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Seagate confirms $1.25 billion stake in consortium to acquire Toshiba Memory
Editor:- September 28, 2017 - Seagate today confirmed its participation in the consortium led by Bain Capital Private Equity that has entered into an agreement to acquire Toshiba Memory Corporation.

In the agreement, Seagate has committed to provide up to $1.25 billion in financing to support the acquisition, to be provided at closing, which is expected by March 2018. In addition, Seagate expects to enter into a long-term NAND supply agreement with Toshiba Memory that will provide continuity of raw NAND for Seagate's expanding SSD product portfolio.

Editor's comments:- Seagate's involvement in this acquisition was speculated in some earlier reports on other sites but is now confirmed.

Although Seagate is not the biggest supplier of finance in this deal it is the most interesting for me because its competitor Western Digital also has a different kind of stake in Toshiba Memory.

The inevitable conflicts of interest will require resolution agreements (or lawsuits) to determine how to compartmentalize and allocate some of the memory products - particularly those which involve SSD IP from SanDisk.

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"Recently DARPA come out with new initiative programs among which is:- 3D Monolithic System-on-a-Chip (3DSoC) - to develop 3D monolithic technology that will enable > 50X improvement in SoC digital performance at power.

At the upcoming IEEE S3S 2017 (October 16 to 19) - MonolithIC 3D Inc will present a monolithic 3D technology that is ready to be rapidly deployed using the current transistor process."
Zvi Or-Bach, CEO - MonolithIC 3D in his blog - DARPA calls for Monolithic 3D – 3DSoC Learn all about Monolithic 3D at IEEE S3S (September 19, 2017)

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"When Rob Commins, VP of marketing at Tegile looks into the crystal ball, he sees one large shared memory pool as opposed to a shared storage pool."
Above quote from the blog - How Will All-Flash Storage Look in 5 Years? - EnterpriseStorageForum.com (September 12, 2017)

Editor's comments:- The big tiered memory appliance having more capacity than today's AFAs was the home page blog on StorageSearch.com in April 2017 - see cloud adapted memory systems - "raw chip memory... how much as SSD? how much as memory?"

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What's the new business plan for Nimbus?

Does selling SAS SSD drives replace selling petabyte AFA systems?

How has Nimbus been affected by the memory shortages and higher memory prices?
sauce for the SSD box gander


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Micron sells Lexar to Longsys
Editor:- September 4, 2017 - Longsys (which already sells over 100 million flash-based products / year) recently announced it has acquired the Lexar trademark and branding rights from Micron.

"The Lexar brand has long been recognized as a leading brand for high-performance, high-reliability removable storage solutions for a wide variety of applications, such as the professional photography market."

"We are very honored to acquire the Lexar brand," said Huabo Cai, CEO of Longsys.

Editor's comments:- with the recent shortages in the memory market it's not worth Micron having any focus in the retail consumer market compared to other higher value opportunities like the cloud and enterprise.

Longsys is better placed to make the Lexar brand work in the current difficult market conditions because it's a specialist in this type of supply chain.

Lexar - history on Wikipedia
branding strategies in the SSD market
SSD company and IP acquisitions and reasons from 2000 to 2017

Later:- (Sep 18, 2017) - An article on DigiTimes clarified some of the future plans for Lexar quoting statements from Cai Huabo Chairman Longsys. Among other things Huabo indicated that Lexar will be positioned as a high end supplier, will diversify its chip base, include new high end executives who have been recently headhunted from leading SSD companies and will not overlap with Longsys's oem business.


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earlier in the SSD news archives
August 2017 Western Digital agreed to acquire Tegile which had pioneered innovative "utility" based customer pricing models in the hybrid storage array market.
July 2017 Viking shipped 50TB planar MLC 3.5" SAS SSDs based on a controller platform designed by rackmount SSD maker Nimbus.

Micron's Inotera fab scrapped 60,000 wafers - equivalent to 1 month of worldwide 3D nand flash wafer starts.
June 2017 Toshiba began sampling the world's first 64 layer QLC (x4) nand flash memory. The 768Gb chips were the highest density nvms available.
May 2017 Micron enters the rackmount SSD market.

Everspin's MRAM exits emerging status.
April 2017 IP-Maker released NVMe FPGA IP to enable use of enterprise performance SSDs in low wattage "no CPU" embedded systems.

Rambus said it was working with Microsoft 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.
March 2017 Excelero - emerged from stealth.

