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SSD Market History - 2008

Year of the SSD Centurians

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2008 - SSD history - month by month

January 2008

Nanochip (founded in 1996) said it expects to sample its first commercial products in 2009. The company will compete with flash SSDs using its own proprietary non volatile storage technology.

After a 20 year gap EMC re-entered the SSD market with the launch of its Symmetrix DMX-4 networked storage systems populated with SSDs from STEC. You may not realise that EMC was an SSD pioneer 20 years ago (in 1987).

Samsung announced it has developed a 128GB MLC flash SSD in 1.8" and 2.5" form factors that will ship in volume in the first half of 2008.

Texas Memory Systems announced new SSD IOPS records (audited by SPC). Its RamSan-400 SSD delivered 291,208 SPC-1 IOPS with a record average response time of just 0.86 milliseconds.

BiTMICRO Networks said it will sample its highest capacity 2.5" flash SSD -the E-Disk Altima 832GB - in the 2nd quarter of 2008 - with volume production expected in Q3.

Memoright announced availability of 64GB and 128GB versions of its 2.5" PATA / SATA flash SSDs.


February 2008

SMART Modular Technologies acquired Adtron.

Intel and Micron Technology unveiled details of their new high speed NAND flash technology which can sustain speeds up to 200MB/s for reads and 100MB/s for writes.

Ridata brand SSDs (made by Advanced Media) appeared in retail outlets - in 34 Fry's Electronics stores.

Mtron said that in April it would be producing a 1.8" flash SSD aimed at notebooks with a maximum read speed of 120MB/s and write speed of 100MB/s.

Pliant Technology announced it had received $8 million in Series A funding to drive the development of SSD storage devices for enterprise computing markets.

STEC launched the the 32GB MACH4 CompactFlash - the fastest CF form factor SSD on the market with 90MB/s read and 55MB/s write speeds. It's got low power consumption too - just 1W.


March 2008

Imation entered the SSD market with products oemed from Mtron

SeaChange claimed it had eliminated the need for spinning disks in the on-air broadcast chain with the announcement of its FML200 - rackmount flash SSD broadcast library.

Memoright launched a faster family of 2.5" SATA flash SSD. The GT Series has upto 64GB capacity and 120MB/s sustained read/write.

OCZ entered the SSD market with a 2.5" flash SSD - taking the number of SSD oems listed on STORAGEsearch.com to 70.

STEC announced Q407 revenue declined 28% compared to the year ago quarter.

STORAGEsearch.com published a new 1.8" storage drives directory listing 21 oems actively marketing SSDs and HDDs in the 1.8 inch form factor.

Toshiba launched 3 MLC flash SSD families with SATA interfaces and form factors including module, 1.8" and 2.5".

Trident Space & Defense launched the BGADrive - an IDE compatible 32GB flash SSD in a 29mm x 29mm form factor module for embedded applications.

A CNET article insinuating high customer reject rates for Dell's SSD based notebooks was dismissed as not true.

XLC Disk unveiled its multi-level cell nand flash technology for high density flash SSDs.

International Microsystems launched a range of SATA flash SSD testers for parametric qualification and burn-in.

Fusion-io announced it had secured $19 million funding for its ioDrive.



April 2008

Texas Memory Systems celebrated 30 years making SSDs.

Seagate filed suit against STEC alleging patent infringements related to hard disk interfaces.

Nimbus Data Systems announced an SSD accelerator option in its Breeze H-series 10GbE IP Storage.

STEC said it was in volume shipment of its Zeus-IOPS range of 2.5" and 3.5" flash SSDs with 4Gbps Fibre Channel ports.

Link_A_Media Devices secured $22 million in Series B financing. Its controller chip technology will increase IOPS and data recovery in flash SSDs.

IBM researchers published details about a new type of high density non volatile memory. "Racetrack" memory is so named because the data "races" around the wire "tracks". IBM suggests that in the next 10 years - the new memory could compete with flash at a much lower price per gigabyte. The new technology uses magnetic domain storage but without the high current needed by earlier solid state magnetic devices.

STORAGEsearch.com published the new quarterly ranking of - the Top 10 SSD OEMs ...and also a timeline Predicting Future Flash SSD Performance ...and also a new directory of PCIe, PCI & cPCI SSDs, and also a new directory of 1.0" and smaller SSDs.

Shining Technology entered the flash SSD market with the launch of its 32GB CitiDISK SSD aimed at the digital video camera market.

Panasonic said it would ship a 64GB version of its proprietary P2 card SSD for use in its camcorders in the fall. Panasonic has delivered more than 80,000 P2 HD/P2 units worldwide with over 840 television networks and stations having adopted the solid-state recording format.

