this way to
the petabyte SSD - 2016 to 2020 roadmaps
which the author explains why he thinks users will
hard drives with
SSDs in the last bastions
of the datacenter (the cost sensitive utility archive) even if the
cost of terabyte hard drives
drops to zero...
And publishes the business plan for a new industry in the
Now's a good time to get that coffee (and the headache pills).
article maps my vision of the steps needed for the storage market to
deliver affordable 2U rackmount
SSDs with a PB capacity (1,000 TB) in the soonest possible time using
evolutionary steps in
chip technology but calling
for a revolutionary change in
how does this article fit in with earlier and later SSD market
It can be read on its own - or viewed as a sequel
to 2 preceding articles:-
market adoption model (2005 edition) - in which I described why users would
buy SSDs. This analyzed the user value propositions for the 4 main markets in
which SSDs would be adopted in the decade following publication.
This Petabyte SSD article also forms part of
the narrative in the (2012) article -
an introduction to
enterprise SSD silos (7 ways to classify where all SSDs will fit in the
pure SSD datacenter).
- How solid
is hard disk's future? (2007) - in which I explained that the growth of the
SSD market wouldn't result in any sizable reductions in overall hard disk
market revenue till about 2011 - because the HDD market was itself gaining
revenue from new consumer markets such as video recorders almost as fast as it
was losing revenue to SSDs in
and embedded markets.
this way to the petabyte SSD
final chapter in the
SSD vs HDD wars.
The elimination of hard drives from what is currently (2010) its
strongest bastion - the bulk data storage market in the data center.
been a cost sensitive market in which the cost per terabyte arguments (which I
showed were irrelevant in 4 out of the 5 cases in the
penetration model) have been very relevant in this 5th and final case.
Media / capacity cost has been a protective shield to hard disk makers. This
new article will show how that last remaining obstacle in the SSD
domination roadmap will be removed. It will describe new user value
propositions (which were not in my earlier SSD market adoption models)
whereby the transition to solid state storage takes place irrespective of
intersect with the magnetic cost per terabyte curve. It describes the
market climate in which enterprise users will not find hard drives attractive or
usable - even if the cost of buying a complete new HDD drops away to zero
This is a much more complicated market to model than you
might guess (even for an experienced
SSD analyst like
myself) for these reasons:-
- MLC flash SSDs
(the best looking horses in the theoretical race to achieve HDD and SSD
price parity) will not play a significant part in dislodging hard drives from
their use in archives for reasons explained later in this article connected with
Later note added in 2012 - I was wrong about this. The
use of adaptive
R/W DSP in MLC flash and in particular TLC enables MLC to play the same
market replacement role which I originally anticipated would require mainly
powered down SLC with fast boot. But apart from this memory type difference -
the market impact and architecture assumptions below remain unchanged.
- New emerging applications and market conditions (in the 2011 to 2019
decade) will put much greater stress on archived data. These new
search-engine centric applications will accelerate the growth of data
capacity (by creating automatically generated data flow patterns akin to
ant-virus strings matching - which will speed up the anticipation and
delivery of appropriate customer data services). At the same time these new
apps will demand greater IOPS access into regions of storage which have
hitherto been regarded as offline or nearline data. Those factors would - on
their own - simply increase storage costs beyond a level which most enterprises
- The ability to leverage the data harvest will create new added value
opportunities in the biggest data use markets - which means that
backup will no longer
be seen as an overhead cost. Instead archived data will be seen as a potential
money making resource or profit center. Following the
experience - that analyzing more data makes the product derived from that
data even better. So more data is good rather than bad. (Even if it's
plan for a new SSD market
- Physical space and electrical power will continue playing their part as
pressure constraining corsets on these systems. That's why new SSD architectures
will be needed - because current designs are incapable of being scaled into
these tight spaces.
In some ways I feel like any product
manager launching any new product - nervous and hopeful that it will get a good
reception. The product in this case - includes the idea of an entirely new
class of SSDs.
By sharing this vision I'm throwing down the gauntlet
to product managers in the
tape library markets and
saying - "Look guys - you can do this. All the technology steps are
incremental from where we are today... just start working on your aspect of the
jigsaw puzzle. Because if you don't figure out which place you want to occupy in
this new market (circa 2016) - then you will be unprepared for the market when
it arrives - and won't have a business."
Because the audience for
this article is technologists, product managers, senior management in storage
companies and (as ever) founders of storage start ups... I'm not going to
clutter up this article with things you already should know - or can easily
find out - by reading any of the hundreds of other SSD related articles I've
already published here in the past 11 years. Instead I'm going for a leaner
The 4 propositions discussed in this article are:-
- what kind of animal will the PB SSD be?
- who's going to buy it - and why?
- where will it fit in the datacenter storage architecture?
- what are the technical problems which need to be solved?
way to demonstrate the first 2 points is to roll forwards in time to the
fictional launch press release for this type of product.
- looking back at the last bastions of magnetic storage
|Stealth mode startup wakes
petabyte SSD appliance market|
Editor:- October 17, 2016 - Exabyte SSD Appliance emerged from stealth
mode and today announced a $400 million series C
funding round and
immediate availability of its new Paranoid S3B series - a 2U entry level
Solid State Backup appliance
with 1PB (uncompressed) capacity.