Everspin began sampling an NVMe PCIe SSD based on its ST-MRAM.

Intel began sampling an NVMe PCIe SSD based on Micron's 3DXpoint memory.
February 2017 Tachyum emerged from stealth mode
January 2017 Pure Storage said the "new stack" is becoming the standard thing.

Crossbar announced it was sampling 8Mb ReRAM based on 40nm CMOS friendly technology.
December 2016 Violin sought bankruptcy protection.

4Gb MRAM prototypes unveiled by SK Hynix and Toshiba
November 2016 Silicon Motion announced the "world's first merchant SD 5.1 controller solution."
October 2016 Rambus announced it was exploring the use of Xilinx FPGAs in its Smart Data Acceleration research program.
September 2016 Everspin filed its IPO to expand MRAM

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SSD news - September 2017

more pages like this? - archived storage news before and after
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TrendForce says nand flash shortages may end in 2018
Editor:- September 27, 2017 - After 6 consecutive quarters of shortages in the nand flash memory market TrendForce today said it expects "supply and demand will reach a balance in 2018, moving away from the undersupply situation of 2017."

TrendForce anticipates that seasonal effects may result in NAND temporarily swinging from undersupply to oversupply in Q1 2018. But says the overall market trend for the whole 2018 is toward a stable equilibrium of supply and demand. The global NAND Flash bit supply growth rate is currently projected at 42.9%, while the bit demand growth rate is projected at 37.7%.

Editor's comments:- In 2017 the market learned that all the past assumptions about how long the memory industry takes to stabilize yields for new devices (and how those projections compare to initial characterization phases) were wrong due to nth layer tax in high rise 3D. The memoryfication of computing (big memory as the new normal) is also creating entirely new use cases which create additional demands on chips in a parallel course to SSD but which are semi-independent of storage's migration towards more solid state. So there are more memory demand factors at work - not just more demand from previously well understood trends.

I explained why I think it's likely that 2018 will end with shortages too in my recent blog - miscellaneous consequences of the 2017 memory shortages.

See also:- other market research stories related to SSD


Toshiba says it will sell memory business to Bain led consortium

Editor:- September 20, 2017 - Toshiba today announced its long awaited decision about who it has chosen to sell its memory business to. It's a consortium led by Bain Capital using an acquisition cutout filter created for this purpose called K. K. Pangea. The transaction (worth about $18 billion) is "expected to close by the end of March 2018."

Editor's comments:- earlier reports which had speculated about the identity of members of the consortium named at various times Dell, Apple and Seagate.

Toshiba said in the above announcement "Western Digital has sought to prevent the sale of the interests of the joint parties (meaning Toshiba and WDC) to any 3rd party and Toshiba and WDC are currently engaged in litigation and arbitration."

An article on Bloomberg about the announced sale process says "The consortium members weren't named in Wednesday's statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange."

Seagate renews custom supply agreement with Baidu
Editor:- September 18, 2017 - Seagate - which has admitted being negatively impacted by the memory shortages of 2017 and which sells SAS SSDs through its memory partner Micron (although "the quantity is not huge" - according to a recent article on SeekingAlpha.com) and anyway this legacy SAS enterprise segment is under attack from new competitors using Nimbus's reference design platform - today announced a new strategic agreement with Baidu which renews and expands an earlier collaboration agreement announced 3 years ago.

Among other things Seagate says - "With regard to new products, Baidu will be at the forefront of Internet users in China implementing Seagate's new storage products, and also the 2 sides will jointly develop customized systems to meet Baidu business needs. In addition, the procurement model for both companies will be further upgraded to save costs for each side."

Editor's comments:- In an SSD predictions article (Dec 2015) I said...

"The urge towards greater customization will be driven by the need to improve the efficiency of SSDs (cost of raw materials and competitiveness) and also technical characteristics (performance, power consumption, reliability etc) which are optimized specifically for well defined application specific needs."

Fast forward to now - In the next few years (2018/19) storage users and suppliers need to make plans for a memory ecosystem in which the traditional assumptions about downward memory pricing and ample availability may no longer be valid. These trends will drive all data-factory industries to look at opportunities to increase efficiency which - at system scales - will benefit from (and necessitate) custom rather than standard design products.

See also:- the business of custom SSDs


CAEN launches high availability 2U FC AFA

Editor:- September 15, 2017 - CAEN Engineering today introduced the CAEN CEI-826-FXD - a 2U 10GbE / 16G FC AFA (with 26 native 12Gb SAS bays) for applications such as big data, HPC, Hadoop etc.

