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SSD endurance
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the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2015
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing
Decloaking hidden preference segments in the enterprise
nice vs naughty - the epic saga of flash wars in the enterprise
Although I couldn't write about it at the time - in April 2015 I noticed the start of a new trend.

Military SSDs wearing DWPD badges too.

This was a result of enterprise-like data architectures being designed for off-grid powered systems in hostile environments with a new design concept.

The use of native military grade SSDs instead of repackaged (higher swap footprint) enterprise systems.
toughening up DWPD
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90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive
In a new blog on I look at drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD systems market along with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas. The conclusion?

"90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive."

Before publication - I discussed these ideas with various readers for about 3 months and since publication you won't be surprised when I tell you it has been at the core of many conversations since. the article
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a guide to data compression techniques and where to use them for designers of SSDs and memory systems
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers
Inside the SSD controller brain the compressibility of data is one of the tools which can go into the mix of optimizing performance, endurance and competitive cost.

A recent paper - A Survey Of Architectural Approaches for Data Compression in Cache and Main Memory Systems by Sparsh Mittal and Jeffrey S. Vetter in IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems - reviews the published techniques available and places their relevance in the context of real and future memory types and applications.

The survey covers applications from embedded systems upto supercomputers.

In addition to being useful resource directory of related papers the article gives you a brief description of many compression techniques, where you might use them and what benefits you might expect.

See also:- list of articles and books by Sparsh Mittal which among other things covers caching techniques, reliability impacts and energy saving possibilities in a wide range of server architectures.

no change in positioning of SanDisk's ioMemory PCIe SSD...

it's still the standard by which all others are judged
Editor:- April 28, 2015 - Back in the summer of 2012 - at which time the PCIe SSD market was already well served by many strong (and soon to be acquired) competitors (as you can see in this archived news page from September 2012) I came up with a short phrase to summarize the positioning of Fusion-io's products (in ads here on which ran like this...

"the standard for enterprise PCIe SSDs by which all others are judged:- ioDrives from Fusion-io".
Fusion-io fast SSDs - click for more info
the standard for enterprise PCIe SSDs
by which all others are judged
ioDrives from Fusion-io

ad circa 2012
Then a year later (in about December 2013) when I was seeking for a way to refine that description - I updated that to...

"(still) the standard for enterprise PCIe SSDs by which all others are judged:- ioDrives from Fusion-io."

The reason I mention that is to show how phrases which appear in ads can stick in readers' minds years later and resurface in everyday conversations.

This is something which (as I've got no formal qualifications in writing) I had never really thought about until I heard a lecture on this very point by Professor Brooks Landon in an episode of his audio series "Building Great Sentences" - a series which I dip into from time to time - originally triggered by the hope that I might learn some useful tricks I could apply to my scribbles on this site but a series which as I heard more episodes sustained my interest more so because it took me to unexpected panoramas of word writing virtuosity which have probably given me more pleasure as a spectator than the haphazard impressionistic experiments in recycling his word craft which I sometimes inflict on you .

So you can imagine my delight at seeing a recent press release from SanDisk about a new generation of Fusion ioMemory PCIe SSDs which among other things included this statement by John Scaramuzzo, senior VP and GM, Enterprise Storage Solutions, SanDisk.

"Fusion-io's technology fundamentally transformed expectations about data center performance when it debuted 8 years ago and it remains the standard by which all other PCIe products are judged.

Also in this news story we learn that over 250,000 of these accelerators have been deployed by over 7,000 customers. And that having been re-engineered to use SanDisk memory - the new models cost a lot less than the previous generation ioDrive2 product, and are 2x faster at reads.

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from the SSD history archive
Toshiba samples 48-layer 3D nand

8TB 2.5" PCIe SSDs sampling soon from Novachips

SanDisk launches white box rackmount SSD - InfiniFlash
Avago acquires Emulex for $600 million

FalconStor's FreeStor enters SSD platform market

$34 million funded Springpath emerges from stealth

Northwest Logic provides FPGA support for Everspin's MRAM
Novachips acquires HLNAND

Toshiba shows 1st BGA PCIe SSDs

Netlist gets preliminary injunction on manufacture of ULLtraDIMM SSDs

Western Digital acquires Skyera

Kaminario gets another $53 million funding

Netlist revalidates core patent related to ULLtraDIMM's
Steve Wozniak joins Primary Data

Foremay readies 8TB 2.5" military SSDs
Netlist asks court to shut down SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM

