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90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
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many vendors claim they are #1 in flash arrays
Editor:- May 29, 2015 - A new blog - Who's #1 in Flash Arrays? - by Jim Handy - founder Objective Analysis - discusses a "puzzling set of claims" by various competing rackmount SSD companies - who all claim to be #1 in the flash array market. the blog

Editor's comments:- Jim's observations provides fresh examples and confirmation of 2 things I warned you about in earlier articles:-

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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
Editor:- May 26, 2015 - 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.

Stealth mode Liqid gets seed funding for NVMe related IP
Editor:- May 20, 2015 - Liqid today announced that it has secured $5.7 million in seed funding led by Kingston Technology, Phison Electronics, ABR Capital Management, and additional investments aggregated by DH Capital.

The financing round will be used to advance research and development as well as to help accelerate time to market.

See also:- VCs in SSDs

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

Mays of yore in SSD market history
1 year ago - May 2014 - Seagate agreed to acquire LSI's flash controller and SSD business for $450 million.

3 years ago - May 2012 - HGST demonstrated the industry's first 12Gb/s SAS SSD.

5 years ago - May 2010 - SandForce announced a branding program for its SSD controllers - based around the concept of - "SandForce Driven SSDs".

7 years ago - May 2008 - Mtron announced the first terabyte SSD deployment in a NASA space mission.

8 years ago - May 2007 - MOSAID announced its new flash chip technology - HLNAND - could deliver 800MB /s sustained throughput for flash SSDs.

10 years ago - May 2005 - M-Systems announced production of a 176GB 3.5" SCSI SSD with 320MB/s peak throughput.

12 years ago - May 2003 - Imperial Technology announced WhatsHot for Solaris, a software tool which captured and analyzed real-time data use patterns in enterprise servers and HDD storage arrays to identify the best configuration for tiering the hot data in the company's rackmount SSD accelerators.

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SSD news - May 2015

tallying SSD exabytes in Q1 2015

news image Trendfocus Q1 2015 SSD shipmentsEditor:- May 28, 2015 - A useful snapshot of SSD capacity and market share in Q1 2015 can be seen in a report on StorageNewsletter based on original market data from TrendFocus.

Editor's comments:- If you're expecting to see bigger shipment numbers for some product types or different company names mentioned in the charts then bear in mind that all market research data is liable to sampling errors and biases of interpretation.

See also:- nand flash memory and other SSDward leaning nvms too

Avago agrees to acquire Broadcom

Editor:- May 28, 2015 - Avago today announced it will acquire Broadcom for approximatel $37 billion.

Editor's comments:- both companies are peripheral to the SSD ecosystem (no pun intended) insofar as they supply communications and interface chips which connect SSDs and SSD boxes rather than having anything too much to do with memory related controllers.

I imagine the regulators will want to scrutinize this merger carefully as it will impact competition in many segments of the interface chip market.

Tegile gets another $70 million funding

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VCs in SSDs
Editor:- May 27, 2015 - Tegile today announced it has closed a $70 million Series D funding round bringing the company's total capital raised to $117 million.

3 new investors, Capricorn Investment Group, Cross Creek Advisors and Pine River Capital Management, join existing investors August Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Western Digital and SanDisk to fund the round.

Since shipping its first hybrid storage array in 2012 Tegile says it has deployed more than 1,500 systems.

update on the readiness of non flash NVMs to participate in SSDs

Editor:- May 27, 2015 - In various interview clips in a recent article - 3D NAND, MRAM, RRAM: Emerging opportunities and challenges in Solid State Technology - the author Paula Doe reports how some of the contenders to flash memory see their roles within the SSD ecosystem. For example:-
Flash Memory
flash & nvm
  • "Demand for ST-RAM is coming from buffer storage applications, such as high-end enterprise-class SSDs..."
  • ReRAM has already been promised for delivery in military SSDs (Jan 2015 news) but forthcoming advances in repairable vertical architecture could increase the density to the point where it's attractive as an intermediate level of memory in servers too...
Some of these applications have been intuitively obvious for some while - but this article gives a better idea of commercial readiness and an indication of whether the next generation problems are being tackled in a fast enough timeframe to be relevant to the SSD market. the article

SanDisk hit by lawsuit re tardiness of adverse business disclosures

Editor:- May 27, 2015 - Unwelcome news for SanDisk today from an announcement that a class action lawsuit has been commenced on behalf of an institutional investor re ("SanDisk") (NASDAQ: SNDK) publicly traded securities during the period between April 16, 2014 and April 15, 2015 (the "Class Period").

