|another $150 million for
Pure Storage |
"the fastest growing storage company in history"
August 29, 2013 - Pure
Storage today -announced
that it has closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with
institutional investors which brings the company's total capital raise to $245
million. The company has shipped hundreds of units of its FlashArrays
(fast-enough rackmount SSDs) to a diverse global customer base and claims
it's one of the fastest growing storage companies in the industry's history.
Editor's comments:- in 2001 I started an annual series which
listed the fastest growing
storage companies - based on revenue growth. I ended the series in 2007/8
when the credit crunch kicked in. But you can still see many of the archived
In the last year of the series there were 3 storage
companies which reported over 300% year on year revenue growth. Today Pure
Storage is hinting that its year on year revenue growth is north of 400%.
VCs and SSDs
LinkedIn uses Virident SSDs
Editor:- August 28, 2013
- Virident Systems
that LinkedIn is a customer of its
comments:- In the
early days of
the SSD market it was usual for SSD companies and their customers to be
secretive about their relationships - especially when users were getting
spectacular commercial results from using SSD acceleration.
users would tell me - they didn't want their competitors knowing how they had
achieved what they were doing using SSDs.
And in those days vendors
were mostly secretive about the identity of their customers too - because
they had invested high costs in
educating users about
SSDs and having done that didn't want their known competitors knocking on
Now everyone has heard about SSDs (as near as
makes any difference) - and the SSD education problem for vendors has shifted
to being - that potential customers learned about SSDs from someone else. - So
that means SSD vendors have to adapt their sales message to fitting into the
SSD schema and market frameworks which customers already have in their heads
- rather than assuming they will be regarded as the font of all SSD wisdom.
another thing which changed in the market in recent years - as more SSD
companies aspired to IPOs,
VC investments or
being acquired -
is that vendors love to talk about their customers - and what they're doing -
even if it's just the same old "new SSD was better / faster/ cheaper than
my old vintage RAID"
Several years ago
Texas Memory Systems
used to circumvent some of their customer reticence by hinting - if you use any
of the big internet shopping sites you were probably using their SSDs.
narrative trend was continued to another level later by
Fusion-io who used to
say - if you use the internet at all - then some of your data may be passing
through their ioDrives.
It would be relatively easy to construct a
list of the top internet sites and then attach brand names of the SSDs they had
been known (or suspected) of using in their server infrastructure. But why
bother? A randomly generated list - picked from the
Top SSD Companies Lists
- might be nearly as accurate. It's impossible to do anything worthwhile
efficiently with vast amounts of data in a timely fashion without using SSDs.
Violin files for IPO
Editor:- August 28, 2013 - Violin Memory recently
it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the SEC relating to the
proposed IPO of its common stock. The number of shares to be sold and the price
range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. Violin Memory
plans to list its common stock on the NYSE under the ticker symbol "VMEM."
Editor's comments:- How much is Violin worth?
the plus side - Brand
strength and IP. It's been consistently either #2 or #3 of the
Top SSD Companies List
based on search volume for the past 2 years. (That's based on all SSD companies
- not just makers of fast and high availability rackmount SSDs. In those
specialized categories - it's the #1 company.) On the IP side - Violin is just
one of handful of companies in the SSD market which has its own market proven
controller architecture - which gives many competitive
Most similar to? - Comparisons are hard to make
because the market has moved on in the past year - and I don't know how much
IBM paid for
Texas Memory Systems
(based on market conditions before the deal was announced in
At that time I would have said TMS was worth more than Violin -
because TMS also had a proven
PCIe SSD product line
which used the same controller IP as its rackmounts. Since then, however, Violin
has improved its software IP with the acquisition of
GridIron Systems -
and nudged by investor Toshiba
- Violin has also grudgingly entered the PCIe SSD market too. So in technology
terms the Violin of August 2013 comes out slightly ahead in the SSD IP assets
count compared to the year-ago TMS.
If SSD systems companies are
worth more or less
today than they were a year ago - that suggests Violin today may be worth more
than the market adjusted relative price IBM paid for TMS. That gives you one
way - but not the only way - to estimate a low end sanity check valuation
Biggest weakness for Violin? - It has no
flash IP. That means it can't compete head to head on price with the most
aggressive vendors in the fast-enough SSD rackmount segment - in particular
with companies like Skyera.
