click to visit home page
leading the way to the new storage frontier
the Top SSD Companies
an SSD conversation with PLX
boom bust cycles in memory markets
meet Ken and the SSD event horizon
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
optimizing CPUs for use with SSDs in the Memoryfication Era
SSD ad - click for more info

SanDisk's new software platform repurposes SSDs as storage class memory
Editor:- July 8, 2014 - 2 weeks ago SanDisk announced a new enterprise software product - ZetaScale (pdf) - designed to support large inmemory intensice applications.

I delayed writing about it at the time - until I learned more. But now I think it could be one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014 - because of the freedom it will give big memory customers (in the next 2-3 years) about how they navigate their tactical choices of populating their apps servers with low latency flash SSD hardware.

what is ZetaScale?

SanDisk says - "ZetaScale software's highly parallelized code supports high throughput for flash I/O, even for small objects, and optimizes the use of CPU cores, DRAM, and flash to maximize application throughput. Applications that have been flash-optimized through the use of ZetaScale can achieve performance levels close to in-memory DRAM performance."

ZetaScale is SSD agnostic. "ZetaScale is compatible with any brand of PCIe, SAS, SATA, DIMM or NVMe connected flash storage device, providing customers the ability to choose, avoiding hardware vendor lock-in."

I was curious to see how this new product - which is a toolkit for deploying flash with tiering to DRAM as a new memory type - fitted in with other products - from SanDisk and from other vendors which also operate in this "flash as a big memoryalternative to DRAM" application space .

So I asked SanDisk some questions - and got some interesting answers.
  • Where does the ZetaScale product come from?

    SanDisk - ZetaScale builds upon our Schooner acquisition technology for additional use cases and flash deployment models.

    ZetaScale allows any developer to better tune their applications for flash-based environments, no matter which vendors hardware or interface is being leveraged. Thus, ZetaScale represents a major step forward in our vision of the flash-transformed data centerempowering software developers to scale and enhance their applications to meet today's big data and real-time analytics demands, while lowering TCO.
  • How much commonality is there between ZetaScale and FlashSoft product offerings?

    ZetaScale and FlashSoft software are complementary and orthogonal.

    FlashSoft provides direct-attached flash-based caching for NAS and SAN devices, with the goal of improving performance for unmodified applications running on a server.

    ZetaScale software provides a flash and multi-core optimization library that applications can integrate to allow them to achieve 3x times the performance improvement from flash alone.

    Both ZetaScale and FlashSoft software provide their benefits in bare metal and virtualized environments
  • Does ZetaScale support ULLtraDIMM?

    Yes. The software is compatible with any brand of PCIe, SAS, SATA, DIMM or NVMe connected flash device, enabling users to avoid vendor lock-in. However, the software does not get embedded into any SSD.
  • How would ZetaScale fit into a future SanDisk product line which also includes Fusion-io?

    SanDisk cannot comment on open M&A activity. As usual, all planning surrounding the product portfolio and roadmap will begin following the close of the acquisition.
Editor's comments:- overall I'd have to rate SanDisk's - ZetaScale as one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014.

From a technical point of view - it's a toolkit which will enable architects of SSD apps servers with very large in memory databases to decouple themselves fromdeep dives into specific low latency SSD products. Instead of gambling on whether they should exploit particular features which come with particular low latency SSDs - they can instead use ZetaScale as the lowest level of flash which their apps talk to. And that will change markets.

And although SanDisk didn't want to comment on how this would be positioned against Fusion-io's VSL - it's undeniable that in some applications it does compete today.

Although I wouldn't be surprised to see - a year after the acquisition (if it goes ahead) ZetaScale could be useful as a way of introducing new customers to the ioMemory hardware environment - without those customers having to make a hard commitment to the rest of Fusion-io's software.

And - looking at the memory channel SSD market - it also means that SanDisk software might be a safer standard for future customers of any DDR4 or HMC SSDs which might emerge from competitor Micron which - unlike SanDisk - hasn't demonstrated yet any strong ambitions in the SSD software platform market.

Later:- A year after writing the above comments Micron gave the first public sign that it was interested in tackling the storage class memory market - with its 3D Xpoint announcement.

