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leading the way to the new storage frontier
SSD endurance
SSD market history
data recovery in SSDs
How did we get into such a mess - with SSD software?
90% of enterprise SSD companies have no good reasons to survive
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:- March 31, 2015 - 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 inside leading edge 2.5" military flash SSDs. the article
SSD ad - click for more info

"That whole dominant storage architecture thing has totally flipped. It was already slowly turning 180 degrees a couple years ago, but it is beginning to be much more obvious now. SAN is on the decline..."
image shows Megabyte doing the data round up - click to see SAN storage area networks directory
Chin-Fah Heoh, StorageGaga - in his reminiscent blog - the reverse wars – DAS vs NAS vs SAN (March 13, 2014)

refreshing the industrial SSD guide
Editor:- March 19, 2015 - I've recently refreshed the design of the industrial SSD guide on

image shows mouse building storage - click to see industrial SSDs article
industrial SSDs
Part of this redesign was bringing to the fore - a simple list of significant companies in the market which - in a way - goes back to the kind of site design here in the 1990s and early 2000s.

However, being conscious of the perils that can lead to - with some pages like RAID at one time in the past having been lumbered by a list running into hundreds of companies - I'm going to keep the new industrial list manageable and relatively short (under 100 companies).

If your company is missing from this list and you think it should be added - contact me.

The industrial / embedded SSD market is a segment which saw a decline in the number of vendors for a few years at a time when managers of those companies thought they could see bigger opportunities in other markets like consumer and enterprise. But recently I've been seeing a resurgence in industrial SSD company numbers for these reasons:-
  • the market opportunity for industrial SSDs has grown significantly - due to SSDs being everywhere.

    And even in places you wouldn't have expected!

    That's because new system products and applications have been enabled by SSDs and big data and IoT which never previously would have been viable using HDDs.

    That has attracted new industrial SSD startups - who are totally focused on the embedded market - and have chosen this in preference to all the other segments of SSD which might have calls on their technical and business development talents.
  • many companies which had exited the industrial market earlier - discovered they lacked the marketing skills needed to establish themselves in other markets. So they've come back to the industrial fold.
  • the infinite product scope of applications which can use embedded SSD (inside and outside traditional data processing) has created many opportunities for vendors to differentiate themselves by deep technology adaptations and customizations.

    This means vendors can be the best at 1 or 2 things - without needing to compete with all things - due to the number of permutations of applications, form factors and interfaces.
The redesign of the industrial SSD page will have 2 phases:-
  • now underway - getting the shape right:- capturing the top 50 to 100 or so relevant companies which should be in this list, and providing an overview of related articles and sub-guides.
  • the next phase - will populate the vendor list with deep links to a product example from each company.
Any questions? - just ask.

PR Agencies
re your autobiography...
I'd recommend a ghost writer.

PR Agencies - which aren't scared of mice
SSD conversations like this
Editor:- March 12, 2015 - I talk to founders of SSD companies nearly every day.

Yesterday - something I said - in one of the longest conversations I ever remember having had about enterprise SSDs - and I've had a few - inspired the person I was talking to - to change his plans from something quite different - and develop a new SSD systems company instead.

I learned that change of plan from his follow up email.

And if it does happen - then when his new company is ready - I'll let you know.

It's not unusual.

Some of the world's best known SSD companies were talking to me - long before anyone else knew about them - or cared about what they were thinking. Nice to know it's still happening.

The other nice thing is when people in SSD companies (or their customers) that I've never spoken to before - start their conversation with - I've been reading your articles for years - and that's what got me into SSDs.

Thanks for everyone who has said that - or thinks something similar.

So - if you're wondering - what comes next?

I haven't run out of ideas yet.

The next big article will be a shocker.

The seeds were planted in 2 separate, classification type, articles I wrote years ago.

It's just the impact of them coming together in the market - at the right time - which will shatter many business plans - and cause people to ask themselves - why did we ever think like that before?

If it's any consolation... I did too.

6 weeks later...

I introduced my blog with the assertion that - "90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive."

It's about drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market along with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas too.

