| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
|after AFAs -
examples in all markets
a winter's tale
of SSD market influences
changes in the forever war
hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
where are we
heading with memory intensive systems?
CPUs for use in SSDs in the Post Modernist Era
|"Re the nand
shortages... I think it's probably more challenging for the technology industry
to deal with the shortages than it is maybe beneficial for HDDs because of some
comparison on say some 500GB drive.... It's not easy to say if it's good or
bad... We've always said it's a better world if there's a lot of nand
because that means people have more devices in their hands and they're creating
Chairman and CEO - Seagate
in Q3 FY17
conference call - April 26, 2017.|
Editor's comments:- other
interesting things which Seagate mentioned in this conference call...
- the company thinks that only 10% of its current HDD portfolio is feasibly
replaceable by flash.
That's because the company has chosen to engage
in the HDD market with higher capacity hard drives, and has for years been
cultivating applications such as video surveillance (which don't need high
- Seagate's flash and cloud systems business grew sales 19% yoy.
company's assessment is that its SSD sales could have been maybe upto $50
million higher had it not been for shortages of memory.
Rambus to coach faster DRAM
|Editor:- April 20, 2017 - Back in the early 1990s
it was not uncommon to hear about specialist server companies which were using
peltier effect heat sinks to refrigerate the fastest workstation processors so
that they could be run at higher clock speeds. But this kind of extreme
approach to server acceleration only provided short term competitive gains in a
single dimension. |
One of the biggest bottlenecks in the past decade
has been RAM architecture and DRAM implementation itself. (You can read more
articles about the background to this on the
DRAM resource page here on
A new angle on extending the performance of DRAM
recently by Rambus
and Microsoft who are collaborating on the design of prototype super cooled
DRAM systems to explore avenues of improvement in latency and density due to
physics effects below -180 C.
A new article -
Heat Up With Cold DRAM - by Junko Yoshida
, Chief International Correspondent - EE Times - discusses these plan in
In the article - Craig Hampel,
chief scientist at Rambus, told EE Times that "Microsoft isnt alone...
heavy data center users like Google, Facebook and Amazon are all in search of
new memory architecture. Indeed, these tech giants who have primarily grown
their business via their technological prowess in software development are now
finding the future of their business growth severely constrained by hardware
advancements." ...read the article
comments:- At room temperature the main problem in fast DRAM systems is
that the energy required for refresh cooks the chips which means cells lose
charge faster which creates data integrity risks which in turn needs more
This is a limiting design factor.
means that even if you have a miraculous packaging technique which can sandwich
more chips into a box - DRAM loses out to nvm technologies which don't
require refresh - when the scale of the installed capacity (and watts) in the
box is high.
Because if you can't fit enough RAM into the same single
box then the memory system accrues a box-hopping fabric-latency penalty which
outweighs the benefits of the faster raw memory chip access times inside the
If you freeze DRAM then the refresh cycle can be
extended (which means you can pack more capacity in a box) but also the native
transit time for data in the copper interconnects and inside the silicon gets
Although Rambus and Microsoft are pitching this a
progressive research exercise I don't think that it will provide a general
solution for data intensive factories.
While it's a good thing for
researchers to play around and explore the limits of what can be done with all
kinds of memory devices - I think that the answer to greater performance lies in
new architectures rather than freezing old ones.
|How does the memory famine
impact industrial SSD service values? |
|Editor:- April 25, 2017 - 17 years ago I wrote
a guide -
Why I won't publish your
press release? - the first of which still applies today - it's not
The context which brought it to mind was a
release earlier this month from Virtium
saying it was now offering 2TB (MLC) and 1TB (iMLC) in its 2.5" industrial
SATA SSD range.
That kind of capacity isn't news - as we reported the
first rugged TB 2.5" SSD sampling on this page more than 8 years ago -
in January 2009.
(And competitors in the industrial military market have been shipping 8TB 2.5"
drives since 2016.)
Is there anything else you can tell me? I asked.
(Like me - readers need to have a genuine reason to be interested.)
asked about pricing - but the company said there are too many options and didn't
want to be drawn on that. I learned the SLC version is rated at 30
DWPD. But that's not a
news story either.
