSD Myths - "write endurance" - In theory the problems are now well understood - but solving them presents a challenge for each new chip generation.
  2. SSDs replacing HDDs? - that's not exactly the way it happened - This new article brings this old theme up to date.
  3. the SSD Buyers Guide - summarizes key SSD market developments in the past quarter and has a top level directory of SSD content.
  4. the Top 20 SSD companies - updated quarterly.
  5. SSD news - (updated daily since 1998) gives you a real-time view of the whole SSD market from chips to cabinets.
  6. PCIe SSDs - lists oems who market PCIe SSDs, and news and market commentary. We've reported on PCIe SSDs since the first products shipped in 2007.
  7. the Fastest SSDs - in each form factor.
  8. Flash v Hard Disks - Which Will Win? - this classic article published in June 2005 - introduced the concept of "flash SSD floor price".
  9. RAM v Flash SSDs - which is Best? - I asked experts from 10 leading SSD companies to write their views about the strengths and weaknesses of these 2 types of SSD technologies. The article is updated from time to time - and you may be surprised to learn that in some heavy duty server apps RAM SSDs are cheaper to buy than flash - (as well as being faster).
  10. HDD news - chronicles the last gasp years and historic anecodotes from the hard disk market - as it reluctantly retires in favor of SSDs.
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There's a growing consensus that DWPD should map into recognizable SSD application zones and price bands - not just in enterprise but in other markets too.
what's the state of DWPD?

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A considerable proportion of the customer needs which affect flash array buying behavior are still formally unrecognized.
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise

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