The law firm leading this Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP alleges, among other things, that during the above 1 year period SanDisk did not openly disclose it was experiencing production qualification delays "on certain key products... and may also have concealed problems associated with its acquisition of Fusion-io (factors which could be assumed to affect the market price of shares) yet that during the above period the plaintiff asserts that directors were able to sell over $35.8 million worth of their SanDisk stock."

Editor's comments:- A lot can happen to any SSD company during a year - especially one - like SanDisk - which was working its way through repurposing some inherently business transformational acquisitions at the time mentioned above.

One of the key characteristics of the SSD market in recent years (see examples here - what changed in 2014, 2013, 2012 etc) has been that assumptions which seemed reasonably cautious at one point in time - can soon lose their validity or significance - due to the unpredictable market interventions by imaginative (or lucky) competitors.

It seems to me that unless publicly traded SSD companies issue daily updates on the internal setbacks they encounter (which would educate their competitors and therefore be prejudicial to their own shareholder interests) then directors of such companies can't safely sell any of their shares until after the whole market has settled down into a more predictable pattern - which by my guess - can't be till after 2020.

Hard to see how any company could operate under such constraints. Which means that lawsuits are an inevitable consequence of doing business.

fast growing Nimble comments on perceptions of being a hybrid storage supplier in all flash applications

Editor:- May 26 , 2015 -Nimble Storage today reported that revenue in its recent quarter grew 53% yoy to $71 million.

In a related conference call (transcript) - Suresh Vasudevan, CEO said, among other things - "the hybrid market we are competing in is roughly $10 billion, growing to about $14 billion as per IDC's estimates over the next 3 - 4 years... the frequency with which we compete against all-flash alternatives has increased and our win rates are indeed high... However, when we do lose against all-flash alternatives, it's typically 2 things happening simultaneously.

"One, the customer has a singular application where they've taken performance challenges and the customers saying I want to solve the needs of this particular database or this particular application. And the customer has by and large selected all-flash arrays as the answer for that point need and that's often where we find that we are taking perception challenges as much as to the reality of what our platform really does."

Editor's comments:- Another factor for hybrid companies like Nimble, Tegile etc - when viewed from the context of some high end all flash applications - is that much of the functionality of their tiering software is considered to be irrelevant or simply adding to the cost and latency. This is a segmentational and positioning problem which isn't entirely answered by adding AFA models to the product line.

The long term strategic question for all storage box vendors - when seen from the perspective of user consolidation thinking - is to choose how they will position themselves:- either as a strategic supplier of raw white box hardware or as an integrator or software supplier which collaborates with someone else's standard boxes .

See also:- Branding Strategies in the SSD Market

IP-Maker's NVMe IP added to UNH-IOL's compatibility list

storage glue chips
storage glue chips
Editor:- May 22, 2015 - IP-Maker - which is represented in the US by Fides Sales - today announced that its NVMe data transfer manager design has passed the UNH-IOL compatibility tests and is now listed on their NVMe compatibility integrator's list.

IP-Maker's IP supports performance in the range of 350K IOPS and 10µs latency in a Gen2 x4 configuration.

"We are pleased to announce this important milestone", said Mickael Guyard, co-founder of IP-Maker. "We are now able to provide a compliant and high performance NVMe solution, helping storage companies to develop PCIe SSD in a reduced design time."

Memblaze is #1 enterprise PCIe SSD supplier in China market

Editor:- May 22, 2015 - Memblaze accounted for 60% market share of the enterprise PCIe SSD market segment in China in 2014 - according to CEO Yin Xuebing who made this comment in a recent press release announcing the availability of Memblaze's new PBlaze4 700 Series bootable 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs which was demonstrated at CeBIT in March 2015.

OCZ's programmable power envelope 2.5" hot swap NVMe SSDs

OCZ 2.5 inch hot swap PCIe SSDEditor:- May 20, 2015 - OCZ today revealed more details about the new models shipping in its NVMe compatible PCIe SSD family - which was first announced last September. We had already heard before these new models include 2.5" hot swappable versions.

Today OCZ said this model - the Z-Drive 6300 SFF will be available with usable capacities of 800GB, 1.6TB and 3.2TB (in this quarter) followed by 6.4TB (later this year).