Around about this time I was thinking about the
impacts of the flash memory famine on different types of companies in the SSD
supply chain. (Whether it's a good thing or bad thing - depends which company
In the 1970s and 80s chip supply volatility due to
semiconductor company book to bill ratios thrashing about all all over the place
was a constant reality of being in the electronics business. In recent years
we had the illusion that the
bust days of memory were over - due to better business management and
better prediction systems. So when memory prices increased and supply dates went
into "unknown" that was a shock to many people.
of supply and pricing expectations are just as important for industrial
equipment makers as avoiding
EOL shock and having
Tactical stories about memory supply and
logistics had come up in some recent conversations I had with industrial SSD
Elektronik in Poland and
Longsys in China.
I asked this...
Does Virtium (which is headquartered in the USA) get
involved in giving price projection promises to its contract system customers?
Phillips, VP of marketing - Virtium told me ""While we can't
'promise' specific pricing into future quarters, we can provide supply-chain and
associated pricing visibility to strategic customers up to one to two quarters
out, based on NAND flash allocations, associated pricing and cost averaging of
This at least helps customers plan. In other words, even
though we are direct with suppliers, it does not completely insulate us from
cost increases should suppliers decide to raise prices, but we can somewhat
mitigate pricing volatility like what is found in the distribution channel
There you go. Is that more interesting than just
another 2.5" TB SSD story? I hope so.
the engineering temperature in Toshiba's never never land|
|Editor:- April 30, 2017 - Speculation about who
might become next owner of Toshiba's
SSD and memory business continues... As I told you earlier this year I didn't
expect this to be a short story, due to monopoly and other strategic interests.
The latest chapter in this flash novella comes as the number of
buccaneers circling around the foundering wreck of Toshiba's corporate galleon
and hoping to pluck the semiconductor gold IP fabs from its belly has reduced
A new blog -
Muddy Toshiba Bidding by Junko Yoshida
, Chief International Correspondent - EE Times - takes an engineering view
of who would be the best or worst of the bidders and asks...
Toshiba's semiconductor engineers angry? Are they discouraged?" ...read
Toshiba's memory business - collected news coverage
SMART HRS announces 8TB 2.5" SATA SSDs for aerospace roles
April 25, 2017 - SMART
High Reliability Solutions today
higher capacity models in its HRS-M1HC family of aerospace targeted 2.5"
SATA MLC SSDs.
- 8TB capacity in 9.5 mm height
- 1, 2 and 4TB drives in 7.0 mm
HRS-M1HC extends our M-Series product line giving our customers in the military
and industrial markets a cost effective, high-density option for specialized
applications." said Michael Guzzo,
GM of SMART HRS. "The M1HC is one of the most comprehensive, security-laden
SSDs available from SMART HRS. The fact that we provide it in an MLC based drive
gives customers additional flexibility when choosing a solution that best fits
- operates at altitudes of up to 100,000 ft
- designed to withstand shock and vibration up to 1000g
- R/W speeds are 520GB/s and 500MB/s respectively
Editor's comments:- This family is also
supported by an impressive arsenal of triggerable military erase sequences as
see Swissbit in Vegas
Editor:- April 25, 2017 - When
you've got the name of a country in the name of your company does that set
expectations about where your natural markets are?
So you might think
is stuck in Europe - but the company (which offers COTS and custom memory
systems) has been selling SSDs into North America for over 6 years.
you haven't seen them yet - Swissbit says it will showcase its high-end
memory and storage products for industrial and NetCom applications at the
EDS Summit in Las Vegas next month.
might not see many other SSD companies there though. I had a quick glance
through the 200+ list of associated companies at this event and could only
recognize about 3 others.
