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The enterprise flash story... could it have been simplified?
Decloaking hidden preference segments in enterprise flash
Longsys processes over 100K 12" flash wafers / month
Longsys capabilities videoEditor:- July 15, 2015 - the image here shows part of the SSD burn-in test facility at Longsys - which is part of a new corporate capabilities video.

After showing pictures of buildings and employees - the 6 minute video reveals some impressive production capacity statistics, about Longsys including the ability to process:-
  • 100K 12" flash wafers / month
  • over 1 million micro SD cards / day
  • over 100K embedded SSDs / day

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who's who in SSD? (nearly) - Radian Memory Systems
Editor:- July 16, 2015 - One of several SSD ecosystem companies which will emerge soon from stealth (on August 4 - to be precise) will be Radian Memory Systems - a company with a modern approach to designing efficient, high performance, enterprise flash architecture.

I've already read some stuff from the company but I can't say anything about it yet.

The only reason I mention it here at all is that there was an interesting look-ahead note re Radian published in another publication a few weeks ago based on the linkedin profiles of the key people. That article is interesting in itself - as a trip down memory lane.

But Radian's own technology based on 4 years of development will make more interesting reading and could change some of your plans.
an update on comparative reader interest in Micron and Diablo
Editor:- July 29, 2015 - 2 weeks ago in SSD news I told you that among the readers of (who have been greatly influential in shaping the course of the SSD market in the past 17 years) the research interest in Diablo and its related technologies had been eclipsed by Micron.

The reason I thought that was so significant was that Diablo itself had replaced Fusion-io's epic 5 year mission to be the SSD company which attracted your most attention. That mission ended back in Q3 2014 and since then Diablo has retained the #1 quarterly rank of top SSD companies in all the succeeding quarters (so far).

Whereas Micron... well Micron hadn't exactly been setting the world of enterprise SSDs on fire - even if it did supply a lot of the kindling to others who knew better what to do with it.

The reasons for that spike of interest in Micron earlier this month were due to speculation that Micron might be an acquisition target.

And 3 weeks into July and Micron was still ahead - so I thought I'd check in again to see what's happening now that 4 weeks of July have elapsed.

The answer? - That spike of interest in Micron has ended (although Micron is still currently at #2 based on the first 4 weeks of July. And Diablo is back to where it was before at #1.

With FMS coming up next month - many SSD companie have been hoarding their most significant technology and product announcements. So no doubt there will be a flare up of new stories and new spikes of attention for us all to weigh up and digest.

Looking back at the past month - for me the curious thing about the intertwining of these two companies - Micron and Diablo - for unrelated reasons in the same news story - was how differently things might have worked out - if earlier this year Diablo hadn't won its patent case with Netlist. (I anticipated that if Netlist had won then Micron would be shopping for licenses or the whole company).

Instead Diablo's victory confirmed in law a recognition of the differences in placing significant amounts of low latency flash as the primarily addressible memory type in a DRAM interface socket compared to having flash as a backup to DRAM in the same socket (as is the case in hybrid DIMMs - which have - in effect - quietly become the new hard core of the RAM SSD market).
in-situ processing in flash array obviates need for big RAM in big data - MIT research findings
Editor:- July 14, 2015 - Flash SSDs with in-situ processing in regular RAM cached servers can deliver nearly the same apps performance as fat RAM servers (but at much lower cost and lower electrical power).

That's one inference from a recent story - Cutting cost and power consumption for big data - in MIT news - which summarized a research paper at ISCA 2015 - BlueDBM: An Appliance for Big Data Analytics .

Part of the system architecture in the research included a network of FPGAs which routed data to the flash arrays and offloaded some of the application specific processing.

