click to visit home page
leading the way to the new storage frontier
SSD endurance
SSD market history
can you trust SSD market data?
Surviving SSD sudden power loss
The enterprise flash story... could it have been simplified?
Decloaking hidden preference segments in enterprise flash
SSD ad - click for more info
what just happened in SSD land?
by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -

If, like me, you temporarily stepped aside from the flood of SSD market related news any time during the past 4 weeks or so for a vacation or other reasons then what can I tell you so that you feel more back in control?

Undoubtedly (in my mind) the most significant enterprise flash related news in recent years was Diablo's Memory1.

Much less easy to place within any particular calendar year and to rate for its significance to future SSD history - however - due to its distinctly vaporware-like aspects and stunning lack of technical details - was the stage managed unveiling of a newly branded memory architecture by Intel and Micron - which (like the emperor's new clothes) may or may not become significant for enterprise applications in 2016, or 2017 or 2018 - depending on when we can see it working and depending on what other competitors are doing at that time.

For PCIe SSD watchers - there were incremental advances in PCIe fabric as PMC-Sierra showed it could get switches and flash to talk the same language together across rack boundaries using NVMe and RDMA.

As you'd expect - the usual sprinkle of SSD companies emerged from stealth mode.

This included not just VC funded revenue hopeful startups but also some significant customer revenue funded companies too - which had developed quietly in China and decided that maybe the rest of the world should get to hear about them too. (One example in this "how come we didn't notice them before?" category - being Longsys - which to my embarrassment was already an $800 million revenue flash products related business before it appeared this year in my SSD radar.)

And what about indicators along the bumpy road to eventual consolidation in enterprise SSD platforms?

Two recent indicators have been:- Some of the above developments can also be seen as fitting into a pattern of developments which will make 2015 stand out in a unique way in SSD adoption history.
  • the anticipated compelling need for enterprise SSD storage drive makers to have rackmount system products too - due to efficiency gains which are only possible at this level of integration - due to cumulative gains made at many different levels in software.
  • the shift of the fast SSD accelerator center of focus to its 3rd market territory in the past 16 years - DIMM wars - which will displace and change the positioning of latency heirarchy for PCIe SSDs.
SSD ad - click for more info
Intel will enter Memory Channel SSD market
Editor:- August 24, 2015 - Back in July Intel and Micron unveiled a new bulk material based resistive memory nvRAM platform which they called 3D XPoint™ technology (later branded as Optane). At that time - the technical information about the memory technology were vague and lacking in detail.

More details emerged during the shows which immediately followed (FMS and IDF) and here's a link with the webcast.

Intel says cost per bit is likely to be somewhere between DRAM and nand flash.

Latency is said to be 1,000x faster than nand but slower than DRAM.

Storage density? A single chip can store 128Gb.

Sampling? Later this year with production in 2016.

Some of the many form factors and attach points which might benefit from this new technology are PCIe SSDs and Memory Channel SSDs.

As with any new memory technology it will take time and experience to prove whether Optane memory has enterprise grade reliability. For this reason and due to the need to establish a new software ecosystem - early uses of the memory will probably be in experimental cloud appliances and consumer gaming devices.

...Later:- Initially I had serious doubts about the market readiness state of the Intel / Micron preannouncement because it appeared to leapfrog previously known memory offerings. And storage history has taught us 2 valuable lessons about new memories.
  • the new memory is usually a small increment (2x, 4x etc) what was done before - to minimize the risk of new problems creeping into the next scaled geometry iteration, and
  • I've heard such "market breakthough stories" from the anti-flash nvm world many times in the past 12 years - usually precipated by a need for more investment cash.
Where can you find more reliable information about ReRAM?

I've found a website which seems to have a more measured and informed approach to what has been happening in ReRAM land - and reading it may help you guess better when these advances might really intersect with the mainstream SSD market.

Take a look at

See also:- flash and nvm news here on the mouse site

SSD ad - click for more info

what can we learn from Pure Storage's IPO filing?
Editor:- August 14, 2015 - Pure Storage needs more funds to continue its current growth strategy in the rackmount SSD market.

