| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
SSDs - boring right?
after AFAs -
what's the next box?
3D nand fab
yield - the nth layer tax?
how fast can your SSD
who in the SSD market in China?
hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
after 2017 - questions
re SSD's onward direction
consequences of the 2017 memory shortages
more sightings of little nv data critters in the wild anticipated in
editor - January 18, 2018
my many years reporting on the SSD market here on the mouse site solid
state storage has been a cleansing catalyst of change and breaking down
doability barriers which have enabled the leveraging and repurposing of data
wherever it may be. So if there is an economic value buried somewhere in the
data it can be discovered, mined and delivered in ways which were previously
impossible or unviable. |
Last year the SSD market looked like
it was morphing into the memoryfication of everything (storage, software and
As we're all aware from the
on linkedin / twitter
etc the loudest
action has been centered around making systems faster and cheaper and bigger in
capability - but at the other end of the arena - the new lower capacity non
volatile memory technologies are creeping into application roles with capacities
which are maybe 1,000x smaller than a single nand flash or DRAM memory
What useful things can you do with such small nvms?
in the right places - little nv data critters can do quite a lot. And that's a
direction I'll be writing more about too in 2018.
little nv data
critters already sighted / cited in January 2018
technologies for ultra low power data critters were mentioned in several
stories in SSD
news in January 2018.
- eVaderis has taped out an "MRAM inside" MCU with 3Mb of
distributed nvm to support IoT applications which are - "normally-off/instant-on
microcontrollers with near zero latency boot".
- FRAM - which didn't gain traction in the
alt-nvm markets - has
some potential inheritors being developed. But apparently you can still buy old
style FRAM and power the devices from energy harvested from mechanical
vibration and converted by piezoelectric transducers.
SSD on a chip, PBGA SSD, 1
- Longsys said it's offering customizable eMMC (8mm x 10mm) for smart
of the Top SSD Companies|
|Editor:- January 19, 2018 - StorageSearch.com today published
the Top SSD
Companies in Q4 2017 - the 43rd quarterly edition in this market
a new #1 - which portends changes coming to the market soon.
Previous #1 SSD companies in the past 11 years (and the pivotal
factors which escalated them to the top at that time) have included:-
(enterprise SSDs - #1 in 2015)
(fastest 2.5" SATA flash SSDs - #1 in 2008)
Want to know who moved up to #1 in
Q4 2017? ...read
- BiTMICRO (first
TB 3.5" SSD - #1 in 2007).
|survey shows that most big
data users are aware of the need for new processing/storage architectures
|Editor:- January 3, 2018 - NGD Systems (formerly
called NxGn Data) was one of the top SSD companies followed up by readers of
StorageSearch.com in December 2017. |
In December 2017 - NGD Systems
published the results of a survey on the need for Intelligence storage for
applications with large data sets.
The purpose of the study was to
gauge whether the movement of large data sets across existing processing and
storage architectures negatively impacts the cost and usability of the data by
The results of the survey -
Storage Survey Report (pdf) - conducted by G2M
Research for NGD - show that existing compute and storage architectures
adversely impact the performance and cost of these applications, and that new
architectures are needed if these applications are to continue to scale in size
NGD has been a pioneer of in-situ processing and
their current approach is to leverage ARM processing cores within the
(although other types of implementation and tiering within the memory/ storage
assets have been reported in these news pages from other researchers and
Among other things the survey report says...
the advent of digital computers, the IT industry has regularly oscillated
between convergence and disaggregation, as well as how specific functionality
has been packaged and delivered to those who use it. The movement of processing
capabilities into storage media, as represented by in-situ processing in SSDs,
represents a new evolutionary path in IT that has been made possible by the
solid-state nature of SSDs." ...read
the article pdf)
Editor's comments:- 3 years ago I listed "in-situ
SSD processing" as #1 of the
SSD ideas which changed in 2014.
The implementations of this new
architectural idea has had to adapt pragmatically to changes in the SSD market -
notably the emergence of standards like NVMe and associated fabrics - but also
to other technologies which have been introduced to enable
systems to work better such as
software and rethinking the relative size and roles of memory compared to local
adapted memory architecture).
|SLC / MLC /
tactical / permanent / real / virtual?
tradeoffs in the
design of mixed flash hybrid SSDs
|Editor:- December 20, 2017 - This month I
received a copy of a new (to me) paper -
of Techniques for Architecting SLC/MLC/TLC Hybrid Flash Memory based SSDs (27
pages pdf) - from Sparsh Mittal,
Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of
Technology Hyderabad who is among the co-authors of this significant
Re the scope - the authors say "For sake of a
concise presentation, we limit the scope of this paper as follows. We focus on
software-level management techniques for hybrid SSDs and not their circuit-level
design issues. We include techniques which use at least two types of Flash and
not those that merely use an SCM with a Flash cell-type.We focus on the key
ideas of each work and include only selected quantitative results, since
different works use disparate evaluation platforms and workloads. We hope that
this paper will be useful for computer architects, SSD designers and researchers
in the area of storage architectures."
