click to visit home page
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
.. PCIe SSDs market ..
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 - May 1-9, 2013 - from the news archive

Companies mentioned on this page include:- Diablo, Fusion-io, LSI, Micron, OCZ, SanDisk, Seagate, Stec, WD
Fusion-io parts company with co-founders

Editor:- May 9, 2013 - Fusion-io yesterday announced that its co-founders - David Flynn (who had been CEO and President) and Rick White (who had been CMO) have resigned and will pursue future entrepreneurial investing activities together.

They will remain members of FIO's board and will serve in advisory roles for the next 12 months.

Fusion-io's new CEO and Chairman Shane Robison said ""On behalf of the Board and entire Fusion-io team, I want to thank David and Rick for their significant contributions to the creation, development and growth of the company. David and Rick's vision as co-founders has redefined memory technology and had a profound impact on our industry. Under their leadership, Fusion-io has developed into one of the world's leading technology companies, helping businesses increase datacenter efficiency. They played an important role in taking the company public and developing a strong framework from which Fusion-io can grow to the next level."

Editor's comments:- If it's any consolation to you - the news came as a a complete surprise to me too. Markets don't like surprises - and FIO's founders are very highly regarded - so the company's shares took a hit.

There are many articles on the web which speculate about the real reasons for FIO's founders to end their hands-on roles.

The answer may not be so very complicated.

If you look at what's been happening to the company recently from a financial viewpoint - FIO isn't profitable and its revenue growth has stopped. Investors have been nervous about this. And it's natural to ask should FIO be putting more of its management talent onto the problem of consolidating and expanding business opportunities in the next few quarters - rather than continuing visionary plans which may take the company to loftier market peaks in the next 2-3 years?

That needs a different management skill set than getting to where the company has reached now.

Another question which you may ask is - is someone going to buy Fusion-io?. And if so - who would it be?

A couple of years ago when I first commented on this question I came to the conclusion that the kind of possible acquirers which would benefit most from such an acquisition - if they could afford it - would be either a flash memory company which doesn't already have an enterprise SSD product line or a software company which wants to get into the SSD platform business.

If you try to look at "possible" fits from this perspective - that gives you a very short list - none of which look like "comfortable" fits, however.
  • Samsung - in the memory category.

    But semiconductor and enterprise system cultures are so different - that chipmakers already have enough problems with marketing simple "systems" such as drives. The software rich products from the FIO design stable look like beings from a different planet to a wafer fab company.
  • Microsoft - in the software category.

    (I didn't put Oracle on this shortlist because Oracle has already had its fingers burned with one bright hot storage systems acquisition - and despite a natural fit from one angle - database acceleration - the prospect of Oracle owning FIO would scare FIO's biggest customers away.)

    Going back to Microsoft - this is a company which has serious problems of its own - such as making a PC OS that consumers want to buy. And Microsoft is still failing to understand what makes a desirable phone. So I think we can rule that out too.
OK - so I don't think there are any hot candidates out there who would want to buy FIO and who would know what to do with it. I just wanted to clear that one out of the way to show how absurd and unlikely it is.

So where are we now with the prospects for Fusion-io? (The company, its products and its customers and competitors - I mean - not the share price.)

If you're competing in the enterprise SSD market there are 3 main product groups in which you would place Fusion-io in any short list of future top rank competitors. These are:- The first 2 are self explanatory. The 3rd one may need a little more explanation - and is the subject of a major new article I was working on before the management changes story broke.

In several recent conversations about the rackmount SSD market - I have noted that FIO's recent acquisition of NexGen - when added to its pre-existing IP legacy in SAN rackmount technology - make it a serious contender in any forward looking shortlist of top 5 most competitive rackmount SSD vendors. That's a new way of looking at the company for most people - and the results may not be clear for a few quarters - but the company has been traveling down this incubator road for some while.

Seen from these various perspectives the competitive outlook for Fusion-io on Thursday doesn't look materially different to what it was on Monday.

Most passengers choosing to fly to currently known SSD destinations with Fusion-io don't need to change their plans.

However, those intrepid explorers hoping to fly FIO to more exotic places may have to wait a bit longer to see departure times being announced for SSD destinations which don't yet have runways.

It's natural to feel sadness and regret that the founders of Fusion-io - who created so much excitement in our industry have gone to new roles - and from my own point of view I will really miss the visionary chats we used to have about the long term future of solid state storage.

Rick White and David Flynn - built a strong company which is one of the best known and admired in the SSD industry. Anyone who assumes that it will be easier to compete with FIO today than it was yesterday risks a severe battering.

PS - you can read more about FIO's legacy and many contributions to SSD history in their profile page here on the mouse site.

I think the most important and long lasting thing they changed is the fundamental way that computers are sold. SSDs are now regarded as a "must-have available option" in any new design of mainstream enterprise server. That change has benefitted the whole SSD industry and everyone who uses the internet.

One thing which hasn't changed in the short term - however - is that we'll all still be eagerly waiting to see what Fusion-io does next.