The CEI-826-FXD's dual-active controller architecture enables both controllers to concurrently provide storage services in real time. Active-Active architecture doubles the available host bandwidth and cache hit ratio, ensuring the greatest utilization of system resources and maximum throughput. If one controller fails, the other controller transparently takes over all storage services. In addition to storage services, management services can transparently pass to the secondary controller.

The CAEN array offers high availability with no single point of failure. All critical components are hot pluggable andengineered with full redundancy. Thanks to this robust design, this system can withstand multiple component failures and achieves 99.999% availability. The CAEN CEI-826-FXD solution supports RAID levels 0 ,1 ,0+1 ,3 ,5 ,6 ,10 ,30 ,50, 60, and N-way mirror.


hyperscale is nearly 1/4 of all enterprise storage revenue

Editor:- September 14, 2017 - A new report from IDC confirms the growing size of the enterprise storage systems market related to hyperscale datacenters. Sales by ODMs to the hyperscale segment grew 73.5% year over year to $2.5 billion in in the 2nd quarter 2017 to reach nearly a quarter of the entire $10.8 billion in all segments.

Editor's comments:- 5 years ago in my article - the big market impact of SSD dark matter - I wrote about the future importance of web scale and cloud companies to the development of the enterprise SSD market. These users have been leading the curve in mainstream storage and memory architecture adoption because they get immediate cost. benefits from efficiency oriented designs.

These changes in storage market segmentation have also encouraged new rackmount SSD vendors to nurture significant business ambitions with unbloated lean product catalogs while ignoring traditional (declining) legacy markets.


Mercury's 3D BuiltSECURE memory will take to the skies

Editor:- September 11, 2017 - Mercury Systems today announced it received a $8 million order from a leading defense prime contractor for BuiltSECURE high density secure memory devices manufactured at its DMEA-trusted facility in Phoenix, Ariz. The high-speed memory devices will be integrated into active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems deployed on an advanced airborne military platform.

BuiltSECURE high density secure memory devices use Mercury's 3D packaging technology to transform a 2D array of discrete memory devices into a single, vertically stacked, dense ball grid array (BGA) package. Delivering space savings up to 75%, the memory devices are also precision engineered to withstand the harshest of operating conditions encountered during military operations.

See also:- military SSDs, what's RAM really?


Series A funding for RISC CPUs in DRAM

Editor:- September 8, 2017 - UPMEM - a fabless semiconductor startup - today announced 3 million Euros series A funding for its Processing In-Memory technology.

This integrates user-API accessible RISC processors as SoCs in DRAM. The company has been reported in eeNews (Oct 2016) as saying...

"The fundamental benefit of processing-in-memory is the combination of DRAM and CPU. We attach 1 DPU per DRAM bank. It means 16 cores per 8Gbit DRAM chip. On a 16Gbyte DIMM, we deliver 256 cores, and 8 of them can be added to a standard CPU socket. We end up with a co-processing system of 2048 cores together with 128Gbytes of DRAM per socket."

The PIM chip, integrating UPMEM's proprietary RISC processors (DRAM Processing Units, DPUs) and main memory (DRAM), is the building block of the first efficient, scalable and programmable acceleration solution for big data applications. Associated with its Software Development Kit, the UPMEM PIM solution can accelerate data-intensive applications in the datacenter servers 20 times, with close to zero additional energy premium.

"We are no longer in an era were CPUs and other hardware getting continuously faster would mask the slow speed of inefficient software," said Reza Malekzadeh, General Partner at Partech Ventures (among the investors). "UPMEM's solution addresses the performance needs of modern scale-out applications while preserving datacenter and infrastructure hardware investments."

Editor's comments:- As a fan of ratios in assessing new technologies - on linkedin I said...

"A simple way to understand the kind of application opportunities and limits of Upmem's solution is to look at the ratio of CPU cores to GB of DRAM. That gives you the power envelope and tells you what problems it's best suited for. The articles linked on Upmem's web site are very informative as far as they go."

Upto this announcement the spectrum of in-situ SSD processing solutions in the market had ranged in latency and benefit terms from:-
  • adding user deployable API and RAM in the flash controller (NxGn - which exited stealth July 2014),
The memoryfication of the enterprise and the aspiration towards doing more within memory systems (which will lead to storage systems being an emulation in memory and the obsolescence of the AFA as we know it) is being driven by new storage applications for big apps (as described in a slides by Parallel Machines in February 2017 .

