PCIe SSDs have been shipping in the market since
one of the
most popular SSD
subjects pursued by our readers and has been for the past 4 years.
40 companies already ship PCIe SSDs. (See partial list on the right.) 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 most familiar form factor is cards, modules and racks. But a new
form factor - for
2.5" PCIe SSDs
which emerged last year will open up new applications - such as displacement
of fast SAS SSDs.
|don't all PCIe SSDs
look pretty much the same?|
|When you look at the
photos and headline specs for high speed PCIe SSDs - it's easy to come away with
the impression that they all look the same and have about the same performance.|
all - how different can they be?
But don't let the experience of the
2.5" SSD market -
in which clusters of consumer SSD vendors use the
same or similar
controllers and hover
close together in
(consumer) performance rankings - give you the wrong idea about
this market the performance limits and capabilities of the SSD aren't set by an
old hard disk interface
and package limitations.
In the PCIe market the products you get are
limited only by the imagination of the designers - tempered by the guesses of
marketers who are trying to predict the optimum (most salable) features for an
|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
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
|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.|
why are flash SSD IOPS such a poor predictor of application performance?
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?
tells you why the specs got faster - but the applications didn't.
||And why competing SSDs with
apparently identical benchmark results can perform completely differently.
|many years ago -
|BiTMICRO & CENATEK collaborate on PCI SSDs|
2002 - BiTMICRO.
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
But the concept of using fast bus based SSDs as storage
accelerators wasn't a new idea. It went back 3 to 4 decades.
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.
|the 3 fastest PCIe
PCIe SSD design performance
don't all PCIe SSDs
look pretty much the same?
SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide
how will Memory
Channel Storage impact PCIe SSDs?
PCIe SSDs?- just 1 of 7
silos in the pure SSD datacenter
|PCIe SSD oems (partial
list) from past SSD news
Renice Technology ,
, Texas Memory
Systems, Violin Memory,
|Samsung enters PCIe SSD
Editor:- June 17, 2013 -
Samsung has entered
the PCIe SSD market
with an M.2 form factor model (80mm x 22mm) aimed at
Samsung's XP941 - which weighs less than 6g - has a sequential read
performance of 1,400MB/s, and capacity up to 512GB.
market began the year before PCIe SSDs started being used in the
But in the first 5 years of its history (2006-2010) the
notebook SSD market was a disappointment to SSD evangelists like me - because
integration with PCs was so bad. And for years on these pages I ranted that
notebooks using SSDs would never be able to reach their true potential as long
as they were still wasting their inherently light CPU resources and latency
advantages by talking to the CPU via old fashioned
hard disk interfaces
exciting thing about today's announcement by Samsung is that consumer grade
PCIe SSDs for notebooks will enable a dramatically different user experience
which will help to create new markets.
Will there be a crossover into
the enterprise market?
It's inevitable that some people will ask -
what would an array of consumer priced PCIe SSDs look like in a box? And no
doubt you will probably see such products coming onto the market. And that
might lead to a temporary state of user confusion about expectations for PCIe
But setting aside for the moment the obvious considerations at
the single drive level of differences in
characteristics - I think the key differentiators of enterprise PCIe SSDs
compared to consumer
PCIe SSDs are the different degree of
(higher for the enterprise),
management and support for fault tolerance.
Super Talent launches PCIe hybrid SSD
12, 2013 -
a new entry level (800MB/s) PCIe hybrid SSD which combines 192GB of flash with
an integrated hard drive.
The company says that their new Super Hybrid product line is "the solution
for high performance storage at a low cost."
comments:- As "price"
is the sole reason why consumers
would want to look at this product I was surprised it wasn't mentioned in the
press release. I asked the question - and if I find out - I'll add a note here
later. The word "enterprise"
also appeared hopefully in Super Talent's blurb about this product. But saying
so - doesn't make it so.
Violin's new blog on PCIe vs FC SAN SSDs
June 11, 2013 - How much confidence do you have in the
of the SSD system which you're deploying? - And how different are the
reliability costs when you scale
PCIe SSDs compared to
are some of the issues discussed in a new blog by Violin -
Memory: too Array or to Card - written by the company's CTO of Software -
Goldick - who warns that when you're estimating the latency
advantages between different ways of connecting SSDs - "Always be
cognizant that you may just be moving the
to the software."
switching lanes in PCIe SSD supply
Editor:- June 11,
2013 - How easy is it for server makers and storage oems to change their
suppliers of PCIe SSDs? and - Why do they do it?
These issues have
been discussed in past articles and news stories - but as we're seeing more
examples of it happening recently - more readers have been asking me about
it - so I'll refresh this topic soon.
But another - aspect of PCIe SSD
supplier churn - which has received very little editorial coverage so far is
the user experience.
How hard is it for users to change
enterprise PCIe SSD suppliers?
Why do they do it?
pain of switching - are the benefits worthwhile?
