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what were the big SSD memory architecture ideas in 2016?
optimizing CPUs for use with SSDs in the 3rd Era of SSD Systems

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SSD market 2016?

and 4 companies which made me stop and think
Editor:- December 30, 2016 - If you've been having difficulty finding a common thread which links together all the apparently disconnected hot new technology developments which we have been reading about in 2016 and which will dominate most of the SSD and memory developments in 2017 then you're not alone.

But I think I've found it. And it's at the heart of my new home page blog on the new article
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"While NVMe over PCIe shaves off about 10 microseconds relative to SAS, NVMf can shave off about 100 microseconds from the roundtrip latency between two hosts relative to protocols such as iSCSI. It also saves CPU usage from TCP/IP processing.

This can be particularly beneficial in scale-out systems for transferring data between hosts. It does require RDMA-capable NICs and DCB-capable switches, so it will take some time for mass adoption."
Umesh Maheshwari, founder and CTO, Nimble Storage in his blog - NVMe and NVMs - What to Expect (December 28, 2016).

Nutanix says Pure's CEO doesn't understand the disruptive magnitude of hyperconvergence
Editor:- December 6, 2016 - A new blog - Pure CEO disses Nutanix. OK, let's compare numbers - by Steve Kaplan, VP of Client Strategy - Nutanix starts out with the idea of comparing the revenue and customer acquisition metrics of Nutanix to another well known company founded in the same year - Pure Storage - whose financial reporting periods are the same.

But the blog quickly repositions to a market analysis of enterprise architecture generations and customer segmentation preferences (both of which are often poorly understood in the industry by senior managers in SSD companies).

Among other things Steve says...

"Pure Storages CEO, Scott Dietzen isn't the only one at the storage manufacturer who doesn't grasp the magnitude of the disruption Nutanix has brought to the datacenter." the article

related reading:-
  • the SSD heresies - "Nowhere else in computer architecture will you get so many industry experts disagreeing on such fundamental questions."
  • Can you trust SSD market data? - "These are the 5 reasons why things go wrong in the SSD market data collection, interpretation, modeling and analysis business."

3D XPoint - walking back the original claims
Editor:- December 6, 2016 - 3D XPoint: a Guide to the Future of SCM - a recent blog on Tom's Hardware keeps alive the ongoing story of this preannounced and over stated technology which was unveiled by Intel and Micron in 2015 as an investor oriented reassuring response to competitive announcements in the DIMM wars market - which pointed towards a much reduced market long term role for conventional server DRAM.

I - like others - stated my doubts about the so-called market readiness hinted at in the early 3DXPoint razzmatazz. And this year those early doubts have been salami sliced by successive analysis as more technical information has emerged or failed to emerge in support of the early bold claims.

This new blog by Paul Alcorn includes a nicely judged narrative and brings the story of the successive pilot show teasers up to date. Among other things Paul says:-

"unfortunately, the two companies recently began walking the performance claims back."

"...the companies have yet to explain, beyond ECC tuning, why the endurance specifications have taken such a drastic plunge."

"The ultimate goal of the next generation of memory is to have the worlds of storage and memories collide permanently, with just one medium emerging for both purposes. 3D XPoint isn't suitable for that role, at least not yet, but it could help lay the groundwork." the article

Editor's comments:- this is what I said here in SSD news - August 2015...

"Much less easy to place within any particular calendar year and to rate for its significance to future SSD history - however - due to its distinctly vaporware-like aspects and stunning lack of technical details - was the stage managed unveiling of a newly branded memory architecture by Intel and Micron - which (like the emperor's new clothes) may or may not become significant for enterprise applications in 2016, or 2017 or 2018 - depending on when we can see it working and depending on what other competitors are doing at that time."

And in June 2016 - I brought reader attention to a thoughtful video - 3D XPoint, reality, opportunity, competition which looked at boundary capabilities of the technology from a competing semiconductor point of view.

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a winter's tale of SSD market influences - from industrial flash controllers to HPC flash arrays - set against the tapestry of a single company which divided to face the tempests of change
Editor:- November 15, 2016 - Recently I spoke to AccelStor's President - Charles Tsai.