These were the very same ideas I was discussing with the reader I mentioned above who told me that as a result he's going to start a new SSD company. the article

from the SSD history archive
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

InnoDisk's (MO-276) nanoSSD in full scale production

Netlist says ULLtraDIMM SSDs infringe its patents
LSI to be acquired for $6.6 billion

A New CEO for Violin

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.
Crocus seeks to annul core STT patents

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

Skyera promises 2U petabyte SSD
Diablo launches Memory Channel Storage

SanDisk will acquire SMART
WD will acquire Stec

Samsung enters PCIe SSD market

Whiptail offers clues to Users playing the SSD box riddle game
Fusion-io's CEO and CMO both depart

Micron samples new hot-swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs

LSI is #2 in PCIe SSD shipments in US
Diablo names SMART as flash partner for memory channel SSDs

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

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

RunCore is 1st to announce BiTMICRO OnBoard
35 years of SSD history

SSD market analysts

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

SSD ad - click for more info

"What scares me is when companies fall into the trap of trying to architect a single application to work across multiple different cloud providers.

I understand why engineers are attracted to this....

Unfortunately, this effort eats into the productivity gains that compelled the organization to the cloud in the first place."
Stephen Orban, Global Head of Enterprise Strategy at Amazon Web Services in his blog - 3 Myths about Hybrid Architectures Using the Cloud (March 5, 2015)

"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
SSD ad - click for more info

SSD news - March 2015

For more pages like this see storage history month by month
read the article on SSD ASAPs
NetApp has stopped suing Nimble

Editor:- March 31, 2015 - Nimble Storage recently announced it recently entered into a written settlement agreement with NetApp re alledged misuse of trade secrets etc dating back to 2012-2013. The terms of the settlement are confidential and are not material to Nimble's financial statements.

Editor's comments:- 2 weeks later I saw this related article - How doomed is NetApp? by Robin Harris who says, among other things, "The latest troubling sign from NetApp is the failure of their widely touted FlashRay project to ship a competitive product. The VP in charge, left NetApp for Pure Storage last month..."

Intel and Micron promise 32 layer 3D nand SSDs by 2016

Flash Memory
flash & other nvm
Editor:- March 26, 2015 - Micron today announced it is sampling a new 32 layer 3D nand flash memory using floating gate cells - which has been designed in collaboration with Intel - and which provides 32GB MLC (2 bits per cell) in a single chip.

A higher density TLC (3 bits per cell) version with 48GB capacity will sample in the next few months.

Both devices are expected to be available in SSDs within the next year.

Toshiba samples 48-layer 3D nand

Toshiba 3D flash
Editor:- March 26, 2015 - Toshiba today announced it is sampling the world's first 48-layer 3D stacked 2 bit nand flash memory in 16GB chips aimed at the high capacity SSD market.

Mass production is anticipated to be in the first half of 2016.

Diablo's roadmap back on track following jury verdict

Editor:- March 25, 2015 - Diablo today announced it has won a "decisive victory" in its critical court battle with Netlist.
memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs

The jury unanimously concluded that there was no breach of contract and that there was no misuse of trade secrets. Further, the jury confirmed Diablo's sole ownership and inventorship of the "917 patent."

"We are extremely pleased with the jury's verdict today," said Riccardo Badalone, CEO and Co-Founder of Diablo Technologies. "We look forward to getting back to serving our customers and delivering on our exciting Memory Channel Storage roadmap."

Editor's comments:- Diablo replaced Fusion-io as the #1 most searched SSD company by the readers in Q3 and Q4 2014 - because you all know a disruptive SSD technology platform when you see it.

The long running legal tangles got to the point where Diablo was prevented by an injunction from making more products - pending a trial outcome. This verdict means the enterprise application acceleration industry can resume its onwards progress by being able to count on the availability of a significantly different flash latency asset and software platform for deployments inside the server box.

SSD Guru and Vector 180 from OCZ (and some random thoughts about product naming conventions)

Editor:- March 25, 2015 - We live in a world where it's pointless buying a phone unless you are prepared to develop and hone your SysAdmin skills - so I shouldn't be surprised by the growing number of software utilities aimed at the consumer SSD market.