If you're a user who
has gone through this - and is willing to say something about the subject - so
your views and experience can be shared with readers in the context of a new
article I'm working on - please email me
Zsolt@StorageSearch.com with your
And knowing what you now know - I'm curious to know - Would
you go through the same thing again? And is there anything else which you
would like to say about this?
Findings will be published in an
article here on the mouse site in September. See also:-
SSD market research
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
May 29, 2013 - A new generation of enterprise SSD rackmounts is breaking all
the rules which previously constrained price, performance and reliability.
The new maths of this SSD box trend - what's behind it, where it's going, and
some of the vendors driving it - are explored in my recent home page blog on
directions in rackmount SSDs. ...read the
we're #2 in PCIe SSDs and growing fast - says LSI
May 15, 2013 - LSI
it shipped over 40,000 PCIe
SSDs in the past 12 months - and has been ranked the #2 merchant supplier
of enterprise PCIe SSDs in the US, and the fastest growing in this category
according to a recent report by Forward Insights.
Fusion-io's founders resign
Editor:- May 9, 2013 -
that its co-founders - David Flynn
(who had been CEO and President) and Rick White (who had
been CMO) have resigned and will pursue future entrepreneurial investing
activities together. ...more
in SSD news
OCZ gets award for Windows compatible SQL flash cache
May 8, 2013 - OCZ
that its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator earned the
Best of Interop
award in the data center and storage category. ZD-XL (unveiled
at CeBIT last February) is a bundled package for Windows servers which
includes an SQL optimized flash caching software appliance which leverages
the low latency of an associated
OCZ PCIe SSD card.
Micron turns up the heat for adoption of 2.5" PCIe SSDs
May 3, 2013 - Micron
it's sampling a new model in the
hot swappable 2.5"
PCIe SSDs market - the
has upto 1.4TB MLC capacity and can deliver 750K R IOPS.
how will Memory Channel SSDs affect the PCIe SSD market?
29, 2013 - StorageSearch.com
today published a new article about the technical challenges and market
opportunities posed by
Storage SSDs which are being designed by SMART and Diablo Technologies.
Our PCIe SSD business is negligible today - says SanDisk's CEO
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 one of the messages from
Mehrotra, cofounder and CEO SanDisk - in the company's earnings
conference call yesterday. ...read
transcript on SeekingAlpha.com
PCIe SSDs from Texas Memory Systems - haven't been retained in
IBM's FlashSystems product lines
Editor:- April 12, 2013 - 3 years
ago I wrote a
blog about the
confusing nature of the "RamSan" brand of SSDs from Texas Memory Systems
given that all the recent models in the family were in fact
flash memory rather than
RAM based - and
furthermore some of the models didn't connect via an
FC SAN but used
PCIe instead. So it
wasn't a surprise to see in yesterday's
by IBM (who
last year) that the RamSan designation has been dropped in favor of the more
accurate sounding "FlashSystem" in those models which migrated
intact to IBM's
enterprise flash product line.
For example in the category of
availability rackmount SSDs - the old RamSan-720 (SLC) and RamSan-820
(MLC) have become the new
FlashSystem 720 and 820.
But TMS's PCIe SSD models have been
so fortunate.They aren't listed in IBM's range of PCIe SSDs (High
IOPS Modular Adapters) which are instead based on products and technologies
no-show may be due to the fact that - unlike TMS's rackmount systems which
were software agnostic - a lot more work is required to efficiently integrate
server based SSDs into a wide range of server products. But I anticipate
that TMS's big
architecture SSD controller technology will resurface in future IBM SSD
QLogic launches FabricCache PCIe SSD
22, 2013 - QLogic
yesterday entered the
enterprise SSD market
(in the PCI SSD and
SSD ASAPs segments)
its first product - the
10000 Series adapter (pdf) - which provides transparent sharable and
clusterable caching for FC SANs.
The 2 card set (upto 400GB flash,
and 2x 8Gbps FC ports) can deliver upto 310,000 initiator IOPS and
supports upto 2,048 concurrent logins.
for a lot more about this - see
new LSI blog on the value of enterprise PCIe SSDs
March 14, 2013 - You won't be surprised to see me mentioning a
published blog by Robert Ober,
System and Processor Architect, LSI - about the
value of PCIe SSDs in
big datacenters - which includes these statements:-
- "Work/$ is the correct metric (and not crazy expensive $/bit)."
I'm guessing that the title of
Robert's blog - What are the driving forces behind going diskless? Will 100%
flash storage make sense in enterprise? - was either inspired by
(stuffing the title with value-loaded words for search-engines) or was
predetermined before the blog was written.
- "when users say - $8k PCIe card in a $4k server really?
- I am always stunned by this"
I prefer this alternative
title - suggested by a banner graphic in the blog itself -
An $8K PCIe
card in an $4k server - huh!?!