On the other hand - maybe Violin doesn't have to.
already has leading assets in 3 of the
main enterprise SSD silos
- fast SSDs, HA SSDs and SSD ASAPs auto-tiering/caching. Those markets are big
enough. Maybe one business strategy for Violin post IPO might be to stay out of
the low end iSCSI SSD
market entirely for a few years.
AutoCache version 2
Editor:- August 26, 2013 - Proximal Data
the release of version 2.0 of
AutoCache (SSD ASAP
starts at $999 per host for flash caches less than 500GB.
has been demonstrating the new version working with
PCIe SSDs from
Micron at VMworld.
measuring enterprise SSD performance - intro by Micron
August 23, 2013 - EDN today
published a introductory article on the subject of
enterprise SSD performance - written by Doug Rollins, Senior
Applications Engineer at Micron
- which could be useful for newcomers to this topic as it expounds some of the
basic assumptions and jargon. ...read
Can you trust flash SSD
specs & benchmarks?
SanDisk completes SMART acquisition
now has the assets to
enable ambitions in enterprise SSD
Editor:- August 22, 2013 -
it has completed its acquisition of SMART Storage Systems
whose president John
Scaramuzzo will now assume the new role of senior VP enterprise
storage solutions at SanDisk - reporting to Sanjay Mehrotra,
president and CEO.
Editor's comments:- I've been reporting on SanDisk's metamorphosis on
the way to becoming a serious enterprise SSD company since long before they
Technology (an SAS SSD maker) in
Lessons were learned from that - and a transformation seemed to take place in
SanDisk's thinking triggered by their acquisition of
February 2012 -
which enabled SanDisk to get much better clarity on what was really happening
in a wide range of enterprise SSD users' sites - as a result of feedback coming
from customers using its SSD software.
The 4 key assets which SMART
brings to SanDisk in the enterprise SSD context are:-
- enterprise grade (world class)
flash SSD technology.
SMART has already demonstrated - in
launched products - that this technology is
a wide span of cost, power consumption and IOPS use cases.
And at the
fab level adaptive R/W IP increases
(usable SSDs per wafer).
- an attractive (tier 1 validated)
SAS SSD and enterprise
SATA SSD product mix
which has already displaced competitors in many leading server and storage
oem design wins.
- an embryonic new type of SSD -
storage - which aims at the market space of fast
PCIe SSDs - and which
- if successful - could change the future mix of motherboard memory used in
Unlike the other
Top 10 SSD company
acquisition which is currently in the pipeline (Stec by
WD which may need a
lot of reworking to make it fly) - the SMART product lines within SanDisk
have already been expanding their reach of new customer destinations.
- a team of technical, sales and marketing people with a long track record of
successful product innovations in the mission critical flash SSD market.
you look at what LSI
did with SandForce -
I think that provides a better idea of the future scale and speed of ramp up
which you can expect to see with the new enterprise SSD business in SanDisk.
what are enterprise SSD users thinking? - especially if it's
Editor:- August 22, 2013 - In a confusing market like
enterprise SSDs where
the accepted wisdom of what makes good technology
- and the interpretation of market trends
on who's looking at the same data - what can vendors do to try and make
sure they're aiming in the right direction and doing things which will sell?
closer to their customers is one way - and most leading vendors do that already.
But it's not infallible.
How about customers they're not reaching
yet? What are they thinking? - Especially if it's wrong or based on
perceptions which are out of date. Vendors need to understand how users tick
so they can adapt their own product plans and the way they talk about
About a year ago I was contacted by Frank Berry,
CEO of IT Brand
Pulse who told me about the new way they were doing market research
into the SSD market:- surveying enterprise users and asking them what they
think about brands, technology decisions and other key issues.
sounded like a good idea - but in recent years I've heard from a great many
companies which said they wanted to do more reports in the SSD market - and
although I've been happy to mention some of them on this and
similar news pages
I've reserved my short list of
special SSD market
research companies for those who - in my opinion - have invested the
resources to create valuable SSD insights over a period of many years. I
thought it might be years before I added IT Brand Pulse to that list (if ever).
