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bootable integrated PCIe SSD based acceleration
with caching optimized for Windows WXL
the Z-Drive 4500 - from OCZ

a Toshiba group company


PCIe SSDs for use in enterprise server acceleration have been shipping in the market since 2007.

It's one of the most popular SSD subjects pursued by our readers and has been (and has been since 2009 - when we first told you that searches for PCIe SSDs on - had overtaken searches for 2.5" SSDs on this site for the first time in SSD market history).

Over 100 million enterprise PCIe ports had already been shipped in the market (upto January 2014). And by the end of 2014 - the enterprise PCIe SSD market first surpassed $1 billion in annual revenue - with many analysts expecting revenue in this market to double in the next 3-4 years - helped the declining average selling price of these products and the emergence of a mature software ecosystem with multi vendor support for popular things you can do with PCIe SSDs. (Which now goes far beyond the original main reasons to buy - which were acceleration by tiering and caching.)

Over 60 companies have already ship enterprise accelerator PCIe SSDs. You can see a partial list in this column below. That will rise to over 100 companies as the availability of more PCIe supporting SSD controller chips, other SSD related chip sets and IP and SSD software for this market will make it even easier than it already is for newcomers to enter the PCIe SSDs market.

PCIe SSDs come in several shapes and sizes.

The original form factors were the now familiar looking cards, modules and even racks.

But a new form factor - for 2.5" PCIe SSDs which emerged in 2012 opened up new applications - such as the displacement of fast SAS SSDs.

In the 2nd half of 2013 - we also saw the start of another type of deployment for the PCIe interface in the M.2 form factor which was first aimed at the consumer SSD market and SSD notebooks. These consumer PCIe products had throughputs similar to the enterprise products of 5-6 years earlier - but weren't rated for heavy IOPS.

As expected there was confirmation in 2014 that PCIe SSDs in the M.2 form factor were also being developed for use in enterprise applications too.

Performance of PCIe SSDs?

The best way to get an idea of the range of performances in this market is to look at recent news coverage. Although benchmarks and data sheets don't tell the whole story.

In the enterprise market in 2015 - you mostly find products which are compatible with 2 different generations of PCIe - called gen 2 and gen 3 (5GT/s per lane). Although a 4th generation may become available at the end of 2015.

Each PCIe interface generation represents a different peak data throughput for each lane of the interface which is implemented. Adding more lanes adds more throughput capability.

In general - such as when used with the same flash controller architecture - a faster PCIe link (higher gen number) will result in lower latency. But it's not always true than a gen 3 PCIe SSD will be faster (in applications) than a gen 2 SSD. Other factors are throughput (due to number of lanes), differences in the design of the flash controller architecture, differences in the memories and differences in the software APIs (mature proprietary APIs can offer better application determined latency than standard NVMe APIs).

For PCIe interface speeds see the PCIe faqs page which is by the standards ORG - PCI SIG.

For PCIe SSD use cases and capabilities see - PCIe SSDs - state of the market & technology (pdf) - a white paper from t the 2014 Flash Memory Summit.

What's the Competition to PCIe SSDs for server based acceleration?

As the server based SSD accelerator market has grown in size and software support - PCIe SSDs should be viewed as one of many micro tiered layers inside a server. Tiering in this context being by latency.

Other key SSD examples (inside the server box) being:-
  • memory channel SSDs (which currently offer similar latencies to PCIe in January 2015 - but which might get faster)
Outside the server blade or box - competition for PCIe SSDs - also comes from the latency offered by fast FC SAN rackmount SSDs - and new emerging types of PCIe fabric which can be terminated in either remote RAM or remote flash.

Two different types of competing PCIe fabric architecture are currently being marketed
  • ExpressFabric from PLX (aimed at single cabinet to small number of cabinets level scale - and hundreds of PCIe ports)
It's certain that more vendors will also enter this market.
PCIe SSD oems list
As promised above - here's a historic list of past PCIe SSD makers from the storage news archive and articles. It's listed in alphabetic order and also includes some notable vendors which have been acquired or exited the market.

Which of these companies are the most significant?

A good way is to cross reference this against recent editions of the Top SSD Companies.




Avant Technology








Extreme Engineering


Fuji Xerox


Greenliant Systems










LSI (acquired by Seagate)


Mach Xtreme Technology


Memblaze Technology








Oracle (Sun)






Ramaxel Technology

Renice Technology




SANRAD (acquired by OCZ)


Shannon Systems

SMART (EOL before acquisition by SanDisk)

Sonnet Technologies

STEC (acquired by HGST)

Super Talent

Texas Memory Systems (acquired by IBM - EOL)


Violin (PCIe range sold to Hynix)

Virident Systems (acquired by HGST)

PCIe chips from PLX - click for more info
switches for leading PCIe SSD designs
ExpressLane from Avago Technologies / PLX
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 in 2007 - but it didn't turn out to be that way.
don't all PCIe SSDs look pretty much the same?
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.
Today's commodity MLC flash has raw wear-out in the 2,000 to 3,000 write cycle range. And the future direction is downwards (towards worse).
SSD endurance - the forever war

SSD software
the Fastest SSDs
popular SSD articles
SSD Market History
the SSD Buyers Guide
flash SSD Jargon Explained
the Top 20 SSD Companies
Reaching for the petabyte SSD
RAM Cache Ratios in flash SSDs
Yes you can! - swiftly sort Enterprise SSDs
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs
Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design
Are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps?
RAM SSDs versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does the money go?
Rackmount SSD Trends - open vs proprietary
the Problem with Write IOPS in flash SSDs
Random "write IOPS" in many of the fastest flash SSDs are now similar to "read IOPS" - implying a performance symmetry which was once believed to be impossible.