An aptly named such product - SSD Guru (not be confused with SSD market gurus) - appeared in an email today from OCZ - which plays a supporting role for the company's "next generation" Vector 180 SSD (a performance optimized SATA SSD) aimed at "gamers, enthusiasts and workstation users."

consumer SSDs guide
consumer SSDs
Editor's comments:- re that "next generation" tag line - as I'm not familiar with the numbering system OCZ uses for its SSDs - I'm not sure whether this is OCZ's 180th consumer SSD (that seems a bit low by my count) or whether this is OCZ's 18th consumer SSD generation (that seems too high).

If I get a helpful note of what the "180" means - I'll add a note here later.

the problem with numbers

Because I read about so many products and suppliers - I do sometimes miss obvious clues.

For example - it took me about 11 years to recognize that the numbers in TMS's rackmount SSD systems (the RamSan boxes) had been incrementing by 100 every year or so - each time they included a new generation of controllers or memory. Which did make sense when it was explained to me.

And it looks like IBM is still maintaining that tradition. What comes next? (after 900?) - numbers are the easiest part of the SSD guessing game. It's what could be inside the next box we're not so hot at guessing.

Such product naming schemes do run into problems after enough time has elapsed as we've seen many times in computer history.

CPUs give us some clues - as they were the primary apps acceleration technology before SSDs.

(80)86, went (with some detours) to 286, 386, and 486 and then morphed into Pentium - which (unlike numbers) could be a registered trademark.

SPARC started with numbers and then added words.

SSD product names have many naming variations too.

But - going back to numbers.

The problem with numbers is when they get too long (due to the longevity of the product family) you have to recycle them - which makes it confusing for old people who saw them the first time around.

And (I know it may be unfair to say this about product marketers) but sometimes you get the vague feeling - particularly in more slowly evolving markets like autos - that the names and the numbers and the colors have changed. But inside everything that matters still remains exactly the same as it was before.

PS - in another announcement today - OCZ said it now has a higher capacity version of its fast enough enterprise 2.5" SATA SSD family. The new Intrepid 3700 SSD - has 2TB capacity, R/W speeds upto 540MB/s and 470MB/s (128KB blocks) and 91K / 13K random R/W IOPS (4KB blocks) .

SolidFire opens sales channel in Japan

Editor:- March 19, 2015 - SolidFire today announced it has expanded its sales reach into Japan with the opening of a new office in Tokyo and a distribution agreement with ITOCHU Techno-Solutions.

Samsung's new 128GB BGA TLC SSD

Editor:- March 19, 2015 - Samsung today expanded its eMMC product line with a new 128GB BGA TLC SSD aimed at mid-market smartphones and mass market tablets. 3d BGA SSD for phones from Samsung

The new 3 bit device has 260MB/s sequential read performance (similar to MLC eMMC 5.1).

IOPS (5,000 / 6,000) are sufficient to support high definition video.

Microsemi has a new BGA SSD
and is acquiring Vitesse for $389 million

Editor:- March 17, 2015 - Microsemi today introduced its 2nd generation highly secure, rugged 64GB BGA SLC SSD - the MSM064. Features include:-
  • TRRUST-Purge clears encryption key in less than 30ms
miniature SSDs approx 1 inch and smaller
tiny SSDs
  • hardware-based self destruct - renders media data forensically unrecoverable in less than 10 seconds
  • anti malicious attack technology
  • no super caps or batteries
  • write protect option for read-only applications
"Embedded computing applications have increased the need for compact small form factor, highly secure and trusted data-at-rest protection," said B J Heggli, GM for Microsemi's memory and storage business. "We introduced this latest 64GB SSD in our BGA package to expressly meet the data security and extreme reliability requirements of a growing number of embedded applications. And because Microsemi owns the processor technology, customers are also assured of critical long-term availability."

PS - also this week - Microsemi announced it has agreed to acquire Vitesse Semiconductor for approximately $389 million.

Vitesse designs a diverse portfolio of high-performance semiconductors, application software, and integrated turnkey systems solutions for carrier, enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide.