Propositions for buying SSDs,
SSD silos in the
9 million IOPS in a single PCIe SSD
5, 2013 - Fusion-io
it has achieved 9.6 million
byte) from a single 365GB
ioDrive2 (PCIe SSD).
performance is made possible using APIs in
SDK (such as Auto-Commit Memory) which integrate flash into host systems,
allowing data to bypass normal bottlenecks in the OS.
FIO says its
APIs have been embraced by dozens of industry-leading
software companies to
enhance their applications.
EMC has new faster PCIe SSDs
Editor:- March 5, 2013
- EMC today
new models of PCIe
SSDs which the company claims offer nearly 60% better
TCO than (unnamed
competitors) due to new levels of
half - height, half - length PCIe SSDs are currently available in
2.2TB, while SLC models upto 1.4TB will ship in the 2nd quarter.
sources PCIe SSDs from various SSD companies:-
Violin enters the PCIe SSD market
Editor:- March 4,
2013 - Violin is
entering the market for PCIe
SSDs. Its new
PCIe Memory Cards range have
regular RAM caches
and are available in 3 physical sizes.
- Low profile - 1.37TB raw capacity, 110K
- Full height, half length - upto 5.5TB raw capacity, upto 250K IOPS
comments:- in October
2012 - I wrote that Violin's lack of a PCIe SSD card product line was a
serious business weakness - which limited their accessible revenue in the
enterprise SSD market.
- Full height - upto 11TB raw (8TB usable) capacity, upto 500K IOPS
This product gap would have been an important
scoring factor in any potential company assessing Violin's value as an
It was one of several significant reasons why
Texas Memory Systems
IBM) looked like a much
more attractive acquisition candidate in the early part of last year than
Violin - even though both companies had market-leading
SSD architectures - and despite Violin having sought acquisition much
Violin's lack of a PCIe SSD product line till now was a serious
misjudgement of the opportunities
for its technology in the enterprise SSD market and not due to any technical
defficiencies. The company's first SSD racks launched in
(the Violin 1010 Memory
Appliance) had - in fact - been launched with PCIe interfaces.
will Violin's late entry into the PCIe SSD card / module market impact
The established leaders in this market space are:-
Texas Memory Systems,
OCZ (and another 35 or so
companies are listed on our
PCIe SSD page). One
more company in this market mix won't make any material difference to sales
forecasts - even if that newcomer is Violin. Instead it will mean that the
fuzzy edge of users' vendor shortlists will appear sharper - and companies
which shouldn't have been in these lists in the first place will drop out. (But
they wouldn't have been the ones who got the business anyway. There are a lot of
different specialized types of PCIe SSDs - and
just because they may
look the same on the outside - doesn't mean they compete equally for the same
My guess is that Violin's new products will be most
attractive to companies which already like its rackmounts - and who were already
looking for a more complete single supplier solution around which to hang their
So I anticipate that customers in the big web economy and
SSD dark matter users
will predominate early demand for these new products. And - for any server
companies which haven't yet acquired their own enterprise SSD IP - Violin (the
company) will now look more attractive too.
release later today:- we learned that the final stimulus which nudged
Violin tipping into the PCIe SSD market may have been:- hints, inducements
and probably pressure from investor, memory supplier and wannabe-bigger-in-SSD
partner - Toshiba.
also:- my classic article -
if Fusion-io sells
more - does that mean Violin will sell less?
Virident betas remote PCIe SSD sharing
February 21, 2013 - Virident
beta availability of a new software suite - called FlashMAX Connect - which
enables low latency shared server-side storage and
when used with the
company's range of PCIe SSDs.
New functionality includes:-
- fast / low-latency synchronous mirroring that replicates writes from one
server to another, providing storage node or server failover without affecting
application and data availability.
- shared storage management in remote PCIe SSDs. This allows customers to
share the storage residing on remote servers and thereby scale PCIe flash
capacity independent of compute. For example - a single PCIe flash card can
service multiple servers.
"We're entering the era of 'pervasive
flash' in the web and enterprise data centers. However, until today, such a
transformation was not possible due to the lack of availability of critical
software features," said Mike Gustafson,
CEO of Virident. "...The FlashMAX Connect suite is a significant initial
step in actualizing the Virident vision - to enable pervasive flash and
performance storage on the server side."
- Easily managed controllability of cache policies within installed PCIe
SSDs:- write-back, write-through and write-around cache so that users can
choose cache modes which provide better fit to their performance and
it's long been known within the SSD industry that these features have been in
the pipeline - because they're based on support at the PCIe switch chip level.
For an overview of this architecture enabling chip level support and
how it offers flexibility in servers and SSDs - take a look at this video -
enterprise SSD designs by
Sonnet launches bootable PCIe SSD for desktops
February 13, 2013 - Sonnet
a bootable PCIe SSD
aimed at PCs and MACs.
Tempo PCIe SSD
product is a nearly fast
enough base card onto which users can install standard
2.5" SATA SSDs.