R/W performance is upto 2.9GB/s and 1.4GB/s respectively. Random R/W IOPS are 700K IOPS and 120K IOPS. Latencies are 30µs (write) and 80µs (read). Endurance options are 1 or 3 DWPD.

high availability and reliability features

The new Z-Drive 6000 models are dual ported so that 2 host systems can concurrently access the same SSD.

Additionally, the Z-Drive 6000 Series supports hot swapping of 2.5" drives, pre-set power thresholds and temperature throttling to support many types of enterprise ecosystems.

Editor's comments:- for various reasons to do with a combination of standardization efforts and changes of ownership for nearly every major enterprise PCIe SSD company in the market - you've had to wait 3 years since the idea of this kind of product was first discussed seriously on these pages and at conferences.

What has become clear to systems architects is that these new products offer far more flexibility in their roles than merely performance upgrades to high end SAS SSDs and traditional storage arrays.

Among other things these new types of products will enable lower cost mini SSD server clustering at PCIe latencies which will spur growth in the SDS market. At the high end - they could become the new building blocks inside the world's most powerful computer arrays.

Power consumption and heat in these NVMe SSDs?

I know from talking to systems architects that the electrical power and thermal footprints of 2.5" NVMe SSDs is a critical detail when considering the design of dense storage arrays so I asked Scott Harlin, OCZ for more information these factors. Here's what Scott said.

Hi Zsolt – you are correct – the 2.5" drives can get a little toasty packing in the higher densities into this form factor -- typical power consumption of the Z-Drive 6000 series is 25W active and 9W idle. So we included a few items to address these concerns:

1. - Temperature sensing and thermal throttling to maintain consistent operating conditions even under adverse temperature variances

2. - User-selectable power envelopes, in 15W, 20W and 25W settings, reduces wasted power when maximum performance is not required while efficiently addressing temperature requirements in support of a variety of ecosystems

3. - An innovative 'flow-through' case design enables more airflow to critical components, keeping the device cool while reducing airflow requirements

Editor's comments:- that user selectable power envelope- in graduated steps - seems like a really useful design attribute. So I'll be watching out for it in future arrayable SSD launches.

Coho adds all flash SSD nodes to its hybrid product mix

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VCs in SSDs
Editor:- May 20, 2015 - Coho Data today announced it has closed $30 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to nearly $67 million.

The round was led by March Capital Partners, with additional participation from HP Ventures and Intel Capital as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Ignition Partners.

Coho Data also announced the general availability of its first all-flash storage node, the DataStream 2000f a 2U server based system which uses Intel's P3600 2.5" NVMe SSDs and conventional SATA SSDs.

Coho says that using a judicious mix of its variously populated SSDservers (which includes micro-tiered hybrid systems as well as the new pure SSD nodes) "empowers customers to efficiently support any application at any scale, all from a "single pane of glass" management interface, and all at less than $0.10/GB usable per month."

Caringo gets patent for adaptive power conservation in SDS pools

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
Editor:- May 19, 2015 - Caringo today announced it has obtained a US patent for adaptive power conservation in storage clusters. The patented technology underpins its Darkive storage management service which (since its introduction in 2010) actively manages the electrical power load of its server based storage pools according to anticipated needs.

"The access patterns and retention requirements for enterprise data have changed considerably over the last few years to a store-everything, always accessible approach and storage must adapt," said Adrian J Herrera, Caringo VP of Marketing. "We developed Darkive to help organizations of any size extract every bit and watt of value while keeping their data searchable, accessible, and protected."

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

Toshiba demonstrates 3.5" ethernet hybrid

Editor:- May 18, 2015 - Toshiba today announced demonstrations of a new hybrid drive which combines HDD and flash in a 3.5" form factor with an Ethernet interface.
hybrid SSDs & HDDs click for articles and reports
hybrid drives

Editor's comments:- for reasons which were obvious to systems architects 10 years ago - and haven't changed today - you will always get better control of performance and cost by designing a hybrid storage array with distinctly separate HDDs and SSDs compared to combining both these functions in a single type of drive.

But the dream of combining these functions in a single drive to add value to hard drives does re-emerge in different guises from time to time.

The only merit I can see to such a product - as the new hybrid from Toshiba - is that if you have very simplistic and primitively designed systems software, combined with using large arrays in a single type of applicaton - then combining both the flash and magnetic storage in a single drive could simplify the high availability aspects of the design by spreading the risk and consequences of drive failures in a homogenistic way which makes writing the software easier.