Turns out I was wrong.
And while I was aware that Frank
Berry and his team have been doing more work in the enterprise SSD area in the
past year - it was only when I got a summary of their recent presentation at
the Flash Memory Summit -
Adoption Trends (pdf) in my email this morning - that I realized the scale
of what they have already achieved.
There's some really useful
information here about SSD user decision points and current usage preferences
as well as brand data and market perceptions. (You have to skip through the
early parts of the document to get to the interesting bits.)
the feedback from these survey participants...
- SSDs will be approximately 3x the current percentage of their
organization's combined SSD and HDD disk capacity within 2 years
- Virtualized servers are the biggest driver for SSD adoption (above database
free version of the paper includes unscaled graphs - and charts without
numbers. But it makes a good read as it is. For those who need the raw data
and numbers - the cost is $1,500. ...read
the article (pdf)
- Nearly as many organizations have already deployed SSDs in some of their
servers as those who have not deployed any type of SSDs at all. (A list of
participating surveyed organizations is included in the paper.)
Editor's comments:- IT Brand Pulse
has demonstrated its commitment and ability to enhance our understanding of the
enterprise SSD market. So I've fast tracked them by several years into my
DRAM technology won't advance soon - says Micron
August 20, 2013 - In recent years the SSD market has become nearly 100%
flash (and nv memory)
focused - with little or no mention of
DRAM based SSDs. The
reason is that nearly every company whose product line used to be mainstream
RAM SSD - has pulled out of that market or discontinued enhancements to those
products. Flash SSDs are more economic and easier to sell.
mean to say that the role of DRAM in SSD systems has entirely disappeared. It
still appears as a cache
or tier in many flash SSD arrays and the existence of some small percentage
of DRAM is assumed in SSD
and also in (flash based)
sent out a useful signal of where its own DRAM roadmap is going in
article yesterday in EETimes - which reports an interview with
Micron's president Mark
Adams who said - "There will be no new greenfield DRAM fabs for the
foreseeable future. We are hitting something of a lithography wall in DRAM where
shrinks are getting tougher and gains are not as attractive, so people are not
as financially motivated to invest in new fabs. Also we see planar DRAM advances
will end in the next 3 to 5 years, so you probably cannot get ROI in a new
planar fab." ...read
See also:- latency loving
reasons for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory slider mix
SAS SSDs are expected to enjoy significant growth and represents
the largest enterprise SSD revenue opportunity in 2015-2017 - says HGST
August 20, 2013 - The headline above was one of the messages in a
presented by Ulrich Hansen
Sr. Director, SSD Product Marketing, HGST - at the Flash Memory Summit- in which
he also gave aggregated forecasts for various types of enterprise SSD - from
which the image below is extracted.
Click on the image below to see
the full text and the other half of the image which shows revenue forecasts too.
also:- SSD market
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
SolidFire - as an anti-jitter service in the cloud
August 19, 2013 - SolidFire
provides the underlying
support for a new SSD
empowered cloud product
Platform as a Service
(PaaS) being offered by
Solutions Now which I learned about in a
Ghaswalla on Software
Editor's comments:- cloud companies - like
the stars in the sky - are nearly numberless - however if you want to see a
partial list of who they are - SolidFire's
news page is cluttered with the names of cloud companies - and reads
almost like a set of audited customer accounts than a technology news
forum - which can be off-putting - if like me - you're looking for
SSD content -
rather than SSD
But although I couldn't find any mention of this
particular story on my brief visit to their website this time around - I was
reminded about an interesting observation which SolidFire had
about earlier (in February 2013) regarding the performance and QoS
impacts that "Noisy Neighbors" can create in a shared storage
Their leading theme is cloud service providers - but
this issue is also critical to almost any realistic deployments in an
enterprise context - and is the implicit reason that many architects have
preferred to isolate critical apps servers in the past - even within their own
datacenters - rather than risk mixing them all up in pools.
a cartoon (they call it an "infographic") -
Noisy Neighbors in the Cloud (pdf) -
SolidFire captures the essence of this performance randomizing problem - whose
solution (you guessed it) is to use more (of their) SSDs.
and SSDs, can you
trust SSD performance benchmarks?,
what did they talk about about at the Flash Memory Summit?