The reasons become clear in the details revealed in the FORM S-1 which the company registered recently with the SEC for an IPO.

One interpretation is that the company's R&D and sales and marketing costs have been disproportionately high relative to their revenue - judged by steady state market standards. However, if you choose to assume that the company's revenue will continue to grow rapidly - then these front end loaded losses are not dissimilar to what we have seen in many previous enterprise SSD IPOs.

Interesting things which emerge from Pure's S1.
  • Pure Storage's revenue in the year ending January 31, 2015 was just under $155 million.
  • Pure Storage has over 1,100 customers. And coincidentally - 1,100 employees. (Is 1 to 1 a sustainable ratio?)

    Maybe because of that Pure has a good story to tell about repeat business - although warns that this is based on a short history of 27 months of selling systems and that things could change.
  • silliest statement in the S-1:- "We have pioneered the all-flash array category..."
  • most profound statement in the S-1:- "The market for all-flash storage products is rapidly evolving, which makes it difficult to forecast customer adoption rates and demand for our products."
Investors make decisions based on all kinds of criteria and sometimes these don't make sense to anyone else - or even to the same person when looking back later. So I'm not going to speculate on the gambling aspects of the IPO.

Instead this is a useful opportunity to remind you that in the timeframe of the next 3 to 5 years there will be a great deal of market change and consolidation in the enterprise flash array market for reasons and with possible transformation paths which I wrote about in a recent article.

So if I'm trying to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of how a company like Pure Storage might morph and survive into that kind of future market my guesses would hinge around these factors:-
  • hardware:- companies like Pure (and most others too) will be buying all their hardware boxes from 3rd parties in the future. Pure's hardware IP is minimal today. But this doesn't matter so much.
  • software and marketing:- these are the things which will matter.

    Pure has demonstrated that it can sell systems - although it's hardly unique in that. And while Pure is currently a small and costly sales channel compared to the rest of the market it competes with - some longer established competitors are much worse.

    So the question is - can its software (its real core asset) stand up competitively compared to new upcoming generations of industry standard enterprise flash management software which will become the norm?

    And an equally important question related to software - is what proportion of the future flash array market will actually need to be backwards compatible with legacy architectures?

    That after all is the main point of Pure's business model today.

    So you might think about scaling back down the IDC numbers mentioned in the S-1 or look at the detail or - better still - completely disregard them if you're looking at TAM for Pure style flash arrays.
Of course I'm posing these questions knowing that reliable answers are unknowable. But despite all the uncertainty the beauty of the competitive capitalist free market system is that useful stuff still gets done and when companies become publicly owned the market provides real time feedback of what investors think.
1x M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD good

4 is better - says Memoright
Editor:- August 16, 2015 - Memoright discussed the possibilities arising from using an array of 4x M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs packed onto a single PCIe switch card as a way of building competitively priced SSD accelerated servers - in a paper Using a PCIe-Based Switch Module to Enhance Enterprise Storage Architecture (pdf) presented at the recent Flash Memory Summit.
Memoright 4 way M2 SSD card
Each of the new M.2 SSDs from Memoright would have upto 1TB capacity and R/W IOPS upto 81K / 54K respectively.

This is the familiar kind of density story we've seen throughout SSD history, which has applied to slots of all sizes from DIMMs to rackmount shelves, which is that some integrators will find applications which benefit from filling every conceivable slot with the maximum number of new SSDs which thermal sanity will allow.

SSD ad - click for more info

Waitan has embeddable industrial grade ejector for 1.8" microSATA SSDs
Editor:- August 5, 2015 - I wasn't really expecting to see any major product innovations in the embedded 1.8" SSD market - but even long established markets can spawn specialized developments.

