SanDisk Corporation is
the global leader in flash memory cards, from research, manufacturing and
product design to consumer branding and retail distribution.
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.
SanDisk - enterprise SSD links
|Editor:- September 17, 2014 - SanDisk was ranked
#6 in the Q2
2014 edition of the
Top SSD Companies List
which is researched and published by StorageSearch.com
This isn't SanDisk's highest rank ever. SanDisk was #1 in
Q3 2007 - at which
time there were only 60 companies active in the
(approximately 10x less companies than today).
acquisition of the #1 ranked SSD company
completed during Q3 we can expect to see some interesting reranking of the
Top 5 SSD Companies taking place when the new list is published in October
|look who's thinking like
an enterprise systems SSD company now?|
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
Now - here's where the longer version of this blog post
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.
- 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.
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
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
Something he said - made me realize I was speaking to another "enterprise
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
thinking - and the ability to create new SSD IP which better integrates -
not just the memory arrays (at the
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
SanDisk) which design
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!
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
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.
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
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.
- if it sustains - would put them into a better vantage point than some of the
other large scale component SSD companies they compete with.
having said that - just as with all enterprise SSD companies - there are
differences of opinion
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)
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
So it was lucky we had something else to talk about.
- after our conversation I looked up the bio of the person I'd been speaking
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.
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
CloudSpeed (SATA SSD) product family overview (pdf) - which it had been
meant would be the focus of our conversation.
|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.
short version is that because SanDisk learned how enterprise users really
use SSDs - following their acquisition of
FlashSoft (in a way
which was much
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,
SMART Storage Systems
gives them much more than a leading
SAS SSD product line. -
They also get efficient
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 in SSD? - by
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
Q3 2013) - is
one of the leading company in advancing the use of
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.
hindsight that was a serious business mistake because the
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
So at the start of
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
SanDisk made its first tactical move in that direction in May 2011
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
market - which reshaped the competitive landscape in the
STEC- class enterprise
SSD market - and obsoleted the assumptions behind Pliant's business plans.
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
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
SanDisk is 5-6 years behind the market leader
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.
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
is shared by competitor Micron.
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
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.
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
- SanDisk started
shipping its 2nd generation of
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.
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
generation pSSD said the benefits were low cost and low weight - 1/10th
the weight of a typical 1.8"
that its 64GB
vRPM) pSSD module has been selected as a standard SSD option in
new VAIO X ultra-thin laptop.
In January 2010 -
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
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
top 10 SSD oems list
- and got its lowest ever ranking.
In May 2010 -
SSD modules with upto 128GB capacity in the "mSATA mini"
form factor. SanDisk also started sampling 256GB models in its G4 notebook
In September 2010 -
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.
details of a new miniature
SSD which will ship in Q3 2011 - the
has upto 64GB (x3 MLC) capacity in a 12mm x 16mm x 1mm package.
for approximately $327 million.
In June 2011 -
SanDisk expanded its
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
In February 2012 -
it has acquired FlashSoft
- one of the leading independent software vendors in the
SSD ASAPs market.
launched a new family of bootable enterprise
PCIe SSDs with upto
400GB (MLC) capacity ($2,350 MSRP) - the
- which leverages SSD IP from 2 previously acquired companies (Pliant for the
controller hardware and FlashSoft
for the auto caching
In May 2013 -
SanDisk announced that
BGA form factor SATA
SSD was being used in a new 2.5"
a definitive agreement to acquire SMART Storage Systems
for approximately $307 million.
In January 2014 -
the world's first standard servers based on a new architecture leveraging "eXFlash
DIMMs" - which were rebranded DDR3 compatible
SSDs from the ULLtraDIMM product line designed and made by
- SanDisk began
sampling 4TB SAS SSDs
in a 2.5" form factor. The Optimus MAX was rated at 1-3
|more articles you might be
MLC flash in
enterprise SSD users want?
Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated
Pools of storage
RAM SSDs versus Flash
SSDs - which is Best?