In the consumer market - where we've seen most of the past market experiments with hybrid drives - it doesn't matter if the product is withdrawn from the market after a year or so - because the design costs only have to make sense for a brief window of market opportunity.

But in the enterprise market - the risks of committing an array design to a drive type which is single sourced and hasn't got an independently arguable credible future roadmap means that such system implementations are rare.

53% of SDS users say that flash is less than 10% of their storage

Editor:- May 12, 2015 - What percentage of the capacity in virtualized SDS environments is already flash?

An interesting picture is given in a recently published survey the State of SDS (pdf) by DataCore - which includes results from 477 IT professionals who are currently using or evaluating SDS technology. Among the findings:-
Datacore survey re flash in SDS 2015
  • Less than 9% said that flash already acccounts for 40% or more of their storage. And nearly half of all participants said that flash is less than 10% of their storage capacity.
  • Over 70% have flash in their budget in 2015.
  • 16% of those who had used flash felt they hadn't got the apps acceleration they expected.
  • 19% said that storage failures had caused unforeseen outages.
Editor's comments:- You can interpret these results in different ways. I see it as showing that there's still a many times bigger future market for enterprise flash compared to what has already been installed.

which market uses the highest capacity PCIe SSDs?

Editor:- May 12, 2015 - Unlike the enterprise market where nearly everyone uses technologies which are recognizably similar to everyone else - we don't hear so much about advances in embedded industrial markets - because a technique which pushes the state of the art for one industrial customer may be of no interest to nearly everyone else.

Now I'm hearing more stories in which increasing SSD capacity in confined rugged spaces is the difference.

Yesterday it was a customer story from Waitan about designing and supplying high capacity PCIe SSD modules for use on a drilling platform. That was an application where paying more for the SSD to fit the space was cheaper than making more space for the SSD.

This morning I learned that TCS (which is in the rugged industrial, space and defense markets) is working with Novachips to introduce high capacity HyperLink SSDs into their rugged SSD range.

If you've got something similar - particularly in the mobile datacenter context - send me an email with the details.

Diablo's MCS supported by more slots in new Lenovo servers

Editor:- May 6, 2015 - Diablo Technologies today announced that Lenovo's new 8U x3950 X6 servers now support upto 32 eXFlash DIMMs (memory channel SSDs) per system.

new power fail safe file system for tiny memory IoT

Editor:- May 5, 2015 - Datalight today released a preview version of Reliance Edge, a power fail-safe file system for FreeRTOS which allows developers building IoT devices to reliably store and quickly access data in embedded SSDs. It requires as little as 4KB of RAM and 11KB of code size.

"Designing a file system which met the high reliability standard set by our (high performance) Reliance Nitro and could fit into tiny microcontroller based systems presented a challenge – and I love a challenge," said Jeremy Sherrill, architect of file systems for Datalight. "Reliance Edge offers a rich set of features in a highly efficient architecture."

Reliance Edge can work with a broad array of storage media—including NOR and NAND flash, eMMC, SD/MMC, NVRAM, USB storage, and SATA (or PATA) SSDs. Datalight plans to release new pre-ported kits for other small-kernel OSes over the coming months.

How much 3D flash in 2015?

Editor:- May 5, 2015 - TrendForce estimates that 3D will make up just 7% of NAND flash's average annual output for 2015.

See also:- flash memory, market research

ATP Electronics to demonstrate power cycling resilience of its industrial SSDs

Editor:- May 5, 2015 - ATP Electronics today introduced a range of rugged storage products specifically targeting the IoT markets. The range include microSD/SD, CF/CFast, 2.5" SSD and other embedded flash modules.

ATP also said it will show its "Power Cycling Test Demonstration Kit" - which validates the company's industrially renowned ATP PowerProtector under any sudden/unstable power-down situations - at the ESEC 2015 trade show Tokyo later this month.

See also:- Power loss protection in SSDs

who's who in ReRAM? - IHS article

Editor:- May 1, 2015 -Who's doing what re the commercialization of ReRAM - one of the seldomly heard from NVM cousins - can be learned in a new article - Taking Embedded ReRAM to 28nm - written by Peter Clarke which appeared in IHSElectronics360.
Flash Memory
flash & nvm

Among other things re ReRAM - Peter Clarke says - "It has been the subject of much research over the last decade because it had been predicted that NAND flash memory would fail to scale beyond critical dimensions of 20nm."

The article tells you which companies are still in this technology and discusses current memory densities and controllers. the article

See also:- 12 years of "MRAM will soon replace flash"

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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