Memblaze enters 2.5" PCIe SSD market

2.5 inch NVMe SSDs
2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs
Editor:- March 16, 2015 - Memblaze today announced it is showing a 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD variant of its PBlaze series at CeBIT in Germany.

Memblaze was the 27th most highly searched SSD company by readers of in Q4 2014.

another design win for Seagate's Nytro in China cloud market
pcie  SSDs - click to read article

Editor:- March 12, 2015 - QingCloud mentioned high capacity and low cost among the reasons for selecting Seagate's XP6209 (pdf) (PCIe SSD) as components to build the low latency SSD infrastructure of its cloud services for the China market - in a press release today.

Editor's comments:- who are the new cloud companies in China?

Meet China's Cloud Innovators - a blog by Charlie Dai, Principal Analyst - Forrester Research

See also:- the big market impact of SSD dark matter

SanDisk shows the softer under belly of flash

Editor:- March 12, 2015 - SanDisk already attracts more interest in its software from readers than any ISV in the SSD software space - something I recently disclosed in the Q4 2014 edition of the Top SSD Companies.

Why so much interest?

It's because they've got a lot of enterprise software. (Partly due to having acquired a lot of software rich companies.)

In a recent press release about SanDisk's latest contribution to open source - to benefit Ceph storage - I saw an interesting list of other areas they have done work on too.
  • The Android OS stack for mobile devices
image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
  • The Linux kernel for memory management and file system to enable better performance with flash
  • The Android Real Path Storage library, an Apache licensed project maintained by SanDisk, that enables application developers to use external memory like SD cards in their Androids
  • SCST, a GPL-licensed SCSI target software stack that is maintained by SanDisk developers
  • and Enterprise applications like Cassandra, MySQL, Hadoop and others to optimize them for use with SanDisk flash technology.
It sure takes a lot of software to make flash memory work with the non flash world. It's much more than the low level care stuff you'd expect in flash controllers.

Part of this complexity stems from the asymmetry inherent in flash R/W IOPS - and the problems of masking this fact - using disguises and ruses - from legacy software which was originally created for symmetrical devices like HDDs and DRAM. But another complex motivator in the software plot is to do with data granularity and reliability too.

Before you get too nostalgic about good old DRAM, however, its reputation has been trashed (pdf) too.

It seems that when you scrutinize any chips which have very small internal geometries - then you see that bad things happen. It's just that we've learned to expect it with flash (due to all those battles between nice and naughty enterprise flash) and we always expected better behavior from DRAM. So when such problems hit good old reliable DRAM (as they do about once every 10 years) everyone is surprised.

news image - 2.5 inch NVMe SSD - click for infoHGST samples 3TB 2.5" PCIe SSD

Editor:- March 11, 2015 - HGST is sampling a new range of SSDs for the 2.5" PCIe SSD market.

The 2.5" NVMe Ultrastar SN100 (pdf) has upto 3.2TB capacity.

Editor's comments:- No DWPD data was available when I looked. Which makes the recent related announcement somewhat useless to any product specifier. It must be aimed at investors.

Lattice closes acquisition of Silicon Image

Editor:- March 10 , 2015 - Lattice Semiconductor today announced the close of its acquisition of Silicon Image for approximately $606 million.

3D InCites blog re Samsung's 3D TLC

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - What happens when you combine 3D and 3 bits per cell in the same flash?

Flash Memory
flash & other nvm
A recent blog - Samsung's V-NAND Flash at the 2015 ISSCC - published on 3D InCites summarizes the key parameters of Samsung's approach to combining 3D and TLC and offers some critical analysis.

Commenting on the directions for future advances - the blog's author Andrew Walker says "I also heard that they may be looking at 4 bits/cell."

See also:- Samsung's V-NAND page, Unveiling XLC Flash SSD Technology (March 2008 )

8TB 2.5" PCIe SSDs sampling soon from Novachips

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - Are you interested in a world's first 2.5" 8TB (15mm height) PCIe Gen2 x4 SSD (pdf) with a single controller developed by Novachips. in Korea?

Novachip 8TB 2.5 inch PCIe SSDThat was an email I got recently from Sean Oh who is the sales representative for these products in Europe.

