click to visit home page
image shows Megabye the mouse reading scroll - click to see the top 30 solid state drive articles
popular SSD articles .
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD oems ..
leading the way to the new storage frontier

SSD news - July 2013

Companies mentioned this month include:- Diablo, Crocus, EMC,
HGST, Micron, OCZ, PLX, Samsung, SanDisk, ScaleIO, SMART,
SolidFire, Stec, Tintri, VeloBit, ViON, Virident, Virtium, WD, WhipTail

See also:- SSD market history, the SSD bookmarks, latency reasons for fading out DRAM
industrial mSATA SSD
.... industrial grade mSATA SSDs
from Cactus Technologies
Diablo discusses details of Memory Channel Storage

Editor:- July 30, 2013 - Diablo Technologies today did the public launch of its its new technology - Memory Channel Storage - which repurposes the interface and form factor of server DRAM into a new architecture for ultrafast flash SSDs which the company positions as a competitive alternative to very fast PCIe SSDs.

memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs
Editor's comments:- I spoke recently to Diablo's new VP of Marketing - Kevin Wagner about the company's new MCS.

I had already gleaned a heads up on the boundary capabilities and market potential of the new technology in an earlier interview with Diablo's flash partner SMART. So it was natural to ask how Diablo viewed the impending acquisition of SMART by SanDisk?

Not surprisingly Kevin indicated that whereas Diablo already thought it had made the best choice before - the upside potential of having SanDisk as a partner for this memory technology made it 10x better.

Here's what I learned.
  • Diablo's TeraDIMMs are designed to fit standard sockets designed for DDR-3. They are electrically, form factor and power compatible. But instead of RAM - a typical TeraDIMM using today's technology might have 400GB of flash.
  • Diablo's controller architecture means that the host CPU can read and write from memory in the same transparent way as it would talk to RAM.
  • TeraDIMMs can be installed in every set of slots where you'd normally insert RAM. The only limiting factor in the current architecture is that at least one pair of slots has to be RAM. All the rest can be flash.
  • Diablo claims that MCS has better write latency than most PCIe SSDs.

    Specifically MCS has a write latency of 3 to 5 microseconds. This is really a write to the controller.

    TeraDIMMs have a skinny flash cache architecture - which means that apart from a small amount of register memory in the MCS controller itself - no RAM is used in the SSD. The MCS design includes power fail hold up capacitors which guarantee that all data which has been written to the TeraDIMM gets completely saved to flash.
  • From the applications point of view MCS looks like a massive amount of persistent RAM - but with terabytes rather than tens of gigabytes of memory space and with a cost structure closer to the market price of flash than DRAM.
  • Is it bootable? No. Not yet that wasn't regarded as a priority.
Although the product is not yet available - Kevin Wagner told me that Diablo has been getting a lot of interest from server companies. Diablo has been validating software with their ASIC based implementation for several months following good earlier characterizations of the design with FPGA. From the software point of view Diablo's aim was to prioritize a usable design which would work for the market as soon as possible. Obviously many possibilities for leveraging the basic technology spring to mind. I asked for example about preferred models of high availability?

Kevin said that so many companies are interested in what they're doing that they don't have enough resources to talk to them all right now. It won't be long before the company publishes more details of its reference architecture - and conversations have already begun with ISVs and other companies which could be the seeds of a new ecosystem.

But the current design has been designed to work in virtualized and non-virtualized environments and the company has got already got a good idea of how headline big data apps would perform in benchmarks using their technology.

I raised the question of inter-operability with PCIe SSDs (in the same MCS resident servers) and it looks like the guesses I had made about segmentation and collaboration and competition with other SSD types which I've already written about in my earlier article about memory channel SSDs - are still valid. So I won't repeat those points here.

We still have to wait for firm product pricing and configuration details. But if you had any doubts about where the money will be inside servers - MCS provides another new way of packing even more flash SSD capacity in.

Samsung invests in SolidFire

Editor:- July 25, 2013 - SolidFire today announced it has raised $31 million in series C funding which includes a new investor - Samsung Ventures. SolidFire's latest product - the SF9010 - an iSCSI compatible fast-enough rackmount SSD - which will ship in September - uses SSDs from Samsung.

