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toughening up DWPD
Editor:- October 28, 2015 - DWPD ratings have become a useful shortcut to filter enterprise SSDs because there's an industry-wide consensus that the number should somehow map into recognizable application zones and price bands.

This shows how optimistic the SSD market mood still is today - when you factor in the jitter level uncertainty of exactly how elastic that DWPD drive number really is (in the minds of its creators) and how much it will get twisted around, modified and stretched when it meets up with the (is it really) DRAM, software and SSD array cousins with which it will cohabit life in the box.

All well and good - and my reference article on DWPD examples in the market was already becoming quite popular earlier this year (which was no surprise - as it's simply another way of talking about endurance) when I got a wake up email (in April 2015) about a new military grade industrial SSD which had a DWPD rating.

I didn't write about it at the time because even though the product had been stealthily working its way into designs it hadn't been publicly launched. Nevertheless I kept my eyes open for signs that others might also be doing similar things.

The similar things being:- the growing use of enterprise architecture in mobile datacenters and portable and remote rugged systems.

SSDs have been used in such systems for over 25 years - but often this was essentially a repackaging exercise to place a rack of industry standard stuff into a dustproof, ant-fungus treated, drop resistant box with an invertor so it could run off batteries while keeping the weight and size down so it could be lifted onto a truck or plane and survive long enough to do useful data-capture and analysis in the field.

The modern aspirations of these engineering systems are to do more of the same old things in less space but also to do entirely new things in widgets which you'll probably see in season 20 of NCIS.

That's why you're going to see more military grade, secure, rugged, industrial SSDs coming onto the market with full fledged DWPD ratings.

It's no longer just an enterprise market parameter. DWPD rated SSDs are getting tougher.

Adaptive Dynamic Refresh in DRAM
Editor:- October 14, 2015 - I expected most of the practical iinovations in rethinking DRAM architecture to come from the enterprise market.

But there's an interesting exception from Green Mountain Semiconductor which is revealed in a new paper - LPDDR3/4-ECC DRAM for High-reliability IoT, Automotive and Control System Applications (pdf).

GMS designs memories for industrial. embedded and custom systems. The innovation discussed in their paper is the use of adaptive dynamic refresh as a collaborative technology with ECC which can react to ECC errors by tuning the refresh rate.

ECC adjusted adaptive DRAM refresh

GMS says the strategy is - "Increase refresh rate if too many fails and reduce rate if too few fails, always guaranteeing refesh rate mimics cell fail distribution. Self-calibrating system, no need for tightly calibrated temperature." the article (pdf)

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Who's got all the answers to help understand how all the changes in the SSD market are coming together? The answer is - no one and everyone and you too.
the SSD Bookmarks

Dell buys EMC - the SSD view

good for Dell-EMC - long term

good for AFA and hybrid competitors - short term

disruption and changes for SSD suppliers - short term
Editor:- October 13, 2015 - Dell yesterday announced it has agreed to acquire EMC for approximately $67 billion. The acquisition also included EMC's stake in the storage software company VMware - which will remain in public ownership.

Editor's comments:- In the short term this fixes a problem for Dell (its weakness in enterprise storage) and offers a credible way for EMC to adapt to a long term future in which its storage products become more commoditized and accessible to smaller businesses (something which Dell has historically been good at with its server business.)

The competitive landscape in enterprise storage is complex but a long term SSD centric summary goes something like this.

Servers have become a commodity. And there is little or no scope for genuine competitive value differentation options to be offered within the server market. (Being able to offer the same memories or SSDs in servers as everyone else - does not decommodify server product lines BTW.)

In contrast - enterprise storage - which in the HDD and post tape library and post optical storage era (2001 to 2008) had been coasting towards oblivious commoditization - has been temporarily reprieved from that fate (2009 to 2018) by the disruptive impact of SSD memory technologies which enabled the construction of 5 to 6 role differentiated types of new storage boxes which could deliver value to users in ways which were technically unimaginable and unfeasible with classically tiered memory and storage.

Having misfired its original entry into the enterprise flash market in 2008 - EMC has in recent years managed to accumulate credible industry leading proprietary IP and product lines in 2 of the 5 above storage box segments (which will satisfy projected enterprise storage needs in the post HDD era) meanwhile treading water in the other 3 main box segments (indicating its aspiration to occupy part of those other crowded beachheads if possible).

