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SSD news - July 1 - 7, 2012

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SMART proliferates adaptive DSP IP in SAS SSDs

Editor:- July 5, 2012 - SMART Storage Systems recently announced it's sampling yet another new variant of SAS SSD which uses adaptive flash DSP technology - the Optimus Ultra+ is a 2.5" SSD with 100K/60K R/W IOPS - which can endure 50 full random drive writes per day for a period of 5 years using commercial MLC NAND flash technology.

Editor's comments:- This is SMART's 3rd turn of the screw this year already in leveraging its new controller IP in enterprise SSDs - and the company has published various pretty graphs for editors, analysts and users which identify the different sub markets and use cases within enterprise SSDs where differing amounts of SSD write life can be economically and sustainably deployed. (It's an SSD component maker's view of sites inside enterprise SSD silos.)

More guaranteed SSD writes generally mean more cost - because - in the limit - when all the write attenuation tricks have been done - the extra endurance in classic flash SSDs either comes from overprovisioning or RAM cache which add to the component count. But for the pioneers in DSP enhanced flash IP - a new degree of design freedom comes from applying new flash care tonic to change all the rules.

Unlike human cures for baldness which are applied when the symptoms start to appear - SSD baldness cures have to be applied from birth - and the strength of the tonic has to increase with age to get the best results.

I discussed the business development opportunities of this new technology trend recently with Mike Lakowicz, SMART's - VP of Marketing.

Mike said that their ideal customers for these enterprise SSDs are big oems where it can cost millions of dollars to get products qualified.

SMART's new controller technologies enable them to customize an SSD which matches the performance, endurance and operating power needs of enterprise oems - at any point in a wide spectrum of use cases - in a manner which is efficient (lowest cost memory bill of materials) from the same core set of parts.

This sounds similar to what STEC was telling me about their CellCare last year. But SMART's documents make what Mike called the "rational" design rule choices along the SSD envelope much more explicit and easier to focus in on.

To me - this seemed like a pragmatic and well engineered set of marketing propositions for the type of customers that SMART is aiming at.

So I asked again (I had asked SMART's President - John Scaramuzzo earlier this year) what are their plans for designing a fast-enough PCIe SSD using the DSP technology?

Mike Lakowicz explained that the taxonomy of PCIe SSDs in the market today wasn't clear. (I agreed - there are many different types of functionality in the PCIe SSD space - so it's hard for a new entrant to decide which segment within PCIe SSD will work best as a sustainable business.)

Mike explained that as a supplier of legacy compatible storage SMART would prefer to see more stability and the emergence of clear standards within the PCIe SSD market before they launch any such product.

I said to Mike that I thought their VC owners should be happy with what SMART was doing - because even discounting their SSD products - it was clear that within the SSD controller market - the new adaptive DSP technologies were going to attract a premium value once enough analysts understood how this technology could permeate the SSD market. But I also warned that in 2-3 years every flash SSD company would be using this type of technology.

To which Mike replied - that companies like SMART which has already been using this technology for several years - would still have an advantage over those who were coming in with their first products at the 20x endurance level - for example.


OCZ's PCIe SSD software + MS SQL Server 2012 - paper

Editor:- July 3, 2012 - OCZ published a white paper today - Accelerating MS SQL Server 2012 with OCZ Flash Virtualization (pdf) which describes the performance of the company's PCIe SSDs (Z-Drive R4) and its VXL caching and virtualization software in this kind of environment.

The interesting angle (for me) was in the aspect of SSD fault tolerance rather than the 16x VM speedup.

The paper's author Allon Cohen (who has written many thought provoking performance blogs) explains in this paper - "VXL software has a unique storage virtualization feature-set that enables transparent mirroring of SQL Server logs between 2 flash cards, thereby assuring that the log files can be accessed with ultra high performance, while at the same time, are highly available for recovery if required." ...read the article (pdf)


StorageSearch.com pageviews grew 40%

Editor:- July 2, 2012 - there was a 40% increase in SSD article pageviews on StorageSearch.com in June compared to a year ago. That's despite the fact that I've given a lot more visibility recently to difficult subjects within the SSD landscape.

Thanks to everyone who reads the site and the many of you who also tell me things I've missed out and things you can't find. (Even if they are sometimes there - but in a different place.)
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Enterprise SSDs - Survive and Thrive Guide
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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. ...read the article
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HA enterprise SSD arrays
high availabaility SSD arrays Due to the growing number of oems in the high availability / fault tolerant rackmount SSD market StorageSearch.com earlier this year published a directory dedicated to HA / FT enterprise SSD arrays.