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Datalight's SSD firmware to boldly go
Editor:- September 17, 2015 - Datalight today said its embedded filesystem (Reliance Nitro) and FTL (FlashFX Tera) have been selected by NASA for use onboard future manned spacecraft in the Orion program.

rocket image from one of my novelsEditor's comments:- NASA has had a lot of mentions by SSD and storage vendors in articles and news here on the mouse site. Some of the application contexts have been ground based - but many have also been in space.

FYI the spacecraft image shown here isn't from NASA - it's from my 1990s unfinished online SF novel. One of many which I may resume when the SSD market slows down and becomes more predictable. (That's an excuse you can borrow and use yourself.)
RRAM SSDs in 2016?

Crossbar gets $35 million series D funding
Editor:- September 14, 2015 - Crossbar today announced it has completed a $35 million Series D funding round bringing total investment to $85 million to date.

image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage
VCs in SSDs
Crossbar plans to use the funds to continue the commercial ramp of its RRAM NVM memory technology which is based on a simple device structure using CMOS friendly materials and standard manufacturing processes. It can be stacked in 3D, making it possible to combine logic and memory onto a single chip at the latest technology node.

Crossbar is currently working with beta customers to bring products to market in 2016.
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"after numerous delays, a new wave of next-generation, nonvolatile memories are finally here. One technology, 3D NAND, is shipping and gaining steam. And 3 others - Magnetoresistive RAM, ReRAM and even carbon nanotube RAMs - are suddenly in the mix"
Flash Memory
.. nvms for SSDs
Mark LaPedus, Executive Editor - Semiconductor Engineering - in his new blog - Gaps in the memory hierarchy have created openings for new types of memory - which is flavored with some strong opinions from leading memory analysts.
the unsung hero of 3D endurance
Editor:- September 15, 2015 - One of the interesting surprises about 3D nand flash which emerged early in 2014 was that the endurance - reported by SSD designers - was better than you would have expected if you had taken as your starting point - assumptions about 2D nand with similar capacity and next generation (smaller) planar geometries.

Part of the explanation - which I discussed last year - was the use of different materials.

But there's more to it than that as I realized today in a new (to me) white paper The V-Nand paradigm shift (pdf) which came in a an email blast from Samsung.

In Samsung's version of 3D - the charge is held in a silicon nitride charge trap - which has better insulating properties than conventional 2D materials - and lower leakage. (Essential if you think about it to even get a hope of doing more levels.) That's the bit I already wrote about.

What I didn't appreciate before was this.

The SiN charge trap requires a lower voltage to program each cell than traditional 2D (floating gate) designs. (The destructive effect of the energy in these write pulses is one of the contributory factors to cell wear in 2D.)

The combination of better insulation and less destructive write process would give you a better endurance figure for the same flash process geometry in nanometers.

But a 3rd element in Samsung's 32 layer 3D (which you could say is the sneaky pragmatic business decision bit) is that these devices weren't 2Xnm geomtery at all.

Samsung decided to bring this technology to market with a mature proven 3Xnm process. (3Xnm gives you better endurance anyway than 2Xnm in 2D flash.)

So when Samsung talk about their 32 layer V-nand - with 35,000 P/E cycles "offering 10x increase in endurance over the 3,000 cycles provided by planar (2D) NAND" there are several ingredients which combine to get this headline figure. And that's why this paper is useful.

As to how much of that "10x" will continue to be sustainable as more layers are added and as cell sizes get smaller - will remain to be seen. Samsung's paper suggests that they are hopeful about aiming at 100 layers in the next few years.

But it's clear that a lower write pulse voltage is one of the unsung heroes in this better endurance story. the white paper

PS - not everyone is convinced about the market transforming imminence of Samsung's 3D nand.

In his August 2015 paper - Flash Technology:Annual Update (pdf) - Jim Handy founder Objective Analysis said "Samsung is shipping at a loss and we have found no evidence of a data sheet." Furthermore Jim is sceptical about the 3D nand industry's assertions that " the big ramp will be in 2017."
spreading the word about SSD
Editor:- September 23, 2015 - 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
SAS SSD market size - as interpreted by Micron
Editor:- September 3, 2015 - If you're interested in the possible size and direction of the SAS SSD market - here's some data supplied to me today by Micron.

