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SanDisk

SanDisk Corporation is the global leader in flash memory cards, from research, manufacturing and product design to consumer branding and retail distribution.
.... SanDisk logo - click for more info

SanDisk's product portfolio includes flash memory cards for mobile phones, digital cameras and camcorders; digital audio/video players; USB flash drives for consumers and the enterprise; embedded memory for mobile devices; and solid state drives for computers. SanDisk is a Silicon Valley-based S&P 500 company, with more than half its sales outside the United States.

See also:- ..... SanDisk - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com


SanDisk - enterprise SSD links

Editor:- January 30, 2014 - SanDisk was ranked #5 in the Q4 2013 edition of the Top SSD Companies List which is researched and published by StorageSearch.com

This is SanDisk's highest ranking since Q3 2011 - but isn't SanDisk's highest rank ever. SanDisk was #1 in Q3 2007 - at which time there were only 60 companies active in the SSD market (approximately 10x less companies than today).

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look who's thinking like an enterprise systems SSD company now?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - April 15, 2014

Can a semiconductor company - like SanDisk - ever truly do box level enterprise SSD thinking?

I used to think not. But SanDisk is getting up to speed in enterprise SSD thinking to a degree I wouldn't previously have believed possible.

That's the short version.

Now - here's where the longer version of this blog post begins.

People who talk to me about the SSD market know how hard I find it to stick with discussing any one particular SSD thing.

And that's never more true than when it comes to so-called "new product briefings" - in which case - (unless the technology is truly revolutionary) then we need to find something else to talk about for the other 55 minutes of our allotted hour slot - especially if the pdf or ppt which I got beforehand - explains everything - or if I can easily google or guess what else my readers might need to know.

I've been having these kinds of new product or new business briefing conversations for over 20 years.

Longer - you'll note - than there actually have been pdfs or ppts to brief with. Whatever did we use before?

But 3 weeks ago a new record for brevity when it comes to sticking to the time allocated to discussing the planned topic - in this case - a new SSD product - was established - in a conversation I had with SanDisk.

Because our time ran out - and we never even got as far as page 1 of the briefing document at all.

It started like this.

I was talking to someone in SanDisk I hadn't spoken to before - so I said how much I've seen SanDisk change when it comes to its enterprise learning curve.

I said - it's not just the acquisitions - but I've also noticed - from looking at various blog postings and linkedin etc - that SanDisk has also been growing its enterprise marketing talent organically too.

Something he said - made me realize I was speaking to another "enterprise systems veteran".

If you've been in the enterprise market long enough - you recognize enterprise thinking when you see it.

So then our conversation took a new turn.

For me the strategic core of future developments in enterprise SSDs is centered around rack-scale thinking - and the ability to create new SSD IP which better integrates - not just the memory arrays (at the controller and firnware level) - but also leverages or changes the internal assumptions of all the software which touches the SSD array too.

I said - I had asked myself many times in the past whether semiconductor companies (like Samsung, Intel, Micron and SanDisk) which design component level enterprise SSDs could ever design the best SSDs? - given that - in my view - the most efficient design optimizations require box level thinking and box level adaptation about matters such as:- where to partition algorithmic functions and how to leverage metadata and anticipate ongoing data R/W intentions intelligence from other parts of the SSD array.

I had concluded before - that the answer was no!

But in the past 2 years - my assessment has been gradually shifting as a result of conversations with people in some of the enterprise SSD companies which have been acquired by SanDisk (such as FlashSoft and SMART) and also as a result of seeing changes in the way that SanDisk corporate itself portrays its thinking about, and management of, its enterprise business.

The key enabler to this business intelligence - has been SanDisk's ability to talk to enterprise users - and view their SSD needs and aspirations in a systems perspective - because of SanDisk's FlashSoft software.

My gut feel is that SanDisk's enterprise SSD business is now able to do the same kinds of enterprise-aware SSD systems talk as traditional rackmount SSD vendors.