So why are flash SSD IOPS such a poor predictor of application performance?

And why are users still buying RAM SSDs which cost an order of magnitude more than SLC? (let alone MLC) - even when the IOPS specs look superficially similar?

This article tells you why the specs got faster - but the applications didn't.
the problem with flash SSD  write IOPS And why competing SSDs with apparently identical benchmark results can perform completely differently. the article

classic SSDs from SSD market history
Virident FlashMAX.  - click for more info
Predictable, industry-leading PCIe SSD performance.
Scales across diverse workloads, data sets,
and sustains over time.
Learn more about - Virident FlashMAX
Both the world's largest HDD makers loved the FlashMax II (launched in August 2012). Seagate oemed it. Then later - WD acquired the company.

many years ago - in SSD market history
BiTMICRO & CENATEK collaborate on PCI SSDs

March 5, 2002 - BiTMICRO. and CENATEK announced today, a technology and marketing partnership to investigate developing a hybrid solid state disk storage solution that brings together the best in flashdisk storage and PCI bus-attached SSD technology.

Prices are likely to range between $1,000 to $2,000 per gigabyte.

Editor's later comments:- the fast PCI SSDs which later emerged from CENATEK - can be seen as immediate ancestors of the modern PCIe SSD market.

But the concept of using fast bus based SSDs as storage accelerators wasn't a new idea. It went back 3 to 4 decades.

Those earlier market experiments with solid state storage were always short lived - because the expensive SSD storage in each product generation was always competing with fast changing improvements in CPU clock speeds, bus memory throughput or faster external magnetic storage media.

The changes in the modern era of SSDs - which started about 2003 - was that due to those other computer technologies stagnating and not getting any faster - the only competitor which killed an SSD from about that time - was another SSD.

By that time - the new computer bus was known to be PCI express. But it was the failure of the alternatives to solid state storage to get faster - which made the big difference to the business viability of SSDs - rather than any inate characteristic of PCIe SSDs.

"despite the bewildering range of products in the market - the performance characteristics and limitations of ALL flash SSDs are determined by a small set of of architectural parameters."
a toolkit for understanding flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations
what changed in SSD year 2014?
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
PCIe SSDs versus memory channel SSDs
Enterprise SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide
an SSD conversation with PLX about PCIe fabric etc
what's so different about the design of Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs?
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

SanDisk comments on customer drift away from its PCIe SSDs

Editor:- April 16, 2015 - You should be careful not to misconstrue SanDisk's recent statement about enterprise PCIe SSD replacement by SATA SSDs as a general trend for all customers and all types of PCIe SSDs. ..more in SSD news.

Sonnet launches "Fusion PCIe Flash Drive"

(followed by) a useful clarification re the Fusion brand in storage

Editor:- April 7, 2015 - In a move which I think will lead to inevitable confusion - Sonnet Technologies has today launched a new consumer storage module called the "Fusion PCIe Flash Drive."

"The Fusion PCIe Flash Drive leverages the latest advancements in PCIe SSD design and Thunderbolt 2 technology, enabling Sonnet to offer a storage device that fits neatly in the palm of your hand yet delivers the blazing-fast performance of a multi-drive RAID storage system many times its size," said Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet Technologies CEO. "We think this will become an indispensable accessory for the creative professional."

Editor's comments:- Inside the box - is an M.2 SSD. If it had anything to do with Fusion-io - the best known brand in the PCIe SSD market - then I think we would have heard about it before.

I often wonder what goes through the minds of product marketers when they name new SSD products. Many of the clever words have already gone as you can see in my SSD brand name archives.

Later corrections and clarifications

I contacted Sonnet's CEO - Robert Farnsworth about this name confusion issue.

I said - "Robert is there any connection between your new Fusion PCIe drive and Fusion-io? I would be surprised if there was. Didn't you anticipate confusion when naming this product?"

Robert told me - "Sonnet Technologies has been using the Fusion™ name for our storage product since before Fusion-io existed as a company. None of Fusion-io products carry the Fusion name because Sonnet owns the trademark."

I got more of the background history about the Fusion storage trademark issue from Greg LaPorte, VP Sales and Marketing - Sonnet Technologies - whose detailed notes make interesting reading.

Greg said - "Sonnet was actually the first to use, and trademark, 'Fusion' in association with storage back in 2005 and have since used it for all Sonnet storage products. With respect to Fusion-io, yes, Sonnet began using the trademark 'Fusion' for storage products before Canvas Technologies became FusionMultiSystems in June of 2006 and well before they named their first ioDrive in September 2007. Later they evolved to Fusion-io for a company name but did not name their actual products with Fusion. They tend to use "io" in the majority of their product names."

Greg's email also included this related story. "When Apple came out with the Fusion Drive, we brought this to their attention; Was Apple infringing on a Sonnet trademark? Their answer was that Fusion is so commonly used for product names, they felt it fell into the "non-trademarkable" category. We... don't agree with that assessment but we have a good relationship with Apple."

Memblaze enters 2.5" PCIe SSD market

Editor:- March 16, 2015 - Memblaze today announced it is showing a 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD variant of its PBlaze series at CeBIT in Germany.

Memblaze was the 27th most highly searched SSD company by readers of in Q4 2014.

another design win for Seagate's Nytro in China cloud market

cloud storage news, vendors, articles  and directory - click here
SSD cloud
Editor:- March 12, 2015 - QingCloud mentioned high capacity and low cost among the reasons for selecting Seagate's XP6209 (pdf) (PCIe SSD) as components to build the low latency SSD infrastructure of its cloud services for the China market - in a press release today.

Editor's comments:- who are the new cloud companies in China?

