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"We've found that a significant number of SSDs will die entirely if the voltage rails are pulled to ground for (as little as) a 1mS period. Technical sales demos often go along the line of - yes you can do that, the drive should handle it fine....... oh crap :-)"
The above quote is from Andy Norrie, Technical Director - Quarch Technology - in an email to me today (January 27, 2016) - continuing a conversation started 3 years earlier about problems in SSDs due to untested power loss vulnerabilities.

... Test Equipment
testing SSDs
Andy's company designs intelligent power rail exerciser test systems for SSDs which can help designers verify imunity from, or sensitivity to, what-if? power rail disturbance vulnerabilities which are caused by scenarios like hot plug spikes, power up-down sensitivity, noisy generators etc.

Quarch announced recently it is becoming better known by SSD reviewers and Andy said - "last month we put around 75 test units into a single lab of a major SSD company."

...Later:- More detail on the exact nature of the 1mS blip test emerged from Michael Dearman, Founder of Quarch Tech who (after seeing this post) said this...

"Hi All, I have broken several drives in customer demos with the 1mS test, the key factor is that in this test we don't just stop supplying power and let the rail float (like a disconnection), we pull the rail hard down to ground (as would happen with a power supply crowbar). In this instance the drive should isolate itself from the host power supply to preserve its internal charge and complete its power down, but doesn't always manage it!"

On seeing that - Sudhir Brahma Principal Engineer at Dell said:- "Usually these glitches result in data corruption....I will be surprised if they kill the ssd. I was working on one such issue- traced it down to a firmware area (a bug) where a glitch could potentially cause loss of data in flight......u need to write intrusive code for that....true it is tough Are u saying that by doing those glitches, u actually stoned the drive? We built such glitch generators and ran them on the ssds, but never had a stoned SSD."

Michael Dearman said - "yes, we have had production drives go completely dead."

There were other interesting comments re the above post from people who have also used Quarch Tech's SSD testers - which you can see via my linkedin.

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100 million cycle flash and
new memory tiers will be among topics at ISSCC
DIMM wars
DIMM wars
editor:- January 14, 2016 - ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference) will start January 31 (in San Francisco, cost $1,030 or less for IEEE members) so I looked at their program (pdf) to see papers relevant to SSDs. Among other things:-
  • Basics of Memory Tiers in Compute Systems and a server TCO model - by Rob Sprinkle Technical Lead - Platforms Advanced Technology Team - Google
  • Rethinking Memory Architecture - by Dean Klein VP Memory System Development - Micron
SSD myths - write endurance
  • 256Gb 3b/Cell V-NAND Flash Memory with 48 Stacked Word Line Layers by a team from Samsung
  • A 90nm Embedded 1T-MONOS Flash Macro for Automotive Applications with 0.07mJ/8kB Rewrite Energy and Endurance over 100 million cycles by a team from Renesas

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déja viewing SSD happy new year 2016...

why does that news story sound uncannily familiar?
Editor:- January 4, 2016 - There was a lot of speculation about what changes we'd see in the SSD market in 2016. Now we're going to find out which ones were correct.

Here below are some of the past long range predictions for 2016 reported from the history archives.
  • 2010 article - We'll see a 2U petabyte SSD in 2016. And due to lower operating costs SSDs will replace HDDs in over 50% of new enterprise systems.
  • 2011 - article - The range of SSD latencies in the pure SSD datacenter of the future will vary by more than 1,000 to 1. (Context was to explain the raw reasons for segmentation by latency and application role.)
  • 2012 - article - Users will steer towards no more than 7 standard enterprise SSD product types.
  • 2013 - news - iSuppli said it anticipates that in 2016 - SSD shipment volume could be 239 million units.
  • 2015 - article - I think that hovering in the background and influencing many seemingly incomprehensible product changes in 2016 will be the apparently conflicting tensions between 2 primary SSD forces:- an urge towards greater standardization, and at the same time an urge towards greater customization.

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Januaries of yore in SSD market history
1 year ago - January 2015 - Tezzaron said it would use Rambus's ReRAM technology in production SSDs in 2016.

3 years ago - January 2013 - BiTMICRO launched a marketing program to license its Talino SSD controller.

4 years ago - January 2012 - Fusion-io exceeded 1 billion IOPS (64 byte data packets) in a demonstration of its latency reducing Auto Commit Memory (ACM) extension.

5 years ago - January 2011 - SandForce disclosed that their SSD controllers did real-time compression and dedupe inside the chip as part of their housekeeping routines.