Assuming all goes well with the acquisition process - the Dell-EMC product line will enable EMC storage to be more competitive in the short term with existing products and to maybe credibly add another notch to the list of product types for which it has aspirations for clear leadership.

But the acute efficiency pressures on the server and storage markets which are emerging from SSD centric software and data architectures will mean that traditional product lines from both vendors will shrink away.

And those lost revenues will stay gone forever. The old ways and the old purchase orders won't be coming back. That's why it's important for both companies to draw in new smaller customers and to nurture them (if possible) into the new sustainable sold state storage and server product lines.

What about impacts for the SSD market?

Anyone who competes with Dell or EMC will - for the next year - have an easier ride - due to the inward focus which sucks away the attention of the talent following such acquisitions.

The SSD market as a whole will continue to supply memory and SSDs to the new company - and probably can look forward to getting more business in 18 months time.

But it won't simply be more of the same. Some SSD vendors may see big changes when Dell EOLs systems and modules which are cannibalistic and compete within the combined product lines.

Related comments:-

"This transaction comes out of weakness, not strength" said Scott Dietzen, CEO - Pure Storage - in his blog Purely Observations on Dell / EMC Deal.

The aptness of that summary made me jealous.

I guessed that Scott Dietzen has probably got some old product planning powerpoints somewhere which could provide many entertaining viewing hours about the competitive landscape analysis which focuses around this old style pair of soon to be married storage competitors.

So my comment to Dietzen's article post on linkedin was this.

re - "This transaction comes out of weakness, not strength" - is a profound understatement. Wish I'd written that.

See also:-

spreading the word about SSD
Like ghostwriters - their identities remain largely unknown - even when their works are widely read.

I'm talking here about PR agencies which have done good work in the storage industry.

I've recently updated my own list of editor proven PR agencies - to clear out the dead links.

For vendors who are new to the SSD and storage market this list (which has been online since 2001) can be a useful way to find a communications partner who will help to spread the word about what you do throughout the fragmented media jungle. ...see the list

So we're looking at a list of 10 well known suppliers of flash arrays.

Probably you've spent days (or weeks) going through the features, which types of SSDs are inside the arrays etc, etc.

Now line them all up again in your mind.

Now imagine that every single one of these products is actually the same hardware.

And when I say the same - I mean the same.
towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market

and sympathy is what we need my friend

coz there's not enough flash to go round
Editor:- October 5, 2015 - A new blog by TrendFocus - How far does NAND output have to grow in order to supply all our storage devices? - compares worldwide raw physical storage capacity of flash and HDDs and says that that 80EB of NAND flash will ship this year compared to 500EB HDDs.

The author Don Jeanette concludes - "it is evident that there is not enough NAND supply to take over all the storage requirements in the world at this point."

Editor's comments:- that's true as far as it goes.

But in my classic article - meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon (2013) - I explained why I think that SSDs will easily replace all hard drives in the enterprise much sooner than this type of capacity gap comparison would lead you to think. (It's a system architecture and virtualization thing.)

PS - you can sing along to the headline lyrics here on Youtube

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Storage History - a pictorial flow by Igneous Systems
Editor:- October 1, 2015 - When it comes to history you can't always see the perspective of what's significant at the time.

And so from time to time I find myself having to insert an update into this "storage history" narrative (which is primarily an archive of the news page from the dates shown.

Storage history How did we get here? is presented in an infographic posted by a company called Igneous Systems - which operates in the cloud market.

A reader of mine saw the pdf version of Igneous's storage history chart and told me about it in May 2016. the article
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SSD news - October 2015

Cache latency is key to side-channel attack technique which can breach cloud server security walls

Editor:- October 29, 2015 - Cache jitter and latencies are more than simply performance quality issues - they can be the root of security vulnerabilities too.

The juxtaposition of these concepts in colocated cloud servers presents risks which were reported recently by researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The research team used a combination of techniques to first create a virtual machine on the same Amazon cloud server as a target machine (a technique known as co-location). They then used the co-located machine to spy on the target. By observing how it accessed information in memory, they could determine when it was retrieving its RSA key. Then by charting the timing of the memory access they were able to deduce the key's actual numeric sequence. the summary

3D X-Point could shrink DRAM market by 1/3 in 5 years- says Coughlin Associates

Editor:- October 23 , 2015 - Coughlin Associates has recently published a new report on Emerging Non-Volatile Memory and Spin Logic (163 pages, $4,000).