PS - "The first time I suggested to a processor design team that they should look at adding support for solid state storage in their new CPUs instead of just adding more cores was about 2000. I got the response at that time - what's an SSD? And nothing more came of the matter." - from the blog - optimizing CPUs for use with SSDs in the Post Modernist Era of SSD and Memory Systems


recent updates on Toshiba's forced memory business sale

Editor:- September 6, 2017 - here's a noise filtered reduced summary of recent news reports about the continuing saga of Toshiba's forced memory business sale.

Reuters (September 1, 2017) quoted extracts from a letter written by WDC's CEO to Toshiba - in August - which regrets the "significant ill will" felt by Toshiba caused by tensions between the 2 companies which have arisen as a result of the sales process.

Among other things WDC employees had been locked out of Toshiba plants and databases which had shared ownership in July according to a report by Silicon Valley Business Journal (July 19, 2017).

Coming up to date (September 6, 2017) Nikkei reported that WDC "has asked to buy some chip production capacity at fabrication facilities in Yokkaichi, Japan, in which it jointly invests with Toshiba" to guarantee its share of memory chips produced at the plant.

This nice legalistic distinction of owning machinery is described as a possible way to avoid delays in transferring funds to Toshiba which would be inevitable due to regulator scrutiny if WDC were to purchase the company.

A fascinating noisier picture of how WDC and Toshiba have been dancing around these issues in recent weeks can be seen in this new (September 5, 2017) timeline on SeekingAlpha - WDC and Toshiba - Why This Time is Different.
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If you're one of those who has suffered from the memory shortages it may seem unfair that despite their miscalculations and over optimimism the very companies which caused the shortages of memory and higher prices - the major manufacturers of nand flash and DRAM - have been among the greatest beneficiaries.
consequences of the 2017 memory shortages
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Targa Series 4 - 2.5 inch SCSI flash disk
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2.5" removable military SSDs
for airborne apps - GbE / SATA / USB
from Targa Systems
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"Productization of Gen-Z (a next generation uber PCIe memory fabric) is expected to happen in late 2019 and maybe early 2020."
Gen-Z Stitches a Memory Fabric - TheNextPlatform (September 5, 2017)

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"The unexpectedly higher price of DRAM and nand flash in the past several quarters due to demand and yield issues has been like manna from heaven to companies with alternative nvms.

The change in relativistic competitive landscape has had the same effect as if the alternative nvms could time travel 2 years into the future while nand and DRAM have stayed looped in Groundhog Day."
Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com commenting on - Making money is so DRAM easy for some memory-flingers - the Register (August 17, 2017)

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"Western Digitals Strength Revealed by Apples Tantrum"
headline of a blog on Barrons.com (September 11, 2017) reporting an analyst opinion from BTIG Research

Editor's comments:- In this context the rights to access memory supplies is like access to water rights in arid zones. I'm thinking - the Big Muddy in the Big Country (the western starring Gregory Peck).

See also:- salami slicing the memory delicay of Toshiba

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Are we there yet?
After more than 20 years of writing guides to the SSD and memory systems market I admit in a new blog on StorageSearch.com - Are 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 construction". ...read the article

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

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The industry will learn a lot about the "goodness" of new memory tiering products by stressing them in ways which the original designers never intended.
RAM disk emulations in "flash as RAM" solutions

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Despite the bewildering range of products in the market - the performance characteristics and limitations of ALL flash SSDs are determined by a small set of of architectural parameters.
understanding flash SSD performance limitations

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after AFAs? - the next box
Throughout the history of 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.

after AFAs - click to read rhe articleA new blog on StorageSearch.com - cloud adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be true.

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 article

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industrial mSATA SSD
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SSD jargon

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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.
what's RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context

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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.
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SSD news in Septembers of yore
  • September 2000 - M-Systems' Diskonchip SSDs appeared on Linux SBCs made by VMIC.
  • September 2005 - SimpleTech launched the world's first dual interface SSD.
  • September 2011 - Kaminario announced it was using Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs as a new option in its K2 rackmount SSD product line. Before that the K2 had been RAM only.
  • September 2013 - Micron began sampling the first implementation of its Hybrid Memory Cube - a DRAM architecture concept - which had been launched 2 years before.
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SSD controllers
Can you trust SSD market data?
what's RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context
Can you tell me the best way to get to SSD Street?
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