And that has come - not just from the affordability of having acquired some useful SSD IP - but from a corporate will to learn, evolve and adapt to being a new type of enterprise SSD centric business entity.

Which - if it sustains - would put them into a better vantage point than some of the other large scale component SSD companies they compete with.

Although having said that - just as with all enterprise SSD companies - there are differences of opinion about what they're seeing - and differences too - about the best ways to translate that into new product designs.

Anyway - those were the sort of things we were talking about.

And I hope that explains why we never got onto the first page of the new product briefing document in the webex. (Which I still haven't seen BTW.)

The briefing was supposed to be about some new products fleshing out SanDisk's CloudSpeed (SATA SSD) range.

But I had already written about the thinking behind this product family in May 2013 - where CloudSpeed appears as a footnote in an article describing (at that time) the architecture, technology and business thinking in SMART's SAS SSD product family.

So it was lucky we had something else to talk about.

PS - after our conversation I looked up the bio of the person I'd been speaking to.

It was Brian Cox, Senior Director of Outbound Marketing, SanDisk Enterprise Storage whose background (as you can see) is indeed in real enterprise systems stuff - as I had deduced in the first few seconds of our conversation.

If I'd known that before - would it have gone any differently? - Probably not.

PPS - After publishing the above blog - I did indeed get a whole blast of pdfs emailed to me among which was a new CloudSpeed (SATA SSD) product family overview (pdf) - which it had been meant would be the focus of our conversation.

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editor's comments:- September 2013 - SanDisk (a top 10 SSD company in Q3 2013) is a new force to be reckoned with in the enterprise SSD market in both legacy and new dynasty applications..

You can read about the road to this transformational positioning in the archived news stories on this page.

The short version is that because SanDisk learned how enterprise users really use SSDs - following their acquisition of FlashSoft (in a way which was much more reliable than analyst reports - by participating in user dialogs about a lot of different types of SSD use cases) they were in a better informed place from which to leverage any future hardware related enterprise SSD IP assets - however they might arise - the usual ways being organic development, licensing or acquisitions.

And now SMART Storage Systems gives them much more than a leading SAS SSD product line. - They also get efficient controller technology and a new way of doing fast SSD on the server motherboard which makes it the "must look at" alternative to any fast PCIe SSD in a "what shall I ship in my servers?" shortlist.

Key enterprise SSD market segments in which SanDisk now operates are:-


Who's who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - May 2013

SanDisk (which has been a top 10 SSD company in past years and was #15 in the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2013 at the time of writing this - and then later moved back up to #10 in Q3 2013) - is one of the leading company in advancing the use of advanced MLC technology in SSDs (x3) continuing the thrust of technologies and market ambitions which it inherited from it acquisition of SSD pioneer M-Systems in 2006.

M-Systems was - at that time a credible leader in the enterprise flash and military flash SSD markets. For reasons best known to itself - SanDisk abandoned those market toe-holds and instead focused on the consumer SSD market.

In hindsight that was a serious business mistake because the consumer notebook SSD market in the first 5 years of its history (1996 to 2011) didn't turn out to be the money spinner which companies like SanDisk and Samsung had initially hoped.

So at the start of 2011 - SanDisk found itself in the unenviable position of having admirable flash memory technology - but no enterprise technology worth a damn. SanDisk was at the fuzzy end of the SSD market lollipop (consumer SSDs) instead of the much sweeter and bigger market of enterprise SSDs.

SanDisk made its first tactical move in that direction in May 2011 by acquiring Pliant Technology. Pliant had developed SAS SSDs which used its own fast SSD controllers - but Pliant had been unable to sell many due to the competiitive phenomenom of the SandForce inside market - which reshaped the competitive landscape in the STEC- class enterprise SSD market - and obsoleted the assumptions behind Pliant's business plans.