7 years ago - January 2009 - pureSilicon said it was sampling the highest density 2.5" SSD - with 1TB (uncompressed) capacity in a 9.5mm high form factor.

8 years ago - January 2008 - Nanochip (in a funding press release) claimed its MEMS storage chips would deliver lower cost than flash within 2 years.

13 years ago - January 2003 - M-Systems announced general availability of a 3.5" Ultra Wide SCSI SSD with 35GB capacity aimed at the military and aerospace markets.

What does efficient SSD technology look like? - and why does it matter?
Efficiency as internecine SSD competitive advantage

the DWPD resource page

memory channel SSDs decline in reader priorities
Editor:- January 4, 2016 - PCIe SSDs remained at the forefront of interface types and form factors researched by the readers of in December - as you can see in the archived list of Top SSD articles seen by readers .

That's the 6th year in a row that PCIe SSDs have held this lead in reader fascination.

But the topic of memory channel SSDs (which for 13 months had been close behind in search popularity) has crashed down to its lowest level ever.

This may be partly due to this application segment having recently become very much less clear than it appeared to be (upto about 5 months ago) as the idea sinks in that many new vendors have announced their intentions to offer products for the DIMM slot accelerator space and they're offering more than 3 distinctly different combinations of memory technologies to get there.

The illusion of a single dominant supplier was a simplifying assumption which boosted the popularity of the memory channel SSDs idea.

Fragmentation within the DIMM big memory / storage market is the new reality. ...see the popular articles list
M.2 SSDs ..
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
PCIe SSDs ..
military storage directory and news
military SSDs ..

SSD news - January 2016

using M.2 in server slots - article by Liqid

Editor:- January 30, 2016 - An article on the evolution of SSD form factors with reference to M.2 (pdf) - by Liqid - discusses how M.2 SSDs can be used in enterprise PCIe SSD environments which don't have native M.2 PCIe slots - by using add in carrier cards.

evolution of form factors

The image above (from Liqid's article) shows the evolution of SSD and HDD form factors in progressively smaller form factors from 1989 (5¼") to M.2 in 2014.

Although to be fair to the hard drive market the image doesn't show the smallest hard drives - such as the 0.85" hard drive from Toshiba (in January 2004) and 1" hard drive from Cornice (in August 2006).

The 1" HDD market didn't last long.

It was the first hard drive extinction event caused by adoption of flash SSDs. the article (pdf)

Pivot3 acquires NexGen

Editor:- January 27, 2016 - NexGen Storage announced today it has agreed to be acquired by Pivot3.

it's not really RAID
Editor's comments:- The last time I wrote about Pivot3 was 7 years ago. I had a good feeling about their big controller architecture thinking which was being applied to hard drive arrays but I viewed it more as a valuable efficiency boost to buy breathing space for the last gasp years of enterprise HDD rather than the new direction I was focused on - which was heading towards the solid state storage datacenter. And so - from my point of view - I had nothing more to say.

On the other hand we're heard about NexGen many times in recent years.

Combining the software and architecture from these 2 companies could produce a platform with characteristics comparable to the best upwardly stretched efforts of much better known competitors if Pivot3 and NexGen can draw the integration boundaries in the right places (and get it done quickly enough).

SanDisk's revenue - consumer bad, enterprise better

Editor:- January 27, 2016 - SanDisk today announced declining revenues for its 4th quarter and financial year ended January 3, 2016.

Specifically - fourth quarter revenue of $1.54 billion decreased 11% on a year-over-year basis and increased 6% sequentially. Annual revenue for 2015 was $5.56 billion, a decrease of 16%.

In this quarter SanDisk said its enterprise revenue grew 29% sequentially and its Fusion-io based PCIe solutions revenue reached a "post-acquisition record".

The revenue mix numbers (by market segment) for the year can be seen here.

Plexistor releases its Software Defined Memory

Editor:- January 26, 2016 - Plexistor today announced the availability of its Software Defined Memory (SDM) architecture (currently for Linux) for both on-premise and cloud-based deployment on EC2 for AWS.

Plexistor's SDM supports both traditional enterprise applications (e.g. MySQL) and next-generation applications, such as in-memory databases, NoSQL, big data analytics, and complex event processing that challenge traditional compute and storage resources.

image from SDM presentation

Editor's comments:- the basic idea behind Plexistor's software is that it's an "efficient" platform for big memory intensive implementations and can deliver the kind of fast performance and low latency you'd expect from emerging DIMM wars products (also likes NVMe SSDs) while simplifying in-memory applications infrastructure complexity.

