PCIe SSDs for use in enterprise server acceleration 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.
over 100 million enterprise PCIe ports already shipped in the market
(upto January 2014) and with waiting-to-be-exploited fabric capabilities
which chipmaker PLX calls "ExpressFabric"
(by which they mean PCIe as a fabric outside the box but still within the
cabinet) the converging PCIe SSD / server has already been a fast changing
market and is well positioned to expand into new applications.
companies already ship enterprise accelerator PCIe SSDs (see list below).
That will rise to over 100 companies as the availability of more
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 in
2012 are opening up new applications - such as the displacement of fast
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 is aimed at the
consumer SSD market
notebooks. These consumer PCIe products have throughputs similar to the
enterprise products of 5-6 years earlier - but aren't rated for heavy
Nevertheless I wouldn't be surprised to see them appear as
in some future arrays in read-intensive design slots.
competitive alternative to PCIe SSDs - at the low latency end of the
applications spectrum inside (rather than
outside) the server box -
which started shipping in volume in 2014 - is a new class of low latency flash
SSDs which plug into DIMM sockets which were originally designed for
read more about these products (which go by various names such as TeraDIMMs,
ULLtraDIMM SSDs, eXFlash DIMMs etc) in the
|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
SAS markets - in which
enterprise SSD vendors cluster close together in performance rankings - give
you the wrong idea about PCIe SSDs.
In this market the performance
limits and capabilities of the SSD aren't set by fossilized
hard disk interface
and package limitations. They're limited only by the imagination of the
designers - tempered by the
educated guesses of
marketers who are trying to predict the optimum (most salable) features for
an ideal server side enterprise SSD.
|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.
PCIe SSD oems |
|This is a (partial list) from
past SSD news and
Mach Xtreme Technology,
Renice Technology ,
, Texas Memory
|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 fastest SSDs|
SSD endurance -
changed in SSD year 2013?
all enterprise data
will touch an SSD
how fast can your SSD
SSD symmetries in
design and performance
don't all PCIe SSDs
look pretty much the same?
SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide
news below / SAS SSD
news / other SSD news|
|a new SSDserver
Editor:- March 5, 2014 - In a new home page blog
today - StorageSearch.com
published proposals for a new shorthand for SSD enhanced enterprise servers
in the context of complex architectural dialogs. ...read the article
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
March 4, 2014 - OCZ
is still using LSI's
SandForce SSD controllers
SF-2582 enterprise SATA (pdf)) in its newest PCIe SSD - the
Z-Drive 4500 Series
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
in a FHHL form factor and is integrated with OCZ's new WXL caching software.
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
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
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
Editor's comments:- I spoke to the
recently - who say they intend to make this an affordable mainstream
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
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
- how do you make this expensive resource available to more servers?
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.
- 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?
But although there
are many ways of doing this - the details are different for each vendor.
- 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.
heart of this is a shared broadcast memory window - of 128Mbytes - which can be
viewed simultaneously by any of the attached ports.
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
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.
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
PLX is ready with 1st Gen3 compliant PCIe switches
February 4, 2014 - PLX
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.
SSD interface chips,
Express 3.0 Integrators List
This is what it takes to be #2 in PCIe SSDs
January 22, 2014 - LSI
said today in its
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
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.
Fusion-io reports results
Editor:- January 22, 2014 -
that revenue for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 was $94.5 million (22%
decline compared to the year ago period).
As reported on these pages previously - and aside from the growing number of
strong competitors in the PCIe
SSD market - particular factors which compressed FIO's revenue growth were:-
- sensitivity to big orders in previous years from a small set of super
customer diversification theme was referred to in this earnings report - in
which FIO's CEO Shane Robison
said "...We are continuing to diversify our customer base, with nearly
6,000 end-user customers worldwide now using Fusion ioMemory-based solutions to
accelerate their data center applications."
- competitive issues related to the
rackmount SSD market
- which is becoming a growing strategic part of the product mix for Fusion-io -
as the company aspires to be the primary system brand - rather than - as in
previous years - an almost invisible
someone else's box.
In addition to the same issues which affect all
established vendors in the SSD box market (lead times to identify, qualify and
satisfy prospective users) - in many respects Fusion-io will still be regarded
as a "rackmount newbie" by most enterprise SSD users - whether or
not they are already customers of its server acceleration products. That's
because there's a lot of stuff you have to know and prove as a vendor in
rackmounts - which is different to the case with cards and modules.
although the evolving
rackmount SSD market offers a potential growth opportunity and
diversification of routes to market for Fusion-io - it's by no means an easy
market to conquer - and vendors have to demonstrate by their investments in
systems related testing reports and marketing - that they are serious.