Editor:- February 1, 2013 -
Is PCIe the Natural
Next-Generation Data Center Fabric?
That's what Larry Chisvin, VP of
strategic initiatives PLX
Technology believes and he'll try to convert you to his way of
thinking next week at
the Linley Tech Data
Center Conference in Santa Clara. PLX is the worldwide market leader in PCIe
enterprise SSD silos,
SSD glue chips.
Diablo sets up compatibility team for new SSD interface
Editor:- January 29, 2013 - Diablo Technologies
it has set a compatibility advisory team for its new SSD interface - which
the company is apparently positioning as a faster alternative to PCIe SSDs.
"As we prepare to launch our line of
Storage products that enable next-generation enterprise server and storage
system designs, we have set our sights on unprecedented levels of performance
for current and future applications To that end, we have
a group of top industry innovators to help refine the development of our
revolutionary NAND-flash system solutions..." said Diablo's CTO - Maher Amer.
RunCore uses BiTMICRO controllers in fast PCIe SSDs
January 29, 2013 - today announced that RunCore will use BiTMICRO's Talino
controllers in its new
Kylin III MAX
family (fast PCIe SSDs).
Seagate turns to Virident for big SSD architecture
January 28, 2013 - Seagate
it has made a strategic equity investment in Virident as part
of a new collaboration agreement which includes remarketing Virident's
PCIe SSDs and working
together to design new SSDs
for the enterprise market.
"Seagate is thrilled to team with
Virident, a technology leader in one of the fastest growing markets in
enterprise and cloud computing," said Gary Gentry,
senior VP and GM, Solid State Drives at Seagate. "Together, we are working
to develop the next-generation hardware and software solutions in the
comments:- it was obvious a year ago that Seagate's earlier marriage of SSD
IP convenience with LSI
wasn't going to last long or remain monogamous - as LSI and Seagate would be
competing for the same oem design slots in the enterprise market and
furthermore LSI's small architecture
isn't efficient for
scale fast SSD installations. (And in the
LSI didn't have the adaptive controller IP - which led to Seagate's stake in
- a top 10 SSD company
- has a roadmap
architecture enterprise SSD controller and drive family which has been
developed in a cleanroom environment - where all the critical IP has been
devleoped by the company.
The obvious gap in the Seagate / Virident
product line is a 2.5"
removable PCIe SSD (to compete with
Micron) - and it's a no
brainer to see that Seagate's experience with this form factor - coupled with
Virident's SSD design skills could quickly result in viable products for this
new market - which will replace upto
25% of the
projected market for fast
STEC launches 2TB SAS SSD
Editor:- January 28, 2013 -
One of the oddest linking ideas I've ever seen in an SSD news story appeared
today in a
release from STEC
which suggests that anyone should care that the company is the first in the
market to launch both a 2TB PCIe SSD ($9,425) and a 2TB SAS SSD ($7,995).
Fusion-io positions ioScale for new SSD Dynasties
January 16, 2013 - Fusion-io
has released a new PCIe
SSD called the ioScale
(3.2TB on a single half length PCIe slot) which is aimed at technically savvy
customers who have the potential to use thousands of cards in their
installations in new
dynasty enterprise SSD apps.
Pricing is under
$3,900 / TB and the minimum order quantity is 100 units.
comments:- When you first look at this product - you might be tempted to
think - So what? - isn't it very similar in capability to other products which
FIO (and others) have shipped already?
In one way you'd be right. The
ioScale's hardware design is based on FIO's experience in making low cost PCIe
SSDs for the workstation market - which is as close to
price pressure as FIO gets at the present time.
But the ioScale is
aimed at a special class of enterprise super users - whose apps and companies I
call:- new dynasty
and dark matter
Fusion-io told me
that when they did market research into the kinds of customers who were already
using their SSDs they discovered the big enterprise SSD customers could be
segmented into 2 groups which superficially had similar performance needs - but
were very different in the ways in which they valued issues such as:-
- compatibility with traditional software apps,
- how they handle reliability,
- how often they refresh and replace their infrastructure.
traditional enterprise customers have the profiles which everyone in the
industry knows about and aims their products at - but the new type of enterprise
customers have needs which are only starting to clarify - and for this latter
type of customer - SSDs are a strategic business enabler - because they can
convert efficiencies in raw computing technology into real competitive
- how they assess the cost / benefit of features within SSDs
Fusion-io is one of the few companies in the world which
already has a set of these latter cloud / data factory economy customers
who each have already got thousands of high performance PCIe SSDs - and who
have the ability to scale up substantially if their requirements are met and the
SSD enabled economy grows in the directions expected.
Rick told me that
these customers do want
performance, and low cost - but they don't need many of the bundled frills
which are deemed to be necessary for traditional enterprise SSD customers
legacy apps report faulty drives they change the drive or the rack. When
uber new dynasty SSD
users report faults - they route around them. Then when the time comes to
upgrade the CPU and storage capacity per square foot of that region in the
datacenter - the whole lot is forklifted out and replaced - faulty and unfaulty
racks - makes no difference.