Plexistor has a presentation (ppt) which outlines the launch product environment and gives indicative benchmarks.

As I've said before - there are, and will be, many software contenders for this market space (rethinking enterprise RAM).

And just as we saw 5 to 7 years ago in the auto-caching / tiering market explosion ignited by PCIe SSDs and to a lesser extent by SATA / SAS drives - we can anticipate a new spate of acquisitions, funding, adoption and other outcomes for the companies which appear to be at the forefront of this SDM trend.

how fast is fast erase?

Editor:- January 26, 2016 - When it comes to SSD security - how fast is fast erase?

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articles
Fast Purge SSDs
Over the years I've reported many examples of this (erase) and also other methods of data destruction the rule of thumb has been:- the bigger the capacity of the drive - the more time in seconds it takes (and more electrical energy too).

A press release today from Foremay suggests a fast and scalable sanitization route may come from what they call "crypto erase" - which renders all data scrambled, scattered and useless.

It's fast. Takes only a second to complete the crypto erase of a Foremay SED SSD with capacity of up to 20TB.

This erase can be triggered by a command or a user presettable threshold of failed access attempts.

Commenting on the benefits of intrinsic hardware encryption instead of relying on software and aside from the obvious performance - Foremay says hardware encryption is far more secure because software can be corrupted...

"Information security on SSD drives has become increasingly important to all users, particularly in government, defense, financial and medical industries," said Jack Winters, Foremay's CTO and cofounder.

Editor's comments:- The effect - I guess - is a bit like the accidental predicament of needing data recovery for a damaged and unsupported encrypted SSD. But a deliberate erase like this will be more systematic and probably doesn't have a single mode recovery lever.

EZchip's acquisition by Mellanox cleared to close

SSD processors
CPUs in SSDs
Editor:- January 19, 2016 - After various delays and interventions it was confirmed today that the shareholders of EZchip Semiconductor have approved the merger deal with Mellanox announced last September which valued EZchip at $800 million.

See also:- SSD glue chips

SSD Bookmarks - from Cactus Technologies

Editor:- January 20, 2016 - on the home page of today you can see the start of a new educational series - the SSD Bookmarks ver 2.0 - which includes a set of SSD reading and viewing links suggested by Steve Larrivee, VP Sales & Marketing at Cactus.

Cactus operates in the industrial SSD market and so the suggestions are appropriate for the kind of customers they see.

During the next 2 years the series will include contributions from new and old SSD ecosystems companies in every significant part of the market. ...take a look at the links

Avere bridges NASA to the cloud
cloud storage news, vendors, articles  and directory - click here

Editor:- January 19, 2016 - NASA has selected Avere Systems to help consolidate legacy storage and migrate research datasets created at the Ames Research Center over to the Amazon's AWS - it was announced today.

Avere says that cloud related latencies will be mitigated by its FlashCloud (SSD ASAP) architecture.

See also:- "NASA" - mentioned in storage history

Microsemi completes acquisition of PMC-Sierra

pcie  SSDs - click to read article
Editor:- January 15, 2016 - Microsemi announced it has completed the acquisition of PMC-Sierra for $2.5 billion.

Editor's comments:- this changes the way you have to think about Microsemi's SSD business - as PMC brings with it significant controllers and products in the NVMe PCIe SSD space.

We've seen in the past 8 years or so what these technologies have enabled in the cloud and the enterprise.

When these technologies are directed to markets closer to Microsemi's traditional customer base (military and space systems) it's not hard to think of applications which will benefit - such as mobile datacenters, satellite ground stations and faster SSDs in airborne and space vehicles.

Systems designers in these markets can now anticipate more predictability of supply for PCIe and NVMe SSD technologies than would have been possible given the supplier churn which has characterized the enterprise SSD market.

Virtium introduces low cost 7 DWPD industrial SSD family

disk writes per day in enterprise SSDs
DWPD examples
editor:- January 12, 2016 - Virtium today announced a new range of industrial SATA MLC SSDs in its rugged StorFly product line.

The new XE class iMLC models (available in the following form factors M.2, CFast, Mini Card, mSATA, SlimSATA, 1.8" and 2.5") all support 7 DWPD for 5 years at a cost which is described as "only a marginal price premium over CE Class SSDs".

image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage
VCs in SSDs
more funding and a new CEO for Diablo

editor:- January 12, 2016 - Diablo Technologies today announced it has secured an additional $19 million in Series C funding - which will be used to further accelerate customer deployments via expansion of sales, applications support and R&D.

