| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
trust SSD market data?
Ratios in SSD design
fast can your SSD run backwards?
can memory chips be
made in the wrong country?
|If you could go back in
time and take with you - in the DeLorean - a factory full of modern
memory chips and SSDs (along with backwards compatible adapters) what real
impact would that have? |
|are we ready for
infinitely faster RAM?
|ReRAM based architectures
for Processing-In-Memory (guide to papers and deep thinking)|
| Editor:- May 1 , 2018 - Processing in memory and
ReRAM are both making their mark independently as noteworthy technologies which
each promise new fashions in the shape of future memory systems design. But
how about combining both? |
A new paper -
Survey of ReRAM-Based Architectures for Processing-In-Memory and Neural Networks
(pdf) by Sparsh
Mittal, Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Technology
Hyderabad summarizes the state of art.
In his abstract Sparsh says "As
data movement operations and power-budget become key bottlenecks in the design
of computing systems, the interest in unconventional approaches such as
processing-in-memory (PIM) and machine learning (ML), especially neural network
(NN) based accelerators has grown significantly. ReRAM is a promising
technology for efficiently architecting PIM and NN based accelerators due to its
capabilities to work as both: high-density/low-energy storage and in-memory
computation/search engine. In this paper, we present a survey of techniques for
designing ReRAM-based PIM and NN architectures. By classifying the techniques
based on key parameters, we underscore their similarities and differences."
the article (pdf)
Editor's comments:- It's fascinating to see
how researchers in computational memory architecture have blended techniques
borrowed from classical analog computers with pragmatic local digital cleanup
and pure digital logic to create hybrid analog digital computing elements which
make the best use of latency and resolution to create multiplier accumulator and
search by value blocks while using ReRAM.
My first reaction was like
that when I saw the specifications of DSP chips in the early 1980s - not
very good analog combined with not very good digital - but from those
earliest days we got new industries.
ReRAM ML engines may have very
niche uses and be incredibly difficult to design but it only takes one or two
killer applications to make new technologies unignorable.
Defined Software - a new market in the making|
|There's a new software idea that's been
experimented on in the AI skunkworks in the cloud and as patentable secret
enhancements in next generation embedded processor designs. This new concept and
exciting new market (for the VCs reading this) will be more significant than a
new OS and will mark a break in the way that the enterprise thinks about
You had had plenty of warning about the new chips but
memoryfication doesn't stop with faster storage. The idea didn't have a name
when I started writing about it. But what it should be called is obvious.
Defined Software doesn't have to work at being backwards compatible
because the legacy storage industry will import and export to it if they want
to play in data's future.
See more about this in my blog -
Memory Defined Software. (Sometimes you can change the world with software
which breaks all the rules - if you can find the right platform to run it on.) ...read the
- what's next?|
| 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. |
classic 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
|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|
news - this news page from 2000 to 2018
NGD Systems announces GA of 16TB U2 in-situ processing SSDs|
May 31, 2018 - NGD Systems
the general availability of its 16TB Catalina-2 U.2 NVMe SSD which
integrates the company's long anticipated and much discussed (Arm based) "In-Situ
Burlywood says its software can save 40% of cloud flash
Editor:- May 22, 2018 - Burlywood
- which emerged from stealth mode in
August 2017 -
its TrueFlash product a storage software and FPGA solution for
cloud companies which
uses flash more efficiently.
Tod Earhart, CEO of Burlywood said - "By
using the latest flash available for a specific application, combined with an
advanced programmable controller and Burlywood TrueFlash software, we are able
to deliver an enterprise-class flash solution at a cost of up to 40% less while
increasing performance and expanding capacity."
Efficiency as SSD
competitive advantage (2012)
Micron samples industry's first QLC SATA SSDs
May 21, 2018 - Micron
it is sampling the industry's first SSD built on next generation quad-level
cell (QLC) NAND technology.
Micron's 5210 ION (2.5" SATA SSD)
is intended to replace HDDs in read mostly cloud storage applications and
will be available in capacities ranging from 1.92TB to 7.68TB.
that the native endurance
of the new 64 layer 3D QLC nand at the cell level is 1K P/E cycles. But for
very low DWPD applications
(0.3 for this product apparently) Micron indicates that QLC drives provides a
more viable underlying technology to compete with and replace 7,200 RPM
nearline hard drives than lower density TLC.
