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SSD news - May 10 - 30, 2013

This page includes the archived SSD news from for the above period.

Companies mentioned on this SSD news page in recent stories include:- Astute Networks, BiTMICRO, Biwin, Forward Insights, LSI, Memoright, Microsemi, Nexenta, Nimbus Data, OCZ, Panasas, Pure Storage, Samsung, SanDisk, Skyera, SMART Storage Systems, Stec, Virident,
Memoright launches own design of TLC SSDs

Editor:- May 30, 2013 - Memoright today announced details of its first TLC SSDs. The XTM Series - which are SATA SSDs are available in 2.5" or 1.8" form factors.

What's the big deal about - just some more consumer SSDs?

They demonstrate Memoright's controller IP - in adaptive R/W. TLC is x3 flash with twice the capacity of standard MLC and 4x the virtual storage capacity of an SLC in a single cell. It's a non trivial design job making this 19nm geometry flash work reliably in an SSD. Memoright says this new SSD can do 80K R/W IOPS. As other manufacturers like Stec and SMART have already shown in the server market - once a company has proven that its adaptive flash IP works - then it proliferates quickly throughout their product range to get competitive advantages.

Biwin implements "don't snore" mode in new ultrabook SSDs

Editor:- May 30, 2013 - I thought I was already pretty well versed up on SSD related jargon but I learned a new term today from Biwin - although it's been kicking around the ORG set since 2011 - and that is DEVSLP - which is a DEVice SLeeP (pdf) signal for SATA drives.

In the context of low power SATA SSDs - this enables designers to completely shut down the SATA interface "saving more power vs. the pre-existing Partial and Slumber power states". Biwin have implemented DEVSLP in a new mSATA SSD for ultrabooks - which cuts down the power draw to 3mW - which they say is 100x lower than could be done in idle mode in pre-DEVSLP SATA SSDs. Biwin is showing their new SSD - the M5301- next week at Computex in Taiwan.

SSD Red Herring finalists

Editor:- May 30, 2013 - the recently published list of Red Herring North America finalists - includes these SSD companies. There may be more. I was just scanning the list and relying on my memory to spot SSD companies.

SMART opens new R&D facility in Singapore

Editor:- May 29, 2013 - SMART Storage Systems today said it aims to tap more of the innovative SSD technology talent in Asia by opening a new R&D facility in Singapore.

PMC enters NVMe controller market

Editor:- May 29, 2013 - PMC today announced a definitive agreement to acquire IDT's enterprise flash controller business and certain PCIe switch assets for $100 million.

IDT shipped the world's first NVM Express (NVMe) flash controller. PMC believes that it will be able to improve its time-to-market in the PCIe SSD market by approximately 2 years due to the early product leadership and a robust design win pipeline.

Greg Lang, President and CEO of PMC said - "IDT's PCIe controllers are particularly well suited for server-based SSDs targeted at cloud data center customers. The acquisition of IDT's Enterprise Flash Controller Business is a strong complement to our current enterprise 12Gb/s SAS SSD controller product offering."

new products from Pure Storage, the significance of 38KB, and a door opens for future government business

Editor:- May 29, 2013 - Pure Storage today announced new models in it rackmount SSD family of non-disruptively upgradeable HA storage which double the performance of the 2U controllers to 400K 8K IOPS and provides 12TB of raw storage in 2U. In a related video the company said - the average size of I/O requests its customers see is 38KB - which is why Pure Storage has stopped using 4KB IOPS metrics in its sales literature.

Editor's comments:- The rack density of Pure Storage's new FA-400 systems (approx 10TB usable/ U for a 10U stack using a mix of 2U controller shelves which manage 2U storage racks which each have upto 24x 512GB SAS SSDs inside) is low by comparison to industry leaders.

From a business point of view this means their architecture may not be the first choice for customers looking for huge installations of SSD (scaling to hundreds of petabytes) or who have datacenters in expensive city locations where increasing the square footage of storage or server cabinet space is simply not an option - and for whom higher density (SSD TB/U) outweighs any hypothetical considerations such as lower cost per terabyte to buy.

The company says it has shipped hundreds of units.

How you interpret that will depend on your perspective. It's small by comparison to competitors which have been in the market longer - but also indicates that the product works and the company is capable of developing business in the difficult to reach smaller customers who were orphaned by the earlier stages of enterprise SSD adoption which focused more on SSD-CPU equivalency as the economic justification rather than simply displacing HDD arrays. Pure Storage's business model is the harder nut to crack - but is a bigger market opportunity - which has no clear leaders at the present time.