In addition, the company announced that industry veteran Mark Stibitz will serve as the company's Chairman and CEO. He brings extensive business management, global market, and product development experience from across start-up and public companies including Anobit, Elliptic Technologies, PMC-Sierra, Agere Systems and Lucent/AT&T-Microelectronics.

Diablo's co-founder and previous CEO, Riccardo Badalone, has been appointed the technology-centric and customer-facing role of Chief Product Officer.

Editor's comments:- Diablo needed a corporate adrenaline shot.

While the company last year had accustomed its pace to the slow lane timetable of judges and courts - competitors from many different quarters fired up their own alternative smoke and mirrors DIMM war flags of convenience. This has diverted attention away from Diablo which no longer has the sheen and lure of first mover advantage.

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

editor:- January 7, 2016 - today published the new 34th quarterly edition of the Top SSD Companies.

There's a new #1 - SanDisk.

2nd fastest climber was EMC.

And best ever rank (so far) for Kaminario. the article

image shows mouse building storage - click to see industrial SSDs article
industrial SSDs
upcoming - Embedded World - Germany

Editor:- January 6, 2016 - next month Embedded World - a trade show in Nuremberg, Germany - will include products from variousindustrial SSD companies, including:- ADATA, ACPI Digital, Apacer, Biwin, Cactus Technologies, Everspin Technologies, Greenliant, Hyperstone, Innodisk, Micron, Microsemi, Silicon Motion, Solidata, Swissbit, Toshiba and Transcend.

consumer SSDs guide
consumer SSDs
consumer SSD awards at Storage Visions

Editor:- January 6, 2016 - Marvell and Samsung were among the visionary product award recipients at the 2016 Storage Visions Conference yesterday for consumer related NVMe value SSD controllers and SSDs respectively.

M.2 SSDs
new TB PCIe SSD on M.2 from OCZ

Editor:- January 5, 2016 - OCZ says it will show new NVMe PCIe SSDs with 1TB capacity and up to 2.4GB/s of bandwidth on a single M.2 module at CES this week.

Marvell is first to ship Host Memory Buffer feature in NVMe SSD controller

SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers
Editor:- January 5, 2016 - Marvell today announced expansion of its NVMe SSD controller technology to support Host Memory Buffer (HMB), an NVMe revision 1.2 feature enabling DRAM-less (skinny) flash SSDs to use host memory and achieve performance comparable to SSD designs with regular embedded DRAM but at much lower cost and power consumption.
What happened before?
SSD news page image - click to  enlarge
seeking the inner SSD.

Seagate Nytro PCIe SSD
PCIe SSDs for a wide range of deployments
Nytro flash accelerator cards
from Seagate

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

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Although Diablo was the first to ship high capacity products in in the DIMM SSD / SCM (storage class memory) accelerator market - delays due to legal wranglings delayed adoption by over a year - which enabled competitors to grab attention for "soon to be" similar alternatives.

By the close of 2015 - 8 more companies had announced significant product plans in this market based on a variety of conventional and unconventional memory technologies.


where's that SSD blog-saw?

if you could slash the number of link posts you read about SSDs would it be a good thing?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - January 26, 2016

The home page looked different this week because I was booting up a new series called the the SSD Bookmarks which will include suggested reading from all sizes of companies in the SSD ecosystem.

The series overview will give you an idea of why I thought it necessary to replay a 2009 publishing idea which I thought had become redundant by 2011 due to the volume of other SSD market voices.

But the hope that social media would assist understanding a complex market like SSDs was missplaced.

Instead twitter, linkedin and vendor micro blog sites have been swamped by so much frenzied and trivial SSD content that I have downgraded most of them to junk / spam status.

This is similar to what happened in earlier times to PR feeds and email newsletters.

While it's true there is good SSD stuff in all those noisy places - the downside is that just as you can extract gold from seawater you've got to work too hard to get sustainable value from doing it.

By asking people in SSD companies to suggest no more than 3 links to help people understand how they see the market - and asking what they would recommend new customers to read - I hope to build up a useful set of resources - which will complement the other SSD content you see here and elsewhere.

It's harder than you might think to distill everything down to such a small set of links. Especially as I impose rules on how many of them can simply be about the company providing the suggestions.