Meet China's Cloud Innovators - a blog by Charlie Dai, Principal Analyst - Forrester Research

See also:- the big market impact of SSD dark matter

8TB 2.5" PCIe SSDs sampling soon from Novachips

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - Are you interested in a world's first 2.5" 8TB (15mm height) PCIe Gen2 x4 SSD (pdf) with a single controller developed by Novachips. in Korea?

Novachip 8TB 2.5 inch PCIe SSDThat was an email I got recently from Sean Oh, in Germany, who is the sales representative for these products in Europe.

What would you say?

I did the same. After reading up the info he attached (there's a SATA version too) I asked some questions about availability. Here's what Sean said.
  • The working engineering samples have been available since last year.
  • The 1st customer sample comes out in the next 30 days.
  • We plan to start a mass production in 2nd half of this year.
  • What do you think ? Is it something cool, isn't it ?
Editor's comments:- part of this story has its roots in a news story from May 2007 - when a company called MOSAID was talking about a new, light capacitive load, ring based, flash memory topology called HLNAND. To make it work they needed a controller. Novachips collaborated on the design and recently acquired the assets and patents.

new edition of the Top SSD Companies

Editor:- March 2, 2015 - recently published a new edition of the Top SSD Companies list - based on market metrics in Q4 2014.

Greenliant enters PCIe SSD market

Editor:- January 12, 2015 - Greenliant Systems - has entered the entry level enterprise NVME PCIe SSD market - with the launch of its new G7100 (pdf) series MLC gen 2 x4 PCIe SSDs - upto 2.75 TB raw capacity, Full Height, Half Length form factor, 130K / 60K R/W IOPS, and endurance of upto 10 DWPD for 5 years.

Internally Greenliant's new PCIe SSD has a RAID protected array of miniature NANDrive SSDs which use the company's own controllers.

"Leveraging our in-depth flash memory knowledge and volume-proven NAND controller expertise, Greenliant is addressing the industry's increasing need for higher reliability, higher performance and larger capacity flash-based storage solutions," said Bing Yeh, CEO of Greenliant Systems.

Editor's comments:- ever since the company was founded - in 2010 - Greenliant's focus has been on the industrial and embedded SSD market. So it's surprising to see this new product aimed at the "enterprise" market. However it's part of an emerging trend in the market.

Samsung mass producing gen 3 PCIe SSDs for notebooks

Editor:- January 7, 2015 - 19 months after launching its first M.2 PCIe gen 2 SSDs aimed at the notebook market (the XP941 (pdf) in June 2013) - Samsung said it is now mass producing the follow-up SM951 - which supports gen 3 PCIe.

Samsung says - "For ultra-slim notebooks and workstations the SM951 can read and write sequentially at 2,150MB/s and 1,550 MB/s respectively..."

The SM951 is the first SSD to adopt L1.2 low power standby mode (the PCIe SSD equivalent of the power saving devsleep mode in SATA SSDs) . When hibernating in L1.2 mode, the SM951's power consumption is less than 2mW.

Toshiba shows early version of BGA PCIe SSD

Editor:- January 7, 2015 - Toshiba announced it will showcase a prototype of the world's first PCIe single package SSD - with up to 256GB in a single BGA package at CES this week.

The NVMe compatible device fits into 16mm x 20mm x 1.65mm and weighs under 1g. See also:- BGA SSDs

What next - after PCIe SSDs everywhere?

Editor:- December 2, 2014 - What next - when PCIe SSDs are already everywhere? You know you need them. But you need more too.

Signs of interesting times ahead in 2015 are revealed in the new edition of the Top SSD Companies - based on market metrics in Q3 2014 - researched and published by

For over 5 years - Fusion-io had occupied the top #1 spot in this list as the SSD company which was most researched by our readers. That was inevitably going to change. And it did. But not in the way you might have expected.

The new #1 SSD company is Diablo Technologies - creator of the Memory Channel Storage platform.

But that's not the only sign of change.

7 years after the 2007 Year of SSD revolutions - is the enterprise SSD market about to begin a new revolution in server centric SSD architecture? the article

the key band members - which made Fusion-io so very famous - have reunited at Primary Data

Editor:- November 19, 2014 - "With Woz on the team along with Lance Smith and David Flynn,, we now have the band back together, and I'm amped to be reunited at Primary Data" said Rick White, cofounder Primary Data today - referring to the fact that 4 of the best known people in Fusion-io (including the 2 founders) were now at the helm of the new company on the day it emerged from stealth mode. more in SSD news

why did Memblaze demonstrate 14µS latency PCIe SSDs in Europe before US?

Editor:- October 31, 2014 - Something I saw in a press release this week by Memblaze Technology made me think I'd better pause to check the significance behind the words before mentioning it here.

The story - from their PR agency - A3 Communications - was about the launch of a new PCIe SSD - the EBlaze3 - in Europe - which contained the phrase.

"This will be the first time the technology is available outside China."

I wondered if - behind that statement - there might have been an implied message that the new product will be sold preferentially in Europe - rather than the US - as we have seen evolving in stories about one of the world's biggest enterprise companies - to have emerged from China - Huawei.

Or was this wording - and the showing of Memblaze's EBlaze3 at a trade show this week in Germany - simply due to the timing of having booked booths at trade shows and the availability of the new product - rather than an expression of preference about which market - the US or EU - is more important for their new enterprise SSD to be seen in?

So I asked Ron MacLeod - who is VP of marketing for Memblaze in Europe - to clarify these points.

Ron said - "The product will be available in the US in the same way it is available in Europe. And with regard to timing indeed it was just coincidence that the Powering the Cloud event was running and at which was the first time Memblaze was public in Europe. There is no favouritism over markets except the US is potentially larger - so no hidden messaging. We value the European business and other potential global partners equally."