Among other things the
paper discusses a wide range of externally referenced techniques including:-
- tradeoffs in using some portion of TLC or MLC as virtual SLC (to improve
latency and endurance)
- reliability and performance tradeoffs using volatile versus non volatile
RAM in buffers
- revitalizing worn MLC blocks as SLC
The authors note various
factors which are changing or need to change compared to previous generations
of SSD design.
- varying the size of SLC designated buffers based on analyzing application
usage to optimize garbage collection
- better runtime adaptation of control parameters
- the need for hybrid SSD specific simulators
If you've ever wondered about how to optimize SSD design by
using a mix of flash memory types in the same SSD then this paper is an
invaluable reference guide to the techniques which have been written about in
the public domain. ...read the
- fairness and QoS (quality of service) joining the formula of design goals
in SSD design in addition to the traditional must-haves of performance and
/ top SSD companies|
|84% revenue growth for GridGain Systems|
January 24, 2018 - GridGain
that sales grew 84% YoY in 2017 and the company ranked #2 on the
Silicon Valley Business Journal list of Fastest Growing Private Companies.
was the year when in-memory computing achieved mainstream adoption for
accelerating and scaling out data-intensive applications driven by digital
transformation, omnichannel customer experience, and real-time financial
regulations," said Abe
Kleinfeld, president and CEO of GridGain.
Among other things
GridGain is a founder member and organizer of the
In-Memory Computing Summit which first
place in June 2015.
Editor's comments:- Unlike memory companies
(for whom high double digit YoY revenue growth in 2017 was a serendipitous
outcome from a broken pact with industry roadmaps) the noteworthy thing about
GridGain is that unlike many other
storage software companies
it does have real customers and a long track record of pioneering a computing
context which was once considered esoteric (like SSDs 20 years ago) but which
real soon will be the mainstream.
no write limits (Men in Suits) good
Max country) better
Editor:- January 23, 2018 -
the availability its new "Immortal" brand of radiation hardened
SSDs for the military and
These rugged SSDs incorporate Foremay's
proprietary, patented and patent-pending technologies, including a rugged
honeycomb shaped protruded hard shell, a heavyduty solid body, waterproof
features, and radiation hardened processes, which enables Immortal SSD drives to
be deployed in air, space, sand, muddy & wetland, and underwater
Immortal series military and industrial SSD tolerates extreme vibration and
shock operating conditions that far exceed MIL-STD-810G standards. These SSDs
operate in extreme cold and hot temperatures from -55ºC to 125ºC
Currently in production the Immortal series
include a 2.5" SATA with a capacity up to 16 TB, 2.5" NVMe U.2 with a
capacity up to 16 TB, and 1.8" microSATA with a capacity up to 2 TB. ...read
Editor's comments:- in Q3 2017 the enterprise SSD
market saw the arrival of the first "no write limits SAS SSDs" (see
DWPD for more) and that
has reset expectations in the storage array market. But the enterprise is an
easy environment for solo SSDs compared to the rugged military and space
markets where lone wolf SSDs have much closer proximity to unprotected phsyical
stresses while being a long way from the helping hands of on call service
The new Immortal series of SSDs from Foremay looks like it
consolidates many years of listening to customer experiences and also
indicates a renewed confidence that having the right stuff in a difficult to
design and manufacture SSD is a worthy endeavor - because there is a real and
present market for such drives.
In 2017 the SSD market was awash with
SSDs which had exactly the same specifications as their predecessors but
cost much more
because of the
in the memory market. Now Foremay's new product demonstrates that sometimes
it's worth paying considerably more for an SSD which has in effect an integrated
defense shield of design features.
I will - of course - soon add
Immortal to my classic reference article -
Speed and Strength - Metaphors in SSD brands.