However with products not expected till 2016 - it confirmed my assessment that Micron was at least 2 years behind the market curve on a usable SCM platform at the time of the ZetaScale launch.

What do want our memory systems to do for us?

And how do we want them to behave?

Those questions were tackled in a later blog - where are we heading with memory intensive systems and software?

We used to be able to write down a list of memories which mattered. Now we're seeing many new strangers from strange lands. Even I can't remember who they all are and how to spell their names
the SSD Bookmarks - series 2.0

SSD ad - click for more info

Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
Editor:- recently published a new article - Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

Some of the world's leading SSD marketers have confided in me they know from their own customer anecdotes that there are many segments for enterprise flash arrays which aren't listed or even hinted at in standard models of the enterprise market.

Many of these missing market segments don't even have names.

Hey - that means SSD-world is like a map of the US before Lewis and Clark.

If you're a VC should this make you anxious or happy?

If you're a user - maybe that's why no one is delighting you in the way you think you deserve.

That's what led me to write my new article.

See also:- rackmount SSDs, SSD silos, market research

Rackmount SSDs click for news and directory
rackmount SSDs


"SSD efficiency is a very powerful differentiator in technology and I think it will also be very important in influencing business success too."
Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less flash

pcie  SSDs - click to read article

Although the many stories about the true nature of the stars, moon and other heavenly bodies in the night sky were created and developed over many thousands of years - the SSD market - which has a much shorter history (spanning about 40 years) - has nevertheless managed to accrue an imaginative body of literature which includes truths, half truths, mysticism, misunderstandings. myths, legends - and in some cases - downright balderdash - when it comes to the subject of SSD costs, pricing and justifications.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing


SSD silos article
datacenter SSD silos

stories from SSD news in July months gone by
July 2013 Diablo unveils Memory Channel Storage
July 2012 LSI ships 1 million SandForce controllers / month
July 2011 8 out of top 10 SSD companies support PCIe
July 2010 SNIA publishes draft SSD performance testing doc
July 2009 STEC announces $150 million of SSD orders
July 2008 Samsung and Sun work on higher endurance SSDs
July 2006 HyperStor SSD systems scale to Tens of Terabytes
July 2004 Adtron introduces first industrial SATA SSD

image shows Megabyte pouring clone juice onto his garden - click here for the backup software page
backup software

"That step in improved utilization means that when users make the switch to the newer software - not only do they need less servers - but they don't need as many SSDs either."
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

Flash Memory
flash & nvm

So you'd think that when it comes to the person in purchasing - who's looking for standard SSD products to go into industrial or embedded systems - which aren't pushing the state of the art when it comes to form factors (some like CF have been around forever) and whose needs include the type of SSD interfaces which haven't been seen much in SSD news in the last 10 years - it should be simple enough.
no such thing as a simple standard legacy industrial SSD - (June 3, 2014)

click to see directory of SAS SSD companies

what's the state of DWPD?
Diskful Writes Per Day in leading enterprise SSDs

click here to see our directory of SSD market analysts
SSD market analysts

"The winners in SSD software could be as important for infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
get ready for a new world in which
all enterprise data touches SSDs

"Don't place too much credence in what SSD companies tell you about the present or the future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs

nice flash vs naughty flash
Sugaring flash for the enterprise
how the market changed from 2004 to 2013
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies ..
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
PCIe SSDs ..
memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs
SSD ad - click for more info

SSD market news - July 2014

Diablo secures patent related to MCS technologies

Editor:- July 31, 2014 - Diablo today announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded U.S. patent No. 8,713,379, entitled a "System and method of interfacing co-processors and input/output devices via a main memory system," to the company. The '379 patent describes:
  • A method for connecting non-volatile memory directly to the memory controllers of a processor.
  • A learning machine to handle data interleaving/de-interleaving and data scrambling/de-scrambling algorithms for DDR3/4-based memory controllers.
  • A method to remap the non-linear DIMM address space back to linear address space used by the driver
See also:- Memory Channel SSDs

Lite-On enters enterprise M.2 PCIe SSD market

Editor:- July 30, 2014 - Lite-On will be showing a new M.2 PCIe SSD for the enterprise market next week at the Flash Memory Summit.