SanDisk made its 2nd move into the enterprise SSD market in Februrary 2012 - by acquiring an SSD software company - FlashSoft.

Whether or not SanDisk manages to put in place in effective enterprise marketing business still remains to be seen. Chipmakers which also make SSDs - such as Micron and Intel - don't really understand the enterprise SSD market and how to cultivate new business in the SSD industry.

Chipmakers (as opposed to systems companies) are used to selling components... This means talking directly to the biggest computer companies and hope that accounts for enough of the market. Leave the rest of the business development to distributors. That design-slot stuffing method has worked for over 30 years with evolutionary products like microprocessors and memories - but doesn't work so well with revolutionary products like SSDs.

As we've seen in recent years - there are many big end users in the internet economy which buy more SSDs than the big server oems - but who aren't on the chipmakers' lists of traditional companies to call.

SanDisk was very late entering PCIe SSD market - which is 1 of the 7 main market silos in enterprise SSD architecture. (SanDisk launched its first enterprise PCIe SSDs in June 2012.) So in that respect SanDisk was even further behind than STEC - which entered the PCIe SSD market in late 2011 and SanDisk is 5-6 years behind the market leader Fusion-io.

In April 2013 - SanDisk's CEO confirmed that the company's PCIe SSD business had been negligible upto that time. Instead most of SanDisk's enterprise sales were still coming from SAS SSDs and the product line based on its acquisition of Pliant.

SanDisk has hundreds of SSD competitors .It's difficult enough for any single SSD company to be successful and a leader in any of the major SSD markets. SanDisk's ambition to be successful in both consumer SSDs and enterprise SSDs is shared by competitor Micron.

SanDisk's toughest competitor in the SAS SSD market is SMART - which sells these products to many oems including IBM - and like SanDisk has world leading adaptive flash controller technology.

SanDisk's companies to catch up with in the PCIe SSD market are Fusion-io, Virident, OCZ, Micron, and LSI.

SanDisk is already a leader in the consumer SSD market. And its SSDs have also been adopted for use in hybrid hard drives for the notebook market by WD and Fujitsu.
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some SanDisk Milestones from 35 Years of SSD Market History

In February 2009 SanDisk announced that it will begin mass-production of the world's first 4-bits-per-cell (X4) flash memory. Using 43nm process technology, this breakthrough enables 64Gb memory in a single die - the highest capacity in the industry

In June 2009 - SanDisk started shipping its 2nd generation of miniature PATA compatible SSD modules for the netbook market. Performance is 9,000 vRPM and capacities range from 8 to 64GB. SanDisk says it has improved the non volatile cache to prevent "stalling" or "shuddering" which was a problem in 1st generation netbook SSDs.

Storage clairvoyants, IDC, project consumer purchases of netbooks to rise from 11.5 million sold in 2008 to 50 million in 2013.

27 companies make miniature SSDs under 1.0" in size. pSSD is simply a brand name of this SSD family from SanDisk - and not new SSD jargon term you need to know about. The traditional term for this type of product is a DOM (disk on module). A SanDisk document describing the 1st generation pSSD said the benefits were low cost and low weight - 1/10th the weight of a typical 1.8" HDD.

In November 2009 - SanDisk announced that its 64GB (9,000 vRPM) pSSD module has been selected as a standard SSD option in Sony's new VAIO X ultra-thin laptop.

In January 2010 - SanDisk today announced results for the quarter ended January 3, 2010 - revenue of $1.24 billion increased 44% on a year-over-year basis and increased 33% sequentially.

SanDisk's Chairman and CEO, Eli Harari, said the company had achieved unit sales growth of 55% and gigabyte growth of 100% compared to the year prior quarter.

In February 2010 - SanDisk said it was shipping its G3 range of SSDs which had been preannounced in January 2009 - and originally expected to ship "in mid 2009."

In April 2010 - SanDisk dropped out of StorageSearch.com's top 10 SSD oems list - and got its lowest ever ranking.