The memories addressed in this report overview (pdf) include PRAM, RRAM, MRAM, STT MRAM as well as the recently announced 3D X-Point Technology.

3D X-Point Technology will have a big impact on DRAM growth (with DRAM sales down $6.7 billion to $15.6 billion due to XPoint by 2020) with XPoint revenues of $663 million to $1.5 billion by 2020.

MRAM and STT MRAM revenue is estimated at $1.4 billion to $3.2 billion by 2020. Manufacturing equipment revenue for MRAM and STT MRAM production is estimated to be between $159 million and $294 million by 2020.

See also:- market research directory, an SSD view of semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles, latency loving reasons for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory slider mix

SanDisk hops into WDC's flash shopping basket

Editor:- October 22, 2015 - Following weeks of speculation and leaks came the confirmation yesterday that Western Digital has indeed agreed to acquire SanDisk in a deal valued at $19 billion.

If all goes as planned the transaction is expected to close in the 3rd calendar quarter of 2016.

Editor's comments:- From an SSD server storage competitive landscape perspective I think this is more significant than the EMC - Dell deal. Because it will impact the design, availability, competitive market health and future direction of many classic SSD product types in a far reaching way which could only be matched if Dell were to acquire Intel.

Time will play a big factor too.

Looking back at past acquisitions by WDC you shouldn't expect anything to come out the other end of the digester before the end of 2017.

And in that time - 2 years hence - many things in the SSD market will be different.

Some of SanDisk's best known enterprise SSD product lines (PCIe, SAS and SATA cloud) are already looking as if they were designed for a different movie generation.

(SanDisk's got a perfect Bogart lookalike for a remake of Casablanca, but webscale casting is hooked on an idea more like Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.)

In PCIe server sockets SanDisk has lagged behind the curve in NVMe, while in 2.5" storage arrays - new adaptive intelligence flow symmetry - which is emerging in many different forms - means that in the extreme case of cloud deployments - a single SSD with customized firmware - can replace 2 old style SATA SSDs.

On the other hand - SanDisk has more than amply demonstrated its willingness and capability to integrate flash memory in the enterprise outside traditional SSD comfort zones:- in server based DIMMs and analytics scale big data memory.

Those market experiments haven't generated much revenue yet but are the early steps on a learning curve which all memory makers will have to explore. The combination of that software capability and access to consumer scale, low cost flash will probably be more use to WDC than any single product line.

What happens in the meantime?

As we've seen before in such long drawn out acquisitions - it's inevitable that some SanDisk product developments will slow down and wither on the vine.

On the other hand - there will also be pressure to accelerate new product introductions too. You could say - it will be business as usual - but without so many distractions coming from the investor angle.

Looking ahead to a post WDC SanDisk...

WDC has a track record of swiftly EOLing perfectly adequate SSD products which came bundled in the shopping basket but didn't have high volumes and market scale.

This is a story which you'll be reading about for a long time to come.

Permabit shrinks data in new flash boxes from BiTMICRO

Rackmount SSDs click for news and directory
rackmount SSDs
Editor:- October 20, 2015 - Permabit today announced that its inline dedupe and compression software is used in BiTMICRO's new rackmount SSD white boxes - which include a 1U iSCSI appliance (20x 2.5" TB SSD shown at FMS) and a 3U fast SSD server (8x PCIe SSDs) which is due to be shipped this quarter.

OCZ does that 3rd generation SSD firmware cloud thing
(but gives it a better name)

Editor:- October 16, 2015 - It's no longer just the newcomers to the enterprise SSD market who are doing that 3rd generation / co-operative (whatever you want to call it) SSD controller firmware and host stack collaboration thing.

OCZ this week announced they're doing it too.

It's available in the Saber 1000 (2.5" cloud oriented, read mostly SSDs). And they've got a better name for it too - "Host Managed SSD Technology".

"Our new Saber HMS SSD, together with a software library and API, enable for the first time (in OCZ's product line) software orchestration of internal housekeeping tasks across large pools of SSDs, thus overcoming performance barriers that were simply not possible to address without this technology" said Oded Ilan, GM of OCZ's R&D Team in Israel.