TechCrunch says Primary Data is shutting down
January 23, 2018 - Primary
Data is closing down according to a
article - by Connie Loizos,
Silicon Valley Editor - TechCrunch who says among other things:- "Primary
Data's lofty valuation out of the gate also apparently worked against the
company. Though it announced funding this summer from insiders... we're told
that its backers more recently decided they'd rather shut down the company than
re-invest on terms they found disagreeable.."
concludes:- "...The VCs said no. Soon afterward, the company's website went
Editor's comments:- Primary Data's web site was
indeed blank when I read the article last night - but it has since returned to
its previous condition this morning. How significant that is remains to be seen
during the next few days.
Kaminario no longer wants to supply hardware
January 17, 2018 - 2017 was a difficult year for AFA vendors whose primary IP
was software - as they couldn't be sure how much they would have to pay for
their memory based hardware and couldn't be sure either if and when they
would get it. However, even without the memory shortages it was inevitable that
vendors would one day have to align themselves with new trends
more strongly delineated standard product roles.
That day has
dawned for Kaminario
- which had already churned its hardware deliverables suppliers several
times since entering the
market in June
it is exiting the hardware market as a supplier and is switching to a software
business model. The company's K2 arrays will be supplied in future by Tech
Data. Kaminario will continue to provide centralized support management for all
datacenter implementations based on Kaminario software.
commented on linkedin to Eyal David, CTO -
Kaminario - who had posted a link to The Register's - coverage of this news
the Software Defined initiative: Kaminario exits the hardware business.
said - "Yup it's the same reason that wordprocessors became floppies on
pcs and CAE became tapes for workstations instead of both being boxes. If you
can't design hardware and chips then don't expect your customers to keep buying
someone else's better box just to get to use your software." ...read
The Register article
Goes Software-Defined by Chris M
Evans on his site - Architecting
Chris says among other things... "As NVMe becomes
widely available as a storage protocol, NVMe over Fabrics allows high-speed
communication between servers, controllers and storage. The logical conclusion
is that we will see hardware distil down to racks of enclosures and servers with
high-speed networking in between. The Software Defined Data Centre will allow
these hardware components to be aggregated into storage arrays, disaggregated
solutions or HCI as required." ...read Chris's
Violin launches new sales model
Editor:- January 16,
2018 - Following its bankruptcy in
December 2016 and
re-energizing under new ownership Violin Systems today
signalled a new way it wants to do business with the
of various utility based purchase and leasing options for rackmount SSDs.
company says - "Standard buying options include both outright purchase and
pay-as-you-grow offerings with smaller upfront fee and additional capacity
invoiced over time. Lease options are available after qualification from
Violin's preferred financial partners. Violin's subscription model allows
organizations to pay on a monthly basis for storage used. All options include
support, installation and optimization as part of the purchase price."
comments:- With today's announcement Violin has joined mainstrean pricing
models which were innovated by various AFA and hybrid appliance vendors in 2014
- for reasons analyzed in my article at that time -
the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.
The timing of this
new pricing approach from Violin may signal a judgement that the upward
movement of memory prices makes it a good time for the company to re-engage
proactively with the competitive AFA market.
The industry has been
through a difficult year of "upwards" movements in raw memory
pricing. And one of
the consequences of the
shortages was that utility led pricing models and leasing projections
for flash based enterprise storage - which had been set during the downward
curve decade - led to problems with companies whose businesses and brading
propositions had been so closely tied to them. That is what - I believe led to
the necessity of Tegile's
acquisition / rescue last summer.
small can be beautiful - wearable SSD tech at CES
January 11, 2018 - Among the conventional SSDs at
CES this week - Longsys
its booth has been talking about software and hardware customizable eMMC
such as small form factor (8mm x 10mm) for smart wearable devices and small
capacity eMMC (128MB / 256MB / 512MB) for industrial control, security
surveillance and IoT applications.
|Editor's comments:- The role of
in mission ritical SSDs has been written about on StorageSearch from time to
Indiustrial SSD vendors used to be divided in their opinions
about its merits but pSLC has been gaining traction due to its contributions to
reliability and speed.
For more details about how this is done see -
of Techniques for Architecting SLC/MLC/TLC Hybrid Flash Memory based SSDs (27
Longsys said this week that it uses pSLC in its
new industrial memory cards and this improves the write performance upto
is not your grandfather's industrial SSD market
SMART Modular gets patent for truly autonomous NVDIMM
Editor:- January 8, 2018 - flash backed DRAM
NVDIMMs aren't new but an interesting subtlety in the design emerged in a
release today from SMART
Modular Technologies who announced that its (optionally encryptable)
DDR-4 NVDIMMs (8GB to 32GB) now feature Autonomous Self Refresh - the new thing
being that a patent is involved.
