click to visit StorageSearch.com home page
leading the way to the new storage frontier .....
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
PCIe SSDs ..
SSD symmetries article
symmetry in SSDs ..
read the article on SSD ASAPs
auto tiering SSDs ..
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
PCIe SSDs vs memory channel SSDs
PCIe SSD vs UlltraDIMM ..
.

don't all PCIe SSDs look pretty much the same?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - July 27, 2011

8 out of the top 10 SSD companies in the 2nd quarter of 2011 already sell (or have announced) they will sell PCIe connected SSDs.

That's 4x as many as 2 years ago.

You could easily get the impression that this is going to be a clone market - same host interface - same memory chips -who cares who makes them? Only price matters - right?

That's what I expected would be the case when I started discussing the PCIe SSD market with vendors 4 years ago.

Back then (in 2007) I thought the PCIe SSD market would end up being dominated by low cost vendors based in Asia - because I underestimated how difficult it would be for designers to manage reliability and performance. I expected to see the market converging into a bunch of similar capability PCIe SSDs - differing only in price.

Instead what we're seeing today are tremendous differences in design features such as:-
  • how many PCIe SSDs on the same host? - some designs scale better than others
  • how hard is it to integrate the PCIe SSD with the apps software? - some products now support auto-tiering and are optimized for use as cache - while others can be used flexibly and viewed as either fast storage or cache (or both) depending how the system is configured
  • how much of the host CPU power is needed to make the SSDs work? - this is important if you're trying to fix an already overloaded production server - because you can't afford to lose performance while you tune the hot spots (even if the theoretical end point of the tuning process is faster)
  • how good are the reliability features? - if a given percentage of the raw flash fails some designs will carry on working - others won't
  • what are the field upgrade and fault replacement logistics? - how easy is it to install or remove new modules and starte them running?
  • what's the size? - PCIe SSDs come in tradional cards, multi-slot modules, and also more recently they have been demonstrated in 3.5" and 2.5" form factors (SCSI Express).
Today's market leaders are those with the best SSD controller technology and architecture rather than companies which have access to the lowest cost chip assembly lines. And by "architecture" I don't just mean what's done in silicon.

"Architecture" is what was in the mind of the designer and includes more or less elegant ways of dealing with all the application stresses that the product will encounter during its market life such as balancing the 11 key SSD design symmetries and choosing whether to go with big vs small memory array architecture. Software and API stability play a key part here too.

In this corner of the advancing enterprise SSD tide - the role of solid state storage is starting to fuse into the apps servers - and SSDs play a key role in determining what those particular servers can do. It won't be too long before the SSD count becomes just as important in server marketing as the clock speed of the CPU and the number of cores.

If I try to look ahead at what these PCIe SSDs are going to look like - I don't see a picture of memory chip arrays connected to a processor bus through cloned controllers. Instead I see greater differences emerging than we're seeing today.

The pictures in the ads may look the same - but what they do - and how they do it - are differences we'll have to learn more about.
..
SSD news
SSD videos
SSD education
What's an SSD?
SSD Bookmarks
the Fastest SSDs
the SSD Heresies
the SSD Buyers Guide
SSD Jargon Explained
SSD Reliability Papers
Tuning SANs with SSDs
After SSDs... What Next?
this way to the petabyte SSD.
click here to see our directory of SSD market analysts
SSD market crystal balls
SSDs - the big market picture
SSD's past phantom demons
Data Recovery from Flash SSDs?
RAM Cache Ratios in flash SSDs
Big versus small - SSD architecture
a new way of looking at Enterprise SSDs
flash SSD capacity - the iceberg syndrome
Are MLC SSDs Safe in Enterprise Apps?
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs
SSD Myths and Legends - "write endurance"
Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design
why the notebook SSD crystal ball is still murky
Market Trends in the Rackmount SSD Market
an introduction to SSD Data Recovery Concepts
the future of enterprise data storage (circa 2020)
RAM SSDs versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?
principles of bad block management in flash SSDs
Flash Memory vs. Hard Disks - Which Will Win?
How Bad is - Choosing the Wrong SSD Supplier?
SSDs, tonic medicine and the next flash / flu pandemic
Can you trust flash SSD performance benchmarks?
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon
..

storage search banner

..
SSD ad - click for more info
..
.
picture of Z drive 4500 PCIe SSD from OCZ
bootable integrated PCIe SSD based acceleration
with caching optimized for Windows WXL
the Z-Drive 4500 - from OCZ
a Toshiba group company
.
related guides

.
memory channel SSDs
2.5" PCIe SSDs market
can you trust SSD market data?
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
Ratios of SSD capacity - server vs SAN
7 ways to classify where all SSDs will fit in the pure SSD datacenter

.
PCIe chips from PLX - click for more info
switches for leading PCIe SSD designs
ExpressLane from PLX Technology
.
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
SSDs are complex devices and there's a lot of mysterious behavior which isn't fully revealed by benchmarks, datasheets and whitepapers.

Underlying all the important aspects of SSD behavior are asymmetries which arise from the intrinsic technologies and architecture inside the SSD.
SSD symmetries article Which symmetries are most important in an SSD? That depends on your application. ...click to read the article
.
SSD ad - click for more info
.
As you know from market history - the proposition that one new SSD thing can replace one old SSD thing is rarely as simple as the advocates of the new thing say.
PCIe SSDs versus memory channel SSDs
.
SSD ad - click for more info
.