Soros acquires Violin
Editor:- April 24, 2017 - Violin Memory - which
had gone into Chaper 11 in
December 2016 -
it has been acquired by Quantum Partners LP ("Soros"), a private
investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management LLC ("SFM").
of Violin's customers was quoted as saying "Throughout the reorganization
process, Violin continued its enterprise-level customer support..."
now Cinderella industrial systems with "no-CPU"
budgets and light wattage footprints can go to the NVMe speed-dating ball
April 19, 2017 - A dilemma for designers of embedded systems which require high
SSD performance is how can you get the benefits of enterprise class NVMe SSDs
for simple applications - which integrate video for example - without at the
same time escalating the wattage footprint of the entire attached micro server?
new paper published today by IP-Maker -
server-class storage in embedded applications (pdf) discusses the problem
and how their new FPGA based IP enables any NVMe PCIe SSD to be used in
embedded systems to provide sub-microsecond latency using "20x better power
efficiency, and 20x lower cost compared to a CPU-based system."
company says the NVMe host IP - which is now available - can be used in an FPGA
connected between the PCIe root port and the cache memory, internal SRAM or
external DRAM. It fully controls the NVMe protocol by setting and managing the
NVMe commands. No CPU is required. It supports PCIe gen 3 x 8 interface.
Michael Guyard, Marketing
Director said that - among other things - applications include:-
- military recorders
- portable medical imaging
- mobile vision products - in robots and drones
Editor's comments:- Now Cinderella
embedded systems with low cost budgets and low wattage footprints can go to the
enterprise NVMe performance ball. The new magic - in the form of the FPGA IP
released today by IP Maker - has the potential to transform the demographics
and class of SSDs seen in future industrial systems.
CPUs for use with SSDs, SSD
low yield at sub 20nm is root of DDR4 shortage says DRAMeXchange
April 14, 2017 - Quality problems in
DRAMs which have been
sampling this year at the new sub 20nm generation from major suppliers is at
the heart of the issues discussed in a new -
view blog by DRAMeXchange - which concludes that the contract prrice
of 4GB DDR4 DRAM modules will rise 12.5% entering 2Q17.
research director of DRAMeXchange said - "PC-OEMs that have been
negotiating their second-quarter memory contracts initially expected the market
supply to expand because Samsung
and Micron have
begun to produce on the 18nm and the 17nm processes, respectively. However both
Samsung and Micron have encountered setbacks related to sampling and yield, so
the supply situation remains tight..." ...read the
inside SSD pricing,
storage market research
2017 will be crossover revenue year for DDR4 says IC Insights
April 13, 2017 - A new
about the DRAM market by
- DDR4 prices in 2016 fell to nearly the same ASP as DDR3 DRAMsAs a result,
IC Insights expects DDR4 to become the dominant DRAM generation in 2017 with 58%
market share versus 39% for DDR3.
- Following a year of extraordinary gains in pricing, a boost to DRAM supply
in the second half of 2017 could lead to reduced ASPs and the inevitable start
of a cyclical slowdown in the DRAM market.
the HDD software exorcism - a blog from Pure Storage
April 12, 2017 - In various articles in the past I have written about the
potential upside for utilization and performance in enterprise SSD systems
which would be enabled by new architecture introduced withing new software.
Among these was my (2013) blog - which looked at utilization and performance
multipliers from the
software event horizon"
I was reminded of those by seeing a
blog from Pure
Enabling Software and Flash to Speak which sets the scene for many
of the SSD software improvements we have seen in recent years like this...
AFA likely has a little secret it doesn't like to admit there's still a
lot of disk inside! Smart array software is forced to talk to flash by speaking
disk protocols like SCSI over disk interfaces like SAS and SATA and when it
finally talks to the flash it has to pretend the flash is a hard drive and
circumnavigate layers of complex software inside the SSD. Why?!!?!"
says that their DirectFlash architecture was born from the ambition of
avoiding such torture. ...read
Tegile gets another $33 million funding
April 11, 2017 - Tegile
$33 million in additional funding which was led by Western Digital and
current investors such as Meritech Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, and
Cross Creek Capital. With this financing, Tegile has raised a total of $178
million to date.
See also:- rackmount SSDs,
hybrid storage arrays,
VCs in SSDs
Tachyum promises 10x faster CPUs soon
7, 2017 - I was fortunate enough to have had close relationships with
technologists and marketers of high end server CPUs in the 1990s who explained
to me in detail the peformance limitations of CPU clock speeds and memories
which would prevent CPUs getting much faster beyond the year 2000 due to
physics and the lost latency due to the coherency of signals when they left
silicon and hit copper pads.