This is not a replacement for DRAM said Professor Arvind whose group at MIT performed the new work. But there may be many applications that can take advantage of this new style of architecture. Which companies recognize: Everybodys experimenting with different aspects of flash. Were just trying to establish another point in the design space. the article

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


SuperCloud rebuilds RAID 20x faster with CoreRise PCIe SSD
Editor:- July 3, 2015 - CoreRise today noted some record breaking performance results from one of its customers - SuperCloud (a well known Chinese cloud server manufacture) based on a configuration with CoreRise's PCIe SSDs in a 4U server with 2x 56Gbs InfiniBand ports.

Among other things SuperCloud said its lab results showed that RAID rebuilding was 20x faster than without the SSD - using a RAID5 configuration of 6D+1P. While RAID throughput was 10 to 14GB/s and 1 to 1.5 million 4KB IOPS.

CoreRise said that its enterprise grade PCIe SSDs have been widely deployed in the area of cloud computing, internet infrastructure, education, government and communications.

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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

Once upon a time it was useful for so called "startup" enterprise SSD companies to make detailed EMC bashing product comparisons with pre-existing EMC systems. What do we learn when such comparisons are made today?
Zsolt Kerekes, editor - in his blog - some random SSD thoughts about EMC

"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

July's of yore in SSD market history
1 year ago - July 2014 - SanDisk launched a new enterprise software product - ZetaScale - designed to support large inmemory intensive applications. said that ZetaScale was probably one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014.

2 years ago - July 2013 - Diablo Technologies launched its new technology - Memory Channel Storage - which repurposes the interface and form factor of server DRAM into a new architecture for ultrafast flash SSDs which the company positions as a competitive alternative to very fast PCIe SSDs.

4 years ago - July 2011 - published an article the new SSD uncertainty principle? - based on disclosures by STEC about its CellCare - which promised to "reset all the assumptions about flash endurance". This was an advance ripple of a strategic SSD market wide paradigm shift towards "adaptive R/W and DSP" technology.

7 years ago - July 2008 - Texas Memory Systems launched the RamSan-440 - the first rackmount RAM SSD which used a flash array as the internal powered down backup storage medium instead of hard drives. It meant that the world's fastest SSD could be almost instantly usable when power was restored instead of having to wait for tens of minutes (a problem being encountered when users had large capacity RAM SSD systems).

14 years ago - July 2001 - Cenatek entered the SSD market with the launch of its Rocket Drive - a PCI bus RAM SSD which was designed as a performance accelerator "delivering performance of up to one million transactions per second."

15 years ago - July 2000 - SST (Silicon Storage Technology) entered the embedded mass data storage market with the introduction of a flash memory-based PATA SSD packaged in a 32-pin DIP package with capacities upto 64 MBytes.
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SSD news - July 2015

"more lanes of SAS than anyone else" - new 4U SavageStor

Editor:- July 28, 2015 - As the rackmount SSD market heads towards future consolidation - new business opportunities are being created for those brave hardware companies which accept the challenge of providing simple hardware platforms (which provide high density or efficiency or performance or other combinations of valued technical features optimized for known use cases) while also being willing to sell them unbundled from expensive frivolous software.

In that category - Savage IO today launched its SavageStor - a 4U server storage box - which - using a COTS array of hot swappable SAS SSDs - can provide upto 288TB flash capacity with 25GB/s peak internal bandwidth with useful RAS features for embedded systems integrators who need high flash density in an untied / open platform.

Savage IO says it "products are intentionally sold software-free, to further eliminate performance drains and costs caused by poor integration, vendor lock-in, rigidly defined management, and unjustifiable licensing schemes."

Editor's comments:- I spoke to the company recently and most of you will instantly know if it's the right type of box for you or not.

Virtium launches industrial M.2 PCIe SSDs

Editor:- July 28, 2015 - Virtium today announced it has expanded its StorFly range of industrial SSDs with new PCIe SSDs (gen 2) available in both M.2 and Mini Card form factors with capacities from 16GB upto 480GB.

Endurance is upto 3.3 petabytes of writes (about 3.7 DWPD for 5 years). Virtium's new SSDs have full BOM control with up to 5 years of uninterrupted product availability.