See also:- VCs & SSDs, exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs, hostage to the fortunes of SSD

WhipTail announces new channel for defense customers

Editor:- July 24, 2013 - ViON announced it will now serve as an authorized provider of maintenance and support services for the entire WhipTail product line.

"This partnership took off primarily due to the great success at WhipTail with the defense and intelligence communities and ViON's clearance and track record of successfully providing first level support for other vendors." said Dan Crain, CEO of WhipTail.

Tintri announces record breaking business milestones

Editor:- July 23, 2013 - Among other things - Tintri today announced that in the 1st half of 2013 its bookings were over 2x the level they had been the year before.

OCZ ships PCIe SSD based SQL accelerator

Editor:- July 23, 2013 - OCZ today announced the general availability of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator - an SSD ASAP appliance - delivered as a PCIe SSD (600GB, 800GB or 1.6TB) and bundled software - which optimizes caching of SQL Server data in Windows environments - and can provide upto 25x faster database performance.

HA functionality works through Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn technology, so that in the event of planned or unplanned downtime, can continue operations from the stopping point, retaining all of its data as if no downtime had occurred.

"We believe that the industry is primed for this type of tightly integrated, plug-and-play use-case acceleration solution..." said Ralph Schmitt, CEO - OCZ Technology.

Editor's comments:- One of the differentiators in SSD caching products is the sophistication of their behavior when viewed from a time basis. This is 1 of the 11 key SSD symmetries - which I call "age symmetry".

In this respect - a key feature of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator is its business-rule pre-warming cache engine and cache warm-up analyzer that monitors SQL Server workloads and automatically pre-loads the cache in advance of critical, demanding or important SQL Server jobs. It achieves this by identifying repeated access patterns that enable DBAs to set periodic time schedules to pre-load the cache.

This product won Best of Show Award at an event called Interop in May.

Industrial Grade eMMC - new blog by Datalight

Editor:- July 23, 2013 - Datalight has published a new blog - What is Industrial Grade eMMC? - written by Roy Sherrill, President - who says - "Industrialized eMMC is gaining consideration for embedded applications in areas such as automotive, medical, aerospace, and other commercial applications."

See also:- more blogs by Datalight - re extending embedded flash life using software and tiny SSDs and SSDs on a chip

Samsung enters the 2.5" PCIe SSD market

Editor:- July 18, 2013 - Samsung today announced its entry into the 2.5" PCIe SSD market. Its new NVMe SSD has upto 1.6TB capacity, read throughput upto 3GB/s, and up to 740K IOPS

Overview of PCIe topologies for enterprise SSDs

Editor:- July 17, 2013 - PLX Technology recently published a white paper - Enterprise Storage and PCI Express - which gives an overview of past, current and future PCIe SSD connection topologies along with a list of detailed reference articles.

Along with the clear text and authoritative viewpoint (PLX is the leading supplier of PCIe chips to the SSD industry) the article includes a complete set of attractive pictures too - which make it easier to visualize the many different interconnection methods being discussed. Below is an example from a section in the paper - called - Taking PCIe Out of the Box.

image from PLX article about PCIe SSD topologies

In recent years we've seen the start of a growing diversity in both the type and functionality of PCIe SSDs. PLX's new article provides a good introduction to what can be done with PCIe in an SSD context - and may make you rethink your ideas about the roles of this interface too. the article

See also:- interface chips and IP, 7 silos for enterprise SSDs

EMC's acquisition of ScaleIO points to SSD server future

Editor:- July 16, 2013 - EMC recently announced it has agreed to acquire another storage software company - called ScaleIO.

EMC indicated that ScaleIO's software - which emulates the capabilities of virtual SAN style storage within the physical implementation of pools of server attached DAS - makes it easier for users to manage expanding data volumes and reduces the need for performance planning. The new software will be applied to extend the application functionality of EMC's PCIe SSD product lines and XtremIO rack based flash systems.