Something like that can be seen in the shape of the recent launch by Waitan of a patent pending 1.8" microSATA SSD ejector product with dual propel pedals for smooth and even ejection for use on PCBs.
news image Waitan 1.8 inch SSD ejector
Carina Li, Waitan's Product Manager says the new connector will enable designers to deploy 1.8" microSATA SSDs with the same ease and serviceability and EMC shielding benefits as 2.5" SATA SSDs. ...more info (pdf)

2 of the fastest climbers in the list are players in the oldest game in SSD town - taking data to rugged hostile locations
the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2015
SSD ad - click for more info

SSD news - August 2015

Violin's revenue declined 18% compared to year ago quarter

Editor:- August 27, 2015 - Violin Memory today reported that revenue for the quarter ended July 31, 2015 was $15.3 million - which was 18% lower than the same period a year earlier.

Editor's comments:- Violin's revenue in calendar year 2014 was about half that of Pure Storage.

But here's a cautionary note:- "Pure Storage has over 1,100 customers. And coincidentally - 1,100 employees. (Is 1 to 1 a sustainable ratio?)" - from the article - what can we learn from Pure Storage's IPO filing? (in the column on the left of this page)

3D TLC is good enough to last 7 years
in 1 DWPD Kaminario customer base

Editor:- August 21, 2015 - One of the early new SSD ideas in 2014 was that 3D nand flash was tough enough to consider using in industrial SSDs so it was no surprise when 3D flash started to appear in volume production of enterprise SSD accelerators such as Samsung's 10 DWPD NVMe PCIe SSDs in September 2014.

So the recent announcement by Kaminario that it will soon ship 3D TLC (3 bits) flash in its K2 rackmount SSDs can be seen as a predictable marker in the long term trend of flash adoption in the enterprise.

Less predictable, than the price (under $1,000/TB for usable systems capacity) however, is that Kaminario is offering a 7 years endurance related systems warranty.

disk writes per day in enterprise SSDs
This factor - discussed in a Kaminario blog - tells us more about Kaminario's customer base than it tells us about flash endurance however.

Kaminario says its HealthShield "has been collecting endurance statistics for the past few years, and from analyzing the data we see that 97% of (our) customers are writing less than a single write per day (under 1 DWPD) of the entire capacity."

This is one aspect of a trend I wrote about a few years ago - thinking inside the box - which is that designers of integrated systems have more freedom of choice in their memories than designers of standard SSD drives - because they have visibility and control of more layers of software and can leverage other architectural factors.

A competent box level SSD designer can make better decisions about how to translate raw R/W intentions (from the host) into optimized R/W activities at the flash .

This is especially the case when the designers are also collecting raw data about the workloads used in their own customer bases. The customer experience is more important than slavishly designing systems which look good in artificial benchmarks.

Seagate will acquire Dot Hill

Editor:- August 18, 2015 - Seagate today announced it will acquire Dot Hill Systems in an all-cash transaction valued at $9.75 per share, or a total of approximately $694 million.

Editor's comments:- this is a good strategic move for Seagate which now secures an enterprise market proven hybrid storage caching and tiering technology which can be used as a framework for hybrid appliances and cloud infrastructure.

The enterprise software stack and patent IP assets from Dot Hill will enable Seagate to credibly position its SSD caching technologies as second to none in mid range traditional legacy enterprise environments.

Dot Hill's marketing had been foundering around for a few years and the company was seemingly unable to get the kind of market attention it would have got if it were offering the same technology as a startup. Part of the problem was that - as an old time company from the dotcom era - which had relied on 3rd party companies oeming its products - Dot Hill had neglected to develop the same kind of marketing charisma and brand identity as many of the newer companies which it has been competing with.

As part of Seagate - Dot Hill 's caching technology could become a viable alternative platform for integrators who want to compete with newer vendors Tegile, Nimble, NexGen and hybrids from older vendors like HP and EMC.

is the hyper convergence market over indulging in hype?

Editor:- August 18, 2015 - some interesting comments about the reputation inflationary role of market research soothsayers in the hyperconverged systems market surfaced in a recent blog by Chin-Fah Heoh, StorageGaga - who says - among other things:-

"Hyper Converged vendors spend a lot of their resources and marketing on hyping up performance, and little on everything else." the blog

Radian's Symphonic - Most Innovative Software at FMS

Editor:- August 18, 2015 - Radian Memory - which recently emerged from stealth mode - today announced it had received a best of show award at the Flash Memory Summit for "Most Innovative Software Technology".