Also - in these apps - hot pluggable
drives are a frill which is simply not worth paying for.
matter SSD customers - at which the ioScale is aimed - also know much more about
the technical limitations of their infrastructure - and have the technical
expertise to change things to suit them better - if they think it's worthwhile.
So - for example - the ability to dive into SSD APIs and change their apps
code to get speedups or other new functionality - is something they will do -
whereas traditional enterprise customers prefer all new hardware to work with
pre-existing software in a tweak-free environmoent.
conversation with Rick White - I referred back to the
software (which FIO launched in
August 2012 -
and which enables users to convert a standard server and a bunch of
PCIe SSDs into a
traditional SAN compatible
My assessment of that product shared with readers at the time -
was that if it satisfied the needs of a small number of super users - who could
each buy maybe hundreds or thousands of such systems - that made it worthwhile
for FIO to bundle the concept and launch it. I thought the analysis I had seen
in other places - which compared it to traditional rack SSDs was completely
missing the point.
Rick confirned my analysis was closer to the mark -
and many times in our discussion we returned to the problems in the SSD market
caused by faulty and incomplete
market research and
mistaken understandings of what the real issues in the market were.
way of summarizing this is - that if you ask a bunch of people who go to a
trade show - what do you think about SSDs? - you're going to get a different
result to when you talk to people who are already deeply engaged in the SSD
market, have already done a lot of SSD projects and who spend nearly all their
waking hours thinking about what more can they do if they had even better SSDs?
not that the traditional market research gives you the wrong answers - it's more
that - if you're not in the right place in the SSD market then you don't
understand enough to pose the right questions - and you probably don't have
access to the people who will ultimately decide the answers.
isn't the only SSD company who is getting value business insights by
researching its strategic customers.
I reported last year that
SanDisk had adapted its
approach to enterprise customers by deciding to support competing hardware
And there are many more examples I could mention if I had the time.
Virident's PCIe SSDs VMware Ready
14, 2013 - Virident
that its FlashMAX II
family (PCIe SSDs)
has achieved VMware Ready status.
Where are we now
with SSD software?, SSD
BiTMICRO opens the door to Talino class SSD designs
January 8, 2013 - "Getting access to the Talino SSD controller will
provide systems makers with similar raw performance to what they can get from
integrating current industry standard PCIe SSDs but at lower cost and in a
customizable physical footprint."
...read more in SSD
OCZ's newest new PCIe SSD
Editor:- January 7, 2013 -
OCZ already has
SSD families aimed at different markets. This week at
CES the company will demonstrate another
new range called the Vector series which is based on its Indilinx Barefoot 3
Another comparison of 3 PCIe SSDs
Editor:- January 3,
2013 - Performance comparisons between
PCIe SSDs from
OCZ, Micron and Intel were published
recently in an
by Tom's Hardware .
Editor's comments:- You may
find it interesting or entertaining, although you know you should never
attach too much weight to any single
list of the fastest
part of the Tom's Hardware article - mentioned above - raised the subject
of comparing the
such SSDs to the cost
expressed as dollars per petabytes written.
In my view "$/PB
written" is another one of those spurious metrics - like IOPS / $
(discussed in SSD news -
December 5) which doesn't give you a reliable indicator about which product to
If all you're interested in is "cost $/PB written"
- then why not buy a hard
drive? - because that's where this metric is pointing you. You know it's the
wrong answer. It's the wrong metric and based on an incomplete understanding
enterprise SSD users want.
enterprise SSD context
it's more important to look at whether you get the apps performance you want (rather than the benchmark
performance), whether the product is
for your own needs - and whether it has
performance and in the technology roadmap. Only after all those factors is
it worthwhile comparing prices.
enterprise SSD drives - $2.9 billion in 2012
December 17, 2012 - I've lost track of how many new
SSD reports and
updates have been announced recently by Forward Insights
- but one of them - SSD Insights Q4/12: Client Down, Enterprise Up - includes
data and revenue forecasts for the enterprise SSD market.
Author Gregory Wong told me that
his estimate for enterprise SSD revenue in 2012 - which includes enterprise
drives and modules (SAS,
SATA and PCIe) but
and therefore also excludes proprietary SSDs built for use within racks from
companies like Violin
and Texas Memory Systems
- is $2.9 billion.
who are the ideal customers for BiTMICRO 's new (but late to
market) Talino based maxIO PCIe SSDs?
Editor:- December 12, 2012
it's begun manufacturing its pre-announced
(PCIe SSDs) which use
the company's Talino (means "talented",
The first product in this range will be a full height, half-length
IOPS (4KB), 4.5TB (eMLC) PCIe SSD....more in SSD news
Virident ships FlashMAX II
Editor:- November 28, 2012 -Virident Systems
the general availability and shipping of its previously unveiled
FlashMAX II - (fast
enterprise PCIe SSDs) which support Linux, Windows, and VMware ESXi and VDI
environments. Pricing starts at $6,000.