This was in response to some questions I asked yesterday about a growth figure "59%" which they had quoted in a press release (in August) about their first new SAS SSDs developed as part of their collaboration agreement with Seagate.
SAS SSD market - a view based on Micron's marketing assessments of various data sources revised in August 2015
Metric 2015 2019 CAGR
Revenue ($M) 1,973 3,730 17%
Gigabytes (M ) 1,828 11,700 59%
Units (M) 2.4 5.1 21%
Memory companies like Micron create, suck in and analyze thousands of analyst hours of raw and structured statistics about components and drives. And although - just as for anyone else - the fine details of such projections and interpretations can turn out to be wrong - it's nevertheless very helpful to understand some of the publicly viewable raw data which drives the thinking behind related product plans.
SanDisk and enterprise software?

after 4 years something is clear...
Editor:- September 1, 2015 - How long does it take for new enterprise SSD products (and vendors) to become part of the mental compass in your mind map? ...The reference points by which you think about new projects and compare your reading of new products?

In an earlier blog on these pages - the new enterprise aristocrats of SSD - I said "that 4 years may be long enough to earn a company its place for elevation into the elite ranks of the aristocracy - for class-act companies which have been seen regularly in all the right places - such as the Top SSD Companies Lists."

That was about enterprise SSD boxes (which have been changing a lot). Longer than 4 years and they've changed out of recognition. Sooner than that and not enough people understand where they fit in.

But how about SSD software?

History shows us that few enterprise SSD software solutions have survived close contact with the companies which acquired them for more than a handful of quarters.

But there have been exceptions.

In a recent blog Rich Petersen Director of Marketing, Software Solutions at SanDisk reflects on what's new in version 4 of FlashSoft (announced yesterday). Which among other things include:-
  • write-back caching support
  • improved stability mechanisms to reduce impacts from rogue VMs
Rich starts his blog with "3 years ago at VMworld 2012, we introduced FlashSoft software for VMware vSphere..."

And he ends it with "the best feature in FlashSoft 4.0 is peace of mind."

Of course there's some technology involved and you can read about the details in various links. But sometimes when it comes to reading about products like this - the thing which makes it worth reading about in more detail at all is that this product has been evolving in the market and in these pages for 4 years.

Which makes it one of the important angles of reference in the enterprise SSD caching compass.

But there are others too.

Seagate recently (in August 2015) acquired for itself a new magnetic storage caching compass too in the shape of Dot Hill. This comes in a different kind of package and aims in a different direction in which the hard drive elements are seen as part of the solution instead of the source of the problem.

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

Probably you've spent days already (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
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SSD news - September 2015

DCIG publishes new edition of its AFA Buyers Guide

click here to see our directory of SSD market analysts
SSD Market Analysts
Editor:- September 30, 2015 - DCIG recently announced a new edition of its All-Flash Array Buyer's Guide (60 pages, free signup) which - from a desk based research stance - describes, comments on, and compares in depth the features of key products in this category from 18 selected vendors in the market (AMI, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HDS, HP, Huawei, IBM, iXsystems, Kaminario, NetApp, Nimbus Data, Oracle, Pure Storage, SolidFire, Tegile, Violin Memory and X-IO).

Editor's comments:- One of the roles for this document which DCIG suggest is as a "short list" for quickly and conveniently getting your hands on consistently-presented, in-depth datasheets for a market snapshot of products from a range of credible sources.

As to how the sample list of vendors is cast - DCIG clearly stated they do not merely rely on vendors paying them for inclusion in the list. Nevertheless one of the problems with the authority of any "buyers guide" is the degree of inclusivity and (by implication) the transparency of filtering criteria.

When you include hundreds of products in such a guide from all known vendors - then the sampling process is transparent (and those not in the guide - need to make better efforts to communicate with their market) but when you have a guide which samples only a small percentage of vendors then inevitably questions get asked about how those in the sample were chosen.

My guess on the representational value of the companies listed in the guide is that it's compatible with the kind of shortlist you'd get by sampling from 3 broad criteria.
  • companies added into the list based on public revenue criteria and corporate brand strength (to ensure inclusion of older, long established storage companies)
  • companies added into the list based on search strength, or social media derived ranking rather than revenue (to ensure sampling of some newer companies)
  • companies added into the list for arbitrary reasons (maybe they've got a particularly interesting feature which the authors want to discuss as a counterpoint to others, or maybe the authors have some special relationship with the company which means they know more about it)
It took me about 30 seconds after seeing DCIG's vendor list that the above (or some reverse analysis thought process like it) is probably as good an explanation as any for DCIG to have constructed its list.