Memblaze launches new 14S latency PCIe SSDs in Europe
A3CUBE - first US customer shipments soon

Samsung mass produces 3TB 3D 10 DWPD PCIe SSDs

Seagate reports low take up of hybrid drives
Samsung ships 10nm SAS SSDs

Diablo unveils DDR-4 flash DIMM SSDs

SanDisk launches ZetaScale (enterprise flash memory tier software)

NxGn Data exits stealth with promise of in-situ SSD processing
SanDisk to buy Fusion-io

IBM is #1 in rackmount SSD revenue
Seagate agrees to acquire LSI's flash business for $450 million

Kaminario guarantees amplified usable capacity
SanDisk samples 4TB 2.5" SAS SSDs

Violin enters the SSD integrated server market
Samsung says its 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD are 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs
A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class architectures

Marvell samples 5K IOPS smartphone SSD (eMMC 5.0)
IBM revamps TMS rackmount SSDs and launches memory channel SSD servers (with SanDisk / Diablo inside)

Half Micron's nand flash now used in SSDs
LSI to be acquired for $6.6 billion

1st day for NMBL
Primary Data gets $50 million funding

Toshiba will buy assets of bankrupt OCZ

LSI samples the most ambitious design of a single chip SSD controller in SSD history.
McObject shows in-memory database resilience in NVDIMM

Toshiba chooses DensBits' adaptive flash IP
Violin does IPO

WD wants Virident

Cisco wants WhipTail

Micron samples first Hybrid Memory Cube devices
SMART samples memory channel SSDs
Diablo launches Memory Channel Storage
Samsung enters PCIe SSD market
Micron samples new hot-swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs

LSI is #2 in PCIe SSD shipments in US
35 years of SSD history

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SSD news - April 2015

Infinidat gets $150 million series B funding for high availability petabyte scale hybrid storage

Editor:- April 29, 2015 - Infinidat (which operates in the petabyte scale hybrid storage appliance market) today announced a $150 million series B investment led by TPG Growth - which brings the company's total funding to $230 million.

See later:- the SSD Bookmarks - from Infinidat

WD's enterprise SSD revenue up 67% yoy to $224 million / qtr

Editor:- April 29, 2015 - When I do eventually get around to publishing my promised $B/year enterprise SSD companies list - Western Digital will be one of the many companies listed in it.

That point was neatly clarified in an earnings conference call (transcript) yesterday - when Stephen Milligan - President and CEO said WD's enterprise SSD revenue in the recent quarter had grown to $224 million

Diablo resumes shipments of MCS following legal victories

Editor:- April 27, 2015 - Diablo has resumed business as usual in the shipment and development of its memory channel storage technology following months of impediments related to legal wrangles. Among other things the company today announced that the US District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled to completely dissolve a preliminary injunction enacted in January 2015.

Silicon Motion acquires PCIe SSD leader Shannon Systems

Editor:- April 24, 2015 - Silicon Motion today announced it will acquire Shannon Systems for a total purchase price of $57.5 million.

"China has become the largest internet market in the world and its internet companies have already widely adopted SSDs for their data centers and hyperscale servers. More recently, Chinese corporates and government organizations have started using SSDs for data virtualization. These operators of corporate and internet infrastructure have increasingly been turning to Shannon for world-class, locally developed and supported SSD solutions," said Wallace Kou, President and CEO of Silicon Motion.

Violin warns users about "effective" capacity

Editor:- April 22, 2015 - Violin Memory says that "effective storage capacity is a terrible measurement on which to make any firm plans (for buying flash storage arrays)" in a new blog - Where's My Capacity? Effective, Usable and Raw Explained.

Why's it terrible?

Because Violin goes on to say - "You simply cannot know what the effective capacity of a storage system is until you put your data on it. And you cannot guarantee that it will remain that way if your data is going to change."

atrological pricing
new age enterprise
flash pricing
So Violin advises - "Never, ever buy a storage system based purely on the effective capacity offered by the vendor – and always consider whether the assumed data reduction ratio is relevant to you. (Also, be very careful to read the small print when a vendor offers a guarantee regarding data reduction ratios.)"

Editor's comments:- This is a direct retaliation aimed at competing vendors - who using unfair tactics - such as the crowd sourced intelligence which enables them to have a pretty darn good guess how "effective" will translate for you (based on similar customers) are willing to take bets on Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.