Editor's comments:- So that's why I delayed mentioning this before.

FYI - The Memblaze EBlaze3 (upto 2.4TB in HHHL and 4.8TB in FHHL single slot) is a new version of the PBlaze3 card - which is aimed at, Hyperscale and OCP (Open Compute Project market). It offers an ultra-low latency of 14µs and enables customers to define and alter key settings to ensure optimum performance in their specific applications and platforms. tests Fusion-io's Atomic SSD

Editor:- October 21, 2014 - Earlier this year - in June 2014 - and just weeks before SanDisk announced it was acquiring the company - Fusion-io launched a new generation of PCIe SSDs - the Atomic Series - which was an overdue catching up exercise to use cheaper 20nm flash.

At the time the headline product specifications seemed to me to be adequate - rather than spectacular.

It's probably safe to assume they were intended to restore the competitiveness of Fusion-io's products rather than push performance boundaries.

But what are they like? And how do they compare?

A new article - Fusion ioMemory PX600 Review - published in provides the answers to how it performs and how it compares on popular OS platforms and benchmarks. the article

See also:- how fast can your SSD run backwards?, SSD testing & analyzer news

Samsung mass produces 3TB 3D PCIe SSDs

Editor:- September 25, 2014 - Samsung today announced it has started mass producing 3.2 TB NVMe PCIe SSDs (HHHL) based on its 3D flash memory technology, for use in enterprise systems.
pic of Samsung PCIe SSD
The new NVMe PCIe SSD, SM1715 provides a sequential R/W speeds upto 3GB/s and 2.2GB/s respectively with endurance rated at 10 DWPD for 5 years.

Editor's comments:- Samsung supplied an IOPS rating for the new SSD - but forgot to include the block size to which it relates - so I've asked for clarification.

Seagate launches new improved Nytro PCIe SSDs

Editor:- September 10, 2014 - Seagate today launched 2 new PCIe SSDs - which are based on the SSD product lines and brand assets of the recently acquired SSD business of LSI.
  • click for more infothe Nytro XP6302 is a HHHL, gen 3 PCIe SSD - which provides up to 1.75 TB of usable eMLC capacity with 200 microseconds average latency, and 295K/79K R/W IOPS (8KB) and rated for 0.9 DWPD (approx) write endurance for 5 years.
  • click for more infothe Nytro XP6210 is a FHHL gen 2 PCIe SSD with 1.86TB usable 19nm cMLC capacity, with 50 microseconds average latency 185K/120K R/W IOPS (8KB), and rated at 1.6 DWPD (approx) write endurance for 5 years.

HGST announces 2nd generation clustering software for FlashMAX PCIe SSDs

Editor:- September 9, 2014 - HGST today announced a new improved version of the high availability clustering capability previously available in the PCIe SSD product line acquired last year from Virident.

HGST's Virident Space allows clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices to deliver one or more shared volumes of high performance flash storage with a total usable capacity of more than 38TB.

HGST says its Virident HA provides a "high-throughput, low-latency synchronous replication across servers for data residing on FlashMAX PCIe devices. If the primary server fails, the secondary server can automatically start a standby copy of your application using the secondary replica of the data."

For more details see - HGST Virident Software 2.0 (pdf)

Editor's comments:- This capability had already been demonstrated last year - and ESG reported on the technology in January 2014.

But at that time - the clustering product called vShare - was restricted to a small number of servers - and the data access fabric was restricted to Infiniband only.

With the rev 2.0 software - the number of connected devices has increased - and users also have the lower cost option of using Ethernet as an alternative supported fabric.

OCZ samples hot swap, fast 2.5" NVMe SSDs

Editor:- September 9, 2014 - OCZ announced that this month it will begin sampling a new 2.5" hot swappable enterprise PCIe SSD - the Z-Drive 6000 - is a native PCIe 3.0 NVMe 1.1 solution - which the company says "provides industry-leading IOPS per dollar". It has a SFF-8639 connector, internal RAID, power loss data protection, "consistent low latency", and encryption.

Editor's comments:- Although OCZ demonstrated the SSD industry's first working 3.5" PCIe SSD prototype 4 years ago - in August 2010 - the company didn't follow through to establish an early lead in its natural successor - the 2.5" enterprise PCIe market - where current leaders today are Micron and Samsung. The main reason for that was financial problems in OCZ in the years which immediately followed - which mitigated against products which didn't have a short term guaranteed market.

Now, however, with OCZ having been almost a year as a Toshiba group company - the small form factor enterprise NVMe market looks like a natural fit for OCZ - as an extension of its long running conventional form factor PCIe SSD accelerator business. updates 10 key SSD ideas in 2014

Editor:- September 5, 2014 - Are SSD years getting faster? It's not just the SSDs.

Anyway it seemed to me that an end of year SSD market update was due even though 1/3 of this year hasn't happened yet.

That's why this week published a new home page blog - updating 10 key SSD ideas in 2014.

As you might expect - PCIe SSDs come into the picture. But there's more to it than that. If you're impatient - you don't have you don't have to wait till January 2015. the article

Plextor's M.2 PCIe SSD wins award at FMS

Editor:- August 7, 2014 - Plextor today announced that its M6e - an M.2 PCIe SSD - has won Best of Show for most Innovative flash memory technology at the Flash Memory Summit.

The M6e SSD combines a multi-core Marvell PCIe 9183 controller and Toshiba toggle NAND flash with firmware developed by Plextor's in-house team.

say hello to Shannon Systems

Editor:- August 6, 2014 - I hadn't heard of Shannon Systems before. But I got a nice email this morning from Xueshi Yang, CEO and co-founder who said he has been reading "for quite a number of years now" and also said that his company is showing their products at Flash Memory Summit.