In another interesting announcement today Pure Storage today said it is receiving an investment from In-Q-Tel (IQT), the investment firm that identifies innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the US Intelligence Community. The partnership will allow Pure Storage to further develop its FlashArray technology to meet the unique needs of IQT's government customers.

This is just speculation on my part - but one of the big headaches for users with sensitive info on hard drives is the cost and secure logistics associated with disk sanitization when storage drives reach end of service life.

The only trustworthy way to deal with hard drives is to physically shred the drives into little pieces. SSDs present different challenges for this end of the data lifecycle - but also offer more technical solutions - such as built-in destructive fast-purge - but that adds to the cost of the drives. Within the context of an SSD rack - it should be possible to integrate reliable software based data shredding - which would save costs for customers who factor in these considerations.

OCZ gets filing extension from NASDAQ

Editor:- May 28, 2013 - OCZ today announced it can remain listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market subject to meeting ongoing filing obligations with the SEC by September 16.

Microsemi's new SSD for vetronics can erase 256GB in < 8S

Editor:- May 23, 2013 - Microsemi today announced that it has secured multiple design-wins for its new Series 200 TRRUST-Stor (rugged self encrypting, 2.5" SATA SSD with 256GB SLC capacity and fast purge).

The company says a full hardware-based erase takes less than 8 seconds. The 200 model has R/W throughput which is twice as fast as the company's earlier TRRUST-Stor due to a new generation of the company's Armor processor. Developed to endure harsh environments the new SSD - which has hardware-implemented AES 256 encryption - can withstand up to 3,000G shock and 30G rms of vibration.

BiTMICRO launches low power rugged SSD

Editor:- May 23, 2013 - BiTMICRO today launched a new low power consumption (2W active) 2.5" industrial temperature operation, rugged, SATA SSD which supports many different types of military sanitization. The Ace Drive I-series has 4,900 / 2,500 R/W IOPS, a regular cache, and capacity from 8GB upto 512GB (MLC).

Skyera unifies 19/20 nm MLC flash arrays with 100x life

Editor:- May 21, 2013 - Skyera today announced it has added unified storage operation (concurrent NAS and SAN) to its pre-existing SSD box.

Editor's comments:- this was already anticipated and factored in by potential systems competitors that I've spoken to in the past several quarters.

More interesting for me - is the "100x MLC life amplification" figure quoted in a recent blog by Skyera's CEO.

When you're asking what's possible from combining controller technologies (like adaptive R/W) with software efficiencies (don't do things which are unnecessary to access the true app data - as opposed to emulating every just-in-case-we-need-it lookahead or spurious hard drive traffic request) the 100x figure is a useful competitive metric. It's all about being at the leading edge of the system SSD price curve. See also:- MLC Seniors live longer in my SSD care home

Stec's profiler removes guesswork in sizing SSD caches for hybrid storage pools

Editor:- May 21, 2013 - Stec today announced that it's offering a free profiling tool - EnhanceIO Profiler - which can enable users to determine how much benefit they would get from using its EnhanceIO (SSD caching software) - before they even install any SSDs.

The company says that the "non-disruptive installation" can save hours of administrative trial and error by recommending the optimal block size, and the capacity and type of SSDs to be used for maximum performance gain. See also:- auto-caching SSDs, SSD performance testing, will SSDs end bottlenecks? - and cure all my server speed worries?

Samsung in volume production of 11 DWPD SATA SSD - SM843T

Editor:- May 21, 2013 - There are so many SATA SSDs - it's hard to tell them apart - and harder to quickly sort out what they're good for. In the case of SATA SSDs for the enterprise in particular - the clue words have changed a lot in the past 9 years.
  • In the beginning - the clue was the memory. If it was SLC - that nearly always meant enterprise. because SLC was the good kind of flash - and consumers couldn't afford it.

    But from about 2009 onwards - as flash controller designers got smarter - "enterprise" stopped meaning "SLC".

    Now most enterprise SSDs use the same naughty kind of flash as consumers. All modern civilian SATA SSDs are MLC - whether they're for enterprise or consumer markets. (It's a mixed picture in the industrial SSD market and different again in military.)
  • Then it was endurance.

    But endurance of the memory isn't the same as endurance of the SSD. So SSD vendors started to talk about diskful writes per day (or unlimited writes and other things) - as a way to signal what kind of slot you could put their new SATA SSD in.
  • Then it was data integrity.