It's the kind of bet which is easier to finance when you've already proved it works and when you're picky about which customers you offer it to. Which you can only do with focused and segmented marketing analysis. Effective capacity promises are safer with effective marketing.

enterprise business veteran joins Kaminario's board

Editor:- April 21, 2015 - Kaminario today , announced that Jim Dawson, a veteran of the storage industry, has been appointed to the company's board of directors.

high availabaility SSD arrays
"The flash storage industry can be a small world, and I've had the privilege of watching and admiring Kaminario from a unique perspective inside this ecosystem," said Dawson. "Businesses are in the midst of a transformative change in how they structure their data centers..."

Dawson is a partner at Menlo Ventures where he focuses on defining and executing successful sales strategies in the enterprise technology space. Prior to that, Dawson was chief sales officer and executive VP at Fusion-io. And before that Dawson was VP of worldwide sales at 3PAR. He was also a VP at Data General responsible for the Clariion storage business internationally.

Editor's comments:- normally I truncate the bio details in news stories because you can see them for yourself in linkedin. But in this instance I thought it worth leaving this in. Lest we forget DG and Clariion were just as disruptive in their time as Fusion-io.

CoreRise ships new smaller BladeDrive PCIe SSD

Corerise E24 PCIe SSDEditor:- April 20, 2015 - CoreRise today announced customer shipments of a new version of its BladeDrive family of gen 2 x8 PCIe SSDs - the E24 - which has a smaller form factor than the earlier E28. Its ASIC based implementation supports upto 1.6TB capacity, 275K IOPS (4KB) and 2GB/s throughput in half-height half-length. Software support includes Windows Server, Linux and virtualization such as Xen, Hyper-v, as well as TRIM.

SanDisk comments on apparent customer drift away from its PCIe SSDs and redesign in its SAS models

Editor:- April 16, 2015 - in a quarterly results related conference call (transcript) this week SanDisk's President and CEO - Sanjay Mehrotra - said that in the enterprise market it was seeing some of the business which had traditionally been implemented by its customers using PCIe SSDs was moving towards arrays of SATA SSDs.

click to see directory of SAS SSD companies
Among other things the company also reported on delays in customer qualifications of its SAS SSD products - despite which SanDisk still expects to maintain its position as the 2nd biggest supplier.

Editor's comments:- despite recent acquisitions and some unique strengths SanDisk still has big holes in its enterprise SSD product spectrum - among which 2.5" NVMe SSDs is the most obvious example. Although SanDisk says this gap will be fixed in 2016 (pdf).

You should be careful not to misconstrue SanDisk's statement about enterprise PCIe SSD replacement by SATA SSDs as a general trend for all customers and all types of PCIe SSDs.

These things are decided by infrastructure, latency architecture, user roadmap and risk assessment preferences and business economics.

On the other hand the move towards inplementing arrays of SATA SSDs as server accelerator upgrades to displace PCIe SSDs can occur in the least expected places.

SanDisk's own first generation ULLtraDIMMs - for example - have 2 embedded SATA SSDs inside.

A3CUBE shows shape of R/W in remote shared memory fabric

Editor:- April 14, 2015 - There was a disproportionately high amount of reader interest in A3CUBE in 2014.

A3CUBE was one of those rare companies which entered the Top SSD Companies list within a single quarter of exiting stealth mode or launching their first product. At that time they hadn't shipped any production products so we had to make some guesses about how the architecture would work with different R/W demands.

R/W performance of 4 node remote PCIe shared memoryWith any remote memory caching system there are always some types of R/W activities which work better than others and now we can get an idea of the headroom in A3CUBE's remote PCIe shared memory from a new slidedeck released by the company (Fortissimo Foundation - all NVMe solution some benchmarks) which is based on a 4 server node configuration.

In this 13 slide presentation - the most interesting for me was #12 - which shows random writes. A3CUBE says "This test measures the performance of writing a file with accesses being made to random locations within the file."

The throughput range is typically 700MB/s to 8GB/s. The low end is more impressive than it first appears - when you consider that it's a 4KB record changed within a remote 64KB file. ...see the presentation

Sonnet launches "Fusion PCIe Flash Drive"

and some notes re the Fusion brand in storage

Editor:- April 13, 2015 - Last week I raised the subject of the possible confusion which I thought could arise from a company called Sonnet Technologies having chosen the name Fusion for a new PCIe connected SSD.

In pursuance of that story I received some useful clarifications about this SSD branding issue which I'm publishing as a correction / elucidation story below.

My original post began like this...