I'm not saying that's how they did it. But if you had to construct a vendor list of reduced size (and DCIG does have to because - due to their format - it would be cumbersome, repetitious and wasteful of analyst time to scale the guide to hundreds of vendors) this is as good a way as any other - for the purpose of discussing representational features in the AFA market.

So in that respect (unlike others) I don't have any quarrel with the sample they've chosen.

It sure wouldn't be my list. But DCIG's authors are aiming to produce a different kind of guide and they see their added value as coming from their proprietary vendor scoring criteria. And that necessitates a different kind of list.

In a free competitive market - reports compete for your attention - just as much as products. And you don't have to like every feature to learn something useful from them.

DCIG's scoring criteria is where I part company with DCIG's thinking. And this is a gulf I can't bridge.

I just have to look away from these pages to prevent my crystal ball cracking for reasons I explained when discussing an earlier version of this guide back in March 2014.

I think the scoring concept intrinsically suggests a much more stable, restricted and naive model of the SSD enterprise than is currently the case. In some respects the scoring concepts are like a bridge too far and sometimes to the wrong places and sometimes entirely missing some critical destinations.

Nevertheless I'm sure DCIG's new guide will serve adequately for many people who see things the same way as the guide creators do and who like their way of doing things. So I'm sure there will be more editions of this guide in future.

It's not DCIG's fault that the enterprise SSD market resembles at times the navigational uncertainty of Lost in Space (tv series) when in the very first episode the rocket gets hit by a meteor storm.

In the SSD market we've been through a whole bunch of similar cosmic disturbances and our rocket was launched with no clear destinations in mind at the outset. The best we can hope for is plausible pragmatic reinterpretations at convenient refueking stops.

BTW - I'm not suggesting that anyone else could do a better scoring job by using different methodologies.

Instead what I'm saying is that such a style of analysis is inappropriate because of current defects in enterprise SSD market models and the general understanding of them.

While that situation persists - such simplistic "winner" style guides run the risk of advocating the essential flavor of beef to vegetarians.

Nimble's sales growth via US distribution rates "Rising Star" award

Editor:- September 28, 2015 - Nimble Storage was recognized for its outstanding sales growth through US distribution channels - it was announced today by the NPD Group whose sales tracker research formed the basis of "Rising Star" awards presented at a recent Global Technology Distribution Council summit.

InnoDisk enables hot swap of tiny SATA DOMs

Editor:- September 24, 2015 - InnoDisk today announced an enhanced version of its previously available Pin 7 power cable eliminator technology for use with small embedded SATA SSDs - such as those used on server motherboards (and in particular the company's ServerDOM SSDs which won a design award in January 2015. Innodisk's new SATA Pin 8 Vcc technology - which is available on motherboards from top manufacturers - eliminates the need for a separate power cable and is also compatible with hot swap.

Samsung opens new Silicon Valley semiconductor HQ

Editor:- September 24, 2015 - Samsung - which has had a campus in Silicon Valley since 1983 - has this week formally opened its new Device Solutions America headquarters which will bring together on a single campus over 700 employees who work in its semiconductor business.

You can see more local details in the San Jose Mercury News.

Atmel - who?

Editor:- September 22, 2015 - It had been a long time since I last heard from Atmel (November 2005 according to my inbox - and that was about DVD chips) but 10 years is not so long that I had entirely forgotten that they once had a distant connection to the SSD market.

So when I saw an article alert to - Dialog and Atmel, 2 cultures to build 1 successful company? - by Eric Esteve, founder of market research company IPnest - that was my way of learning the recent announced that Dialog Semiconductor (which is not an SSD company) will acquire Atmel for $4.6 billion.

Eric who worked for Atmel at the time writes - "In year 2000, Atmel had more than $1,500 million of revenue from flash..

But he goes on to say that in 2014 "their flash product line was almost dead" - however they had "about $150 million of revenue related to other nvm".

Eric's article reassured me that although my eye had been off the ball of Atmel - there may have been good reasons (from an SSDcentric context). And it's a great way to wrap up the story of a company from the history archive. Eric's article

new SSD market report from TMR

Editor:- September 18, 2015 - SSDs with capacities of 80GB and below accounted for approximately 36% of the total $15 billion global SSD market revenue in 2014 - according to a new market report SSD Market - Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022 ($4,795 133 pages) published by Transparency Market Research which among other things profiles 10 leading SSD companies.

TMR says that Samsung, Intel and SanDisk accounted for over 57% of market revenue.

See also:- who does storage market research?