This was for its software product Symphonic - designed for its new 2.5" NVMe SSDs - which replaces the traditional FTL controller approach with a 3rd generation approach - described by the company as "Cooperative Flash Management" - which partitions data movement responsibility between the controller in the SSD and the host CPUs and which enables data to be moved around the flash array under host control without needing to be read back into main system memory.

Microsemi fills key gap in TRRUST-Stor military SSD line

Editor:- August 14, 2015 - Microsemi recently added a low power MO-300 mSATA SLC SSD to its TRRUST-Stor® family of secure / military SSDs.

The MM3064AN2R-M001 can be sanitized according to the NSA 9-12 protocol in less than 2 minutes.
Microsemi rugged MO-300 mSATA SSD
"In the advanced deep sleep low power mode, the SSD is only using 150mW and can be 'instant on.' said Bill Sorrentino, tactical marketing manager for Microsemi's Memory and Storage business. "This feature will enable longer field life for battery powered applications. In addition, it will cut down on cooling required for products where heat is a concern."

...Later:- 2 weeks later - Microsemi expanded their secure rugged SSD range still further with a new XMC form factor SSD - the MXMCM256 - which has upto 512GB SLC in an air cooled or conduction cooled XMC mezzanine. Details include:-
  • XMC x2 PCIe interface per ANSI/VITA 42.3-2014
  • XMC SATA interface (configurable)
  • R/W speeds upto 185 MB/s
  • Continuously running built-in self-test

world's first M.2 MRAM SSD

Editor:- August 13, 2015 - Everspin Technologies and Aupera Technologies today announced the launch of the world's first all MRAM storage module in the M.2 form factor.

The AupM001 is equipped with Everspin's non-volatile, high endurance, 64 Mb DDR3 ST-MRAM devices and a PCIe backhaul interface. AupM001's capacity is 32MB and among other uses is used in Aupera's all Flash Array system for parity check and as a hardware accelerated engine for specific applications that require low latency and high performance.

SolidFire needs more space to grow

Editor:- August 11, 2015 - SolidFire today announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to sustain its "rapid growth" and eventually accommodate over 400 (projected) Colorado-based employees.

SolidFire currently employs approximately 250 employees based in its Boulder headquarters and an additional 150 employees located in regional offices around the world.

BiTMICRO has new faster, denser PCIe SSD

news image Bitmicro SSDEditor:- August 11, 2015 - BiTMICRO announced the release of the company's MAXio Z-Series enterprise PCIe SSDs (gen 3 8 lanes) which are controlled by its patented Talino ASIC architecture. The new Z-Series provides up to 8.8TB in a PCIe edge card form factor and also includes military-class erase technology. For 4KB blocks the R/W IOPS and latencies are respectively - 430K 50µS and 150K 30µS respectively.

Editor's comments:- BiTMICRO which 10 years ago was a pioneer in the high performance enterprise flash SSD market got kind of swept aside from mainstream market view for many years as the market expanded and the rate of memory innovation seen in such SSDs changed too fast for most companies to keep up.

For years the company retrenched back into its safe roots in industrial military applications - and like many other SSD companies - it has had business setbacks. But it's also had some customer successes too with its newer SSD technologies in the China market in partnership with RunCore.

I previewed some of the things which BiTMICRO has been talking about this week at FMS. I was more interested in the company's technology and business than its new logo - and will say more about the first 2 of those as soon as I can.

Seagate enters 2.5" NVMe SSD market

Editor:- August 11, 2015 - Seagate today announced details of 2 new families of NVMe SSDs which will be available in 2.5" (October) and M.2 (in early 2016) form factors. Also new - the Seagate Nytro XP6500 - a PCIe SSD accelerator (which is currently available) delivers the lowest write latency within Seagate's Nytro product portfolio.

Editor's comments:- until this announcement it wasn't clear how Seagate would deal with an issue which has been problematic for other competitors too - that of introducing SSDs in form factors and interface types which can (at the fringes) compete with pre-existing product lines.