PS - after publishing the above I saw this interview with Shane Robison on - who said "This is not a strategy change. It's all about how we grow the company."

In a later webcast Thursday 9am PT - Shane Robison said that big company management skills were needed to better optimize Fusion-io's business compared with the earlier growth days of the company. He said that once the board had made the decision to make the changes in management in detail - which he said had been discussed in outline as a possibility for a long time before - they decided to announce it immediately. (As a public company they couldn't prewarn or leak any of this information.)

Editor:- Nevertheless - looking back on these events - the process of information dissemination from the company - can best be described as a marketing communications fiasco.

One reader said to me on Wednesday evening as the panic told hold - "If everything Fusion-io says in their press release is true - why doesn't it include supporting quotes from the ex CEO and CMO? - They could have avoided a lot of angst by doing that."

OCZ gets award for Windows compatible SQL flash cache

Editor:- May 8, 2013 - OCZ today announced that its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator earned the Best of Interop award in the data center and storage category.

ZD-XL (unveiled at CeBIT last February) is a bundled package for Windows servers which includes an SQL optimized flash caching software appliance which leverages the low latency of an associated OCZ PCIe SSD card.

The judging committee, comprised of 16 IT editors and analysts who reviewed nearly 150 entries. See also:- SSD ASAPs, SSD software, PCIe SSDs

SSD ad - click for more info

Seagate's latest pronouncements on SSDs

Editor:- May 8, 2013 - "Seagate is Serious about SSD and Flash Technology."

Seagate Nytro PCIe SSD
PCIe SSDs for a wide range of deployments
Nytro flash accelerator cards
from Seagate
That's the headline of a new SSD products overview page mentioned in a recent press release about 3 of the company's newest SSDs. It's the SAS product which to my way of thinking is the really new thing here.

Until now if you wanted a 1.8" SSD with a SAS interface you had to go to SMART to get one.

The SAS drives market - which Seagate helped to create - used to be seen by external commentators as a strategic market for Seagate. (And no doubt it's still regarded that way by SAS product managers within the company.)

But Seagate's tardy entry into the enterprise SSD market (December 2009) which happened only after many of its own enterprise customers had already responded to the SSD wake up call by making their own arrangements - meant that Seagate's continuing existence as a long term enterprise drive supplier in a world which was rapidly adopting SSDs was called into question.

Then when Seagate's first enterprise SSD dance partners (SandForce and LSI) eloped to re-emerge as rival competitors about a year ago - Seagate was left in such a sorry state that some well meaning stakeholders and seld serving investors were trying to pair the company off in rumor blogs with OCZ or STEC (neither of which were looking for such a hook up).

Instead - as we learned recently - Seagate found a very suitable match in the PCIe SSD market with Virident. And it's safe to assume that if they have any children as a couiple they will look like 2.5" PCIe SSDs.

As to Seagate taking the SSD market seriously - which is where I began this - you could ask - who doesn't?

To misquote Jane Austen - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a storage company in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an SSD product line."

On the other hand - I would take Seagate's sentiments about SSDs more seriously if they had been expressed on instead of on the less imposing address where it currently resides -

new WD hybrid has SanDisk SSD inside

Editor:- May 7, 2013 - a new 2.5" hybrid for notebooks from WD - called WD Black SSHD (500GB HDD capacity, 5mm high SATA) - has a tiny SSD from SanDisk inside - it was announced today.

Editor's comments:- SanDisk' contribution to this is a tiny SSD which they call iSSD which has 9K/1K R/W IOPS performance and measures 16mm x 20mm x 1.2mm for capacities upto 16GB. The height budget moves up to 1.85mm for 128GB of flash.

Diablo's new VP Marketing came from OCZ

Editor:- May 7, 2013 - Kevin Wagner who until a few months ago had been VP Enterprise Product Management at OCZ has moved to Diablo Technologies - to become Diablo's VP of Marketing it was announced today.

Micron turns up the heat for adoption of 2.5" PCIe SSDs

Editor:- May 3, 2013 - Micron yesterday announced it's sampling a new model in the hot swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs market - the P420m has upto 1.4TB MLC capacity and can deliver 750K R IOPS. Micron specifies endurance as "50PB of drive life".

Editor's comments:- Micron is also offering half height, half length PCIe SSDs in the new range - but to my mind it's the 2.5" drives which are the significant part of this announcement.

I wrote about the impact these new drives could have on traditional PCIe SSDs and SAS SSDs in an article 12 months ago.

To summarize the main points in that... the new form factor for PCIe will displace high end SAS SSDs and likely make the 12Gbps SAS drives the last generation of SAS as "performance drives".

SAS SSDs will in turn replace SATA SSDs as the removable drive of choice in traditional legacy fast-enough enterprise arrays.

The new 2.5" PCIe SSDs will open up new markets in cost sensitive incrementally upgradeable fast SSD racks.