Virtium says the new SSDs are specifically designed to operate at low power (<4W) and offer highly reliable and compatible drop-in storage for systems at the center of communications, networking, data acquisition, automation, and similar applications.

rugged COTS NAS case study - helicopter data recorder

Editor:- July 21, 2015 - Curtiss-Wright recently published an applications note (pdf) which describes an 8TB rugged flash SSD based data recorder providing real-time sensor recording and playback capabilities (with multiple 200MB/s channels) for a helicopter platform which uses the company's COTS network storage boxes. the paper (pdf)

Editor's comments:- The most useful thing about this paper is it gives you an idea of the physical size and throughput if you've got something similar in mind.

The main thing which has changed with this type of application for SSDs in recent decades is the size, storage capacity, power consumption and price. (Sensors stay pretty much the same.)

For a comparison (of memory types and interfaces in rugged "mobile" SSD based data recorders) take a look at this story from 1988 - TMS History of Working With the US DoD (pdf)

I want my AFA

click to see the tv SSDs page - about movie creation, IPTV servers, set top boxes and DVRs using SSDs
SSD videos
Editor:- July 18, 2015 - A ruggedized rackmount SSD from EMC - the VNXe3200 (pdf) - is part of the electronics tour kit which the rock band U2 uses to refine and capture its audience experience according to a new blog - U2 tours with AFA to rock the latest video effects on Computerworld written by editorial director Elizabeth Heichler who says the group's technical support crew captures data from than 20 video cameras during each show. the article

Editor's comments:- now every supergroup will want their own EMC flash array. A BBC online video -Play it Loud - the Story of the Marshall Amp - tells the story of an earlier generation of must-have stackable boxes.

Alas my own experience in my brother's school band in 1973 was the opposite of Loud on the 2nd and final public occasion when my home made guitar amp blew up while we were playing the same Chuck Berry number for about the 3rd time. I never truly appreciated the need for heat sinks until a mandatory thermodynamics unit appeared in my electronics course 3 years later.

Microsemi announces availability of 900GB usable 2.5" military SSDs in 9.5mm for those who loathe supercaps but love SLC

military storage directory and news
military SSDs
Editor:- July 16, 2015 - Designers of military and secure industrial systems for whom SLC is the only flash memory good enough - but who also needed higher capacities in their 2.5" SATA slots have - until recently - had little choice but to consider SSDs with significant internal capacitor holdup for their toughest designs. And that, in turn means a complex qualification process and really getting to know the internal ad hoc internal details of SSD architectures and related firmware which might well change considerably over the lifetime of their projects.

Meeting the need for those who prefer a simpler and more predictable controller architecture roadmap Microsemi today announced the availability of a new enhanced capacity model in its TRRUST-STOR line of military SSDs.

Microsemi's new MSD01TAM3R provides 1TB raw (900GB usable) SLC NAND flash in a 2.5" 9.5mm high package in a US made product with all the features you'd expect from this established military SSD product line.
  • no super caps or batteries:- thereby improving reliability and enabling reset-to-ready time of 1.5s
  • fast purge:- TRRUST-Purge™ clears encryption key in less than 30mS.
  • Hardware based fast erase, erasing the entire drive in less than 10 seconds with validation.
  • endurance:- 16 petabytes written (equivalent to 8.7 DWPD for 5 years - as a comparison for the curious - although 5 years is a short stretch for this class of SSD).
Microsemi says that because this SSD family uses its own Armor memory processor technology this also enables long-term availability to its customers. Facilitating the promise of "no forced EOL from firmware/controller availability issues."

Micron was #1 researched SSD company in 1H July

Editor:- July 16, 2015 - If you saw the news a few days ago (see below) you won't be too surprised to learn that reader research volume for Micron in the first half of July exceeded that of any other company.

The picture for the period July 1 to 15 looked like this:-

1 - Micron

2 - Diablo

3 - SanDisk

4 - Violin

5 - Seagate and also at #5 was Kaminario

Make of that what you will.