Among other things - Xueshi Yang said - "Shannon System is a startup I co-founded in 2011 in China after I left Marvell.

"The company is dedicated to the enterprise flash storage market. Currently, we focus on the high performance PCIe market with our proprietary controllers and software systems. In April this year, we announced the industry first 6.4TB PCIe SSD with a single controller, which boasts 67us read access latency and 9 us write access latency (all in 4KB, random). While in June, we introduced a PCIe SSD with SFF-8639 interface, which is hot-pluggable. We currently serve over 100 customers in China, including Tier 1 internet companies, as well as other named customers such as China Mobile, China Telecomm etc."

eASIC supports Mobiveil's NVMe platform

Editor:- August 6, 2014 - eASIC today announced announced support for Mobiveil's NVMe platform (pdf) implemented in eASIC devices.

"eASIC is enabling the rapid deployment of SSD technology at substantially lower cost and up to 70% lower power than alternative solutions", said Jasbinder Bhoot, VP of Worldwide Marketing at eASIC. "By working with Mobiveil, customers will have access to a complete NVMe solution running in cost, power and performance optimized eASIC devices."

HGST rekindles concept of a PCM based PCIe SSD

Editor:- August 4, 2014 - HGST today announced it will demonstrate a PCM PCIe SSD concept at the Flash Memory Summit. HGST says the demonstration model delivers 3 million random read IOPS (512 Bytes) and a random read access latency of 1.5 microseconds.

Editor's comments:- Micron funded the world's first enterprise PCM PCIe SSD demo 3 years ago (in June 2011). The storage density of PCM resulted in an SSD which had pitifully low capacity compared to flash memory at that time - and earlier this year (in January 2014) there were reports that Micron had temporarily abandoned this idea.

Is HGST really going to wander into memory space where even the memory makers don't want to go? Or is this just a market signal that HGST isn't just looking at short term SSD product concepts?

Lite-On enters enterprise M.2 PCIe SSD market

Editor:- July 30, 2014 - Lite-On will be showing a new M.2 PCIe SSD for the enterprise market next week at the Flash Memory Summit.

The P1P is a M.2 PCIe SSD with capacities of 1TB and power loss protection circuit all in a small form factor.

The small form factor and high capacity allow enterprise customers to pack more storage in a smaller footprint. The P1P Series can deliver sequential R/W speeds up to 610MB/s and 520MB/s while random R/W speeds can be upto 95K/15K IOPS.

The drive has a MTBF of 2 million hours and an endurance rating of up to 1 drive write per day for 5 years.

OCZ announces availability of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5

Editor:- July 15, 2014 - OCZ this week announced availability of version 1.5 of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator (PCIe SSD and caching software bundle) the beta version of which was announced in April.

SanDisk to buy Fusion-io

Editor:- June 16, 2014 - SanDisk today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Fusion-io in all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.1 billion.

Editor's comments:- What will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io?

Here's the short version from me.

"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 to add a few more toppings on the 3D pizza. "

For the much longer version(s) - see my article in SSD news

PLDA enters the PCIe SSD controller market with 6.6 Gb/s NVMe controller

Editor:- June 9, 2014 - PLDA today anounced immediate availability of a new SSD controller aimed at the PCIe SSD market.

PLDA's XpressRICH3 IP is a high performance, low latency, highly-configurable PCI Express 3.0 soft IP supporting endpoint, root port, switch and bridge configurations. The certified design has been engineered for both ASIC/SoC and FPGA implementations.

Editor's comments:- PLDA has written a product description - Conquering the challenges of PCIe with NVMe in order to deliver highly competitive Enterprise PCIe SSDs (pdf) - which contains an overview of the design. Here are some extracts.
  • power saving features? - PLDA implements L1 PM Sub-states, reducing power consumption without affecting performance.
  • performance? - 270K write IOPS, 12µS write latency write (4KB) using the FPGA-based reference design.
Here are some questions I put to the company.
  • is there a minimum order quantity or cost associated with licensing your IP?

    No minimum quantity.
  • What is your deliverable?

    An Encrypted Source code file that can be downloaded or sent on CD
  • How does a customer evaluate your IP?

    We provide 1 month Free Evaluation IP

new article re PCIe and SSDs

Editor:- June 5, 2014 - today published a new article - an SSD conversation with PLX.

That concept diagram they've been talking about for the past 3 years - may soon become a 1U PCIe fabric box reality which you can use to glue your servers and SSDs together.

new PCIe SSDs from Fusion-io

Editor:- June 5, 2014 - Fusion-io today launched 2 new gen 2.0 x8 standard height, half length PCIe SSD product lines - which they call the Atomic Series - which are available in 2 different price and application categories.
  • PX600 series - upto 5.2TB usable capacity, with 92µS / 15µS R/W latency, 2.7GB/s / 2.1GB /s R/W throughput and 375K write IOPS - designed for high end servers - with 5 years warranty.
  • SX300 - upto 6.4TB usable capacity - with similar latency to PX600 - but lower throughput (2.6GB/s / 1.2GB/s R/W throughput) and 16% lower power consumption - designed and priced for scale-out architectures and hyperscale environments - with 3 years warranty.
Fusion-io says that more than 7,000 customers in over 80 countries use its products to reduce latency and speed the flow of data-driven applications.

Hynix buys Violin's PCIe SSD product line

Editor:- May 29, 2014 - Today in line with previous guidance signals - Violin Memory (which in January 2013 had been observed to tentatively dip its toes as a late entrant into the raging torrents of the PCIe SSD market - but which had not been regarded by me as very likely to survive a rigorous swim) announced that it has sold its PCIe SSD product line to Hynix which paid $23 million in cash and assumed certain liabilities totaling $0.5 million.