The P1P is a M.2 PCIe SSD with capacities of 1TB and power loss protection circuit all in a small form factor.

The small form factor and high capacity allow enterprise customers to pack more storage in a smaller footprint. The P1P Series can deliver sequential R/W speeds up to 610MB/s and 520MB/s while random R/W speeds can be upto 95K/15K IOPS.

The drive has a MTBF of 2 million hours and an endurance rating of up to 1 drive write per day for 5 years.

See also:- who's who in M.2 SSDs?

NxGn Data exits stealth with promise of in-situ SSD processing

Editor:- July 29, 2014 - NxGn Data today exited stealth mode.

NxGn will use advanced adaptive DSP technology to enable small form factor SSDs (such as M.2) aimed at the enterprise market - using MLC and TLC down to 1z-nm geometries.

Fully functional FPGA-based samples will be available in early 2015, followed by final production samples of SoC-based M.2 solutions in late 2015.

NxGn says it will be the first SSD controller company in the industry with in-storage computation capability - what it calls "In-Situ Processing".

Editor's comments:- Earlier this year I published a couple of reports and mentions about SSD suppliers (LSI and Memblaze) who have modifed their controller firmware to eliminate or bypass functions from the lowest level SSD drive - for large customers like Baidu - who then use their array level software to get better utilization and performance.

And in the industrial market InnoDisk - uses what it calls 3rd generation architecture - to partition intelligent data actions between the controller and software stack.

Until recently - only Fusion-io (in whose products the flash controller and apps server - share the same CPU cores) has been able to maximize high end context intelligence with low level flash block data access at a similar latency level.

But once you've solved the problem of making SSDs reliable and fast - it's tempting to create an SSD instruction set which which focuses on application layer needs too - and not just those of dumb storage.

See also:- Active Flash: Towards Energy-Efficient, In-Situ Data Analytics on Extreme-Scale Machines

real-world performance of flash storage systems

Editor:- July 23, 2014 - Editor:- July 23, 2014 - How does flash storage perform in the real world? - Demartek aims to provide some answers by reporting on the performance tests which it has carried out on SSD and hybrid systems from many of the leading enterprise SSD companies in a session next month at the Flash Memory Summit (August 5).

Demartek says attendees will come away with reasonable estimates of what they can expect in practice and the results also reveal additional advantages of flash-based storage, with what Dennis Martin, President - Demartek calls "happy side effects". ...more info (pdf)

See also:- SSD testing & analyzer news, how fast can your SSD run backwards?

STT-MRAM? - update report

Editor:- July 18, 2014 - IEEE Spectrum today published an interesting state of the art article about spin-transfer-torque MRAM - Spin Memory Shows its Might.

Among other things the article's author - Rachel Courtland Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Spectrum Magazine - says "STT-MRAM may be claiming some of the enthusiasm once reserved for other alternative memories, such as ferroelectric RAM, phase-change memory, and resistive RAM. But its success will come down to manufacturing technology and how well it can compete on cost." the article

See also:-
flash and other nvm, storage interface chips

new article on enterprise SSD pricing

Editor:- July 18, 2014 - in a new article on - Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing - I explain why I think that 2014 will be seen as the start of a new phase of creativity in the enterprise SSD market on the subject of pricing and affordability and I name 3 companies leading this charge.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that the dominant form factor leading this new market trend is rackmount SSDs. because as I told you in this article last year - exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs - that's the most productive form factor for doing something efficiently different with technology.

And the simplest way for vendors to signal to the world that they are masters and commanders of the solid state storage high seas - rather than merely floating barges of nand flash which can be swept along in any direction by the latest technology gust - is to hoist new colors of SSD pricing. the article.

SSD brand leaders - from IT Brand Pulse

Editor:- July 17, 2014 - Based on votes by end users in its survey sample groups - IT Brand Pulse today named the "2014 SSD Brand Leaders".

The IT Brand Pulse "Innovation Leaders" included these companies and categories:- Editor's comments:- with so many companies now doing market research which intersects with the SSD market - you've now got more sanity checks than ever to determine whether your assessment of any particular SSD company is broadly in line with that of other people.