Diablo gets funding for alternative to PCIe SSDs
November 8, 2012 - as if 400 wasn't already enough - every week I hear about
new SSD companies.
One such - Diablo Technologies -
a $28 million funding round.
Storage - which will soon emerge from stealth - may not strictly be PCIe
SSDs - but they will
nevertheless affect users and vendors in this market.
STEC does that Linux source driver thing for its PCIe SSD
October 29, 2012 -
it's open sourcing the Linux driver for its
PCIe SSD - the
OCZ's new VXL software release includes fault tolerant support
for arrays of PCIe SSDs
Editor:- October 23, 2012 - OCZ today
a new version (1.2 ) of its
cache and virtualization software - which provides
synchonous replication and enhanced VM performance across arrays of the
company's Z-Drive R4 PCIe
2.5" PCIe SSD - Dell talks to Micron
October 22, 2012 - Removable
2.5" PCIe SSDs
are the subject of a
video today from Micron
- which features Micron's Ed Doller
and Dell's Brian
IBM completes acquisition of TMS
Editor:- October 1,
2012 - IBM today
it has completed its acquisition of Texas Memory Systems.
How will IBM's acquisition of TMS impact Fusion-io?
September 25, 2012 - some of you may be wondering - how will IBM's acquisition of Texas Memory Systems
impact the pre-existing PCIe SSD business which IBM already does with
general the 2 different types of PCIe SSD - TMS vs FIO - aren't the same and
don't behave in the same way.
In some situations there are strong
arguments for users to prefer one product over another - and vice versa.
Furthermore - the present SSD card incumbent in the IBM distribution store
(Fusion-io) has some very sticky elements with respect to the performance
benefits delivered by its software APIs - which can't be replicated by a
substitute type of hardware product - no matter how fast its raw hardware.
My gut feel, therefore is that as
the enterprise SSD market
is big enough to support both these 2 types of PCIe SSDs - it would be
illogical from a business perspective for IBM to withdraw or downgrade the
status of the Fusion-io product -so long as Fusion-io remains an independent
In my view both product lines serve substantially different
market roles well - and the degree of overlap and cannibalization is small.
not to say that the TMS product line will be deployed in equal numbers.
from it - I would expect the TMS architecture to be the biggest part of IBM's
fast SSD business within a year of the acquisition - but that would be spread
across a range of product deployments which includes rackmount SSDs (from the
current TMS product line), and
Ram-San PCIe SSDs and
maybe removable 2.5"
PCIe SSDs (as a future roll-out of TMS technology).
Until IBM can
develop or acquire software products for the TMS SSD cards - which are on a par
with what FIO has to offer - then terminating the ioDrive options in its
catalog would be equivalent to sending its server customers to competing server
The effect either way would be neutral for Fusion-io's
Here are some of the related article links which I promised
RunCore launches fast PCIe SSD
September 24, 2012 - RunCore
fastest yet PCIe SSD - the
Kylin III PCIe
- which has upto 1.4TB (usable) MLC capacity (full height, half length) R/W
bandwith of 3GB/s and 2GB/s respectively - and R/W IOPS upto 700K / 500K (with
4KB blocks) and 3 / 1.4 million IOPS (512B). Read latency is 65µS (512B).
Power consumption is under 15W (idle) and upto 50W (active).
comments:- this new SSD from RunCore is in a different performance class
to earlier generations from the company which were frankly nowhere near the best
of breed in speed. Although
PCIe SSDs is now a
very crowded market - it gives buyers another viable (Top 20 SSD companies list)
supplier to choose from.
former BlueArc CEO, leaves HDS to steer Virident
September 20, 2012 - Confidence about the prospects for flash in the enterprise,
and a firm conviction that Virident is a key
player which will make a difference to the enterprise SSD market - set the
tone of the conversation I had on Monday with the company's new CEO
who was a few days into his new job and briefing me on Virident's
yesterday about his new appointment and the company's $26 million in Series D
Funding. ...more in SSD
BiTMICRO's new TALINO based PCIe SSDs in Beta
September 12, 2012 - I noticed today that some new pages have appeared on BiTMICRO's website
which unveil and outline
a range -
called maxIO - of enterprise SSDs (SATA,
PCIe) which use the
company's new TALINO SSD controller and hint at "100K to 400K IOPS (4KB)
performance" - depending on which model you look at. The company is
offering beta test samples
to suitable people who sign an NDA.
STEC will run PCIe SSD bootstorm demo at IDF
September 6, 2012 - STEC
says it will demonstrate its new PCIe SSD -
model 1120 does 55,000
random IOPS (70:30 R/W 8KB) - booting 100 virtual desktops in under 4
minutes - at next week's IDF
in San Francisco.