Editor's comments:- One way to view this is it will give EMC similar capabilities to Nutanix. Or another is that the EMC/ScaleIO solution (if and when it's done) can be seen as a shot back across the bows aimed at Fusion-io's ION software. (You came into our market space - so we're coming into yours.)

Take a step back however, and it doesn't have to be so personal.

Most legacy systems have shapes and architectures which date back to a command and control SAN style architecture dating back to the 1990s.

If you were trying to solve the same data processing and content management functions from a clean sheet start today - you'd probably go for a more "democratic" Google style architecture - in which most racks in the datacenter are similar - and their function is defined and can be changed by software - rather than being hardwired by the description of the box at the time it was invoiced.

It's long been known that SSD acceleration lets you speed up legacy architectures - but SSD performance also gives you the freedom to emulate entire applications environments on cheaper, and more efficient, modern hardware.

Flash Memory
nvm in SSDs
Micron samples 16nm nand

Editor:- July 16, 2013 - Micron today announced it will be in full production of 16nm nand flash (128Gb MLC memory devices) in Q4 this year - and is designing SSDs around this process geometry - to ship in 2014.

See also:- an SSD view of semiconductor memory boom bust cycles

OCZ is now an enterprise SSD company

Editor:- July 15, 2013 - OCZ's quarterly enterprise SSD revenue has grown to over $25 million - approximately half of its total SSD revenue - the company announced today.

Editor's comments:- from a revenue perspective OCZ's situation is way down compared to the situation it had predicted in May 2012 - when the company reported that its revenue for the year ending February 29, 2012 was $338 million - and at that time OCZ was suggesting that its revenue for the following year would be over $600 million.

That didn't happen for reasons reported earlier - partly due to errors in accounting but also due to better judgement - and decisions to withdraw and downsize sales in the most unprofitable segments of the SSD market - which at that time were consumer SSDs.

OCZ's latest results show that it is possible for a company which started out as a consumer SSD company to change itself into being a (mostly) enterprise SSD business. (Although it wasn't quick, painless or easy.)

That's an identity switch which some other significant SSD companies would also like to do for themselves too.

the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2013

Editor:- July 11, 2013 - yesterday published the 25th qiuarterly edition of the Top SSD Companies List - based on search metrics in Q2 2013.

One of the big changes I've seen recently is that SSD oems have learned that selling SSD components in the enterprise market is a risky business strategy - because they don't learn so much about user needs at the array level, find it harder to perform system wide optimizations and have less direct contact with end-users. Also some of the most competive products in the enterprise market aren't simply built from arrays of commercial off the shelf SSDs.

When the Top SSD Companies series started over 6 years ago - 8 out of the top 10 SSD companies marketed SSDs in traditional hard drive form factors. In the intervening years we've seen the emergence of many other important trends - such as the rise of controllers and new markets created by PCIe SSDs.

Now there's another new trend identified in the latest edition. 8 out of the top 10 companies market rackmount SSDs. the article.

Virtium offers 64GB SLC TuffDrive CF for "Godfather" slots

Editor:- July 11, 2013 - According to Gary Drossel, VP of product strategy at Virtium - "There has been a misperception in the industry that, because other suppliers have exited the market either through EOL or industry consolidation, CompactFlash (which has been the Godfather of embedded form factors (pdf) for more than 10 years - ed) is no longer viable as an SSD technology in the industrial SSD market. That is absolutely not the case."

Supporting the view that as long as there's enough demand for legacy form factors someone will supply it - Virtium recently announced a new generation of high density industrial SSDs (upto 64GB SLC) in its TuffDrive CF range which meet MIL-810 standards for shock and vibration.

HGST catches VeloBit

Editor:- July 10, 2013 - For the past 15 years from what I've seen - the ultimate business aim of most storage software companies has been - to get acquired.

That's been even more true in the SSD software market - wherein frankly - most companies don't even pretend to invest in sustainable business models.

In the past 2 years - an SSD software company has been acquired every 2 months (on average) and the latest company sustaining that trend is VeloBit which has been acquired by WD for deployment by its subsidiary HGST - it was announced today.