We talked about many changing influences in the SSD market. I thought you might be interested to see some of the things we spoke about in a new blog on - a winter's tale of SSD market influences - because it will give you an idea of how many strategic changes in the SSD market can now influence every business decision about what new products to create - even when those changing factors seem at first to be only loosely connected like the flash controller, industrial SSD, SCM, software and enterprise rackmount SSD markets.

All those factors entwined the flow of this SSD conversation which really started 2 years before. the article

past Decembers in SSD market history
December 2001 Platypus Technology announced a channel strategy for its high-performance RAM SSD accelerator systems to "free applications from the I/O bottlenecks caused by hard drive-based storage, allowing mission critical files to run from silicon, rather than from rotating platters."
December 2005 Fusion-io was founded.
December 2007 SSD Alliance is founded to develop compatibility standards for flash SSDs.
December 2011 Apple acquired Anobit (a pioneer in the adaptive DSP ECC flash controller market) for a sum thought to be in the range $400 to $500 million.
December 2012 BiTMICRO began making PCIe SSDs using its Talino SSD controllers
December 2013 LSI announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Avago Technologies for $6.6 billion.
December 2014 Western Digital acquired Skyera (which at that time was offering the highest capacity SSD racks based on its own efficient controller architecture and software).
December 2015 NxGn Data was awared a research grant by the National Science Foundation to advance its prototype development in the new computing tier of in-situ SSD processing.

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the fastest SSDs - click to read article
the fastest SSDs ..
DIMM wars - expect more
can memory do more? ....
Military storage
military SSDs ..
click to read article - sugaring  MLC for the enterprise
hardening flash ....

SSD news - news December 2016

NVMdurance compiles list of flash memory forecasts

Editor:- December 31, 2016 - How big is the flash market?

One company with a particular interest in that is NVMdurance whose light runtime footprint endurance expanding firmware technology can be applied to almost any kind of nand flash as an alternative (or companion) to more heavy weight controller derived adaptation techniques.

So if you're looking at flash market sizing data take a look at NVMdurance's new flash memory forecasts page which lists headline numbers from an assortment of market data sources.

Micron comments on 3D nand, RAM cannibalization etc

Editor:- December 22, 2016 - A useful update on Micron (based on a recent financial update) appears in this news story - Micron's Successful Quarter Reflects 3D NAND Progress by Gary Hilson on EE Times.

Among other things Gary says... "While it would appear that Micron has a handle on its DRAM (including its conversion to 1X) and NAND, it didn't provide specifics on its 3D XPoint technology." the article

See also:- Micron's Q1 2017 - Call Transcript on Seeking Alpha

Nimbus awarded patent for non blocking backplane technology

Editor:- December 21, 2016 - Nimbus Data Systems today announced it has been granted a patent - 9,268,501 - for the non-blocking data fabric architecture which is used in its petabyte scale SSD racks.

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rackmount SSDs
"Conventional HDD-centric architectures employed by the majority of all-flash array vendors trap flash performance behind legacy shared bus and scale-up designs," said Thomas Isakovich, CEO and Founder. "Now patented, Nimbus Data's Parallel Memory Architecture overcomes the limitations of generic off-the-shelf servers, capturing the full performance potential of all-flash technology."

Editor's comments:- Nimbus's patent relates to a non blocking SAS-aware fabric technology.

Other notable SSD box makers which have gone on the record to talk about their non blocking matrix switch arrangements to reduce latency and improved throughput include Texas Memory Systems (now IBM's flashsystem) and Violin Memory (VXM).

Recadata enters rugged M.2 SSD market

M.2 SSDs
Editor:- December 20, 2016 - The M.2 SSD form factor was originally designed as a mainstream solution for consumer SSDs but in recent years we've seen many new M.2 products appearing in other markets where size matters too.

Today Recadata - which is best known for its rugged SSDs aimed at military systems launched an M.2 SSD product line - the M700 Series M.2 SSD series.

characterizing 4Gb MRAM

Flash Memory
Editor:- December 19, 2016 - The gap between the capacities offered by MRAM and DRAM were huge until a year ago which meant that MRAM applications engineers couldn't simply upcycle traditional RAM roles into born again NVDIMM style non volatility.

MRAM was a memory which sounded interesting but only for those with very low storage capacity applications which could tolerate a high cost per gigabyte. And in this role MRAM has been just one of many new nvms seeking design slots in a crowding multi-latency tiered memory market dominated by flash.

