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?
what I expected would be the case when I started discussing the PCIe SSD market
with vendors 4 years ago.
Back then (in
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
expected to see the market converging into a bunch of similar capability PCIe
SSDs - differing only in
what we're seeing today are tremendous differences in design features such as:-
how many PCIe SSDs on the same host? - some designs
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
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
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.