Editor's comments:- the VDI bootstorm demo
path has already been well trodden by longer established
PCIe SSD vendors such
as Fusion-io and
OCZ in the past year or
so. (And by most serious
rackmount SSD oems
This press release is another sign that that the born again
(we really do want your business now) STEC wants to be recognized for what it
can do in the enterprise - rather than simply tossing its SSD technology over
the wall and hoping that its oem partners will pick some of it up.
FlashMAX is FlashSoft compatible
Editor:- August 27,
2012 - Virident's
PCIe SSDs are supported
- 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 (see
SSD news August 15 for
enterprise SSD component drive trends - view from HGST
August 22, 2012 - Here's a short note from
paper - enterprise interface trends paper (pdf) presented today at the Flash Memory Summit.
competing enterprise initiatives have emerged in the attempt to align the
industry around PCIe based SSDs - SCSI express (led by HP) and NVMe (led by
Intel and Dell). While a 3rd standard - SATA express - is aimed at clients and
hybrids. In the 2.5" drive size - a multi-function bay can support both SAS
and PCIe SSDs with the same SFF-8639 connector."
that in 2015 - over 5 million enterprise SSD drives will ship - evenly split
between SATA, PCIe and SAS (incl FC). ...read
the article (pdf)
Texas Memory Systems to be acquired by IBM
August 16, 2012 - IBM
announced it will
acquire Texas Memory
Systems. The deal is expected to close later this year. Following
acquisition close, IBM plans to invest in and support the TMS product portfolio,
and will look to integrate over time TMS technologies into a variety of
...read more in SSD news
Virident's new FlashMAX II
Editor:- August 7, 2012 - Virident Systems
it will ship a new generation of fast PCIe SSDs in September.
II (pdf) has upto 2.2TB usable RAID protected MLC capacity, 103K random
R/W IOPS (4kB 70:30 mix), and 1.1 million random read IOPS (512B), and <80µS
random read latency (4kB) in a ½ length, low profile form factor.
comments:- I spoke to Shiva Shankar
at Virident about the new product and the
PCIe SSD market.
sees this type of SSD as heading towards a distinctly different storage tier -
and that's the direction of their software focus - even though in the present
market the products have been designed so they can drop in and work with
software and VMs with minimum fuss.
From the design and marketing
positioning point of view Virident has always placed great emphasis on
symmetry and scalability
symmetry. Shiva told me their performance scales linearly. That means if
you have 8 PCIe slots and install upto 8 of the new FlashMAX modules - the
available application performance will be Nx what you would predict from the
single module results.
Virident also say that their performance doesn't
degrade significantly over the lifetime of the product. They call this "Infrastructure
Predictability" - and say it's on the order of 1%. In contrast - the
performance drop off in some competing enterprise flash SSDs can be more like
20% to 30%. (This is a vulnerability in some flash SSD designs which has also
been mentioned by STEC -
as an argument in favor of their
asked Shiva if Virident uses
ECC techniques in its SSDs - and (as I expected) he said "no"
(because it's a technique which has been deployed mostly to improve the cost of
SSDs (and components) - whereas Virident is in the fast end of the market
Virident specifically says that its new product is 2x
as fast as a well known competitor. See also:-
the 3 fastest flash
the future of PCIe SSDs - series 6, episode 192 - will the
Semicos take it all?
Editor:- July 24, 2012 - You can see how an
anticipated 45 second dialog with Texas Memory Systems
about bootable PCIe SSDs turned into a 45 minutes discussion
the future of the PCIe SSD market in a new article extracted from the
SSD news page today. ...read
Proximal Data launches AutoCache for PCIe SSDs
July 23, 2012 - Proximal
immediate availability of its first product - a
SSD ASAP - designed
to work with PCIe SSDs - in particular - products from
for cache sizes less than 500GB) reduces bottlenecks in virtualized servers to
increase VM density, efficiency and performance. The company says it can
increase VM density upto 3x with absolutely no impact on IT operations.
Editor's comments:- here are some questions I asked about the
new product - and the answers I got from Rich Pappas,
Proximal's VP of sales and business development.
Editor:- How long
does it take for the algorithms to reach peak efficiency?
Pappas:- It varies by workload, but typically it takes about 15
minutes for the cache to warm to reach peak efficiency.
the caching only on reads, or is it effective on writes too?
AutoCache will only cache reads, but by virtue of relieving the backend
datastore from read traffic, we have actually seen overall write performance
improvements as well. This effect is also dependent on the workload.
