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SSD history
industrial SSDs - boring right?
after AFAs - what's the next box?
3D nand fab yield - the nth layer tax?
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
introducing Memory Defined Software
capacitor hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
miscellaneous consequences of the 2017 memory shortages
NVDIMM can be faster than you'd think
Editor:- February 16, 2018 - A new blog the NVDIMM Challenge by Adam Zagorski at Enmotus discusses (among other things) the performance difference between hybrid DIMMs (flash backed DRAM) and standard RAMDisk (which provides RAM SSD like functionality in most OSes using system RAM).

It's interesting to see this comparison because many years ago I had already come to the conclusion that NVDIMMs had effectively killed off the RAM SSD market (or that little part of it which had still survived in small niche spots beyond the reach of flash). But performance advantages of NVDIMMs can be much bigger than you might expect when you also take into account the overhead of data movement costs.

In his blog Adam says...

"Done properly, 4K block transfers to NVDIMM can be much faster than old-style RAMDisk. This involves superseding the industry standard memcopy() routine with a highly tuned tool that uses SIMD extended data instructions, for example. This can crank the memory-mapped copy operation up by as much as 1000X, making an overall NVDIMM version of RAMDisk a truly powerful tool. the article
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StorONE - is it the one?
Editor:-February 7, 2018 - StorONE - which emerged from stealth mode in October 2017 and is currently running an early adopter program for its TRU (Total Resource Utilization) storage software - recently announced details of its advisory board among whom are:-
  • John Thompson - who took over as Chairman of Microsoft from Bill Gates in 2014 after having served as an independent member of the board for 2 years. He also holds board memberships with Seagate Technology among others. He previously served as CEO for Symantec after a 28-year career with IBM. Thompson is also among the individual stakeholders making a personal investment in StorONE.
  • Ed Zander - former CEO and Chairman of Motorola, and well known for his contributions during the growth years of Sun Microsystems where at the height of the company's dominance in the server market he held the roles of COO and President.
StorONE says it invested a 6-year period of massive research and development, covered by more than 50 awarded and pending patents, prior to its first software release. StorONE hints that its legacy compatible but entirely new software stack significantly reduces the amount of hardware needed to achieve the performance and capacity results critical in the storage market.

Editor's comments:- I discussed the scale of inefficiencies (how much hardware it takes to implement reliable enterprise storage) and the scale of impact which software could have on this in my (2013) article - meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon. Upto that time the continental scale iceberg problem was being nibbled away in ice-cube portions by many different leading SSD companies - who typically tackled enough of the problem to help them reach their own tactical competitive improvements on a product by product, and incremental percentage points basis - enough to make successive arrays better than they had been before. But these software efforts were mostly being made within captive array vendors. It seemed like too big a challenge for any single software startup to take on - although there was an independently rooted (efficiency agnostic) pressure of thinking growing within the enterprise which I wrote about (2015) that one segment of user preferences (inclining towards commodity hardware) would head towards decoupling the storage software stack from the hardware.

Since then it has become clearer (due to the published results by pioneers who have been working to combine tiered memory, storage and application software that the limitations of latency are due to complex interactions and the sometimes unintended consequences of controller design efforts to guess what is the best thing to do next given the currently immediate data and the application and interface pipeline contexts. When those guesses go spectacularly wrong the consequences can be security holes in protected memory in processors or blue screen errors due to failed big memory. I called this science controllernomics - it's the modern art of optimizing blocks of data - because all data in fast data systems is hampered by the speed of light and the high random access costs associated with the physics which attaches to its storage and transit.

Interesting then that in an October 2017 press release - StorONE's Co-founder and CEO Gal Naor said this...

"Storage is a commodity. A block is a block. A file is a file. An object is an object. There are no significant differences in the SSDs or HDDs in all storage systems. Some are faster. Some are bigger. All are commodity. The final bottleneck has now become the storage software stack. It requires way too many hardware resources to deliver what applications and users require for performance, capacity and features. That incredible inefficiency makes the storage commodity overpriced per IOPS, throughput and capacity. This is the problem that StorONE eradicates."

On the face of it StorONE sounds like it's in tune with these once seemingly disparate but now likely to be converging ideas. But has it done enough? And how much should we take notice?

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 - 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. the article
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storage reliability ...

SSD news - February 2018 / SSD history / top SSD companies
A3Cube's Cofounder 'Rising Entrepreneur of the Year'

Editor:- February 28, 2018 - A3CUBE today announced that its co-founder Emilio Billi has been nominated among the Rising U.S. Entrepreneurs of the Year 2017 by The Technology Headlines which identifies top entrepreneurs that have shown an unwavering focus on innovation and create an organization which delivers change to the industry.

"I have always believed in my ideas even if many times 'experts' said to me that there was no market for them. I never listen to them." said Emilio whose story was chosen as the cover for the December issue of the magazine.

Editor's comments:- I'm not a fan of "editor pick" awards but re this one for Emilio at A3CUBE I said on linkedin - "Rightly so. A3Cube's pioneering hardware commitments to big low latency memory fabric were years ahead of the other PCIe connected memory fabric solutions. And they set themselves very demanding latency aspirations." readers (as you'd expect) often recognize the significance of new memory related technologies before anyone else.

4 years before the above headline recognition A3CUBE entered the Top SSD Companies researched by readers in Q1 2014. This was the same quarter in which the company exited stealth mode and I commented on the rarity of such quick breakthroughs at the time.

new industrial single chip PCIe NVMe SSDs from Silicon Motion

Editor:- February 27, 2018 - Silicon Motion today announced production of 2 new industrial grade single chip PCIe NVMe SSDs.
  • SM689 supports PCIe Gen 3x4 interface in 16mm x 20mm
  • SM681 supports PCI Gen 3x2 interface in 11.5mm x 13mm
Both products can support multiple capacity configurations ranging from 16GB to 256GB and include enterprise-grade advanced data integrity and reliability capabilities using Silicon Motion's proprietary end-to-end data protection, ECC and data caching technologies.