In this competitive context any talk of "higher capacity" chips may change the balance of interest for design engineers between "dismiss entirely" and "maybe keep an eye on it" for future applications.

Everspin narrowed the gigabit gap in April 2016 with the shipments of 256MB ST-MRAM and the promise of Gb sampling to come later.

Now a roadmap for more broadly usable MRAM begins to sound more credible with a report in Nikkei Technology that 4GB ST-MRAM prototypes are being characterized by SK Hynix and Toshiba. the article

DSSD update from the gravity well of Dell EMC by the Register

Editor:- December 15, 2016 - Despite having written about more than 500 acquisitions of storage companies before the modern era of SSDs I always find it interesting to see what happens to SSD companies after they get acquired (my curiosity being understandable because over half the acquisitions which have ever occured in SSD history also involved active customers of mine at the time).

After such acquisitions we see a variety of outcomes:- some headline product lines get retained, others get EOLed. And sometimes it's not clear to see what happened because it can be years before the technology and patents re-emerge in future products rather than continuing as a single product strand.

A recent blog - DSSD President quits Dell EMC - by Chris Mellor at The Register includes this observation about the DSSD product line which was acquired by EMC in May 2014.

Chris says - "We have been told that there have been around a dozen DSSD sales totalling less than $6 million. Dell EMC has spent about $1.3 billion on DSSD, with $1 billion in the acquisition in May 2014, and there are more than 200 DSSD employees. We understand that Dell EMC may need to decide in the next six months whether to keep investing for growth in DSSD or to decide to view it as a niche product and resize the DSSD team to fit that niche dimensions." the article

Violin seeks buyer in January

Editor:- December 14, 2016 - Violin Memory today announced it has filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, and is seeking to hold an auction in early January for the business.

Kevin A. DeNuccio, Violin Memory's President and CEO said - "...Violin intends to continue to sell solutions to customers and prospects as well as service and support customers during this restructuring."

Corsair enters M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD market

Editor:- December 13, 2016 - Corsair today announced its entry into the M.2 SSD market with a new PCIe Gen. 3 x4 product aimed at the consumer upgrade market. The Force MP500 is Corsair's fastest SSD and uses a controller from Phison.

Virtium announces 64GB very low profile industrial DDR4 RAM

Editor:- December 13, 2016 - Rated at industrial temperatures Virtium today announced the imminent availability (in January) of 64GB DRAM modules - VLP RDIMM and Mini-RDIMM - which have been developed to provide high-performance memory to height-restricted servers.

See also:- DRAM news

tiering between memory systems layers - blog by Enmotus

Editor:- December 8, 2016 - A new blog - Flash Tiering: the Future of Hyper Converged - by Adam Zagorski, Marketing at Enmotus - discusses how hyper-converged infrastructure has evolved along with the associated impacts from data path latency and CPU overhead. Among other things Adam notes that...
read the article on SSD ASAPs

"Very soon we'll have HCI clusters with several tiers of storage. In-memory databases, NVDIMM memory extensions and NVRamdisks, primary NVMe ultrafast SSD storage and secondary bulk storage (initially HDD but giving way beginning in 2017 to SSDs) will all be shareable across nodes. Auto-tiering needs a good auto-tiering approach to be efficient, or else the overhead will eat up performance." the article

See also:- SSD ASAPs (Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage)

Nantero has amassed over $110 million funding for NRAM

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VCs in SSDs
Editor:- December 8, 2016 - Nantero today announced the closing of an over $21 million financing round bringing the total invested in the company to over $110 million.

Nantero currently has more than a dozen partners and customers in the consumer electronics, enterprise systems, and semiconductor industries actively working on NRAM. The new funding will enable the company to support these partners in bringing multiple products into the market, while also enabling new customers to begin development.

A later blog - NRAM set to spark a 'holy war' among memory technologies (January 12, 2017 on ComputerWorld) discusses the 16 years history of NRAM and quotes a report from BCC which said that NRAM now has the potential for mass customization.

Primary Data contributes enhancements to Parallel NFS

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
Editor:- December 7, 2016 - Primary Data today announced that its open standards Parallel NFS (pNFS) contributions developed to seamlessly orchestrate data across different types of storage have been accepted into the NFS 4.2 standard.

Among other things the company's contributions to NFS 4.2 include enhancements to the pNFS Flex File layout to allow clients to provide statistics on how data is being used, and the performance provided by the storage resources serving the data.