In May 2010 - SanDisk started sampling netbook SSD modules with upto 128GB capacity in the "mSATA mini" form factor. SanDisk also started sampling 256GB models in its G4 notebook SSD range.

In September 2010 - SanDisk announced that NDS (a tv set top box designer with with over 30 million DVR units deployed) has successfully has designed SanDisk SSDs into a new range of lower cost set-top DVRs. The new solution allows for the deployment of energy-efficient STBs with decreased power consumption, small form factors and virtually silent operation.

In February 2011 - SanDisk preannounced details of a new miniature SSD which will ship in Q3 2011 - the iNAND has upto 64GB (x3 MLC) capacity in a 12mm x 16mm x 1mm package.

In May 2011 - SanDisk acquired Pliant Technology for approximately $327 million.

In June 2011 - SanDisk expanded its Lightning range (2.5" and 3.5" SAS skinny flash SSDs) which now offer upto 800GB MLC capacity. The new models are being delivered for OEM qualification, and will be available via authorized channel partners in Q3, 2011.

In July 2011 - SanDisk was one of several compatible companies named in FlashSoft's launch of its auto tiering SSD software.

In February 2012 - SanDisk announced it has acquired FlashSoft - one of the leading independent software vendors in the SSD ASAPs market.

In June 2012 - SanDisk launched a new family of bootable enterprise PCIe SSDs with upto 400GB (MLC) capacity ($2,350 MSRP) - the Lightning - which leverages SSD IP from 2 previously acquired companies (Pliant for the controller hardware and FlashSoft for the auto caching software).

In May 2013 - SanDisk announced that its iSSD BGA form factor SATA SSD was being used in a new 2.5" hybrid for notebooks from WD.

In July 2013 - SanDisk announced a definitive agreement to acquire SMART Storage Systems for approximately $307 million.

In January 2014 - IBM launched the world's first standard servers based on a new architecture leveraging "eXFlash DIMMs" - which were rebranded DDR3 compatible memory channel SSDs from the ULLtraDIMM product line designed and made by SanDisk.

In April 2014 - SanDisk began sampling 4TB SAS SSDs in a 2.5" form factor. The Optimus MAX was rated at 1-3 DWPD
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"the SSD software market is getting ready for a world
in which all enterprise data touches SSDs
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SSD software on StorageSearch.com - January 8, 2014
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more articles you might be interested in


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"I think SanDisk's ZetaScale could be one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014 - because of the freedom it will give big memory customers about how they navigate their tactical choices of low latency flash SSD hardware."
SSD news (July 8, 2014)
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SSD ad - click for more info
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What will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io?
SSD pizza"the ability to get more enterprise petabytes out from the same raw flash chips in - by shipping it through better architecture - is a more significant business factor in the flash memory market today than the ability to do another cell geometry shrink - or adding a few more layers of toppings on the 3D nand pizza"

Zsolt Kerekes, StorageSearch.com

...read more in SSD news (June 17, 2014)
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SanDisk samples 4TB SAS SSDs
Editor:- April 30, 2014 - SanDisk today said it is sampling 2 major additions to its range of SAS SSDs.
  • A new 4TB model (2.5") - called the Optimus MAX - rated at 1-3 DWPD - which is the industry's first 4TB 2.5" SAS SSD.
  • A new range of 12Gbps SAS SSDs - called the Lightning Gen. II.

    Available with a spread of R/W optimized characteristics the high end model (Lightning Ultra Gen. II) has R/W speeds upto 1GB/s and / 600MB/s respectively, upto 800GB capacity and is rated at 25 DWPD for 5 years.
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Do SanDisk's ULLtraDIMMs pose a threat to Fusion-io's PCIe SSD business?
That was one of the subjects raised in Fusion-io's Q3 results conference call (April 23). Read more in memory channel SSD news
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SAS SSDs were main reason for SanDisk's enterprise SSD revenue
Editor:- April 16, 2014 - SanDisk today announced $1.5 billion revenue for the quarter ended March 30.