Also mentioned in this
report was the company's continuing effort to demonstrate that it can "speak
fluent rackmount" -
new benchmarks and customers of its
OCZ relaunches as a Toshiba Group company
January 21, 2014 - Toshiba
some details of how OCZ
Storage Solutions (which was based on the recently acquired assets of
OCZ Technology Group) will operate within the Toshiba Group of Companies.
The new OCZ Storage Solutions, under the continuing direction of CEO Ralph Schmitt
- will leverage Toshiba's cutting-edge NAND and combine it with the company's
proprietary controllers, firmware and software to provide both client and
enterprise customers with innovative and cost-effective SSD solutions.
IBM launches first memory channel SSD based servers
January 16, 2014 - IBM
today disclosed preliminary test results comparing the latency of
SSDs to PCIe SSDs - in the
press release of its new X6 architecture for X86 servers.
- "Our evaluators are seeing 5-10 microseconds write latency for eXFlash
DIMMs in preliminary testing vs. 15-19 microseconds latency for PCIe-based flash
storage from Fusion IO,
Virident, and 65
microseconds latency for Intel
S3500 and S3700 SSDs."
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.
LaCie announces "PCIe SSD inside" desktop
January 6, 2014 - LaCie
imminent availability of its
Little Big Disk
Thunderbolt 2 - a
compatible desktop storage box with 2x
PCIe Gen 2 SSDs inside
for apps such as video editing.
what changed in SSD year 2013?
Editor:- December 20,
changed in SSD year 2013? - the big ideas to assimilate, the big ideas
to forget. Reviewing what those ideas are - is the theme of my
home page blog.
reasons to expect more PCIe SSDs in 2014 PC Market
December 16, 2013 - A new
in DRAMeXchange discusses the issue of
SATA 3 SSDs being
replaced by PCIe SSDs
in the consumer SSD
market in future designs of PCs. ...read
how to avoid hot pluggable PCIe SSD failures
December 3, 2013 - What happens if you test
PCIe SSDs for their
sensitivity to data
corruption or even failure
- in the event of
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
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."
LSI integrates "SSD market on a chip"
November 18, 2013 - LSI
its 3rd generation SandForce SSD controller family - the SF3700 which - based
around a single chip design - spans a wide spectrum of SSD market
applications (from consumer to enterprise) - includes native jumper-selectable
SATA or gen 2 PCIe interfaces - and incorporates adaptive R/W DSP ECC
Editor's comments:- The SF3700 is the most
ambitious design of a single chip
SSD controller in
history. ...read more abiut it in
SSD controller news
memory channel SSD vs PCIe SSD write latency - 3rd party
Editor:- November 7, 2013 - Although it's possible to
make estimates of how a new type of
will perform compared to what already exists - the interplay of applications
software, systems software and a new
controller design -
means that initial assumptions can easily be out by a factor of x2. And even if
you have accurately guessed what the weak points and the strong points are in
the product's performance
symmetries - it's only when you start to see
that you can have more confidence in your
models of what's
So if you've been wondering how Diablo's
storage compares with PCIe
here to a new whitepaper (pdf) which includes some useful data. The
application isn't important but it's the first public glimpse which goes
usefully beyond the graphs shown in the product launch documents.
highlight for me is - a mean write latency of about 30µS for MCS compared
to about 100µS for PCIe SSD- at a particular R/W ratio which may of
course look nothing like your own setups. ...more in SSD news
Fusion-io accelerates shopping in China
October 10, 2013 - The largest B2C online shopping site in China - which has 51
million registered users who make an average of 500,000 purchases daily -
generating over 100 million pages / day - has improved its Microsoft SQL
Server database query response times by
9x by accelerating its infrastructure with ioMemory (PCIe SSDs) from Fusion-io -
according to a
According to the linked
case study - the
customer JD.com - also reduced its server
count by 3 to 1, saved money on software licenses and other running costs and
also improved operational reliability.
estimating the size of the server-side SSD market etc...
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
meet Ken and the
enterprise SSD software event horizon - the (long anticipated) new home
page blog on StorageSearch.com.
new route to market for FIO's ioScale
September 26, 2013 - IBM
- which has been offering Fusion-io's ioDrive
(PCIe SSD) technology
in its product line since
December 2009 has
first server oem to remarket the
ioScale - a product
described as having been optimized (price and feature set-wise) for huge
end users in the SSD
dark matter segment at the time of its launch in
Demartek blog re NVMe
Editor:- September 19, 2013 -
PCIe SSD market was
threatened with standards
which might tame it several years ago. The state of play is assessed in a new
IDF2013 and NVMe written by Dennis Martin, President
Virident's new "new channel partner" thingy
September 17, 2013 - When I see the words "channel program" in an SSD
market related communication (by which I mean - who resells what route to
market rather than the electronic interface route via which data commutes to
and from flash memory - my eyes glaze over. I'm sure yours do too - unlesss
you are a stakeholder in the company.