NVMe and the FlashSystem 900?

Editor:- December 7, 2016 - NVMe was one of the big SSD ideas of the year which was mentioned by several contributors.

Hold onto that thought.

"The only thing better than an improved protocol like NVMe, is no protocol" - says Woody Hutsell, Technologist, Evangelist - IBM in his new blog - Stop waiting on NVMe all flash arrays.

Among other things Woody says - "There is no storage protocol inside the IBM FlashSystem 900. Once the data hits the interface controller it ceases to be SCSI or PCI or NVMe. The only thing better than an improved protocol like NVMe, is no protocol. The FlashSystem 900, like many prior generations of FlashSystem solutions treats the flash inside the system like memory. The result is unmatched latency characteristics." the article

Latency was the central theme of Woody's SSD bookmarks for readers earlier this year too.

Woody has been extolling the virtues of low latency enterprise SSD storage to me and my readers for over 15 years.

I always relax when reading Woody's writings about solid state storage as I can be secure in the knowledge that everything he says is reliable.

U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs uses RAID Inc. in 5PB SDS

InfiniBand SSDs and storage
Editor:- December 7, 2016 - A customer news story from RAID Inc. - Department of Veterans Affairs Selects RAID Inc. for Multi-Petabyte Microsoft Storage Spaces Deployment - includes the useful ratio metric that "400TB of flash-accelerated hot tier storage" were used to support 5PB of cold tier data in an InfiniBand attached fault tolerant array which supports over 460,000 devices in more than 280 sites.

WDC samples its fastest ever SAS and NVMe SSDs

Editor:- December 6, 2016 - Western Digital today announced it is sampling faster new models in its range of enterprise SSDs. WDC says that these are the fastest NVMe PCIe SSDs and SAS SSDs which they have offered to date.

Fujitsu says in-memory dedupe before writes to flash can double best write speed

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rackmount SSDs
Editor:- December 5, 2016 - Fujitsu today announced the development of a high-speed in-memory data deduplication technology for use in all-flash arrays. The method decides if there is enough time to search for duplicates in the flash array while retaining the data in cache (low load condition). If so then writes to the flash array are only performed after dedupe. Fujitsu says that for some workloads where there are many duplications such as virtual desktops this can improve the user experience. See also:- inline dedupe.
What happened before?
SSD news page image - click to  enlarge
seeking the inner SSD
"Tier 0" is not a term I've ever knowingly used in editorial - which you may find strange for a storage publication which talks so much about SSDs and storage architecture.
Why I Tire of "Tier Zero Storage"

AccelStor NeoSapphire  all-flash array
1U enterprise flash arrays
InfiniBand or 10GbE iSCSI or 16G FC
NeoSapphire series - from AccelStor

related guides

in-situ SSD company enters Top 5 SSD Companies List in Q3 2016
Editor:- November 24, 2016 - NxGn achieved its highest ever ranking in the new Q3 2016 edition of the Top SSD Companies published today.

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

related guides
All the marketing noise coming from the DIMM wars market (flash as RAM and Optane etc) obscures some important underlying strategic and philosophical questions about the future of SSD.
where are we heading with memory intensive systems?

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
I think it's not too strong to say that the enterprise PCIe SSD market (as we once knew it) has exploded and fragmented into many different directions.
what's changed in enterprise PCIe SSD?
selected headlines from

the news archive
January 2016 Quarch says many SSDs fail their first hot plug tests.
February 2016 It's not worth paying more for SLC reliability in PCIe SSDs says Google
April 2016 Samsung began mass producing the industry's first 10nm class 8Gb DDR4 DRAM chips.
May 2016 efficiently coded memory architecture unveiled in new systems by Symbolic IO

Encrip announces tri-state coded DRAM IP which can be used with any standard process
June 2016 Pure Storage said its AFA revenue in Q1 2016 was more than the leading HDD array brand
August 2016 Nimbus re-emerged from stealth with a 1PB / U high availability flash storage array (4PB raw in 4U).
September 2016 Everspin files for IPO to expand MRAM
October 2016 Rambus announced it is exploring the use of Xilinx FPGAs in its Smart Data Acceleration research program.
November 2016 Silicon Motion announced the "world's first merchant SD 5.1 controller solution."

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