Although these short term fluctuations can be useful to think about - insofar as they can alert me to something which I may have otherwise missed - my conclusion from 20 years of looking at these kinds of stats in my web publications is that a sampling period of a quarter is a more reliable indicator (than a week or a month) for strategic long term decision making.

"Reliability" here being a judgement based on comparing movements in search based rankings with what actually happened on a historic basis from a business perspective in the quarters which followed the sampling period.

And that's why the Top SSD Companies List - which has been running for over 8 years - still uses that (quarterly) sampling interval.

Later:- July 22, 2015 - I rechecked the stats for the 1st 3 weeks of July to see - has anything changed?

No - the ranking above has stayed exactly the same.

What clarified though was the next 4 companies which populate the rest of the Top 10 section of this list. These were:-

7 - OCZ

8 - HGST

9 - Pure

10 - Tegile tied with Innodisk

takeover story suggest that China based Tsinghua Unigroup thinks it can do a better job with Micron's fabs

Editor:- July 15, 2015 - Re Micron - a report in NY Times yesterday - Micron Technology Is Said to Be Takeover Target of Chinese Company - discussed possible valuation and geopolitical reactions.

Editor's comments:- Micron owns a lot of memory making assets but in a future world where memory is less important than the SSD systems in which the memory is deployed - Micron has been unable or unwilling to establish a competitively strong core SSD IP base in the enterprise market.

Furthermore several SSDcentric trends in computer architecture both in consumer and enterprise markets have been pointing towards a future in which SSD specific software will greatly reduce the amount of raw DRAM needed to support traditional computing device functions in a wide range of products such as notebooks, PCs and servers.

Micron's management philosophy has been honed by decades of surviving the boom to bust business cycles of successive memory generations - and in particular DRAM. But Micron has not yet demonstrated convincingly that it can be a broad based leader in "generation SSD".

For those reasons - it's likely that other management could get better value from its memory fabs.

Although as Jim Handy, Objective Analysis said in his own posted alert about the Micron takeover target story "This kind of deal often must pass a lot of US government scrutiny before it closes, and that could take several months.... If the regulatory approval process takes too long then a China bubble burst could well prevent this deal from materializing."

fast rackmount SSDs from EMC, IBM, Pure... which is cheapest? (maybe)

Editor:- July 9, 2015 - In a recent blog about the competitiveness of fast rackmount SSDs - Why I Hate Cost/GB Discussions - Michael Martin, FlashSystems Specialist - IBM - leads you through a series of arguments to convince you that - when measured on a 5 year ownership basis (against a very specific set of parameters) his company's fast rackmount SSDs are cheaper to own than competitive models from EMC and Pure.

Among other things Michael says - "Why is everyone so focused on the initial cost when it comprises such a small percentage of the "real" or total cost of the storage array?"

One interesting boundary condition question which Michael Martin looks at is - what is if EMC gave you a FREE VMAX? How would that compare to the IBM V9000 FlashSystem's TCO?

I like that style of analysis - because it's one I've used a lot myself in the past 12 years or so - in various market forecasts where I looked at the cost of one type of product being zero but another type of product (SSD) still being cheaper or better.

Editor's comments:- recently we've seen survey data from Tegile suggesting that for a significant proportion of enterprise users the ROI on their enterprise flash investment can be as little as 1 or 2 years - which suggests that looking at the 5 year cost, or the initial purchase cost are equally unreliable expectations.

For most users - the uncertainty of capturing reliable predictive cost benefit data to justify the acquisition of enterprise flash arrays was discussed in my article - Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.

The reasons for choosing one system over another include so many user preferences and associated customer service values that the 5 year predicted cost from a particular web site are not likely to be the decisive factor for most users - who will prefer to trust their own analysis.