Marvell samples controller for SATAe SSDs

Editor:- May 21, 2014 - If you're designing SATA Express SSDs then Marvell today announced it is sampling the 1st SSD controller specifically designed for the SATAe market - which will enable the design of 2.5" PCIe SSDs at costs which could be competitive with fast SATA SSDs.

Marvell's 88SS1083 is a 2 lane PCIe Gen2 SSD controller with transfer rates up to 1GB/s. It supports DevSleep and L1.2 PCIe low power state - to minimize power consumption in notebook and enterprise array environments.

EMC acquires (memory channel SSD in a box but connected via PCIe company) DSSD

Editor:- May 5, 2014 - EMC has acquired a stealth mode rackmount SSD company - DSSD - it was announced today.

Products based on the new DSSD architecture - which connects to servers via PCIe - are expected to be available in 2015.

Editor's comments:- for a competitive analysis and technology perspective see rackmount SSD news

LSI's Nytro works with BPE in SQL Server 2014

Editor:- April 24, 2014 - A lot of SSD companies have announced that their products are compatible with Microsoft's SQL Server 2014. Another noteworthy company in that category is LSI - who today announced that its Nytro flash accelerator cards (PCIe SSDs) work with the new Buffer Pool Extension feature.

OCZ launches new desktop PCIe SSD

Editor:- April 24, 2014 - OCZ today launched a new gen 2 PCIe SSD for high performance desktop uses such as gaming and workstation. The Linux and Windows compatible RevoDrive 350 (240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacity models) has R/W speeds upto 1.8 / 1.7 GB/s and 140,000 4K random write IOPS.

Editor's comments:- a key difference between this type of prosumer desktop SSD and the kind you need in intensive 24x7 server slots is endurance.

OCZ says the RevoDrive 350 is rated at "upto 50GB of host writes per day for 3 years". That may be OK for a desktop - but if you translate that into enterprise jargon - DWPD for 5 years - it translates into 0.1 - which is 40x lower than a typical enterprise PCIe drive.

Fusion-io says - we don't regard NVM DIMMs as a threat to our PCIe SSD business

Editor:- April 23, 2014 - Fusion-io today reported revenue up 14% yoy to $100 million but losses have grown too - to $30 million for the recent quarter.

Editor's comments:- Here are some technology points which emerged from the investor conference call.
  • Threat to FIO's PCIe SSD business from SanDisk's ULLtraDIMMs? (memory channel SSDs).

    Lance Smith said - he thought NVM DIMMs were a validation of what FIO had already done - but he regarded NVM DIMMs (in their current form) as a niche market. He went on to say - "We don't believe that DDR-3 and the memory interface is the bottleneck. It's about managing the nand and getting the best performance out of the nand."
  • Re 3rd generation iodrives? - These are being qualified. FIO's 3rd generation products - and the 5th generation of nand flash geometry used by the company - will be available in the next month or so.

if memory channel SSDs cost nothing - would there still be a market for PCIe SSDs?

Editor:- April 17, 2014 - today published a new blog - memory channel SSDs versus PCIe SSDs are these really different markets? - which revisits (from a current perspective) some of the key questions I posed a year ago about Memory Channel SSDs.

Are these really different markets? And - at the boundary limits of price - what are the different application roles - where one type of SSD is better than the other? the article

Editor:- April 16, 2014 - BiTMICRO recently announced that Bharadwaj Pudipeddi has joined the company as VP of Engineering and Lead Architect. Pudipeddi's past design roles in notable SSD companies include 2 years at Violin Memory.

what's the market for Plextor's PCIe SSD?

Editor:- April 7, 2014 - I asked Plextor's virtual marketing representative in the US - Andrew Erickson at Alaniz Marketing to tell me more about Plextor's thinking about routes to market for their entry level (Gen2) PCIe SSD market offering - the M6e.
Plextor consumer PCIe SSD
He said - "The M6e is marketed directly to consumers as an end-user upgrade and mostly via newegg and major e-tailers."

Andrew went on to say - "Plextor is definitely moving into the enterprise space and we're expecting to see a couple of read intensive and multi-use ssd products later this year. It sounds like some of the enterprise firmware advances may already be evident in the M6e - though it's not being marketed in that way. I have seen some Plextor drives sold in high end gaming rigs, but I'm not aware of current plans to sell OEM at this time."

Samsung's new 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD

Editor:- March 25, 2014 - Although Samsung's own mystery meat navigation inspired enterprise SSD selection page doesn't list this product yet (at the time of writing this) Samsung is engaged in the 2.5" PCIe SSD market - and is shipping a 1.6TB NVMe PCIe SSD rated at 7 DWPD for 5 years to Dell for use in its PowerEdge R920 servers.

PCIe Switching - new article in

Editor:- March 13, 2014 - A new article in - PCIe Switching Takes on Ethernet, InfiniBand - reviews the antecedents and current state of the PCIe fabric market.

This should be of interest to anyone thinking about the emerging architectural influences which may impact their plans within the PCIe SSD market.

One of the many vendors discussed in the article - PLX - says it's "not targeting warehouse-scale datacenters... but is rather thinking on a smaller scale, from hundreds to thousands of nodes." the article

a new SSDserver nomenclature?

Editor:- March 5, 2014 - In a new home page blog today - published proposals for a new shorthand for SSD enhanced enterprise servers in the context of complex architectural dialogs. the article

(You won't need this if all your projects look the same, or if your plans only include small numbers of SSDservers.)