That was one of the triggers which made
me reconsider the significance of the earlier CPU-SSD equivalence and
acceleration work I had stumbled across in my work in the late 1980s and write
about it in these pages when I explained (in 2003) why I thought the enterprise
SSD market (which at that time was worth only tens of millions of dollars) had
the potential to become a much bigger $10 billion market by looking at server
replacement costs and acceleration as the
proposition for market adoption and disregarding irrelevant concerns
about cost per gigabyte.
I was surprised these equivalencies weren't
more widely known. And that's why I recognized the significance of what the
pioneers of SSD accelerators on the SAN were doing in the early 2000s.
taken 17 years - but the clearest ever expression of the CPU GHz problem and why
server achitecture got stuck in that particular clock rut (for those of you
who don't have the semiconductor background) appears in a recent
release from Tachyum
which says (among other things)...
"The 10nm transistors in use
today are much faster than the wires that connect them. But virtually all major
processing chips were designed when just the opposite was true: transistors were
very slow compared to the wires that connected them. That design philosophy is
now baked into the industry and it is why PCs have been stuck at 3-4GHz for a
decade with "incremental model year improvements" becoming the norm.
Expecting processing chips designed for slow transistors and fast wires to still
be a competitive design when the wires are slow and the transistors are fast,
doesn't make sense."
The warm-up press release also says - "Tachyum
is set to deliver increases of more than 10x in processing performance
at fraction of the cost of any competing product. The company intends to release
a major announcement within the next month or two." ...read
Editor's comments:- Do I believe it's
Yes - by discarding 2D designs of CPUs and maybe adding
SSDera memory architecture in the CPU SoC. (I'm just guessing about these
solutions BTW.) But if anyone knows how - then I'm prepared to give cofounder
the benefit of the doubt for such ambitious claims.
Toshiba's storage sale - update from Tom Coughlin
April 4, 2017 - As previously reported Toshiba's memory and SSD
business will be spun off to generate cash to plug losses in its nuclear
generating business. A new article by Tom Coughlin,
President Coughlin Associates
Implications of Toshiba Memory Unit Sale - looks at the ramifications (no
pun intended) for the hard
drive market depending on which of the 10 or so potential bidders succeeds.
Among other things Tom says - "Selling the HDD unit along with
the flash unit could be one outcome... The end result could be very interesting
and create very strange bed-fellows." ...read
Walmart generates 2.5PB of analyzable data every hour
April 3, 2017 - Walmart's Data Café
is a private cloud which supports business decision makers in its 20,000
stores who can access over 200 streams of internal and external data, including
40 petabytes of recent transactional data, which can be modelled, manipulated
I learned the above stats in a new case study -
Data At Walmart: How 40+ Petabytes Improves Retail Decision-Making by
business author Bernard
Marr who tells us how teams from any part of the business are invited
to bring their problems to the analytics experts and then see a solution appear
before their eyes on the nerve centre's touch screen "smart boards".
|What happened before?
What happened after?
|12 years before in SSD news|
April 2005 -
Texas Memory Systems
(which made the world's fastest SSDs) offered the world's 1st performance
guarantees for enterprise solid state storage systems. |
said "if the RamSan
unit does not accelerate the software application performance to a level
acceptable to the customer, the RamSan unit may be returned within 30 days of
delivery and Texas Memory Systems will refund all related Texas Memory Systems
hardware charges, minus a 10% restocking fee."
- the next box|
| Throughout the
the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user
memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached
storage in the same data processing environment. |
new blog on StorageSearch.com
adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be
Like many of you - I've been thinking a lot about the
evolution of memory technologies and data architectures in the past year. I
wasn't sure when would be the best time to share my thoughts about this one.
But the timing seems right now. ...read the
there yet? |
|Editor:- April 7, 2017 - After more than 20 years
of writing guides to the SSD and memory systems market I admit in a new blog on
we there yet? - that when I come to think about it candidly the SSD
industry and my publishing output are both still very much "under
|RAM has changed from being
tied to a physical component to being a virtualized systems software idea - and
the concept of RAM even stretches to a multi-cabinet memory fabric. |
RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context|
|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
|The same memory block may
have different ECC codes wrapped around it at different times in its operating
life - depending how healthy it looks. And different ECC codes may be used
within the same memory chip at the same time.|
care management & DSP IP in SSDs|