But because there is clear customer demand for both SAS SSDs and PCIe SSDs in 2.5" form factors for example - then it would be a mistake for any vendor with large scale market ambitions to opt out of supplying such products despite the potential risk of some cannibalization.

Nevertheless - the order in which we see enterprise SSDs being introduced in various form factor and interface combinations (different for each supplier) tells us what they consider are their native strongholds.

HGST's IB fabric leverages PCM

Editor:- August 11, 2015 - The 3 strongest contenders for ultra-low latency rack to rack memory fabric have been FC SAN (traditionally popular in traditional business sites), InfiniBand (popular in HPC and research sites) and (emerging recently in product form since 2014 - due to the widespread penetration of PCIe SSDs) - PCIe fabric.

Until recently the memories in these solutions were predominantly mainstream RAM or flash or combinations.

Now after more than a decade of crying wolf by alternative non volatile memories - there are indications from several SSD companies that the gaps in the market represented by the application spectrum (latency combined with capavity and cost) are seen as big enough business opportunities to justify the introduction of new memory types.

Fitting into this category - a thoughtful preview article re new PCM IB fabric from HGST is discussed in this recent article - HGST To Display PCM Fabric at FMS 2015 on Tom's IT Pro

Viking aims to design ReRAM NVDIMMs

Editor:- August 10, 2015 - Viking Technology and Sony today announced a collaboration agreement to develop the next generation of Non-Volatile Dual in-line Memory Module (NVDIMM) products leveraging ReRAM Storage Class Memory from Sony Corporation.

new ORG - Drive Trust Alliance seeks sponsors

Editor:- August 10, 2015 - if you didn't think there were already enough ORGs related to the storage market - then a new one today has been proposed by Coughlin Associates and (new to me) Bright Plaza, Inc.

The Drive Trust Alliance at (which currently redirects to is "an alliance of companies, organizations, and individuals that will benefit from cost efficiencies in marketing on-going education and the creation and support of open source software for managing Self-Encrypted Drives". See also:- SSD security

you can pick almost any DWPD you like in a SAS SSD - says Toshiba while also introducing new NVMe PCIe SSDs in 4 form factors

Editor:- August 10, 2015 - Toshiba today announced details of 3 new NVMe PCIe SSD families which will sample in the next quarter.

2 of these are aimed at the consumer market and come in variants of the M.2 form factor - with upto 4 lanes of PCIe 3.

More interesting, however, are the new enterprise products - model PX04P - in 2.5" or HHHL form factors.

A few days earlier - Toshiba also reaffirmed its commitment to the SAS SSD market with the launch of 4 new models optimized for a spread of different DWPD profiles from 1 to 25 to economically fit a wide range of application slots.

...Later:- August 31, 2015 - a review of Toshiba's 12Gb/s SAS SSDs - PX04S was published in Tom's IT Pro - which notes among other things that "users can adjust overprovisioning via a SAS mode page to tailor endurance metrics to reflect the needs of their respective environments."

SNIA gets interested in SSD data recovery

Editor:- August 10, 2015 - SNIA today announced a new initiative aimed at the SSD data recovery market . This is the formation of a new Data Recovery/Erase Special Interest Group (DR/E SIG).

One of the aims of the new group was said to be - "Collaborating with solid state storage manufacturers to incorporate capabilities needed to perform data recovery and erase in product design for future device models."

Editor's comments:- I've commented before on the inevitably conflicting interests between SSD data purging and data recovery - and I don't think that the formation of this new group will make any material difference to this.

For example - in the military market - it's not in the interests of secure SSD designers to provide architectural information to 3rd party data recovery companies which could simplify the reverse engineering efforts to read such data. And the same kind of data can also be helpful to competitors who want to know how they can improve their designs. So I think that - as is the case today - collaboration in data recovery techniques will be limited to a subset of SSD suppliers.

Lite-On says small NVMe M.2 PCIe SSDs could be a good fit for datacenter

Editor:- August 6, 2015 - Lite-On today unveiled a new NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD for datacenter environments.