Adtron started sampling true industrial grade SLC flash SSDs with 128GB capacity in a 9.5mm-high package - the highest density SLC SSD in this form factor.


May 2008

California based SiliconSystems opened its first office in the People's Republic of China. And its founder and CEO, Michael Hajeck, was selected as a regional finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the 2nd consecutive year.

STEC launched a PCIe mini card form SSD with 32GB capacity and 55MBps / 25MBps R/W speeds.

Mtron said it will ship faster versions of its PRO 7500 series 2.5" and 3.5" flash SSDs in June. The SATA drives will have a read speed of 130MB/s and write speed of 120MB/s.

Solid Access Technologies announced that its 2U RAM SSDs are now available with 128GB and 256GB capacity. They deliver random read/write performance of 95,000 IOPS using a single Fibre Channel link and over 70,000 IOPS using SAS. The 128GB model costs $75,000.

In a new article - Calling for an End to Unrealistic SSD vs HDD IOPS Comparisons - STORAGEsearch.com's editor bemoaned the tired old thinking implicit in many new SSD articles and press releases.

Super Talent Technology said its new 2.5" 120GB MLC SSDs cost about $699 - more than 6x lower in price than its 128GB SSDs were 8 months earlier - in September 2007.

Is the SSD Market Recession-Proof? - a new article published this month identifies which types of SSD products will be the most likely winners and losers if there is a recession and IT spending slowdown.

In an exclusive interview with STORAGEsearch.com - AMCC 3ware confirmed it is working with leading SSD oems to develop products which will support the flash SSD RAID market.

Sans Digital launched the CompactRAID CR2T enclosure - which adapts 2x CF cards into a 2.5" SATA mirrored SSD.

Samsung said it will sample a fast 256GB MLC flash SSD in September 2008. It will have a sequential read speed of 200MB/s and sequential write speed of 160MB/s.


June 2008

Fusion-io said it's adapting its flash SSDs to provide acceleration in HP's BladeSystem servers.

InnoDisk announced the world's physically smallest SATA SSD - the SATADOM - measuring 39mm by 20.5mm by 8mm. Capacity ranges from 128MB to 8GB. The SLC flash SSD has a sustainable read speed of 24MB/sec and write speed of 14MB/sec.

Sun Microsystems announced it would start shipping flash SSD based products in the 2nd half of the year. That was no surprise. 4 years ago I predicted that Sun would be the first server oem to announce end-to-end SSD solutions.

Marvell announced its entry into the SSD controller market with the introduction of the ultra-slim Marvell 88NV8120 PCIe based NAND flash controller, the first Marvell product in a planned range of solid state storage controllers. The Marvell 88NV8120 is compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems, and offers comprehensive platform support for PC motherboards.

Mtron said it will supply SSDs to Hynix. Mtron also unveiled details of its new 8 channel controller technology which the company says will enable R/W throughput upto 260/240MB/s and 8,000 random write IOPS (using 4KB blocks) in flash SSD products shipping in Q1 2009.

Texas Memory Systems secured a patent for its "Instant-On I/O" technology (IO²) , which enables instant access to data from a RAM-based SSD after a unit is powered on.

STORAGEsearch.com published a new article about the Hybrid Storage Drives market and called for papers re Understanding Data Failure Modes in Large Solid State Storage Arrays.

Silicon Motion announced a new family of flash SSD controllers which enable oems to mix and match MLC and SLC chips in the same drive. The controller can analyze the incoming files from the host and intelligently move frequently accessed data to SLC NAND and non-frequently accessed data to MLC NAND. With this innovative hybrid architecture, the SSD system cost is significantly reduced to a level comparable to a pure MLC-based SSD, while endurance is significantly enhanced and comparable to a pure SLC-based SSD.


July 2008

SanDisk proposed a new way of specifying flash SSD endurance that it hopes will be adopted by the industry.

ACARD Technology unveiled the 9010 RAM Disk - a 5.25" form factor, 64GB SATA compatible RAM SSD.

Advanced Media said it would ship a faster family of SATA 2.5" MLC flash SSDs this month. The Ridata Ultra-S Plus Series has a read speed upto 128MB/s, and write speed upto 80MB/s. The 128GB model costs approx $537 in low volume.

OCZ launched a range of fast 2.5" SATA flash SSDs - called the Core series. Read performance is 120-143 MB/s, and write speeds are 80-93 MB/s. It's unclear as we go to press whether these are sustainable or burst figures. MSRPs at time of launch are $169 for 32GB, $259 64GB and $479 for 128GB models respectively.