"SMART's patented ASR feature (patent number
9,779,016) allows SMART's NVDIMM to independently initiate a backup after an
event which results in a system freeze or "hang" without power loss.
Active data in the NVDIMM is saved and recovered in events such as an OS crash,
CPU fault, MCU fault, BIOS hang, blue screen, or other motherboard failures."
I understand it - the patented issue is that the NVDIMM system itself detects
that power has failed or recovered to a critical threshold - and that the save
and restore operations are performed "without any intervention from outside
the memory unit".
Among other things - the advantage is that the
data in the NVDIMM can be trusted to a higher level of confidence than if the
power disturbance was detected at one location in an array of chips on a
motherboard - which may have happened after the power event had already
corrupted data in a DIMM elsewhere - or if the external event was detected too
late for the attached controllers to shut down writes in a guaranteed manner.
also:- is data
remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor?
Micron and Intel will pursue different flash futures in 2019
Editor:- January 8, 2018 - Micron and Intel today
that they will work independently on future generations of 3D nand flash after
having shipped the last jointly developed products in early 2019.
both companies will continue to jointly develop and manufacture 3D XPoint at
the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) joint venture fab in Lehi, Utah,
which is now entirely focused on 3D XPoint memory production.
is FRAM museumware?
Editor:- January 7, 2018 - It's
been a long time since I heard anyone advocating
update from Fujitsu
Semiconductor says that its FRAM devices are displayed in an exhibit
called "New Electro Hall (Link to Cyberspace)" in the Science Museum,
FRAM products have very low capacity (kb upto 1Mb) and low speed (1 to
3.4MHz) but they have very low power operation too and can be used in "batteryless"
systems which harvest power from non traditional power sources such as vibration
- using piezoelectric transducers.
Editor's comments:- Having said
that - don't dismiss FRAM as this may be a type of museumware whose glory days
are yet to come.
A new article this week -
A New Memory
Contender? - in SemiEngineering.com surveys the history and technology
trends in ferroelectric memories and describes potential successors to FRAM
Microsoft acquires NASA's cloud hybridisor - Avere Systems
January 3, 2018 - Microsoft
it has agreed to acquire Avere Systems.
President and CEO - Avere Systems said - "When we started Avere Systems
in 2008, our founding ideology was to use fast, flash-based storage in the most
efficient, effective manner possible in the datacenter. Along the way, our team
of file systems experts created a technology that not only optimized critical
on-premises storage resources but also enabled enterprises to move
mission-critical, high performance application workloads to the cloud."...read
more from Ron Bianchini
Editor's comments:- There was a lot of
deep thinking in Avere. I wish them luck in the reset and recompile
SSD empowered cloud
after AFAs what's
next? - cloud adapted memory
eVaderis tapes out "MRAM inside" MCU
January 3, 2018 - One of the directions of future processor travel - with the
enabling of intrinsic nvm features is towards the design of ultra low power "normally-off/instant-on
microcontrollers with near zero latency boot".
Aligned with that
idea - eVaderis yesterday
it has taped out a fully functioning and licensable platform which leverages
sub 40nm STT-MRAM.
eVaderis says that 3 Mb of on-chip memory are fully
distributed across the system though different instances, covering different
functions such as working memory, configuration, state retention, code execution
and data storage.
"The tape-out of this innovative MRAM-based,
memory-centric MCU demonstrates our proficiency in disruptive, non-volatile
embedded IP design and flow for low-power, digital devices," said Virgile Javerliac, deputy
CEO and head of technology and marketing at eVaderis. "We now plan to
license the underlying IP to semiconductor manufacturers making sub-40-nm chips."
CPUs for use with SSDs
farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs
an overview of storage and nvm trends by Tom Coughlin
January 2, 2018 - "Optane NVMe SSDs (using the 3D XPoint technology) from
Intel introduced in 2017 do not appear to have caught on with enterprise
companies the way that Intel had originally hoped..." says Tom Coughlin,
Associates in his wide ranging new article -
Storage Projections for 2018 (on Forbes,com). ...read
there yet? |
| 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
|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. |
of the 2017 memory shortages|
|What do I mean by Memory
Defined Software? Simply this... Software which has been deliberately written
to take advantage of the computational realities of memory with special
characteristics in order to get behavior which was not possible before. |
- 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