Brand awareness, financial reports and online search data - intrinsically provide different numerically weighted views of the same market. And which methodology you prefer depends on whether your priority is in understanding the past, present or future - and what it is you're trying to decide.

For longitudinal market studies you can refine your understanding of shifting patterns of market change and real leadership by comparing these different types of data and correlating the movements in different time periods. So a shift in search volume in one period may correlate to a change in revenue some time later. Or a change in revenue or profitability might be seen to be tied to a change in brand strength later.

The interesting thing about the SSD market is that because the technology hasn't been standing still - it can be shocking to compare the same list and see how it changes over a period of 3 to 5 years and to see which old names have disappeared and which new ones have replaced them. I'm often reminded of this when I trawl back through my own SSD history and news archives. I'm sure it's the same for many of you too.

One of the things we all hope to get out of these lists - is to avoid making too many bad bets on companies and technologies which will prove to be a waste of our time.

the Top SSD Companies
storage market research
Can you trust SSD market data?

Tegile appoints former Violin VP as new CMO

Editor:- July 15, 2014 - Tegile Systems today announced that Narayan Venkat - who was formerly VP products and marketing at Violin - has joined Tegile as its Chief Marketing Officer.

See also:- rackmount SSDs, playing the enterprise SSD box riddle game

OCZ announces availability of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5

Editor:- July 15, 2014 - OCZ this week announced availability of version 1.5 of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator (PCIe SSD and caching software bundle) the beta version of which was announced in April. Highlights:-
  • flash Buffer Pool Extension (BPE) support
  • better granularity of database files that need to be accelerated - than version 1.0.
  • remote flash services - enables remote network connected blade servers to access cached PCIe flash storage using OCZ's proprietary Direct Pass Caching Technology.
Small system performance? - Internal testing performed by OCZ delivered over one million TPMs for a sample of 50 virtual users when ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 was located in the same server as the SQL application.

For larger enterprises/data centers that use ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 in a traditional HA SAN storage environment, the embedded software can cache large database files from the SAN onto server-side flash either locally or remotely - with 5x speedups (compared to native HDD SAN performance) being realistic goals.

Editor's comments:- This product is aimed at the same applications as Violin's Windows Flash Array (WFA)

The main differences are:-
  • OCZ has been selling into the entry level enterprise SQL acceleration market as a business focus for much longer than Violin (years rather than months).

    In contrast - Violin's history has been mostly as a very high performance SSD supplier - and until recently Violin only encountered small SSD applications as departmental use cases within big SSD customer sites.
  • With Violin's WFA you get an integrated system - but have to buy the servers from Violin.
  • With OCZ's ZD-XL SQL Accelerator - you have the freedom to use any servers you like - as long as they have enough spare slots to install the PCIe SSD cards. But you have to know a bit more about what you're doing - and the performance is unique to your system.
See also:- ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 case studies and white papers

an update on Atlantis (Software-Defined Storage)

Editor:- July 14, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today announced 2 things:-
  • On a year-over-year basis Atlantis grew 1H bookings 80%
Commenting on the state of the company he founded in 2006 and which has already sold over 580,000 licenses - CTO, Chetan Venkatesh said - "Atlantis was started with a vision of a future where intelligent and agile Software solved the most important, complex and challenging problems of storage hardware. In our view, storage is not a hardware problem, but that hardware is the problem and to solve that you need intelligent software that disrupts the current paradigm of expensive and proprietary SAN & NAS."

Avere gets another $20 million funding

Editor:- July 10, 2014 - Avere Systems today announced raised an additional $20 million in venture financing, bringing the total amount invested in the company to $72 million. The Series D funding round was led by Western Digital Capital, with participation from previous investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Tenaya Capital. The funding will be used to accelerate sales, marketing and continued development of the company's hybrid cloud storage solutions.

"The reality for 99% of enterprises is they will operate increasingly in a hybrid IT storage environment for many years to come. This means that no single storage technology will win, and both on-premises and cloud storage will be required to achieve cost and performance goals" said Ron Bianchini, president and CEO of Avere Systems.