STORAGEsearch.com published the new quarterly ranking of - the Top 10 SSD OEMs and a new article warning customers about the need for continual QA testing in the flash SSD market called - Can you trust your flash SSD's specs?

ULINK Technology launched a test suite for flash SSD makers which includes SSD specific tests for SSD Wear Leveling and SSD Garbage Collection in addition to conventional PATA / SATA compliance, power interrupt and integrity tests.

Samsung and Sun Microsystems said they were collaborating on developing higher endurance "server grade" SLC flash for use in SSDs.

Texas Memory Systems announced the RamSan-440 - a fast 4U rackmount RAM SSD with 512GB capacity and 4Gbps fibre-channel interfaces. It delivers 600,000 sustained random IOPS and over 4GB/S of sustained random read or write bandwidth, with latency of less than 15 microseconds. The RamSan-440 uses RAID protected flash instead of hard disks to backup and restore data in case of a power outage. Data from the RAM SSD can be instantly accessed on power up and the full SSD is restored 20x faster than with hard disk backed RAM SSDs.

JEDEC announced it was starting a new subcommittee JC-64.8 to co-ordinate standards for SSDs - in particular those related to form factors, interfaces and reliability.


August 2008

Indilinx unveiled its 230MB/s flash SSD controller, and said it is working with MOSAID Technologies on a 600MB/s SATA-3 design.

SiliconSystems doubled the capacity of its miniature embedded USB SiliconDrives.

Violin Memory said it had delivered 1 million IOPS on a single interface port (a world record) using the latest version of its Violin 1010 memory appliance. Violin also said that its new technology would deliver 100K write IOPS on a flash SSD version of their product (which hasn't been announced yet.)

Following 4 straight quarters of revenue declines, STEC reported 29% revenue growth for its most recent fiscal quarter.

SMART Modular Technologies announced 6 new SSDs which will sample in Q3. These include faster 2.5" and 1.8" models. The SMART 2.5" XceedUltra2 SATA SSD delivers sustained read/write performance of up to 135MB/s and 105MB/s, respectively, while requiring fewer than 2 watts in active mode. The SMART 1.8" XceedLite SATA SSD operates at 72MB/s read and 55MB/s sustained write speeds and uses under 1 watt of power in active mode.

Objective Analysis published a new report (price $5,000) called - "Solid State Drives in the Enterprise"

Fusion-io added RAID protection to the flash memory array in its Fusion-io PCIe SSD and improved R/W performance.


September 2008

Toshiba sampled a 256GB 2.5" SATA MLC flash SSD with R/W speeds of 120 / 70 MB/s.

Soliware emerged from stealth mode.

Samsung Electronics published an open letter aimed at shareholders offering to buy SanDisk.

Cypress Semiconductor introduced the industry's first device to integrate a non-volatile static random access memory and a programmable system on chip. This may be useful in future hybrid designs of very fast flash SSDs which could use nvSRAM in the controller and thereby deliver better latency for small random reads / writes.

Solid Access Technologies announced that SAMSUNG Securities Co., Ltd had ordered 28 of its 2U RAM SSD (model USSD 200) systems to accelerate its financial market trading servers - following a 6 months evaluation of alternative RAM SSDs

SNIA announced the formation of its Solid State Storage Initiative. Unlike the SSD Alliance , which was launched in 2007, founding members of SNIA's SSSI include manufacturers of both RAM SSDs and flash SSDs

Intel launched a range of 1.8" and 2.5" SATA flash SSDs with 80GB capacity, 70MB/S write speed, 250MB/S read and 85-microseconds read latency priced at around $595.

Fusion-io unveiled the ioSAN - a 10GbE or Infiniband attached flash SSD on PCIe form factor which will ship in 2009.

STORAGEsearch.com published 4 new SSD directories - SATA SSDs, SSD market research, Fibre-Channel SSDs and SSD User Groups. The first 3 are fully populated (as you'd expect). The user group directory is currently a blank canvas. Do big SSD buyers think they need to talk to each other in user groups? We'll see what happens.

Samsung revealed details of the new form factor for flash SSDs which it started sampling a few weeks ago. The dimensions are:- 39mm (L) x 54mm (W) x 4mm (H). 2 of the new Samsung SSDs fit into the same pcb space as a single 1.8" drive, and also in half the height. Available in densities of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, the 32GB device reads data (sequentially) at 90MB/s and writes (sequentially) at 70MB/s.


October 2008

pureSilicon emerged from stealth mode and said it was sampling the Renegade SSD - a rugged MIL-STD-810F compliant 128GB SATA flash SSD with integrated encryption.