At the high end of the server side accelerated market, however, and particularly in dark matter data centers where the rack is seen the replacement unit - I'm sure that good old PCIe SSD cards and modules will continue to hold their ground - because they have lower packaging costs and can be designed to be more efficient than smaller form factors.

As discussed earlier this week - traditional PCIe SSDs will also facing pressure from memory channel storage SSDs. But MCS won't impact 2.5" PCIe SSDs.

before you start selling shares in any particular company - I'm talking here about market juggling and realignments which will take 2-3 years to have a material affect on existing market sizes and revenue. These changes won't happen overnight. And these game changers in the enterprise SSDs market aren't taking part in the context of a zero sum game. The enterprise SSD universe is expanding.

And here's another thing.

Last year I told Micron's top SSD marketers that they weren't in tune with the needs of enterprise SSD specifiers - because they had hopelessly slow and antiquated processes for extracting technical information of the type that serious buyers needed.

They seem to have taken those criticisms on board - because now you can swim around in the info they've got about their new enterprise SSDs on their web site - without having to sign NDAs and without waiting weeks to talk to the person who knows what's missing on the datasheet. Still some details missing - but it's a vast improvement on what they were doing before.

Some of you may think it's ironic that it's not Micron who's doing the flash thing for memory channel SSDs. But bear in mind that semiconductor companies have to feed the fab. And their priorities are to engage in established markets where there is already known demand for millions of chips. Big memory companies don't usually get involved in blue sky system innovation - except in ORG type wolf packs.

Micron's got its own thing going with hypercube memory. And - as I've said before - if that flies - it's another gating point for flash (if flash is still around when that happens).

the challenges facing ULL SSDs

Editor:- May 1, 2013 - On Monday - published a new article - Memory Channel Storage SSDs - will the new ultra low latency SSD concept fly? - should you book a seat yet?

Yesterday (Tuesday) I added a bunch of quotes and links in a sidebar to the article which sample the various strands of original thinking about the topic of nv as a memory tier (and not just as fast storage).

Today (Wednesday) I made them easier to find by placing them at the top of the page - and adding some more notes. the article

PS - I suppose this is a good time to mention that pageviews on the home page of in April 2013 were 26% higher than a year ago.

Which goes to show that thoughtful SSD readers aren't scared away by content which doesn't pause every few minutes to explain the difference between an SSD and an HDD.

Not that most readers ever really understood what was going on in the hard drives either - they were just reassuringly familiar - having been spinning around for a long time.

In reality a lot of scary stuff was going on inside hard drives too - but the recent pace of innovation in HDD had been glacially slow - and the resulting products were stunningly irrelevant to solving the real urgent needs of advancing progress in the future data driven economy.

more SSD news?

If 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).

The article:- Recent Strategic Transitions in SSD - gives a summary of important changes which clarified in 2012.

SSD market history - also includes hundreds of key SSD stories in a time-line which stretches from the begininng of SSDs to this year.

storage search banner


click to see larger image for SSD
somewhere in that rock...

SSD ad - click for more info

the Top SSD Companies
can you trust SSD market data?
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
7 SSDs silos for the pure SSD datacenter
how long for hard drives in an SSD world?
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
Adaptive R/W and DSP ECC in flash SSD IP
Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less chips
how will Memory Channel SSDs impact PCIe SSDs?

SSD ad - click for more info

better thinking inside the box
Editor:- May 29, 2013 - If you're an enterprise user who is already sold on the idea of using more SSDs - what could be better than a great new SSD drive?


If you're an SSD vendor looking for the magic formula to open up vast new untapped markets for SSDs - what kind of solution do you need to offer to attract enterprises who aren't at the sharp end of the performance pain curve, are content with the speed they get from HDDs and who aren't even looking at SSDs for their network storage?

These problems have been preoccupying the SSD industry's smartest thinkers for years.

And their answer to both questions is the same. (Although details vary).

It's a new type of SSD box.

A new generation of enterprise SSD rackmounts is breaking all the rules which previously constrained price, performance and reliability. The sum impact of cleverly designed SSD arrays is systems which are many times more competitive than you would imagine from any tear-down analysis of the parts.

The new SSD folksy wisdom - "you can't second guess an enterprise flash array from knowing what drives are in it" - may soon have to join the - "you can no longer judge an SSD from simply knowing its memory".

The new thinking about rackmount SSDs is explored in the new home page blog on - better thinking inside the box.

SSD ad - click for more info

"Don't believe everything SSD companies tell you about the past, present or future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs

SSD ad - click for more info


"...the SSD market will be bigger in revenue than the hard drive market ever was."
How will hard drives fare in an SSD world?

"My immediate reaction on seeing the first news about hybrid flash / hard drives back in April 2005 was skepticism."
Editor:- in the 2008 article - Hybrid Storage Drives Market - winners, losers and maybes

2.5" PCIe SSDs were the most significant new SSD product type seen in 2012.
Strategic Transitions in SSD (December 20, 2012)

The enterprise SSD story...

why's the plot so complicated?

and was there ever a missed opportunity in the past to simplify it?
the golden age of enterprise SSDs