But here's an example of
adroit marketing footwork.
January this year
strategy" - for PCIe
SSDs - could be simply stated as being:-
as Virident contemplates the imminent prospect of becoming owned by
WD - its channel
strategy has perforce changed to
WD acquires Virident
Editor:- September 9, 2013 - it
was announced today that Virident Systems
will be acquired by WD's
enterprise SSD subsidiary - HGST for approximately
$685 million in cash.
Editor's comments:- Virident is a
Top 10 SSD company
with its own
SSD controller technology, and a market proven
scalable enterprise PCIe
SSD compatible product line.
The signs that Virident was behaving
like a company which might be imminently acquired (by someone) started to
become clear 2 months ago. However, if anyone had put bets on who that likely
acquirer would be - the most probable name which would have come up in such
conversations would have been
on the heels of an enterprise
SSD marketwide acquisition binge in recent months - this latest move
suggests that HGST will be appearing in rather more enterprise SSD shortlists
It also confirms - if you had any doubts about it - that
the main reason for WD wanting to acquire
Stec recently - had
little or nothing to do with Stec's weak PCIe SSD product line.
LSI gets closer to Proximal Data
4, 2013 - Proximal
that its AutoCache (SSD
ASAP) software is being being recommended by LSI for use with its
own range of Nytro WarpDrives (PCIe SSD accelerators).
LinkedIn uses Virident SSDs
Editor:- August 28, 2013
- Virident Systems
that LinkedIn is a customer of its
Skyera offers PCIe attach option to petabyte class rackmount
Editor:- August 13, 2013 - Skyera today
that. among other things, it will introduce
PCIe connectivity (to
the existing FC and
iSCSI) as well as
replication in the next version of its
rackmount SSDs -
the skyEagle - which will ship in the first half of 2014 - offering 500TB
uncompressed (2.5TB deduped and compressed) in a 1U form factor at a record
breaking list price
expected to be under $2,000 per uncompressed terabyte.
SMART starts sampling ULLtraDIMM SSDs
8, 2013 - SMART
Storage Systems today
it has begun sampling the first memory channel SSDs compatible with the
interface and reference architecture created by Diablo Technologies.
first generation enterprise ULLtraDIMM SSD (ULL = ultra-low latency) can be
deployed via any existing DIMM slot and provides 200GB or 400GB of enterprise
class flash SSD memory with upto 1GB/s and 760MB/s of sustained read/write
performance, with 5 microseconds write latency. Throughput, IOPS and memory
capacity scale with the number of ULLtraDIMM deployed in each server.
OCZ ships PCIe SSD based SQL accelerator
July 23, 2013 - OCZ
the general availability of its
Accelerator - an SSD
ASAP appliance - delivered as a PCIe SSD (600GB, 800GB or 1.6TB) and
bundled software - which optimizes caching of SQL Server data in Windows
environments - and can provide upto 25x faster database performance.
Samsung enters the 2.5" PCIe SSD market
July 18, 2013 - Samsung
today announced its entry into the
2.5" PCIe SSD
market. Its new NVMe SSD has upto 1.6TB capacity, read throughput upto
3GB/s, and up to 740K
PCIe topologies for enterprise SSDs
17, 2013 - PLX Technology
recently published a white paper -
and PCI Express - which gives an overview of past, current and future PCIe
SSD connection topologies along with a list of detailed reference articles.
with the clear text and authoritative viewpoint (PLX is the leading supplier of
PCIe chips to the SSD industry) the article includes a complete set of
attractive pictures too - which make it easier to visualize the many different
interconnection methods being discussed. Below is an example from a section in
the paper - called - Taking PCIe Out of the Box.
In recent years we've seen the start of a growing
diversity in both
the type and functionality of
PCIe SSDs. PLX's new
article provides a good introduction to what can be done with PCIe in an SSD
context - and may make you rethink your ideas about the roles of this interface
interface chips and IP,
7 silos for enterprise
the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2013
Editor:- July 11,
2013 - StorageSearch.com
yesterday published the
the Top SSD Companies
List - based on search metrics in Q2 2013. 4 out of the top 5 companies
market PCIe SSDs. But a new trend is now showing up in the top 10 companies.
Samsung enters PCIe SSD market
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."
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
later acquisition of SMART
(in August 2013), among other things, enabled SanDisk to offer a competing
alternative to fast PCIe SSDs - in the shape of
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.