SMART Modular Technologies started shipping the Xcel-10 SSD - a 2.5" SLC flash SSD with upto 128GB capacity. Sustained read speed is 115MB/s, and write speed is 125MB/s. (It really is faster than the read speed). It delivers 5,580 IOPS at 100% read or 980 IOPS at 67% read, 33% write, for random I/O using 4K block size.

SanDisk announced it may offload $1 billion worth of fab costs to joint partner Toshiba - after SanDisk reported 21% revenue decline for the most recent quarter.

Cactus Technologies launched the SDChip - a 4GB BGA module with SD interface designed to be soldered as a component for customers in the industrial embedded marketplace.

Intel started shipping the X-25E - a fast 2.5" 32GB SATA SLC flash SSD. Read latency is 75 microseconds and a 10 parallel channel architecture enables it to sustain R/W throughputs of 250 / 170 MB/s. Random IOPS performance is impressive with a 10 to 1 R/W ratio which is inline with the best designed enterprise flash SSDs. Using 4kB blocks - random R/W IOPS are 35,000 and 3,300 respectively.

SiliconSystems contributed its SiliconDrive II Blade specification to the Small Form Factor Special Interest Group for the purpose of creating an official governing standard.

Dataram re-entered the SSD market with the acquisition of strategic assets from Cenatek whose CEO has joined Dataram to lead the company's return to solid state storage, an area they pioneered almost 40 years ago.

Virtium Technology entered the SSD market with its LeanSTOR - an AMC form factor SSD module for the AdvancedTCA market.

IMEC said it had started new research activities on resistive RAM (RRAM) cells - as a possible future technology to replace flash.


November 2008

A-DATA launched the XPG - a dual interface USB and SATA 2.5" SSD. Available with capacities from 32GB to 192GB - it has a read speed upto 170MB/s and write speed upto 100MB/s.

Spansion filed a multibillion dollar patent infringement suit with the ITC against Samsung related to flash memory IP.

Samsung announced it was shipping a fast 2.5" SATA MLC SSD with 256GB capacity in standard 9.5mm height, with 220MB/s read, and 200MB/s sustained write speed. No IOPS data was available at launch. But on R/W specs - this is one of the top 3 fastest 2.5" SSDs.

Violin Memory announced availability of a new 1010 Memory Appliance - a fast 4TB SLC flash SSD in a 2U rackmount. Its patent pending non blocking architecture delivers the best ratio of flash R/W IOPS in the industry - over 200K random Read IOPS and 100K random Write IOPS (4K block). Interface options include:- PCIe, Fibre Channel and Ethernet.

Austin Semiconductor announced a new physically smaller SSD chip for ruggedized embedded applications. Measuring 31mm sq x 7.8mm high it has an embedded IDE, PIO/4 interface, an MTBF of more than 2 million hours and upto 16GB capacity.

Sun Microsystems launched its 7000 family of rackmount NAS systems - which includes hybrid HDD / flash SSD arrays. Sun says its Solaris ZFS can optimize the SSDs intelligently as a part of a storage pool. MSRP for a 4U system with 44TB of 7,200 RPM hard drives, 36GB flash SSD and 64GB RAM is $117,995.

Curtiss-Wright launched 2 new flash SSDs in XMC and PMC form factors with upto 32GB capacity. Each card contains 2 independent SATA SSDs with upto 30MB/s throughput. For maximum throughput (50MB/s) the 2 drives can be run in RAID 0 mode.

Solid Access Technologies launched a new range of RAM SSDs available with Fibre Channel, SAS or SCSI interfaces. The USSD 300 family includes the world's fastest 1U SSD with 256GB capacity, 10 microseconds latency and 100K IOPS on a single port. The 2U model supports 4GB/s sustained bandwidth and upto 6 ports.

BiTMICRO Networks said it had started customer shipments of 128GB models from its E-Disk Altima family of 3.5" 4Gbps Fibre Channel SLC flash SSDs.

Network Appliance published details of its corporate thinking re SSDs. NetApp's paper - Flash Memory Technology in Enterprise Storage (pdf) doesn't actually say much beyond the fact they're qualifying some products and will launch systems offerings which include flash SSDs sometime in 2009.

SanDisk published a new white paper on the subject of Virtual RPM for flash SSDs (pdf). The unoriginal concept is apparently aimed at people who have been trapped in a stasis field for the past several years and who are still making unrealistic SSD vs HDD IOPS comparisons. SanDisk also promised faster SSDs in 2009. No oem has yet promised to ship slower devices next year. Now that would be newsworthy!