As long as you don't take the rankings in Michael Martin's blog too seriously - as gospel - and don't come away with the idea that IBM's FlashSystem is always the best and cheapest fast rackmount SSD - it's a fun read. the article

Conspicuously absent however in this discussion - given the 5 year cost justification timeframe - is a new class of fast rackmount SSDs which will be emerging in the next year - based on arrays of 2.5" NVMe SSDs - which will have the same impact on the fate of this segment of the market (IBM, EMC, Violin etc - united by performance positioning and big controller architecture) as flash did on RAM SSDs. (Implode the costs and explode the scalability and market roadmaps.)

See also:- SSD costs and justifications 2001 to 2015

SanDisk comments on where SSDs are cheaper than HDDs

Editor:- July 3, 2015 - SSDs replacing HDDs is only a one part of the multi decade SSD story - but a useful market milestone can be found in a recent blog - ...Flash and the Retreat of Hard Disk Drives by Brian Cox, Senior Director of Outbound Marketing - SanDisk.
  • Re consumer SSDs - Brian says - "We are already seeing consumer 128GB SATA SSDs drop below the prices for the lowest priced consumer HDDs this year. 256GB SSDs will soon be there, too."
  • Re SAS drives - Brian says - "Lenovo is now publishing the list price of SanDisk's Optimus MAX SAS SSD that they use in their servers at a $/GB price that is lower than their 300GB 15K RPM SAS SSD list pricing."
Editor's comments:- These market milestones are confirmations of the "floor cost" based flash adoption tipping points which Jim Handy founder of Objective Analysis predicetd 10 years ago in his classic article - Flash Memory vs. HDDs - Which Will Win?

See also:- SSD costs and justifications through the ages

who's who in SSD? - Recadata

image shows mouse building storage - click to see industrial SSDs article
embedded SSDs
Editor:- July 2, 2015 - I'm still thrilled to learn about new (to me) SSD companies - especially those which have been in the market for some time. Another new one in that category this week is Recadata (Shenzhen Recadata Storage Technology Co., Ltd), founded in 2009 and headquartered in Shenzhen, China.

Ivan Zhou, Overseas Sales Director - Recadata, told me this morning "Recadata already has 6 years experience in the industrial SSD market. From 2009 to 2014, our company has been mainly focused on the domestic market in China. But this year, our company wishes to explore business opportunities in the international market."

Editor's comments:- I'll create a profile page for Recadata after the holidays. In the meantime - here's an overview of their SSD products range (which includes industrial, military and enterprise SSDs and rackmount systems too.)

Avalanche Technology samples 64Mb STT-MRAM made using 55nm CMOS process

Editor:- July 1, 2015 -Avalanche Technology today announced it is sampling the industry's first STT-MRAM chips manufactured using standard CMOS 300mm wafer processing.

Avalanche's new memory device is a 64Mb chip with an industry standard SPI interface built on a 55nm node geometry.

What happened before? - See the SSD news archive
SSD news page image - click to  enlarge
seeking the inner SSD.

Reliability is more than just MTBF... and unlike Quality - it's not free.

The battle for storage reliability never stops.

It has to be fought - in every place where physics intrudes on data integrity.

It must be fought and won anew - in every technology generation and in every new product design.
storage reliability
high availability enterprise SSDs

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

related guides

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When all storage is made from memories the dividing line between storage and memory is much more fluid than it has been before.
can memory do more?

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12Gb/s SAS SSDs - 10 DWPD MLC
for demanding enterprise applications
from Seagate

related guides

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SSD jargon

Surviving SSD sudden power loss
Why should you care what happens in an SSD when the power goes down?

This important design feature has a strong impact on SSD data integrity and operational reliability.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. the article

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How can mortal write endurance flash replace DRAM in an NVDIMM?
SSD aspects of Diablo's Memory1


SSD history
top SSD companies
what's the state of DWPD?
popular SSD articles on
Capacitor hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
is remanence in persistent memory a new security risk?
where are we heading with memory intensive systems?
what were the big SSD memory architecture ideas in 2016?


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How committed (really) are these companies
to the military SSD business?
a not so simple list of military SSD companies

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