OCZ launches Z-Drive 4500 - 19nm enterprise PCIe SSD

Editor:- March 4, 2014 - OCZ is still using LSI's SandForce SSD controllers (8x SF-2582 enterprise SATA (pdf)) in its newest PCIe SSD - the Z-Drive 4500 Series - launched today - which has upto 3.2TB of usable 19nm flash, R/W bandwidth of 2.9GB/s and 2.2 GB/s respectively, and 252K / 76 K R/W IOPS (4KB) in a FHHL form factor and is integrated with OCZ's new WXL caching software.

news image - click for info

See also:- Z-Drive 4500 briefing notes (pdf)

Editor's comments:- As I reported in an interview last November - OCZ's VXL bundles have been very successful in small to medium scale enterprise deployments. The evolution of this product line - supporting as it does another new generation of (lower cost) memory - will further extend its reach.

A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for
10,000 node-class PCIe SSD architectures

Editor:- February 25, 2014 - PCIe SSDs can now access a true PCIe connected shared memory fabric designed by A3CUBE - which exited stealth today with the launch of their remote shared broadcast memory network - RONNIEE Express - which provides 700nS (nanoseconds) raw latency (4 byte message) and which enables message throughput - via standard PCIe - which is 8x better than InfiniBand.

Editor's comments:- I spoke to the company's luminaries recently - who say they intend to make this an affordable mainstream solution.

The idea of using PCIe as a fabric to share data at low latency and with fast throughput across a set of closely located servers isn't a new one.

The world's leading PCIe chipmaker PLX started educating designers and systems architects about these possibilities a few years ago - as a way to elegantly answer a new set of scalability problems caused by the increasing adoption of PCIe SSDs. These questions include:-
  • how do you make this expensive resource available to more servers?
  • how do you enable a simple to implement failover mechanism - so that data remains accessible in the event of either a server or SSD fault?
In the least year or so - we've seen most of the leading vendors in the enterprise PCIe SSD market leverage some of the new features in PCIe chips - to implement high availability SSDs with low latency.

But although there are many ways of doing this - the details are different for each vendor.

And - until now - if you wanted to share data at PCIe-like latency across a bunch of PCIe SSDs from different companies - located in different boxes - the simplest way to do that was to bridge across ethernet or infiniband. - And even though it has been technically possible with standard software packages - the integration, education and support issues - compared to legacy SAN or NAS techniques would be extremely daunting.

That's where A3CUBE comes into the picture. Their concept is to provide a box which enables any supported PCIe device to connect to any other - at low latency and with high throughput - in an architecture which scales to many thousands of nodes.

At the heart of this is a shared broadcast memory window - of 128Mbytes - which can be viewed simultaneously by any of the attached ports.

If you've ever used shared remote memory in a supercomputer style of system design at any time in the past 20 years or so - you'll know that the critical thing is how the latency grows as you add more ports. So that was one of the questions I asked.

Here's what I was told - "The latency is related to the dimension of the packet for example: In a real application using a range of 64-256 bytes of messages the 3D torus latency doubled after 1,000 nodes. With larger packets, the number of nodes to double the latency becomes grater. But the real point is that the latency of a simple p2p in a standard 10GE is reached after 29,000 nodes.

"A more clear example of the scalability of the system is this. Imagine that an application experiences a max latency of 4 us with 64 nodes, now we want to scale to 1,000 nodes the max latency that the same application experience will became 4.9 us. 0.9 us of extra latency for 936 more nodes."

Editor again:- Those are very impressive examples - and demonstrates that the "scalability" is inherent in the original product design.

A3CUBE didn't want to say publicly what the costs of the nodes and the box are at this stage. But they answered the question a different way.

Their aim is to price the architecture so that it works out cheaper to run than the legacy (pre-PCIe SSD era) alternatives - and they're hoping that server oems and fast SSD oems will find A3CUBE's way of doing this PCIe fabric scalability stuff - is the ideal way they want to go.

There's a lot more we have to learn - and a lot of testing to be done and software to be written - but for users whose nightmare questions have been - how do I easily scale up to a 10,000 PCIe SSD resource - and when I've got it - how can I simplify changing suppliers? - there's a new safety net being woven. Here are the essential details (pdf).

PLX is ready with 1st Gen3 compliant PCIe switches

Editor:- February 4, 2014 - PLX Technology today announced it is the 1st PCIe switch vendor to have achieved Gen3 compliance having passed the compliance testing procedures of PCI-SIG.

Editor's comments:- the new standard doubles the maximum data bandwidth of PCIe SSDs to 1GB/s per lane in each direction - which enable 32GB/s total throughput for a x16 link.

See also:- storage ORGs, SSD interface chips, Gen3 faqs, PCI Express 3.0 Integrators List

ESG reports on clustering Virident's PCIe SSDs

Editor:- January 23, 2014 - ESG today published a test report for Virident / HGST's FlashMAX II (PCIe SSDs) which validated the ability of this product family and its related software (vShare ) to be configured for useful operation in an Oracle RAC environment in high availability configurations which were clustered via Infiniband.

Although ESG said performance was good they also commented on some current limitations of the product suite for this type of application. In particular:-
  • the lack of a graphical interface for setup and performance mintoring,, and
  • the lack of support for other supported fabrics such as 10GbE (mentioned in the report as a future option), and PCIe fabric (which was not mentioned at all in this report).

This is what it takes to be #2 in PCIe SSDs

Editor:- January 22, 2014 - LSI said today in its quarterly financial report it has shipped over 100,000 PCIe SSDs since it entered this market in April 2012.

Editor's comments:- LSI shipped 60,000 units in the 8 months from May to December 2013 (a figure calculated by subtracting the numbers contained in an earlier announcement.)

Despite those impressive numbers - LSI itself estimates that it is still the #2 company in this market. Which gives you an idea of how large this market has grown.

IBM launches first memory channel SSD based 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."