"With HMS APIs, a host can coordinate garbage collection, log dumps, and drive geometry data" (and graphics too). Learn more in OCZ's HMS overview briefing (pdf)

Editor's comments:- HMS (and 3rd generation SSD controller firmware and there are other jargon and brand names too) are all examples of what I called "adaptive intelligence flow symmetry" in my 2012 article - 11 Key Symmetries in SSD design.

Solidata ships military grade 2.5" MLC SSD with IOPS attitude

Editor:- October 16, 2015 - Solidata recently announced shipments of a new rugged 2.5" SATA military grade industrial SSD with 1TB raw (972.5GB usable) MLC SSD - for high capacity, performance demanding applications in harsh environments. R/W for 4KB blocks is approximately 70K IOPS.

Solidata says the new Rana which has regular RAM cache (1GB DDR) and 3 seconds capacitor hold up time is available with all the features you'd expect from a military grade SSD (such as full drive auto erase in under 18S) but - as it uses MLC instead of SLC - it can be a more cost-effective alternative for many applications such as airborne/ shipborne digital recording systems, pipeline inspection and remote DVRs.

Kaminario supports FalconStor's FreeStor

Editor:- October 14, 2015 - FalconStor Software today announced its FreeStor software is now supported by Kaminario on its K2 flash arrays to provide data migration and multi storage vendor replication features.

See also:- routes to consolidation in the AFA market

new series coming soon...

Processors in SSD controller design

Editor:- October 12, 2015 - Once upon a time it seemed like a crazy idea to have a web page about SSDs. Who would be interested? Not enough people surely to sustain such an activity?

Elf years later we started seeing some web pages talking about reliability stuff inside SSDs. Were there really more than 10 people in the world who wanted to read about endurance?

And then - it still seems so long ago now - an even weirder web page appeared on the mouse site listing SSD controllers.

Surely that was the kind of information which should only be published on a need to know basis - and never appear without a sign up form (pre nuptial NDA filter) on any normal person's home page.

And so it went on.

We were all sad when we learned what happened when the SSD's battery died. And we were bemused to discover that SSDs could not only accelerate Fourier transforms outside the box but could also have DSP noise filters inside their flash block integrity DNA too.

Whatever next?

Coming soon. A new series... aspects of SSD design - processors used in SSDs

This is for those of you who know in your bones that to get the SSD you want - you need to design your own controller.

I may be wrong - but I think that the days when all such minded folks could be snugly gathered up to assemble in the same bus or plane or even industry conference are now behind us. So that's why we need another series of web pages.

SanDisk and HP ally in SCM DIMM wars

Editor:- October 9, 2015 - SanDisk and HP yesterday announced a long-term partnership to collaborate on a new technology within the Storage Class Memory category.

The companies say it will center around HP's Memristor and SanDisk's ReRAM memory technology and manufacturing and design expertise.

Editor's comments:- In the summer Intel and Micron established the precedent that it's now OK to talk about futuristic memory roadmap intentions as long as they include a big dollop of memory types which are less well known than flash - because most of the press and business analysts treat it with just as much seriousness as if you were talking about something which you can ship today.

This is part of the pre-shooting, phoney war about how the industry is going to phase in a new level of big memory which from the software point of view has similar R/W characteristics to RAM - but which from the capacity point of view - is closer to flash than it is to DRAM. And in competitive terms will work better than existing memory types in some types of applications and not at all well in others.

SanDisk already has a good view of the possibilities in this market via its ZetaScale software - which provides big data RAM virtualization using any type of flash SSD. And conversations with customers of its memory channel storage codeveloped with Diablo - must have reinforced SanDisk's confidence in new uses for DIMMs. (Although SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM is a flash based SSD - which can't do byte writes in the same way that Memory1 can.)

So... what could HP bring to this party for SanDisk?


You need a friendly bios and platform and routes to market when you're trying to launch a new proprietary memory.

Memristor? - This press release had to include some kind of technology input from HP to make them feel better. If you had said "toner cartridges" instead it would have been just as deliverable today - except that everyone knows the printers are now going in a different direction. Maybe the draft press release did have toner cartridges as the placeholder and they just slipped that memory jibber jabber in at the last minute before pressing send.

It's the weekend. - Maybe it will look different on Monday.