August 19, 2013 - PDFs from the recent Flash Memory Summit are now
available for free download from the event's web site -
here for an overview.
Among other things startup
endurance stretching characterization software was
to be one of the most innovative flash memory technologies seen at the
Flash Memory Summit.
OCZ obtains $13 million additional funding
August 13, 2013 - OCZ
it has raised approximately $13 million in a private placement of debentures
and warrants. The company also said it has retained
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
as financial advisor to assist the board of directors in evaluating various
Samsung offers 1st generation 3D nand flash SSDs for enterprise
August 13, 2013 -
it has started production of 2.5" SATA SSDs aimed at the enterprise market
- which use the company's new
3D Vertical NAND flash memories.
Samsung says its 3D flash is
intrinsically more reliable, faster and uses less power than traditional 2D
flash at the same (10nm class) line geometries.
comments:- As SSDs - and compared spec by spec to any other SSDs - the new
V-NAND SSDs aren't remarkable - 960GB capacity and 35K
- which is what the market (in this case -
cloud storage array
But Samsung's new V-NAND SSDs are simply the first step
in the journey towards characterizing this new technology and to achieve
Samsung says its 3D technology could deliver
upto 24 cell layers vertically, using special etching technology that connects
the layers electronically by punching holes from the highest layer to the
When that happens - each wafer will be able to deliver an
order of magnitude more storage capacity from the same number of wafer starts -
using the same line resolution as traditional (planar) flash cells. (If you
think about the difference it made
when the market
went from SLC to MLC and then again to TLC - the eventual market impact
will be bigger than all those combined.) But getting the chips and production
equipment proven and economic for double digit 3D cells will take years from
where we are now.
Adding each vertical layer takes additional
processing time. In some ways it's like adding more layers to your pizza -
except that - the successive layers of topping have to match up very precisely.
(Around 2,000x more precisely than the state of the art in metal additive
technology - to give you an idea of the difficulty and the elapsed time
Skyera says 1 petabyte SSD will go into 2U
August 13, 2013 - Skyera
that. among other things, it will introduce
PCIe connectivity (to
the existing FC and
iSCSI) as well as
replication in the next version of its
rackmount SSDs -
the skyEagle - which will ship in the first half of 2014 - offering 500TB
uncompressed (2.5TB deduped and compressed) in a 1U form factor at a record
breaking list price
expected to be under $2,000 per uncompressed terabyte.
comments:- not a lot of people remember this - but 6 years ago- in
August 2007 -
when Violin emerged from
stealth mode with one of the
SSDs of that era - Violin's 1010
was also the first well known enterprise SSD which offered PCIe as the
primary connection option. (This was the month before
its first ioDrive and began its multi-year mission to re-educate and change the
way that the enterprise market viewed SSDs BTW.)
enterprise market was still grappling with the idea of rackmount SSDs - and for
those buying - their connection of choice was
FC SAN. That meant
Violin's initial product made a market impression - but the company had to
wait for its later systems - redesigned with FC and flash - to get the sales
which would secure its future as the new leader in the rackmount SSD market
(replacing Texas Memory
Systems). Violin's early experience with PCIe being the wrong interface for
its rackmount market left scars in the company's psyche. So it wasn't till
nearly 6 years after that Violin entered the (now) safely conventional market
for module and card based PCIe SSDs.
Today in the market of August
2013 - PCIe has evolved into a very different technology and market
proposition for enterprise SSDs.
I view the 96 lanes of PCIe connectivity - in Skyera's forthcoming skyEagle -
as a way of reaching out to an entirely new market. This PCIe option provides a
simple and cheap foundation for clustering boxes in
- As a technology (it can be used as a fabric to interconnect fast racks - a
bit like InfiniBand
in some respects - except that the ecosystem of compatible SSDs is much richer
and price competitive).
And how about the idea of 1/2 petabyte SSD in a 1U
rack next year?
Back in early
2010 - when
I published an article designed to show what one of the missing products in the
future enterprise SSD
market would look like - and its consequences for
hard drives -
this way to the
petabyte SSD - I guessed we'd see a 2U petabyte SSD in 2016.