IBM also announced enhancements and sales figures for the rackmount SSD product line it acquired from Texas Memory Systems a year ago. See SSD news for more about the latter.

reasons to expect more PCIe SSDs in 2014 PC Market

Editor:- December 16, 2013 - A new article in DRAMeXchange discusses the issue of SATA 3 SSDs being replaced by PCIe SSDs in the consumer SSD market in future designs of PCs. the article

how to avoid hot pluggable PCIe SSD failures

Editor:- December 3, 2013 - What happens if you test PCIe SSDs for their sensitivity to data corruption or even failure - in the event of sudden power loss?

You'd think that with more hot pluggable products coming into the market -especially in the 2.5" form factor - that the experimental outcomes would be known by the designers and problems debugged so that users wouldn't have to worry.

In August 2013 Quarch Technology launched some special test equipemnt to inject power related faults into PCIe SSDs - and the company today announced it has extended this range to automate power line error testing of PCIe SFF SSDs.

Andy Norrie, Technical Director at Quarch Technology told me today that "Almost every combination of test kit we have tried in Quarch (a number of friendly customers lent us kit and eval drives to get the new module up and running) has failed in some way. Sometimes failing to come back up again nicely, sometimes with a full BSOD which will almost certainly have risked data loss."

estimating the size of the server-side SSD market etc...

Editor:- October 8, 2013 - Before you make that next presentation about what's happening in the business world of enterprise flash, or before you commit to any future datelines for hard drives being sold into the enterprise - you'd be well advised to meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon - the (long anticipated) new home page blog on
archived versions of this PCIe SSDs news page
from SSD market history

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the SSD Buyers Guide
where are we now with SSD software?
PCIe SSDs for newbies - what are they etc
"Enterprise Flash" - is a market phenomenon not a technology.
Sugaring flash for the enterprise - describes - how the market changed from 2004 to 2013.
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PCIe SSDs (and their descendants) are one of the 7 main SSD building blocks of the the future datacenter storage Silo architecture.
The enterprise PCIe SSD market itself can also be further segmented in the following ways

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the 3 fastest flash PCIe SSDs - list / lists
Are you tied up in knots trying to shortlist flash SSD accelerators ranked according to published comparative benchmarks?

You know the sort of thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs against each other. It would be nice to have a shortlist so that you don't have to waste too much of your own valuable time testing unsuitable candidates wouldn't it?

StorageSearch's long running fastest SSDs directory typically indicates 1 main product in each form factor category but those examples may not be compatible with your own ecosystem.

If so a new article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help you cut that Gordian knot. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
the 3 fastest  PCIe SSDs  - click to read article But in this case you'd be wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) the article
How are fault tolerant PCIe SSD designs supported in chips?
PCIe in enterprise SSD designs - this video by PLX includes an introductory tutorial into PCIe and its performance and architectural capabilities for SSDs including automatic failover and multi-host capabilities.
PLX's switch chips also supports failover if the fault occurs in the PCIe switch fabric chips themselves. ... click to watch the PCIe in SSD video

extract - "...And in case one of the hosts fails and you want to connect the SSDs - or the devices connected to that host - to another host - that can be done automatically as well - and the surviving host can attach the devices that were attached to the failing host to itself and control it so that the system doesn't go down and the data stored in these devices doesn't get isolated from the main system."
"...all new datacenter servers will include SSD acceleration - instead of the tiny percentage today."
......from the article - will the enterprise SSD market be big enough for all these companies [list] to grow?
How Big is the Market for PCIe SSDs?
In 2010 I wrote here that I confidently expect that PCIe SSDs will become a multi-billion dollar a year market.

That's now the standard SSD analyst view.

Since 2010 most of the top 10 SSD companies also sold PCIe SSDs.

For more about PCIe SSDs fit into the enterprise SSD landscape see - introduction to SSD market silos.
"This is a tsunami warning event for SSD vendors addressing the enterprise server acceleration market."
...editor's comments (September 24, 2009 ) when I alerted readers and vendors to the fact that search volume for PCIe SSDs had surpassed that for 2.5" SSDs for the first time.

This type of search spike had been a reliable advance predictor for new interfaces - such as SATA and iSCSI - in earlier phases of storage history - and search volume has also been a good predictor for successful SSD companies too.
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PCI Express SSDs Technical Pros and Cons
The great attraction of PCIe for SSD oems is that it can support a wide range of performance options with throughput upto 16GB/s, and much lower attachment costs than the alternatives.

The older busses like PCI and cPCI also provide performance which is adequate for many applications.

Bus connected SSDs have been around since the earliest days of the SSD market.

The advantage of this approach is high throughput and low latency compared to SSDs connected via traditional hard disk style interfaces like SAS, SATA, fibre-channel or InfiniBand.

But there are disadvantages too which include:-

1 - Bus style interfaces reduce the available market for the SSD oem. Because older servers may not have the interface, or perhaps the interface (for example Sun's SBus) is proprietary and is only available in a small range of models.

2 - Bus interfaces tend to have shorter permissable cable lengths - which restrict how such SSDs can be connected.

3 - Bus interfaces usually don't include intrinsic end to end error detection and correction. If the physical arrangement of the SSD pushes the speed and cable lengths too far - then errors can arise in the bus connect - which have to be dealt with in the associated driver.

...Later:- May 13, 2009 - Dolphin's CTO, Venkat Krishnan emailed this article correction.

"Dolphin's StorExpress addresses concerns of PCIe direct attached SSDs raised in (2) above. It includes support for different types of PCIe interfaces (ExpressModule, AMC, etc.). Multiple PCIe SSD cards can be used without requiring multiple PCIe slots in the server. The storage can be collocated at distances of up to 300m from the server and can also be potentially shared by more than one server."
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