Mangstor gets $10 million series B funding

Editor:- September 17, 2015 - Mangstor today announced it has closed $10 million in Series B funding which will be used to fuel growth in sales and engineering and business development.

image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage
VCs in SSDs
"This investment confirms our leadership in NVMe over fabrics technology which delivers an order of magnitude higher performance at the lowest latency verses legacy iSCSI and Fiber Channel" said Trevor Smith CEO and co-founder of Mangstor .

Editor's comments:- last week I had a 90 minutes one on one with Trevor which we spent talking about gaps in the enterprise SSD market, Mangstor's technology and the competitive positioning of its PCIe SSDs and systems. You can see some of our discussion topics in their profile page.

revenue reported by Marvell was unreliable

Editor:- September 11, 2015 - Marvell today announced that it is downgrading its revenue expectations for the most recent quarter due to business which the company had logged as booked - now having gone away - and possibly having been booked in the wrong reporting period.

Reports from financial observers quoted on speculate that "Marvell may have been boosting quarterly sales by pulling them forward a quarter."

ZIPmagic has more full SSD compression profiles for Windows

Editor:- September 8, 2015 - ZIPmagic Software today launched a new version of their run time full SSD drive compression utility - which now includes Lempel-Ziv-Simon Disk Compression (pdf)

4 different (preselectable) compression modes are supported - which provide different compression ratios and have different characteristics in terms of how soon the full compressed disk can be used - ranging from immediately while the SSD is being compressed.

ZIPmagic says "Lempel-Ziv-Simon Disk Compression supports all OSes from Windows XP through to Windows Server 2016, whether 32 bit or 64 bit, from a single setup package."

Editor's comments:- Australia based ZIPmagic - which first appeared on this news page in August 2014 - is looking for SSD companies which may be interested in bundling their software. They have an introductory rate of of $1 per device.

Because of its background the company's web site is focused entirely on consumers but I think that there may also be industrial applications for this kind of technology too. For oem inquiries contact Keith Tan (Director of Sales & Marketing) via linkedin or Simon King (CTO) via email.

NexentaStor available with InfiniFlash

Editor:- September 3, 2015 - Nexenta recently announced support for SanDisk's InfiniFlash AFA box.

List price for the integrated solution including, perpetual software licenses, controllers, InfiniFlash, 3 year support and installation can be as low as $1.500/Raw TB.

See also:- towards enterprise hardware consolidation, SSD prices

US Court says Netlist must pay posted bond to Diablo

Editor:- September 2, 2015 - Netlist has been ordered to pay Diablo the full bond it posted in partial compensation for the profits which Diablo lost while being restrained from manufacturing and shipping products during part of the now completed lawsuit re memory channel storage IP according to an announcement today from Diablo.

Wikibon predicts when enterprise flash market will cross over with HDD storage

Editor:- September 1, 2015 - A recently publihsed blog - the Status of Flash for Practitioners by David Floyer , CTO - Wikibon was recommended to me by a reader.

Unfortunately a factual error stopped me dead at the preamble - "When enterprise flash first came out in 2008"...

2008? - That's wrong. Vendors had already been promoting and selling enterprise focused SSD systems and products for years before that. As those vendors included my advertisers and their customers included my readers – I was in a position to know. The incremental creep of enterprise flash deployment from its modest start in 2004 can be seen in the history of the SSD market and archived SSD and storage news.

OK - aside from that gripe - the Wikibon article tackles the long running predictive game of pinning a year at which the capacity orinented enterprise flash storage market will crossover the HDD part. (The game gets easier as you get closer in time to the event being predicted. I started publishing my own guesses about this in 2010.)

Wikibon guesstimates today that - "spend on flash storage for latency is projected to be about 29% in 2015, and break the 50% barrier in 2017. Also the spend on flash for capacity is projected to be 1% in 2015, and break the 50% barrier in 2021. HDDs are projected to be about 2% of total data center storage revenue by the end of the forecast period in 2026."

See also:- How will the hard drive market fare... in a solid state storage world?, can you trust SSD market data?

What happened before? - See the SSD news archive
The sages of flash now agree

That if you fall out of a tree

To increase your chances

Grab hold at five branches

And swing around judiciously
life sliced endurance budgets and some limericks
AccelStor NeoSapphire  all-flash array
1U enterprise flash arrays
InfiniBand or 10GbE iSCSI
NeoSapphire series - from AccelStor

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Partly for that reason I hadn't updated the fastest SSD companies list for a while. But I have now. It includes some well known drives and boxes but some newcomers to the market too. the article

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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

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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


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How committed (really) are these companies
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