See also:-
  • "Low power is at the center of HP's ReRAM technology. HP's presentation pointed out that a lot of the time and energy of computation is used by the OS moving data between the various levels of the memory hierarchy of existing computer architectures." - ReRAM Forum (July 2014)
  • "We're the world's largest purchaser of DRAM and the second largest buyer of flash and (with Memristors) we're trying to disrupt and re-arrange our supply chain" - said HP - reported in the article - HP to replace flash and SSD in 2013 (October 2011) on Electronics Weekly

PMC-Sierra agrees to be acquired for $2 billion

Editor:- October 6, 2015 - PMC-Sierra has agreed to be acquired by Skyworks for $2 billion it was announced yesterday.

"With our acquisition of PMC, Skyworks will be uniquely positioned to capitalize on the explosive demand for high performance solutions that seamlessly connect, transport and store Big Data," said David J. Aldrich, chairman and CEO of Skyworks. "Specifically, we plan to leverage PMC's innovative storage systems, flash controllers, optical switches and network infrastructure solutions to expand our engagements with some of the world's leading OEMs and ODMs as well as emerging hyperscale data center customers."

...Later:- this triggered a bidding war for PMC - whose progress was reported by PMC on its news pages over the 7 weeks or so which followed the above announcement.

Skyworks didn't get what it wanted.

Instead PMC was acquired by Microsemi - whose final accepted offer was about $500 million higher.

Micron acquires stealth mode NVMe SSD controller company - Tidal Systems

Editor:- October 3, 2015 - Micron has acquired Tidal Systems (a stealth mode controller company whose home page has the statement "Enabling PCIe NVMe Flash Storage Development" according to a news report by Tom's Hardware which suggests that the acquired company's controller technology is adaptive DSP.

Editor's comments:- In June 2015 I summarized the weaknesses of Micron's flash controller technology and commented on the oddity of its not having made any significant enterprise SSD acquisitions in the preceding 12 to 18 months. In which I said "Micron's enterprise storage strategy has not met the basic needs of Micron as a memory company. It doesn't have any strong SSD architectures and systems roadmaps of its own."

BTW - in the same article in a February 2014 note - I wrote about "Micron's DIMM SSD accelerator product gap / opportunity / threat"... That was recently addressed with the recent announcement of Optane.

So that leaves just one main outstanding action on the future Micron "to do list" - from the SSD analysis in their profile page here on the mouse site - the acquisition of a rackmount SSD reference architecture or product line.

UNIS agrees to invest $3.8 billion in Western Digital

Editor:- October 1, 2015 - UNIS, founded in 1988 and headquartered in Beijing, has entered into an agreement to make a $3.775 billion equity investment in Western Digital (for approximately 15% of Western Digital's stock right along with a seat on the board). Proceeds from the investment will go toward strengthening Western Digital's balance sheet.

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

October 2015 was an expensive month for buying SSD companies with EMC, SanDisk and PMC-Sierra among those in the list of "agreed to be acquired" companies.

see also:- list of SSD companies acquired since 2000

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

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LSI SandForce SSD processors - click for more info
the awards winning silicon
accelerating world's leading SSDs
from Seagate

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industrial mSATA SSD
industrial grade mSATA SSDs
>2 million write cycles per logical block.
from Cactus Technologies

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the Top SSD Companies

new 33rd quarterly edition
Editor:- October 1, 2015 - has published a new edition of the Top SSD Companies.

image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies
2 of the fastest climbers in the new 33rd quarterly edition - which is based on market metrics in Q2 2015 - are players in the oldest game in SSD town (industrial SSDs) whereas a significant newcomer to the list is at the forefront of an increasingly sophisticated SSD software market.

Targa Series 4 - 2.5 inch SCSI flash disk
2.5" removable military SSDs
for airborne apps - GbE / SATA / USB
from Targa Systems

related guides


In the summer of 2015 Intel and Micron established the precedent that it's now OK to talk about futuristic memory roadmap intentions as long as they include memory types which are less well known than flash - because most commentators treat it with just as much seriousness as if you were talking about something which you can ship today.

SanDisk and HP ally in SCM DIMM wars (October 9, 2015)

military SSD from Waitan
military SSD drives with secure erase
encryption and self-destruct
from Waitan

related guides
SSD jargon

"Are you still in the camp that thinks proprietary hardware is the better path? Simply take a look at the leading global hyperscalers, i.e. AWS, Azure, Google, Apple and how their Data Centers look... How long before everyone else hops on the bandwagon?"
Marius Tudor, VP Business Development Coho Data - in his new blog To Cloud or Not to Cloud...Publicly

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 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
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