    I remember seeing web pages from some SSD makers which explained that the way they differentiated between enterprise and consumer SSDs was that the consumer models had one level of recoverable error rates - while their enterprise models were much better. That wasn't really enough of a difference though.
  • I nearly forgot to say that at one time the differentiator in enterprise SATA SSDs was speed - measured in throughput and IOPS.

    But speed stopped being a useful clue - because fast consumer SATA SSDs can be faster than slow enterprise SSDs. (Unlike a notebook - where all your SSD benefits are assumed to come from a single lonely SSD, the situation in the enterprise array is that the population of SSDs in a RAID type array all pull together. And in fast-enough SSD racks - the economics of the box stems from not offering overly extravagant performance.)
  • Another trend - which we've been seeing for a few years now - is for SATA SSD vendors to talk about the fact that their enterprise SATA SSDs have protection circuits which cope with sudden power failure.

    The assumption here being that if your SSD is in a notebook your don't need this protection. Why's that? - because you've got a rechargeable battery - so you're going to get a warning before the power rail drops.

    Another assumption is that consumers don't really care so much about their data. (Not enough to pay more for the difference - or do backups.)

    On the other hand if you use a Wintel notebook in earnest - you'll be familiar with the technique of pulling out the battery to reset it when the OS has gone awol. This procedure is more survivable for hard drives than SSDs - due to cleverly designed springs and other things - which have evolved over the decades. Pulling the battery out in a thrashing SSD notebook can be the start of learning about an expensive type of service called data recovery.
Anyway - the SATA SSD news today is that Samsung has announced volume shipments of a new model for the enterprise - the SM843T.

You can tell it's for the enterprise - because the company says - "it protects the most recent data being processed from a sudden power interruption, for enhanced system reliability..." and "the 960GB model is rated at 20,000 sequential TBW (Terabytes Written)" - which approximates to 11 DWPD.

And before you go - what about the changing relevance of SATA SSD itself for the enterprise?
  • SATA SSDs were the successors to SCSI HDDs (the old parallel kind)
It's a bit more complicated than that - but that'll do for now.

we're #2 in PCIe SSDs and growing fast - says LSI

Editor:- May 15, 2013 - LSI today announced it shipped over 40,000 PCIe SSDs in the past 12 months - and has been ranked the #2 merchant supplier of enterprise PCIe SSDs in the US, and the fastest growing in this category according to a recent report by Forward Insights.

Virident acquires flash VP from EMC

Editor:- May 15, 2013 - Virident has recently recruited Ken Grohe as VP worldwide customer operations. Grohe came from EMC where he was VP and GM of their Flash Business Unit.

...Later:- in a press release (May 21, 2013) Virident confirmed the above news and coupled it to the appointment of Keith Carpenter (formerly co-founder of Cache IQ) as Virident's new VP of sales, Americas.

Skyera increments SSD brainiacs headcount

Editor:- May 14, 2013 - Skyera today announced its new chief architect is Andy Tomlin - who was formerly VP of SSD Development at WD and before that was VP of firmware and software at SandForce.

3 SSD winners from Network Products Guide

Editor:- May 14, 2013 - 3 SSD companies were recently named by Network Products Guide in their Annual Hot Companies and Best Awards

new report by Forward Insights ranks SSD vendors by revenue

Editor:- May 13, 2013 - Forward Insights has published a new report SSD Supplier Status 2012 ($4,250) which among other things ranks vendors by revenue in these key markets:- See also:- SSD analysts, market research news

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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.

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headlines from earlier SSD news
May Fusion-io's CEO and CMO both resign

Micron samples new hot-swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs
April Diablo names SMART as flash partner for memory channel SSDs

Fusion-io and Astute Networks make (different) moves to make solid state cheaper in the iSCSI storage market
March Violin entered the PCIe SSD market

InnoDisk's iSLCT technology repurposes MLC cells to SLC
February remote PCIe SSD data sharing / caching introduced separately by Virident and Intel
January Skyera entered the top 5 SSD companies list

Seagate turns to Virident for big SSD controller architecture
December Samsung acquired NVELO
November Samsung made SSDs on 10nm

Micron filled its IP gap for NVDIMMs
October Proton Digital emerged from stealth
September 3 of the Top 10 SSD Companies changed CEOs
August IBM said it would acquire Texas Memory Systems

Skyera launched the lowest cost / TB SAN SSD
July SMART launched its 3rd SAS SSD range using different apps adaptations of adaptive R/W DSP

LSI shipping 1 million SandForce controllers / month

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