Editor's comments:- I agree with Ron about that 99% figure.

In my 2012 article - an introduction to enterprise SSD silos - when I was writing about a future in which SSDs are everywhere - I said - "No single SSD type can match all the needs of all user enterprises economically. And there will always be a need to have intermediate management between SSD systems which have dissimilar speed / cost characteristics." - "SSD systems" in this context - includes the cloud.

But I'd like to take Ron's statement - about what constitutes a "hybrid" - a bit further...

I would add the words "software architectures" somewhere in that strong assertion about hybrids. (Although I can see why that would be too messy to include in a press release.)

I think that enterprises today - whether they consciously realize it or not - are in reality choosing between at least 4 different generations of SSD-aware software architectures within and around their enterprise SSD hardware mix - every time they buy a new storage product or server - in addition to the straightforward and highly visible determinations they make about the 3 fundamentally different types of hybrid caching and tiering SSD appliances (different from a network architecture point of view) which we've seen operating in classic legacy storage software frameworks since 2009.

Those "software hybrids" - which represent different generations of thinking and different pragmatic business approaches - are at the root of the software based multipliers in rackmount SSD market segments (which are making everyone's life more complicated).

In the long term the impact of multi-generationally-rooted and SSD-centric software hybridization in the enterprise will be as significant as the differences between a 2.5" SSD and a 2.5" hard drive.

I have written about these software generations before in various articles - so I won't repeat them here - I might write a simple bullet point unified history of this subject if enough readers ask me to clarify this.

a reader asks - about continuity of PLX's PCI Express box platform

Editor:- July 10, 2014 - Yesterday a reader asked if I thought that the PCIe fabric system - which I had written about last month in the article - An SSD conversation with PLX - would still be available as a product after the acquisition of PLX by Avago Technologies closed?

He pointed out that Avago avoids competing with its own systems customers (which is why they divested the SSD business from LSI) and also Avago isn't a systems company.

Here's what I said...

The points you make are valid and I had wondered the same thing myself.

But I think the PCIe fabric box (ExpressFabric solution) will continue in some form or other – because it started out as a system design kit for demonstrating what could be done with the next generation of PCIe chips and software stacks. So it's an essential sales tool for the chip business.

Before the announcement from Avago – the PLX guys had already said that any of their customers would be welcome to use as much or as little as they wanted from the SDK box – as PLX wasn't originally advancing this as a systems product.

But I could see from my own judgement (and PLX confirmed this) that for some customers – having availability of such a box as a product would be a convenient tool.

Incidentally - that's how Intel got into the systems business - with their Multibus SBC product range in the 1970s - which was a response to customers asking if they could buy the boards which were in the early microprocessor development systems.

Returning to Avago and the PCIe fabric SDK

I agree - it's possible that Avago may decide not to get into the volume supply business of these boxes – but in that case I think the boxes (and design IP for these boxes) would continue to be available in some form from a designated source – otherwise lack of this integration concept tool would slow down market adoption of the new PCIe fabric chips.

It's in the interests of Avago and its oem customers to ensure that the ExpressFabric SDK remains available as a software reference architecture which is at the center of this new ecosystem.

Later:- I asked for an official response about this (just in case I had missed anything) but - as I expected - the answer was - it will come in a future press release.

EMC acquires cloud piped via iSCSI company TwinStrata

Editor:- July 8, 2014 - not that it really matters - EMC has acquired TwinStrata
SSD ad - click for more info

storage search banner

SSD news page image - click to  enlarge

Michelangelo was looking for David.
Megabyte was looking for the inner SSD.

AccelStor NeoSapphire  all-flash array
1U enterprise flash arrays
InfiniBand or 10GbE iSCSI or 16G FC
NeoSapphire series - from AccelStor

related guides

industrial mSATA SSD
industrial grade mSATA SSDs
>2 million write cycles per logical block.
from Cactus Technologies

related guides

Can you trust market reports and the handed down wisdom from analysts, bloggers and so-called "industry experts" any more than you can trust SSD benchmarks to tell you which product is best?

The short answer is - heck no! - whatever gave you that silly idea?
Can you trust SSD market data? - the classic article