Skyera is going to beat that timescale by 2 years. Which incidentally means
that all the other predicted dates about the consequences for
hard drives in an
enterprise SSD world - are also 1 or 2 years earlier than anyone previously
new ORG maintains magnetic storage spin
August 13, 2013 - Today a new storage org was
to conserve and nurture the interests of rotating magnetic hard drives and
hybrids. Founder members of the
Association are HGST,
other things - the
SPA's faqs page
says "the SPA will seek to clarify how hard drive technology, solid-state
technology and variations of these technologies may be combined to effectively
meet the needs of a growing storage requirement."
How will hard
drives fare in an SSD world?,
directory of past storage ORGs
Tegile says its sales exceed its VC funding
August 13, 2013 - Tegile
Systems (which operates in the
SSD ASAP market)
the closing of its $35 million Round C funding led by late-stage venture firm
Meritech Capital Partners with
additional investment by original stakeholder
August Capital and strategic partners
Editor's comments:- Tegile says that unlike some other
VC funded companies
in this market space which have lived mostly on investments Tegile has
generated more customer revenue than it has taken in outside financing.
LSI says it pays to get a 2nd opinion from LDPC
August 13, 2013 - Within the context of
SSD controllers and
the various industry options related to
ECC - LSI
explained why it thinks that reserving the use of LDPC to deal mostly with
read error retries (and also later in the operating life of flash cells) can
be a pragmatic design choice - in a presentation -
Nibbles and Bits of SSD Data Integrity (pdf) - today at the Flash Memory Summit.
instead of applying different strengths of
ECC for fixed
physical block sizes - the company says another approach is to have variable
sized virtual blocks - which effectively mean that better cells carry lower ECC
my SSD cell care scheme is
better than yours
Enmotus demos hybrid arrays
Editor:- August 13, 2013
announced that it
is demonstrating its FuzeDrive
(hybrid SSD ASAP)
solutions (with Toshiba
SSDs inside) at the Flash
"While helping accelerate early adoption
of SSDs, today's caching solutions don't always provide the results users
expect. FuzeDrive avoids using traditional caching techniques, and instead
borrows its concepts from intelligent real time virtualization, data movement
and storage pooling techniques typically found in larger 'big iron' enterprise
systems," said Andy
Mills, CEO and Co-founder of Enmotus.
Proton Digital launches new controller platform
August 12, 2013 - Proton
Digital Systems today
details of its new LDPC based FlashPro (a
controller ) platform
which will be demonstrated this week at the Flash Memory Summit.
says its error
recovery technology enables reliable deployment of next generation
1y-nm/1z-nm MLC, TLC and 3D Flash memory from all major NAND Flash
manufacturers. FlashPro also features a micro-programmable sequencer that
supports Toggle and ONFi interfaces and addresses all flash commands, including
FlashPro has upto 8 flash channels each
supporting 533MBps and up to 32 Chip Enables per channel. Each media manager can
support data transfer rates from 50MBps up to 4.27GBps and multiple
instantiations can be integrated to achieve the desired capacity and
Silicon Motion samples fast low power SATA 3 SSD controller
August 12, 2013 - Silicon
it has begun sampling a low power consumption, fast
regular RAM cache
SSD controller which supports MLC, TLC and SLC NAND flash from all the major
supports 4 channels of NAND flash devices with up to 8 CEs per channel and can
enable sequential reads upto 540MB/s and writes upto 410MB/s. Random IOPS
performance is upto 80,000 read IOPS and 75,000 write IOPS. Average power
consumption is 60mW. Security
features include AES 128/256, TCG and Opal full-drive encryption compliance.
comments:- in a paper this week at the
Flash Memory Summit -
Efficient LDPC DSP System for SSD (pdf) - Jeff Yang Principle
Engineer, Silicon Motion discussed how its adaptive LPDC DSP techniques which
supports variable parity lengths provides 3x better
than traditional BCH.
SMART samples ULLtraDIMM SSDs
8, 2013 - SMART
Storage Systems today
it has begun sampling the first memory channel SSDs compatible with the
interface and reference architecture created by Diablo Technologies.
first generation enterprise
(ULL = ultra-low latency) can be deployed via any existing DIMM slot and
provides 200GB or 400GB of enterprise class flash SSD memory with upto 1GB/s and
760MB/s of sustained read/write performance, with 5 microseconds write latency.