In a related statement - Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO stated "...Combined client and enterprise SSD sales accounted for ($423 million) 28% of our first quarter revenue, with enterprise SSD revenue more than doubling on a year-over-year basis. Our expanded SAS SSD portfolio has enabled us to further strengthen our market position, and it has been the primary contributor to our enterprise SSD revenue growth."
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Oh, I know SanDisk
Editor:- February 27, 2014 - 2 years ago - with the acquisition of FlashSoft - SanDisk began to step up its efforts to reposition itself as an enterprise SSD company - an aspiration hadn't really been articulated in earlier acquisitions (even when they had involved enterprise ready product lines).

But the strategic goal of doing more in the enterprise had already been evoked in the company's investor communications a few months before the details of how the missing IP would be sourced in detail became transparently clear with the decision to acquire SMART in July 2013.

In a new blog on SanDisk's enterprise site - Jean S. Bozman, Enterprise Solutions Manager, SanDisk - muses on how those enterprise-ward changes are being seen through her eyes in as a relatively new employee and also by customers - in conversations which begin with - Oh, I know SanDisk (as a USB flash drive maker) but then go on to other places.
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image for ULLtraDIMM IBM article
It's IBM Jim - but not as we know it (January 22, 2014)
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IBM launches first memory channel SSD servers
Editor:- January 16, 2014 - IBM today disclosed preliminary test results comparing the latency of memory channel SSDs to PCIe SSDs - in the launch press release of its new X6 architecture for X86 servers.

IBM said - "Our evaluators are seeing 5-10 microseconds write latency for eXFlash DIMMs in preliminary testing vs. 15-19 microseconds latency for PCIe-based flash storage from Fusion-io, Micron, and Virident, and 65 microseconds latency for Intel S3500 and S3700 SSDs."

Editor's comments:- IBM's eXFlash DIMMs are rebranded ULLtraDIMMs from SanDisk
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"One of the most significant new form factors introduced in the enterprise SSD market in 2013 was memory channel storage."
what changed in SSD year 2013?
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SanDisk, SMART and enterprise SSDs
Editor:- August 22, 2013 - SanDisk today announced it has completed its acquisition of SMART Storage Systems whose president John Scaramuzzo will now assume the new role of senior VP enterprise storage solutions at SanDisk - reporting to Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO.

Editor's comments:- I've been reporting on SanDisk's metamorphosis on the way to becoming a serious enterprise SSD company since long before they acquired Pliant Technology (an SAS SSD maker) in May 2011.

Lessons were learned from that - and a transformation seemed to take place in SanDisk's thinking triggered by their acquisition of FlashSoft in February 2012 - which enabled SanDisk to get much better clarity on what was really happening in a wide range of enterprise SSD users' sites - as a result of feedback coming from customers using its SSD software.

The 4 key assets which SMART brings to SanDisk in the enterprise SSD context are:-
  • enterprise grade (world class) adaptive R/W flash SSD technology.

    SMART has already demonstrated - in launched products - that this technology is scalable across a wide span of cost, power consumption and IOPS use cases.

    And at the fab level adaptive R/W IP increases SSD efficiency (usable SSDs per wafer).
  • an attractive (tier 1 validated) SAS SSD and enterprise SATA SSD product mix which has already displaced competitors in many leading server and storage oem design wins.
  • an embryonic new type of SSD - memory channel storage - which aims at the market space of fast PCIe SSDs - and which - if successful - could change the future mix of motherboard memory used in servers.
  • a team of technical, sales and marketing people with a long track record of successful product innovations in the mission critical flash SSD market.
Unlike the other Top 10 SSD company acquisition which is currently in the pipeline (Stec by WD which may need a lot of reworking to make it fly) - the SMART product lines within SanDisk have already been expanding their reach of new customer destinations.