The EP2 series delivers R/W IOPS up to 250K /25K respectively and low latencies of 35/35 (µs). It also has power loss protection, scalability, end-to-end data protection, low power consumption, high endurance, sustained performance, and customized firmware.

Editor's comments:- in an earlier press release (in June 2015) about supplying a related product line to an unnamed customer described as "one of the largest cloud service providers" Jeffrey Chang, Lite-On's Technical Product Manager said "The M.2 is perfect for where we believe the future of enterprise SSD cloud storage is going."

Virtium gets growth investment

Editor:- August 5, 2015 - Virtium today announced it has received an (undisclosed amount) growth investment from L Squared Capital Partners which the company says "will be used to enhance Virtium's product portfolio and strengthen its application engineering and SSD firmware development teams."

See also:- L Squared 's other investments, VCs in SSDs

Editor's comments:- In the past year or so I've spoken to a bunch of investors who said they were looking at industrial SSD companies.

I can't tell you who they were or if this was one of them. But the impression I got was this.

Adding together a lot of small rational investments in customized long term relationship markets like industrial SSDs is an alternative strategy to gambling on a small number of risky big technology bets.

The big bets are risky because bigger monolithic market opportunities for standard products attract and suck in more competitors - which - with low entry barriers and customer churn - can tend to rapidly invalidate the initial investment assumptions.

What happened before? - See the SSD news archive
.. SSD ad - click for more info
industrial mSATA SSD
industrial grade mSATA SSDs
>2 million write cycles per logical block.
from Cactus Technologies

related guides
Mirabilis paper discusses role of deployment level simulation to optimize reliability delivered by SSD controller design tweaks
Editor:- August 16, 2015 - "A diligent system designer can extend the life of an SSD by upto 60% by proper control of over-provisioning, thus reducing TCO" says Deepak Shankar, Mirabilis Design in his recent paper Extending the Lifetime of SSD Controllers (pdf) which discusses the role of application and deployment level simulations to explore the impact of changing brews in controller architectural coctails.

See also:- SSD overprovisioning articles
military SSD from Waitan
military SSD drives with secure erase
encryption and self-destruct
from Waitan

related guides

is remanence in NVDIMMs
a new risk factor?
maybe the risk was there with DRAM too

Virtium  SSDs - click for more info
industrial SATA SSDs
efficiently matched to embedded needs
2.5" / 1.8" / Slim SATA / mSATA / CFast / M.2
StorFly – from Virtium

related guides

Retiring and retiering enterprise DRAM was one of the big SSD ideas which took hold in the market in 2015 with 9 companies announcing significant product plans for this market.

But looking back on my own past editorial coverage of SSD DIMM wars, rethinking RAM etc I realized I hadn't reported much about the details of DRAM's growing latency problems.
latency loving reasons for fading out DRAM

Seagate's SAS SSD click for more info
12Gb/s SAS SSDs - 10 DWPD MLC
for demanding enterprise applications
from Seagate

related guides

"Why can't you just install a new storage solution from a different vendor, migrate data from existing storage to new storage, decommission existing storage, and move on?

The reasons for storage vendor lock-in are twofold.

The first is storage management lock-in...

The second reason is data management lock-in....

Two emerging technologies, and more importantly the synergy between them, may provide the relief from storage vendor lock-in in virtualized server environments."
Storage Vendor Lock-in – is the End Near? - a blog by Yoram Novick, founder Maxta (August 15, 2015)

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

related guides

SSD jargon

the enterprise SSD story...
why's the plot so complicated?
the golden age of enterprise SSDs
The Golden Age of enterprise SSDs?

hold up capacitors in 2.5" MIL SSDs

do you really need them?
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics
0 to 3S
Editor:- I've been looking at different aspects of power hold up schemes in mission critical non volatile memory systems for over 30 years.

But every time I revisit this vast topic and compare fresh examples from the market - I learn something a little bit new.

My new blog - Zero to three seconds - demonstrates the extreme range of hold up times now in the market inside leading edge 2.5" military flash SSDs. the article

90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive
In one of the most highly read articles on in recent years - I looked 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

SSD ad - click for more info
SSD ad - click for more info

storage search banner