December 2008

RunCore announced 1.8" PATA SSDs aimed at the notebook upgrade market. Available with capacity upto 128GB (retail price $389.99 ) an inbuilt slave USB port enables users to easily clone their internal hard drive using Acronis True Image (or similar) software. The SSD can then be installed in the notebook typically giving a 4x speedup. RunCore also launched its Hyper Speed - a 2.5" SATA SSD with 256GB with RW speeds of 230MB/s and 150MB/s respectively priced under $700.

A-DATA launched the XPG - a 3.5" SSD enclosure for 2x 2.5" SATA SSDs. It can operate as a single mirror protected unit, or as a single high capacity drive.

Super Talent Technology said it will sample a new range of 2.5" SATA flash SSDs in January 2009. The SLC unit has 128GB capacity and R/W speeds upto 230/170 MB/sec. The MLC unit has 256GB capacity and R/W speeds upto 200/160 MB/sec.

Toshiba said it will sample a new family of MLC flash SSDs with 256GB capacity in 2.5" and 128GB capacity in 1.8" form factors in Q1 2009.

Hitachi and Intel announced they were jointly designing a new range of high IOPS flash SSDs with Fibre Channel and SAS interfaces for the server market. The new products, which will be exclusively marketed by Hitachi GST - are expected to ship in Q1 2010.

SiliconSystems published a significant whitepaper - NAND Evolution and its Effects on SSD Useable Life (pdf). Starting with a tour of the state of the art in the flash SSD market the paper introduces several new concepts (including write amplification and wear leveling efficiency) to help systems designers understand why current wear usage models don't give a complete picture.

STEC issued new guidance for the revenue outlook in Q4 2008. STEC downgraded its revenue guidance for the 4th quarter by 20% - which is not unremarkable given the current state of the economy. Notwithstanding that - STEC's SSD business is expected to have revenues in 2008 which are 5x the level in 2007.

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How Big is Your SSD Budget for 2008?
Editor:- January 2, 2008 - Happy New Year to You all.

I've got a question for you. How big is your solid state storage budget in 2008?

I hazard to guess that most of you haven't put anything notionally marked as "SSD spending" in 2008's budget - even if you already have a good idea about what you're going to spend on traditional storage products and services.

I also predict that when the crunch comes - and you find yourself spending surprisingly large amounts of money on SSDs for the first time - these costs will be initially allocated to other cost centers - such as servers or PCs - rather than storage.

It was always thus.

In 1983 for example - over 90% of corporates didn't have a budget for buying IBM PCs. These disruptive tools intitially crept in under the IT department radar - as users found they could do useful jobs like word processing and business analysis quicker, cheaper and more conveniently than using the clunky alternatives then on offer by their IT departments. Similarly RAID systems did not appear in most 1990 corporate IT budgets - but are now everywhere.

In 2007 the SSD industry surprised many by introducing many exciting new technologies and products.

I predict that in 2008 - innovative users will surprise the SSD market by discovering for themselves a new generation of killer applications- enabled by SSDs - which would have been technically impossible - or even nuts to try and achieve using conventional hard disk based technologies. Those SSD sparks will feed back to fan the flames of the market.

Examples might include what I call - enterprise spreadsheet analysis - in which business managers are enabled to model "what if?" scenarios on duplicate sets of their entire customer database - to find gaps in their marketing or test ideas for new products.

Other applications enabled by SSD accleration might include AI enabled real-time upselling offers on ecommerce web sites. These are already feasible for innovative small to medium size companies but are not scalable with today's magnetic disk arrays. Large enterprises can't be nimble with their data because their servers would grind to a halt if you tried these types of tricks.

I'm not going to give you a long list of predicted disruptive SSD technology enabled applications - because they would be wrong - and you're going to see them coming thick and fast from real users on these pages soon enough.

2008 will be the year that users - rewrite the rules on how they mix and match new storage technologies in ways that the original manufacturers of those products - never dreamed about.
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What's the best / cheapest - PC SSD?
Editor:- I often get emails from readers which ask the above question.

An article on StorageSearch.com - called What's the best / cheapest PC SSD? - is my attempt to create a simple FAQs page - which answers the question...
click to read this article ...of why I can't answer your question - and follows on to pose some probing questions which you can ask yourself. ...read the article
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this way to the Petabyte SSD
In 2016 there will be just 7 types of SSD in the datacenter.

One of them doesn't exist yet - the bulk storage SSD.

It will replace the last remaining strongholds of hard drives in the datacenter due to its unique combination of characteristics, low running costs and operational advantages.
click to read the article -  reaching for the petabyte SSD - not as scary as you may think ... The new model of the datacenter - how we get from here to there - and the technical problems which will need to be solved - are just some of the ideas explored in this visionary article.
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