(For comparison -
that the average capacity of nearline HDD it shipped in the first calendar
quarter of 2018 was 6.5TB).
Editor's comments:- While the availability
of QLC SSDs provides another hummable tune in the great solid sate storage
songbook I think that storage systems users may not exactly leap into the air
with unbridled joy at this announcement - coming as it does after 2 years of
much higher ASPs for value based
SATA SSDs than the market would have expected prior to the
And while the technical challenges of making QLC a working
technology are awesome (and industry accolades should go to the designers of
the memory internal P/E and read circuits and accompanying data integrity
framework in the controllers) the battle lines for opening new markets in next
generation memory systems are at the other end of the latency spectrum - in the
application zone of
is to replace RAM - and how much of it will even
to an degree which is recognizable.
no more anti-trust wait states
Toshiba Memory sale
clear to close June 1
Editor:- May 17, 2018 - Toshiba Corp today
it has received all required regulatory approvals for the sale of Toshiba
Memory Corp. The sale to the Bain led consortium is expected to close on June
SSD beauty pageant - timeline of stories
Dell EMC adopts M.2 SSD array concept
17, 2018 - The idea of using M.2
SSDs as the raw flash elements mounted on
enterprise PCIe SSD
carriers and trays has gaining ground since it was proposed as an evolutionary
step by Liqid in
The M.2 array concept has the performance benefit of proportionality
(from NVMe PCIe scalability) coupled with the strategic business merit that M.2
is a competitively priced,
high volume form
factor which ensures that such modules will be at the forefront of new
technology adoption while also including within its ranks good value for money.
recent story -
EMC Takes a Stab at 1PB/1U With High Density M.2 Sleds (on
StorageReview.com) - shows a picture of a Dell EMC module with upto 10 M.2
SSDs in a single sled. ...read
Crossbar will demonstrate ReRAM AI accelerator chip
May 14, 2018 - Crossbar
that it will demonstrate a test chip showing the capabilities of its ReRAM
technology for AI in the form of a facial recognition accelerator at the
Embedded Vision Summit
next week in Santa Clara, California.
VP Marketing at Crossbar said - "The biggest challenge facing engineers
for AI today is overcoming the memory speed and power bottleneck in the current
architecture to get faster data access while lowering the energy cost. By
enabling a new, memory-centric non-volatile architecture like ReRAM, the entire
trained model or knowledge base can be on-chip, connected directly to the neural
network with the potential to achieve massive energy savings and performance
improvements, resulting in a greatly improved battery life and a better user
Editor's comments:- It's a great idea for Crossbar to
integrate the capabilities of their SoC compatible ReRAM technhologies into a
demonstration accelerator like this as it cuts out a lot of guesses and the
requirement to imagine what can be done with the new architectures so enabled.
an example of this powerful business development idea from
all know (or have heard of)
They're the company(founded in December 2005) which transformed the enterprise
server market from SSD deniers into born again
PCIe SSD acceleration
evangelists. Fusion-io was acquired for $1.1 billion in
might be surprised to know that despite its huge market impact Fusion-io's
original business plan wasn't the one which they later followed.
they became successful the founders told me their original idea had been to
operate as a software and IP licensing company.
And they said that
their prototype PCIe SSD cards - the ioDrives - had been intended simply to
demonstrate the concept of what Fusion's software and architecture could do.
The founders had expected that server makers would license the technology but
build their own cards. However, when server customers saw what this acceleration
technology could do for their own server sales (or those of competitors if they
adopted it) they chose to buy cards instead. And that's how the PCIe SSD market
It's possible that with the AI memory accelerator market
we're going to see application specific products born out of demonstrators which
are too good to stay in the labs. And that's a proposition which I also
mentioned in my recently completed blog -
are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?
Mercury says TLC can be used in avionics (if you know how)
May 1, 2018 - Mercury
it is offering TLC flash in a new SSD on a chip (22mm x 32mm BGA) for secure
storage roles in SWaP constrained environments such as aircraft, unmanned
systems and mobile ground applications including secure laptops and tablets.
says - "While TLC flash technology is ideal for high-capacity data storage
in a smaller footprint than MLC and SLC technologies, its reliability and
performance in military operating environments has been disputed until today.
Mercury has eliminated these threats by custom-engineering a new variant of its
ARMOR processor specifically for this new commercial memory technology enabling
it to operate in SLC mode for high reliability and long-term endurance while
sustaining high-speed read/write operations."