Sonnet launches "Fusion PCIe Flash Drive"

Editor:- April 7, 2015 - In a move which I think will lead to inevitable confusion - Sonnet Technologies has today launched a new consumer storage module called the "Fusion PCIe Flash Drive."
sonnet pcie ssd
"The Fusion PCIe Flash Drive leverages the latest advancements in PCIe SSD design and Thunderbolt 2 technology, enabling Sonnet to offer a storage device that fits neatly in the palm of your hand yet delivers the blazing-fast performance of a multi-drive RAID storage system many times its size," said Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet Technologies CEO. "We think this will become an indispensable accessory for the creative professional."

Editor's comments:- Inside the box - is an M.2 SSD. If it had anything to do with Fusion-io - the best known brand in the PCIe SSD market - then I think we would have heard about it before.

I often wonder what goes through the minds of product marketers when they name new SSD products. Many of the clever words have already gone as you can see in my SSD brand name archives.

Later corrections and clarifications

I contacted Sonnet's CEO - Robert Farnsworth about this name confusion issue.

I said - "Robert is there any connection between your new Fusion PCIe drive and Fusion-io? I would be surprised if there was. Didn't you anticipate confusion when naming this product?"

Robert told me - "Sonnet Technologies has been using the Fusion name for our storage product since before Fusion-io existed as a company. None of Fusion-io products carry the Fusion name because Sonnet owns the trademark."

I got more of the background history about the Fusion storage trademark issue from Greg LaPorte, VP Sales and Marketing - Sonnet Technologies - whose detailed notes make interesting reading.

Greg said - "Sonnet was actually the first to use, and trademark, Fusion' in association with storage back in 2005 and have since used it for all Sonnet storage products. With respect to Fusion-io, yes, Sonnet began using the trademark Fusion' for storage products before Canvas Technologies became FusionMultiSystems in June of 2006 and well before they named their first ioDrive in September 2007. Later they evolved to Fusion-io for a company name but did not name their actual products with Fusion. They tend to use "io" in the majority of their product names."

Greg's email also included this related story.

"When Apple came out with the Fusion Drive, we brought this to their attention; Was Apple infringing on a Sonnet trademark? Their answer was that Fusion is so commonly used for product names, they felt it fell into the non-trademarkable category. We... dont agree with that assessment but we have a good relationship with Apple."

cooling fans essential for high speed operation of Samsung's new M.2 PCIe SSDs

Editor:- April 12, 2015 - Samsung's M.2 PCIe SSD - the SM951 - launched in January - is the subject a new evaluation in the SSD Review.

Among other things it was interesting to see how much the temperature of the SSD heated up when operating at high speed and heavy workloads and the importance of accurately designed heat extraction if you plan to use this SSD in such a way.

See also:- other reviews of this product, M.2 SSDs, temperature considerations in SSDs (pdf), industrial SSDs

One cache to bind them

image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies
Editor:- April 2, 2015 - SanDisk - which in the past 4 years has acquired 4 companies listed in the Top SSD Companies List (published by - recently announced the availability of acceleration bundles which integrate 3 of the most recent. Among other things these include:- "We have built our enterprise flash business to offer the broadest range of storage acceleration solutions to address customers' changing needs," said Ravi Swaminathan, VP and GM, Systems and Software Solutions, SanDisk. "The new hardware-software bundles offer the best of both our hardware and software portfolios in a single solution."

Editor's comments:- when I first spoke to FlashSoft in June 2011 - they were already talking to many of the industry's leading fast SSD makers about supporting their drives. And in my 2011 year end summary (SSD software has started to become real and useful) - I said - "Think of SSD software as being able to convert raw SSD gold into SSD jewelry. If enough users like the style the end-result is worth a lot more than the scrap value."

But in the years immediately following there was a lot of uncertainty for enterprise users who relied on any particular SSD software solution - as most such companies couldn't be relied on to continue support for your favorite SSD if they were acquired by a competitor of that SSD. And in many cases - the investment and roadmaps for the acquired caching products fizzled out.

The new FlashSoft bundles will appeal to some types of enterprise users who like this style of roadmap continuity - where the personality of their SSD (software and controllers) come from the same source.

On the other hand - for oems and big users who want to differentiate their systems by using COTS SSDs from any source and their own choice of software - this kind of bundle will be seen as a strategic threat and will incline many of them to look instead towards vendors who are seen as more "software agnostic" - such as Seagate, Micron and Intel.

See also:- decloaking segmentations (and user preferences) in the enterprise SSD market.

What happened before? - See the SSD news archive


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