In case you've forgotten why this trend started - software makes it easier to sell more SSDs and the ROI from a vendor's point of view is better than doubling the sales force. That's why valuations (not disclosed in this case yet) have been so disconnected from the financial outlook of the ISV's themselves. See also:- SSD ASAPs

Crocus gets additional $45 million funding

Editor:- July 10, 2013 - Crocus Technology today announced it has raised $45 million (approx) in additional capital. A new private investor, Industrial Investors, joined the round led by Idinvest Partners. See also:- industrial SSDs, nv memories, SSD controllers

Virident names SAS SSD veteran as new VP Engineering

Editor:- July 9, 2013 - Virident Systems today announced the appointment of a new VP of Engineering - Mark Delsman - who had formerly held similar positions in both SanDisk and Pliant. See also:- SAS SSDs

Stec makes changes in defense management

Editor:- July 9, 2013 - Stec yesterday announced the appointment of a new VP for Government and Defense related aspects of its business.

Editor's comments:- This is not entirely unexpected. 2 weeks ago in my comments about the WD-Stec acquisition news I said that spinning off the legacy defense SSD business might be a good long term option as I couldn't see a good fit with that and HGST's other activities. Whatever does transpire - it's got a separate value and values. See also:- military SSDs

Hostage to the Fortunes of SSD

Editor:- July 3, 2013 - Hostage to the Fortunes of SSD - is the title of the new home page blog here on

In a lot of the conversations I've been having recently with SSD companies and investors I've found myself trying to explain what are the underlying pressures which compel rational companies to pursue what appear to be irrational SSD business strategies. They aren't free to choose alternative realities. the article

why is SanDisk acquiring SMART Storage Systems?

Editor:- July 2, 2013 - SanDisk - today announced a definitive agreement to acquire SMART Storage Systems for approximately $307 million. SMART's revenue in the quarter ended May 31, 2013 - was $25 million.

The transaction is expected to close in August at which time approximately 250 employees of SMART will join SanDisk.

"SanDisk is excited to build upon its leadership position with its fourth acquisition in the enterprise storage market," said Sumit Sadana, executive VP & chief strategy officer of SanDisk. "This acquisition enables SanDisk to address a $1.6 billion market opportunity in enterprise SATA products, and complements our strong enterprise SAS product portfolio. With this combination, SanDisk will have products qualified with 6 of the top 7 storage OEMs worldwide."

Editor's comments:- Earlier this year year I said to some readers that if someone wanted to acquire world leading adaptive R/W flash controller technology which is suitable for the enterprise - and a SAS SSD product line which has been adopted my many leading oems - they would get a better deal acquiring SMART rather than Stec. (And less mess to untangle too.)

What's this acquisition about?

To understand the key elements involved - see these articles.
  • the competitive advantages - See my article about efficiency in SSD architecture.

    Apart from short term competitive advantages - the strategic importance of efficiency for a flash maker like SanDisk - in a 2-3 year window where no-one wants to build new wafer fabs until they're sure about the next steps in nv memory - is that given the same number of flash memory chips they can build maybe 30% or more enterprise SSDs - and also use lower cost memory - compared to standard model controllers.
  • the price. - Recent acquisitions in the SSD market and the general tough competitive outlook for any single SSD company seem to indicate that the realizable value of any privately owned SSD companies has been dampened by 50% or more compared to the peaks of earlier years.

    In this environment it's better for VCs - such as SMART's investor Silver Lake to sell now and cash out rather than wait years for virtual valuations to get back to a peak they have already past.
SSD ad - click for more info

storage search banner

.. SSD ad - click for more info

SSD news
SSD market history
Can you trust SSD market data?
How fast can your SSD run backwards?
soon all enterprise data will touch an SSD
understanding flash SSD performance limitations
how new SSD software gets things done faster

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - July 29, 2013
One of the latency reducing tricks in a world where every SSD vendor has access to the same flash memory and interface chips and choice of controller architectures is the applications magnifying power of SSD software.

Sometimes the way that new SSD software gets things done faster is to avoid doing some things at all - by carefully discriminating between - what needs to be done - compared to what would normally get done in blind obedience to tradition.