Data integrity features include end-to-end data path protection, which applies ECC to the SSD's SRAM and DRAM buffers as well as to the primary NAND Flash memory array.

who makes single chip SSDs?
say farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs

ioFABRIC awarded patent for latency aware software

Editor:- February 27, 2018 - ioFABRIC today announced it has been awarded a patent for an innovation in its Vicinity policy engine for creating and managing data volumes based on latency requirements.

The patent protects a method for maintaining fast response times by auto-migrating data when hardware resources are added or decommissioned, when performance degrades due to overconsumption, or application use requirements change. Vicinity can apply this policy even when a volume is spread over multiple nodes and storage devices

SSD software
Latency - the SSD bookmarks

Innodisk joins industrial M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD market

Editor:- February 21, 2018 - Innodisk has joined the nascent market for industrial grade M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs and will introduce such new products (which will be available in both 2 and 4 lane PCIe 3.0 versions) at the Embedded World event next week in Germany.

Gen-Z 1.0 now available to view

Editor:- February 13, 2018 - The Gen-Z Consortium today announced that the Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 is publicly available on its website.

ts memory media independence and high bandwidth coupled with low latency enables advanced workloads and technologies for end-to-end secure connectivity from node level to rack scale.

Editor's comments:- Gen-Z follows in the multidecade footsteps of Infiniband and then recently PCIe memory fabrics - but Gen-Z was born with with confident expectations that because of SCM DIMM wars andthe memoryfication of the enterprise there is a real business potential that memory boxes could become the mainstream instead of sitting in the side lines of HPC.

The rev 1.0 specification is a 980 plus page pdf - which I haven't read through yet - but which shows definite promise of a being a thought provoking page turner.

From what I've seen so far the thinking looks like a modern, secure and media agnostic way to request or respond to byte and block addressable (or addressed by default as the next component) data packets between a huge scalable population of components which can be memory devices, processors or controllers.

Tachyum gets external funding for Cloud Chip

Editor:- February 13, 2018 - Tachyum today announced it has received an outside investment from IPM Growth whose Managing Partner - Adrian Vycital - has joined Tachyum's board of directors as part of this investment.

Funding will help advance the development of Tachyum's Cloud Chip which the company says could reduce data center power consumption by 10-15x, and reduce rack space by over 90%.

NGD Systems announces Series B funding

Editor:- February 13, 2018 - NGD Systems today announced the completion of Series B round of financing with $12.4 million.

The new round of financing brings NGD's total capital investment to date to $26 million. The proceeds will be used for strategic growth initiatives, including the acceleration of go-to-market activities, continued innovation of the company's technology, and migration of its advanced 14nm SSD controller to mass production.

this 2.5" military SSD from Flexxon can self destruct in 2S

Editor:- February 7, 2018 - Flexxon recently announced details of its GALAXY Series 2.5" SATA 2 SSDs (pdf) for secure military grade applications.

Among other features the built in self destruct can perform physically destructive protection (high voltage burnout of flash chips) to ensure data is unrecoverable within 2 seconds.

see also:- military SSDs, fast erase SSDs, SSD security

1.8 still great

Editor:- February 6, 2018 - A new blog by Virtium - One-Point-Eight Still Great! says that the company thinks "1.8-inch will remain strong in embedded, IIoT and M2M applications for some time to come."

Editor's comments:- 10 years ago there were 22 manufacturers of storage drives listed on The highest capacity 1.8" SSD at that time in 2008 was 128GB.

The 1.8" storage drive form factor was created for the portable PC market with the first drives being shipped in 1991.

M.2 was the designated successor to 1.8" for SSDs in notebooks. But form factors can have a life of their own.

For example - in 2011 1.8" SSDs with SAS interfaces were a hot product for use in enterprise storage arrays.

Nowadays if equipment designers have gone to the trouble of supporting 1.8" SSDs (solo or arrays) in legacy designs (with interfaces like PATA, SATA or SAS) then it's still easier to continue supporting that in markets where requalifying the box is expensive (like medical) rather than switch to M.2 for no customer discernible benefit. In some markets EOL is an expensive option.
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Don't expect business to pick up where it left off when the next memory boom bust correction kicks in.
questions re trajectory of SSD market's onward rebound
Flexxon SSDs for indistrial medical and automotive applications - overview image

IMA (Industrial, Medical & Automotive)
XTREME series SSDs - from Flexxon
SSD news in Februaries of yore
February 2008 Intel announced it was sampling 128M bit prototypes of Phase Change Memory. 3DXpoint / Optane was a later evolution of Intel / Micron's PCM.
February 2011 SandForce announced it had shipped more than one million of its SSD Processors in the previous 12 months.
February 2015 Northwest Logic announced FPGA based controller support for Everspin's MRAM
February 2016 Xitore exited stealth mode. The company said it would develop game changing products to compete in the memory channel SSD market pioneered by Diablo Technologies.
February 2017 Tachyum emerged from stealth mode. Tachyum's founder had earlier founded SandForce.
Targa removable storage module for avionics with 3 interfaces  ethernet   USB and RS-422 for SWAP  under 5W
fits in the palm of your hand
removable 128GB rugged military storage
all in one Ethernet+USB+RS-422 < 5W power
from Targa Systems

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

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

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

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