If you look at what LSI did with SandForce - I think that provides a better idea of the future scale and speed of ramp up which you can expect to see with the new enterprise SSD business in SanDisk.
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Optimus Ultra plus  is the  highest rated SAS SSD from SMART
2.5" SAS SSDs with upto 50 DWPD
Optimus Ultra+ from SMART
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Many enterprise users - who wouldn't dream of approaching SanDisk to use its raw SSDs - seem more than willing to use SanDisk's enterprise SSD software (FlashSoft). Can SanDisk leverage this to transform itself into an enterprise SSD heavyweight?
Why are so many enterprise SSD users sharing their thoughts with SanDisk?
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new WD hybrid has SanDisk iSSD inside
Editor:- May 7, 2013 - a new 2.5" hybrid for notebooks from WD - called WD Black SSHD (500GB HDD capacity, 5mm high SATA) - has an iSSD from SanDisk inside - it was announced today. The iSSD has 9K/1K R/W IOPS performance and measures 16mm x 20mm x 1.2mm for capacities upto 16GB. Average power consumption is typically 55mW.
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ultra low latency memory channel SSD
memory channel storage
ULLtraDIMM SSD from SMART
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Our PCIe SSD business is negligible today - but we plan to change that - says SanDisk's CEO
Editor:- April 18, 2013 - Nearly all SanDisk's enterprise SSD revenue still comes from SAS SSDs - derived from their acquisition of Pliant in March 2011 - and the company's PCIe SSD revenue today is "negligibly small" but they see PCIe SSDs as a large market opportunity which they want to get into with products they will launch in the 2nd half the year.

That was the gist of the message from Sanjay Mehrotra, cofounder and CEO SanDisk - in the company's earnings conference call yesterday.

Other things which emerged:- SSDs are 20% of SanDisk's sales this year, and like other flash memory makers SanDisk is reluctant to invest in new wafer fabs while there's still uncertainty about the exact direction and proven viability of flash technology beyond the current 2-3 years window. ...read transcript on SeekingAlpha.com

PS - SanDisk reported that its revenue in the 1st calendar quarter of 2013 decreased 13% to $1.34 billion from the preceding quarter, although this was 11% higher than the year ago quarter.

Also in the same quarter - Q1 2013 - SanDisk dropped 5 places in the Top SSD Companies List.
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SanDisk invests in WhipTail
Editor:- December 13, 2012 - WhipTail today announced it has secured $31 million series C funding from a group of investors which include SanDisk, an unnamed "Silicon Valley industry titan" and some named private equity companies and VCs.
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"Don't believe everything SSD companies tell you about the past, present or future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
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FlashMAX is FlashSoft compatible
Editor:- August 27, 2012 - Virident's PCIe SSDs are supported by SanDisk's FlashSoft auto-caching software - it was announced today.

The companies say this collaboration includes sales, joint testing and validation programs, and support and services assistance.

Editor's comments:- the thinking behind SanDisk's strategic decision to support competing SSD hardware with its software was one of the things which I learned in a recent interview with the company (August 15).

See FlashSoft's profile page for more details
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SanDisk launches long awaited PCIe SSD accelerators
Editor:- June 5, 2012 - SanDisk today launched a new family of bootable enterprise PCIe SSDs with upto 400GB (MLC) capacity ($2,350 MSRP) - the Lightning - which leverages SSD IP from 2 previously acquired companies (Pliant for the controller hardware and FlashSoft for the auto caching software).

Upto 5 cards can be installed in a single system.
pcie  SSDs - click to read article Editor's comments:- no useful performance data about the new products was available on the Lightning PCIe SSD home page when I looked - so you'll just have to imagine how fast an SSD with that type of name might be.
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"One petabyte of enterprise SSD could replace 10 to 50 petabytes of raw HDD storage in the enterprise - and still run all the apps faster and at lower cost."
meet Ken and the SSD event horizon