What would you say? I did the same. After reading up the info he attached (there's a SATA version too) I asked some questions about availability. Here's what Sean said.
  • The working engineering samples have been available since last year.
  • The 1st customer sample comes out in the next 30 days.
  • We plan to start a mass production in 2nd half of this year.
Editor's comments:- part of this story has its roots in a news story from May 2007 - when a company called MOSAID was talking about a new, light capacitive load, ring based, flash memory topology called HLNAND. To make it work they needed a controller. Novachips collaborated on the design and recently acquired the assets and patents.

SanDisk enters the rackmount SSD market

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - As I've been saying for the past several years now - the rack is a strategic component form factor for enterprise flash.

Rackmount SSDs click for news and directory
rackmount SSDs
And SanDisk recently announced it has joined the enterprise rackmount SSD market - with a new product - 3U 512TB array of 8TB SAS SSDs - with iSCSI (and upto 8 way SAS connections for local servers) called the InfiniFlash system (pdf) which leverages the market proven SanDisk ION Accelerator software stack which came with the acquisition of Fusion-io.

Pricing is under $2K / TB before compression or dedupe are applied.

Editor's comments:- SanDisk's pricing and storage density for the InfiniFlash is similar to Skyera's skyHawk FS (pdf) - launched in October 2014 - although the 2 products have very different internal architectures. The InfiniFlash is an array of standard SAS SSDs while the skyHawk FS is a proprietary design with internal big controller architecture - which can use any type of cheap, high density flash.

The availability of cheap, raw, white box rackmount SSDs like this from SanDisk, HGST and other vendors may put some pressure on traditional storage vendors to justify why they charge so much for - what in most cases - are in reality vanilla flash arrays with some added software features. But it's that software and related integration and migration services which have locked newer vendors out of these older markets.

Having said that - there are many types of users in the rackmount market who don't want the kind of software offered by companies like EMC, IBM, or HP and for whom - even the more creatively priced management functions integrated in boxes from newer companies like Tegile represent an expensive solution bundled with a data management approach which is different to what they need.

I first wrote about the conundrum of different rackmount SSDs - with different characteristics - co-existing at the same time and satisfying different user risk and value judgement profiles in a 2009 article.

In the 6 years since then - as the market has grown larger - it has been possible to delineate more functional differences in SSD box types than existed at that time - while at the same time - the variety of possible attached permutations - with respect to application compatibility, inherent technology risk factors, and buyer behavior - has grown too.

The result has been inefficient markets - and an inadequate range of products - often inappropriately marketed. Problems which I identified (with help from leading users and marketers) in my recent article - Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

PS - prior to being aware of the InfiniFlash I had been discussing the role of such hypothetical white box rackmount SSDs as a factor in future consolidation of the market.

Micron breaks ground on $4B expansion to Singapore nand fab

Editor:- March 3, 2015 - Micron today celebrated a ground breaking ceremony at the site of its Singapore NAND flash memory fabrication facility - which is planned to get $4 billion worth of expansion investment - and is expected to be operational in 2017.

new edition of the Top SSD Companies

Editor:- March 2, 2015 - Although it's nearly 8 years since began publishing its landmark series the Top SSD Companies and we now have more types of market data about SSD related trends than ever before - the need for a proven, focused, crowd-intelligence based list based on search hasn't gone away.

You could indeed argue that the need is even greater now.

We still live in chaotic times for SSD where the disruptive influences now include more technology types and the outcomes of the market blender includes the complex interplay and co-existence of multiple SSD software generations.

the top SSD companies  - new recently published a new edition of the list - based on market metrics in Q4 2014.

In the 31st quarterly edition of this article I also give you my background thinking for why this classic series will soon be joined by a new companion set of Top SSD Company lists - which have been 12 years in the waiting. the article

What happened before? - See the SSD news archive


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Cactus 2.5" rugged SLC SSD
military grade 2.5" SATA SLC SSDs
>2 million endurance cycles per block
-45°C to 90°C / quick erase 512GB in <15S
from Cactus Technologies

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 dual ported  2.5 inch NVMe PCIe SSD from OCZ
2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs
dual ported for HA configurations
the Z-Drive 6000 series - from OCZ




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

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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