And another rule is they can't recommend as you already know it.

And what's the inducement / bribe I offer?

I promise to give good visibility to the series.

What's in it for me?

It will free up more time for me to work on other content.

What's in it for you?

Over the expected run of the series (2016/17) you'll get to see a few important things which otherwise you (and I) might otherwise have missed.

And it will help us understand the different ways in which vendors themselves see the market.

the top SSD articles on - in January 2016
  1. home page - unlike many other sites - our home page is also the place where many new SSD articles begin.
  2. SSD news - gives you a real-time view of the whole SSD market from chips to cabinets.
  3. the Top SSD Companies - ranked by search volume. This quarterly series (now in its 9th year) has proved to be a reliable advance predictor of important market changes.
  4. What happened in the SSD market in 2015? - the big ideas which emerged and predictions for 2016.
  5. SSD endurance - this is the "forever war" in the flash SSD market - managing flash endurance.
  6. SSD market history - If you're new to the market it provides a clue to how much things have changed - and how fast (or how slowly).
  7. SSD controllers & IP - this is a directory of merchant market SSD controller chip technology providers.
  8. PCIe SSDs - lists oems who market PCIe SSDs, and news and market commentary.
  9. what's the state of DWPD? - endurance in industry leading enterprise SSDs
  10. Surviving SSD sudden power loss - this article surveys SSD power down management across all SSD architectures.
  11. military SSDs - news and directory about defence related SSDs and storage.
  12. the Fastest SSDs - includes form factors from M.2 upto rackmount arrays.
  13. SAS SSDs - includes a timeline of the SAS SSD market - and lists significant vendors.
  14. Popular SSD articles on - this is the article you're seeing now.
  15. VCs in SSDs and storage - news and articles related to investing in SSD companies.
  16. 1.0" SSDs and BGA SSDs aka SSDs on a chip.
  17. RAM SSDs versus flash SSDs? - this is legacy article (originally published 2007) when flash SSDs were seriously displacing RAM SSDs as enterprise apps accelerators. But this article also includes forward looking links to the situation today in which RAM sockets are being populated by other types of memories.
  18. RAM SSDs - articles and news. RAM used to be a component. Now RAM is whatever the software is happy to greet by that name (including big data RAM fabrics).
  19. 3.5" SSDs - vendors and product examples from history.
  20. industrial SSDs - articles and directory of vendors.
  21. SSD software - news and articles related to enterprise SSD software.
  22. hard drives - spinning down to HDD's retirement.
  23. SSD ASAPs - auto-tiering, auto-caching SSD accelerator appliances, hybrid arrays and software.
  24. flash wars in the enterprise - summarizes the key technology changes in the enterprise flash SSD market from SLC, MLC, eMLC, TLC, pSLC, XLC etc during the past 10 years.
  25. hybrid SSDs - market perspective
  26. flash and other nv memory - overview, news and articles.
  27. SSD jargon - Little words have big meanings.
  28. storage history - this timeline based overview is the archived news from which leads to thousands of stories about SSDs and other types of storage.
  29. SSD Security - news and articles related to security in SSDs and related systems.
  30. 2.5" SSDs - overview
  31. rackmount SSDs - news and articles with special relevance to the rackmount SSD market.
  32. how fast can your SSD run backwards? - 11 Key Symmetries in SSD design - what they are and why you need to know.
  33. Data Recovery for flash SSDs - articles and market development timeline.
  34. 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs - market guide on
  35. SSD Pricing - where does all the money go? - Also includes historic SSD price data.
  36. this way to the Petabyte SSD - Timeline and analysis of the bulk storage SSD market.
  37. market research - directory and news related to selected storage and SSD market research
  38. 1.8" SSDs - list of vendors. (also includes MO-297 slim and mSATA)
  39. SSD market analysts this filtered list is a recommended resource for all those people who need paid-for custom reports and detailed SSD market help.
  40. Memory Channel SSDs - news and articles about low latency flash DIMM SSDs
  41. RAM in an SSD context - RAM isn't what it used to be.
  42. Just a few SSD videos - to help you understand solid state storage trends
  43. what's the big picture message re SSDs? - what to tell your VC, lawyer, and non technical friends who don't work in the computer industry.
  44. Hybrid Storage Drives - articles and market timeline
  45. Adaptive flash care management IP (including DSP) for SSDs - what is it? and who does it?
  46. the SSD Bookmarks - new series overview
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