One of the ironies of legacy systems software running in flash systems is the way that the data weaves through layers of fossilized unreality where emulation is stacked on emulation - and hardwired into the software and data flow logic are the remembered once-deemed-to-be-efficient solutions to data flow control problems whose origins are now almost forgotten.

So the SSD emulates a hard drive. And the hard drive emulates memory.

And it gets worse.

The fetching and prefetching and polite but useless flurries of activity which happen behind the scenes makes it appear more like a bunch of courtiers in a fairy tale palace reacting to this simple request.

The Princess needs shoes.

What shoes? What color? What style? What for?

She hasn't said yet - just get as many shoes as you can carry and be quick about it!

Yet despite all this background mayhem the application - somehow - still runs faster on SSDs than on the old hardware. (And the Princess has never been seen in public without wearing appropriate footwear.)

The other way to save time (improve latency) is to say - what if instead of just speeding up all the tangled processes of emulating a hard drive emulating memory and worrying about all the old fossilized limits of packet sizes and flow control in drives and interface cards which no longer exist except in museums but which have been preserved in legacy software - we instead make an effort to write some new software which knows it's operating in a flash world and doesn't have to recite old HDD spells to charm the data?

Or what-if the Princess knows where the shoe room is - and rather than wait - she's going to get the shoes for herself?

The implications of these what-if? results (for SSD software) are easy to anticipate and we've seen what happens when these ideas have found their way into SSD benchmarks but it still takes time for these new ideas to work their way into standard software products.

And if the Princess changes her mind between the time she sets off to the shoe room and when she gets there - she's still going to get the shoes she wants quicker than if she asked her maid.

All of which is a preamble to say that Fusion-io last week announced that its Atomic Writes API contributed for standardization to the T10 SCSI Storage Interfaces Technical Committee is now in use in mainstream MySQL databases MariaDB 5.5.31 and Percona Server 5.5.31.

Modern SSD Princesses prefer not to be kept waiting.

SSD ad - click for more info

SSD endurance - the forever war
how long for hard drives in an SSD world?
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design
Adaptive R/W and DSP ECC in flash SSD IP
Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less chips
MLC flash lives 10x longer in my SSD care program
how will Memory Channel SSDs impact PCIe SSDs?

SSD ad - click for more info

Where are we now with SSD software?
How will hard drives fare in an SSD world?
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
SSD ASAP / auto tiering SSD cache appliance news
comparing SSDs to other disruptive changes in computer history

the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2013
Editor:- July 3, 2013 - I've been a believer in the value of search metrics as an advance market prediction methodology within a focused reader context since I accidentally discovered the correlations in my enterprise buyers guides in 1997 - and - more recently in the SSD context I looked back on the past successes of the top SSD company series in the Q1 2013.

I was therefore amused to see that Google has recently published its findings which report on the correlation of consumers searching and following up information about new movies and how closely that aligns with later box office revenues - which I read about in a recent article in Business Insider.

Choosing your next SSD supplier is a bit more complicated than choosing which movie to watch - but the principles are about the same.

People don't buy products and services they don't know anything about - and search and learning about stuff indicates possible intentions and often precedes serious actions.

Narrative is important too. Maybe the movie sucks. Maybe the SSD company is doing sucky things too. That's where I come in with some comments and some context. It's not just about the numbers in the rankings.

I also have the benefit of learning by reading reader emails. (But unlike some other agencies which have recently been in the news - I only learn about stuff by reading and analyzing the emails which have actually been addressed to me. Except when I've accidentally block deleted them.)

"Across the whole enterprise - a single petabyte of SSD with new software could replace 10 to 50 petabytes of raw legacy HDD storage and still enable all the apps to run much faster while being hosted on a shrunken population of SSD enhanced servers."
the enterprise SSD software event horizon


Reliability is more than just MTBF... and unlike Quality - it's not free.

The battle for storage reliability never stops.

It has to be fought - in every place where physics intrudes on data integrity.

It must be fought and won anew - in every technology generation and in every new product design.
storage reliability
high availability enterprise SSDs