Throughput, IOPS and memory capacity all scale with the number of ULLtraDIMM
deployed in each server.
comments:- With the current design -only one DIMM slot in each server has to
be reserved for conventional DRAM. Apart from that constraint any DIMM slot can
be used for either flash or DRAM as deemed necessary for the application.
more about the potential of this technology, the thinking behind it and the
competitive landscape relative to
PCIe SSDs etc see my
earlier articles on the
Stec's revenue shrinks again
Editor:- August 7, 2013
- Stec today
that its evenue for the quarter ending June 30 declined 42% year on
year to $23.5 million.
Editor's comments:- I enumerated Stec's 3 main defficiencies
in sales and marketing in my comments
November 8, 2011.
An anti-sales and anti-marketing culture was embedded in the company's
management DNA as I was able to learn from my own contacts with the company over
of the SSD market Stec never advertised SSDs here on StorageSearch.com.
Looking ahead if WD
proceeds with its announced plan to acquire Stec - it will be getting some SSD
design files and some patents - but not a quick turnaround platform for a
viable enterprise SSD business.
Anticipating this kind of
conclusion in August 2011 - I said on these SSD pages - "STEC is
now cheap to buy - but would be very expensive to own..."
Virtium offers offer faster range of extended temperature SSDs
Editor:- August 7, 2013 - Virtium today
a new line of faster 1.8"
rugged SATA SSDs (80,
160 and 300GB capacities) for applications in in-flight entertainment, PoS
terminals, gaming equipment and mobile monitoring systems.
line - which is rated for approximately 65% full disk write / day for 10 years
- is available with AES
erase, data protection in the event of an
power interruption and
screening. DecaStor supports sequential R/W speeds of 410/375 MB/s
respectively, with read IOPS of 47,000 and 2,500 write IOPS.
Seagate invests in eASIC
Editor:- August 5, 2013 -
it has got a strategic investment from Seagate.
has demonstrated innovative custom silicon technology with our... solid state
hybrid drives" said Rocky Pimentel,
chief sales and marketing officer at Seagate. "eASIC's ability to quickly
develop custom solutions while meeting stringent cost, power and performance
requirements will enable us to rapidly improve our product position in both
SSD and SSHDs."
Crossbar has silicon for 3D RRAM
Editor:- August 5,
2013 - Crossbar today emerged
from stealth by
a working silicon demonstration of its 3D stacking technology which the company
says will enable the commercial use of RRAM in much higher capacity drives
than before. See also:-nv
more SSD news?
you're looking for more SSD news to get a feel for what the technical issues
are in the SSD market and who's doing what - you can find a summary of key SSD
news stories from the past 1, 2, 3 or upto 18 months - see
the SSD Buyers
Guide - which lists them in reverse order (newest first).
history - also includes hundreds of key SSD stories in a time-line which
stretches from the begininng of SSDs to this year.
"We are hitting something of a lithography wall in DRAM where shrinks
are getting tougher and gains are not as attractive, so people are not as
financially motivated to invest in new fabs. Also we see planar DRAM advances
will end in the next 3 to 5 years, so you probably cannot get ROI in a new
DRAM technology won't advance soon - says Micron
(August 20, 2013)
|For certain we know there
are problems because otherwise some of the flash inspired solutions for
replacing portions of DRAM with slower tiered flash etc which we know work -
wouldn't work so well. |
reasons for fading out DRAM|
|"why are so many
companies diving wallet first into the SSD market - when even the leading
enterprise companies haven't demonstrated sustainable business models yet?"|
|hostage to the
fortunes of SSD|
Self-Encrypting SSDs (if you think you might need a future data recovery)..."
|That's the "advice" in a blog
SSDs: Flash Technology with
Risks and Side-Effects (August 2013) - by Kroll Ontrack - which
goes on to say - |
"This type of encryption is very secure, but
ensures total data loss in the event of a failure. With SEDs, the encryption
keys are only known to the hardware manufacturers and will not be released.
What this means is in the event of a failure, the data is no longer accessible
to professional data