The Impact of DSP IP in PCIe SSDs etc
17, 2012 - among other things... the recently published editon of the
Top SSD Companies
includes a new competitive comparison of PCIe SSDs from STEC and Fusion-io - and
suggests that the 12Gbps generation of
SAS SSDs could be the
last in the roadmap for SAS. ...read the article
HA support in OCZ's PCIe SSD software
3, 2012 - OCZ
published a white paper today -
MS SQL Server 2012 with OCZ Flash Virtualization (pdf) which describes
the performance of the company's
PCIe SSDs (Z-Drive R4)
caching and virtualization software in this kind of environment.
interesting angle (for me) was in the aspect of
tolerance rather than the 16x VM speedup.
author Allon Cohen
(who has written many thought provoking
explains in this paper - "VXL software has a unique storage virtualization
feature-set that enables transparent mirroring of SQL Server logs between 2
flash cards, thereby assuring that the log files can be accessed with ultra high
performance, while at the same time, are highly available for recovery if
the article (pdf)
Virident speeds up telco billing queries
June 19, 2012 - That
legacy versus new
dynasty thing as a way of viewing different SSD companies - is illustrated
in a quote from a customer of Virident Systems -
mentioned in a
"We needed to eliminate the disk-drive
without changing the architecture of the billing system or the customer-care
interface," said David Fruin, VP of engineering at
Vail Systems - a conferencing
technology services provider - which processes more than 48 million billing
records a day on Microsoft SQL Server.
Vail Systems improved
their response times by an order of magnitude and more than doubled their
ability to handle more customers by using Virident's
FlashMAX PCIe SSDs to
accelerate their systems "without requiring any other changes".
Editor's comments:- "SSDs
accelerate telco system" stories are as old as the hills. But what's
interesting about this example from Virident is it shows that
PCIe SSDs can do
useful work in high availability environments which are usually regarded as the
exclusive domain of SAN
based SSDs. Those PCIe
OR rackmount SSD use case distinctions aren't as rigid as some people
Nutanix has a new NFS for PCIe SSD accelerated CPUs
June 12, 2012 - Nutanix
announced the general availability of NDFS (Nutanix Distributed File
System), a bold new distributed filesystem that has been optimized to leverage
localized low latency PCIe
SSDs such as those from Fusion-io.
shifting the NFS datapath away from the network directly onto the VMware vSphere
host, NDFS bypasses network communications that have historically been fraught
with multiple high-latency hops between top-of-rack and end-of-row switches.
Nutanix accelerates both read and writes for any workload.
availability are achieved by data mirroring across high-speed 10GbE
switches. Nutanix says it harnesses the same distributed system techniques
that power webscale clouds such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn clouds into an
enterprise-friendly package that starts out as a high-density 2U datacenter
Editor's comments:- Nutanix is in the
SSD ASAP market -
equivalency architecture integrated in the OS. The company says their
architecture "collapses compute and storage into a single tier." You
can get the general idea from their
SanDisk launches Lightning PCIe SSDs
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.
comments:- no useful performance data about the new products was available
PCIe SSD home page when I looked - so you'll just have to imagine how fast
an SSD with that
type of name might be.
Biwin enters PCIe SSD market
Editor:- June 4, 2012 -
Biwin is showing
PCIe SSD at Computex 2012.
The company says this isn't a marketable product but signals its
intention to enter the PCIe
SSD market soon with products which are closer to the 8GB/s potential
thoughput of 3rd generation PCIe servers.
KingSpec enters the PCIe SSD market
Editor:- May 25,
2012 - KingSpec
its first PCIe SSD in
2 weeks time at Computex 2012
If you measure the start of the
PCIe SSDs market by
when volume customer shipments began - then
2012 is the 6th year
of this market.
But instead of seeing market consolidation the huge
demand for PCIe SSDs means that more vendors then ever before are entering this
market - and offering a range of
different concepts about exact functionality, performance and cost.
2.5" PCIe SSDs guide
Editor:- May 21, 2012 -
published a new article introducing the market for
2.5" PCIe SSDs
Although some aspects of this new market are predictable - if
you're already familiar with
PCIe SSDs and
SAS SSDs - the new SSD
delivery package also opens up new possibilities which can sit above and below
pre-existing 2.5"SSDs in price as well as performance. And the new 2.5"
PCIe SSDs will also introduce and showcase new types of functionality which
haven't been been feasible before at the SSD drive level.
|the SSD Buyers Guide|
where are we now with SSD software?
SSDs for newbies - what are they etc
Flash" - is a market phenomenon not a technology.|
|Sugaring flash for
- describes - how the market changed from 2004 to 2013 and is changing
|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.
||But in this case you'd be
wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) ...read the article|
|How are fault tolerant
PCIe SSD designs supported in chips?|
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.
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."
|How Big is the Market for
|In 2010 I wrote here that I confidently
expect that PCIe SSDs will become a multi-billion dollar a year market.|
now the standard SSD
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
|"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. |
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
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
older busses like PCI and cPCI also provide performance which is adequate for
Bus connected SSDs have been around since the
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
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.
May 13, 2009 - Dolphin's
CTO, Venkat Krishnan emailed this article correction.
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."