7 SSD types will satisfy all
future enterprise needs
Understanding what shapes
flash SSD performance
Efficiency - making the
same SSD - with less chips
| another auspicious
design win for SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM|
|Editor:- September 16, 2014 - SanDisk today
that its ULLtraDIMM (memory channel SSD)
has been selected by Huawei
for use in its RH8100 V3 servers. |
Huawei is ranked the top server
supplier for cloud and
mobility in China - by Sino-Bridge
Editor's comments:- Since the
announcement that IBM was
using ULLtraDIMM SSDs in some high end servers - there haven't been many
conspicuously auspicious design win announcements like today's Huawei story.
One reason is that IBM had a head start on the market - having worked
with Diablo for years to
refine the MCS architecture and software APIs.
Another reason is that
the 1st generation ULLtraDIMMs apparently guzzled more electrical power than
modern RAM DIMMs even
though they were still within the permitted power envelope according to industry
standards. This means that in order to support arrays of them in a server design
(and indeed you do need arrays to get
performance beyond the PCIe SSD level) requires a redesign of the copper
power tracking on the motherboard. You can't just plug large numbers of
ULLtraDIMMs into any old server without analyzing the thermal consequences.
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
|SSD news (July 8,
will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io?|
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
...read more in SSD news
(June 17, 2014)
| SanDisk samples 4TB SAS
|Editor:- April 30, 2014 - SanDisk today said it
is sampling 2 major additions to its
4TB model (2.5") - called the Optimus MAX - rated at 1-3
DWPD - which is the
industry's first 4TB 2.5"
range of 12Gbps SAS SSDs - called the Lightning Gen. II.
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.
| 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
| SAS SSDs were main
reason for SanDisk's enterprise SSD revenue |
|Editor:- April 16, 2014 -
$1.5 billion revenue for the quarter ended March 30. |
In a related
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."
|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
(even when they had involved enterprise ready product lines).|
strategic goal of doing more in the
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
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.
|It's IBM Jim - but not
as we know it (January 22, 2014)|
|IBM launches first memory
channel SSD servers|
|Editor:- January 16, 2014 - IBM today disclosed
preliminary test results comparing the latency of
SSDs to PCIe SSDs
- in the
press release of its new X6 architecture for X86 servers. |
- "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,
Virident, and 65
microseconds latency for Intel
S3500 and S3700 SSDs."
Editor's comments:- IBM's eXFlash
DIMMs are rebranded ULLtraDIMMs from
|"One of the most
significant new form factors introduced in the enterprise SSD market in 2013
was memory channel storage."|
changed in SSD year 2013?|
|SanDisk, SMART and
|Editor:- August 22, 2013 - SanDisk today
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
Technology (an SAS SSD maker) in
Lessons were learned from that - and a transformation seemed to take place in
SanDisk's thinking triggered by their acquisition of
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)
flash SSD technology.
SMART has already demonstrated - in
launched products - that this technology is
a wide span of cost, power consumption and IOPS use cases.
And at the
fab level adaptive R/W IP increases
(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 -
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
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.
- a team of technical, sales and marketing people with a long track record of
successful product innovations in the mission critical flash SSD market.
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.
|new WD hybrid has SanDisk
|Editor:- May 7, 2013 - a new 2.5"
from WD -
called WD Black
SSHD (500GB HDD
capacity, 5mm high SATA)
- has an iSSD
inside - it was
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
|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
revenue still comes from SAS
SSDs - derived from their
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
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
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.
|SanDisk invests in WhipTail|
|Editor:- December 13, 2012 - WhipTail today
it has secured $31 million series C funding from a group of investors which
an unnamed "Silicon Valley industry titan" and some named private
equity companies and VCs.
|FlashMAX is FlashSoft
|Editor:- August 27, 2012 - Virident's
PCIe SSDs are
supported by SanDisk's
- it was
The companies say this collaboration includes sales, joint
testing and validation programs, and support and services assistance.
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).
FlashSoft's profile page
for more details
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
- which leverages SSD IP from 2 previously acquired companies (Pliant for the
controller hardware and FlashSoft
for the auto caching
Upto 5 cards can be installed in a single system.
| "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