It is a notable milestone that a
military SSD company like Mercury is using TLC in SLC mode for secure
applications. The technique of virtual SLC and its reliability aspects is one
of several described in this academic paper
of Techniques for Architecting SLC/MLC/TLC Hybrid Flash Memory based SSDs (27
pages pdf) - which I mentioned in a news story
the adoption of TLC nand (or any new mainstream memory) into successive markets
SSD history demonstrates a timetable of adoption determined by how long it
takes for the new devices to shake out processing fluctuations and how long it
takes for application markets to deteremine they're good enough.
consumer SSDs used
to be the first target for new memories . Because consumer products have lower
standards. Then some time later enterprise, followed by
military (subject to temperature compatibility) and maybe later still - medical
markets. At the latter end of this list the later adoptions are due to longer
design times (to evaluate and integrate with other reliability features) and
longer customer qualification times. However in recent years the order of memory
adoption has changed with big
cloud users jumping
right in at the start contemporaneously with consumer. Clever cloud architects
can live with and work around infant media defects - and are willing to put
design effort into using new technologies - provided that the system
benefits provide a statistically significant improvement in their systems costs.
a yardstick for how long these successive adoptions can take...
2018 now and this is the first news story about a significant
military SSD using
TLC. In my timeline
for the enterprise - it was 2015 when TLC was considered good enough to
ship in high quality enterprise all flash arrays.
DRAM makers collude to protect high prices?|
| Editor:- May 1, 2018 - One of the almost
of the memory shortages and price hikes centered around 2017 has been
greater scrutiny of the memory market by regulators and now -
class action lawsuit (pdf) filed against the 3 largest DRAM makers
(Samsung, Micron, and Hynix) which dominate the market.|
things the plaintiff document alleges - "Defendants combined and
contracted to fix, raise, maintain, or stabilize the prices at which DRAM was
sold in the United States from at least June 1, 2016 to February 1, 2018 (the "Class
Period"). Defendants' conspiracy artificially inflated prices for DRAM
throughout the supply chain that were ultimately passed through to Plaintiffs
and the Class, causing them to pay more for DRAM Products than they otherwise
would have absent Defendants' conspiracy."
As with many legal
documents this one is a long read. In it the plaintiffs suggest that these
memory companies communicated their strategies by means of public investor
statements - "During the Class Period, Defendants continued their efforts
to coordinate their DRAM supply decisions, as reflected in public comments by
Defendants that urged each other to keep industry supply in check. Defendants
each made public statements affirming their commitment to the common plan to
curtail supply, and to not compete for each other's market share by supply
expansion. For example, Defendants informed the other Defendants through public
statements, that they would keep total wafer capacity flat in order to constrain
DRAM supply growth, they would only grow DRAM supply between 15-20% in 2017,
even as DRAM demand grew 20-25%, and that they would refrain from taking each
other's market share." ...read
the lawsuit (pdf)
Editor's comments:- The tactics each sales
force used to decide allocation between different customers and bundling deals
(if any) may come under scrutiny. Dealing fairly in a shortage requires very
strong controls to avoid tipping into anti competitive behaviors.
history of the memory market does include proven examples of past
price fixing. You can read more about them by visiting
https://www.justice.gov and searching for
RAM news - ain't what it used
history of understanding and misunderstanding SSD pricing
Mays of yore in
Technology launched WhatsHot SSD - a hotspot analysis and tuning
tool for fast rackmount SSD accelerators. |
It would be another 6 years
before the first storage arrays became available which integrated automatic
caching of data between solid state storage and hard drives. That was the
XcelaSAN launched in
September 2009. But it wasn't till
new SSDcentric software companies were entering the market at the rate of one
each week) that the SSD
software market became valued enough by
investors and wouldbe
its HLNAND flash technology which could sustain 800MB/s.
announced the first branding program for SSD controllers.
marked a turning point in how flash controller technology was viewed by the
mainstream storage market. In less than 3 years (2007 to 2010) the perception
changed from "who cares?" to "You care!" - which I wrote
about in Imprinting
the brain of the SSD.
May 2013 - Micron
began sampling a new hot swappable 2.5" PCIe SSD with 1.4TB MLC
capacity and 750K R IOPS.
May 2016 - Symbolic IO emerged
from stealth mode unveiling an enterprise server/storage architecture which
leveraged embedded persistent memory coding to provide data materialization,
dematerialization and acceleration.