Sustainable sequential R/W speeds
are 12GB/s, random performance is 400K IOPS (MB blocks). Latency is 10
microseconds (for accesses to awake blocks) and 20 milli-seconds (for data
accesses to blocks in sleep mode.)
The scalable system can deliver 20PB
of uncompressed (and RAID protected) nearline storage in a 40U cabinet - which
can be realistically compressed to emulate 100PB of rotating hard disk storage
using less than 5kW of electric power.
modules include:- VTL / RAID emulation (Fujitsu, HP, IBM and HP), wire-speed
speed compression / decompression and customer specific
SSD also offers fast-purge
as additional cost options for Federal customers or enterprises, like banks,
whose data may be at higher risk from terrorist attacks. Pricing starts from
$100,000 for a single PB unit with 4x
FC or 2x
SSD ports. The company is seeking parterships with data
Editor's comments:-the "holy grail" for
SSD bulk archives is to be able to replicate and replenish the entire
enterprise data set daily - while also coping with the 24x7 demands of
ediscovery, satellite office
datacenter server rebuilds and the marketing
department's heavy loads (arising from the new generation of
Google API inspired
data population software toys.) The Paranoid S3B hasn't quite achieved that
lofty goal - with the current level of quoted performance (because in my
opinion the proportion of "static data" - mentioned in the full
text of the press release is much higher than is found in most corporations).
Despite those misgivings the Paranoid S3B is the closest thing in the market
to the idealized SSD bulk archive library as set out in my
Internally the Paranoid uses the recently announced 50TB
SiliconLibrary (physically fat but architecturally
flash SSDs from
WD - instead of
the faster (but lower capacity) 2.5" so called "bulk archive"
SSDs marketed by competing vendors. In reality many of those wannabe SSD archive
SSDs are simply remarketed consumer video SSDs.
president Serge Akhmatova told me - "...Sure you might use some of those
other solutions on the market today if you only need to buy a few boxes and can
fit all your data in a handful of Petabytes. Good luck to you. That's not our
market. We're going for the customers who need to buy hundreds of boxes. Where
are customers going to find the rackspace if they're using those old style,
always-on SSDs? And let's not forget the electrical power. Our systems take 50x
less electrical power - and are truly scalable to exabyte libraries. When you
look at the reliability
of the always-on SSDs it reminds me about the bad old days of the hard disk
drives - when you had to
all the disks every few years."
The recently formed
SSD Library Alliance is
working on standards related to this class of SSD products - and will publish
its own guidelines next year. I asked Exabyte SSD's president - was he worried
that Google might launch its own similar product - because they were likely to
be the biggest worldwide user for this type of system.
can't speculate on what Google might do in the future" said Serge
Akhmatova "we signed NDAs with our beta customers. But it does say in
our press release that the new boxes are 100% compatible with Google
APIs. We worked very closely together to make absolutely sure it works
perfectly. You draw your own conclusions."
history may recall that one of the early pioneers in the SSD dedupe
appliance market was WhipTail
Technologies (who launched their 1st product in February
company, who recently announced...
|where will it
fit in the datacenter storage architecture?|
In an earlier article -
Why I Tire of "Tier
Zero Storage" - I explained why I think that numbered storage tiers -
applied to SSDs is a ridiculous idea - and I still hold to the view that SSD
tiers are relativistic (to the application) rather than absolute.
where does the Paranoid PB SSD appliance fit in?
In my view there are 3
distinct tiers in the SSD datacenter.
- acceleration SSD - close to the application server - as a DAS
connection in the same or adjacent racks (via
- auxilary acceleration SSD - on the
Some of these tiers
will have sub-tiers - because of the realities of market economics. But only 7
different types of SSDs are needed to sustainably satisfy all the architecture
needs in the pure solid state storage data center. The Petabyte SSD rack is 1 of
those 7. You can read about the rest in my article -
an introduction to
enterprise SSD silos.
- bulk storage archive SSD - whose primary purpose is affordable
bulk storage which is accessible mainly to SAN / NAS - but in some data farms -
may connect directly to the fastest servers.
technical problems which need to be solved
new species of storage device - the bulk archive SSD
is a very strange
which - although internally uses nv memory such as flash - and externally looks
like a fat 2.5" SSD
- looks as alien architecturally to a conventional notebook or server SSD as
does a tape library to a hard drive. The differences come from the need to
manage data accesses in a way which
optimize power use
(and avoids the SSD melting) rather than optimizing the performance of data
The requirements of the
SSDs in bulk store applications differs from those in today's SSDs (2010) in
these important respects:-
- optimzation of electric power - the need to power manage memory blocks
within the SSD so that at any point in time 98% are in sleep mode (in the
powered off state). I'm assuming that the controller itself is always in the
mostly awake state.
- architecture - internally each SSD controller is managing perhaps 20 to 50
independently power sequenceable SSDs. In this respect the 2.5" SSD
architecture resembles some aspects of a mini auto MAID system.
- data writes to the library chips are nearly always in large sequential blocks
(because it's a bulk storage appliance) therefore
effects are a lesser concern than with conventional SSDs. Also the main memory
is SLC - not MLC due to the need for data integrity. That's partly because the
thousands of power cycles which occur during the life of the product - which can
be triggered by reads (not just by writes) would lead to too many disturb
errors - and also because the logic error bands in MLC thresholds are too
small to cope with the electrical noise in these systems.
I may have been wrong about the need for these bulk storage SSDs to be built
around SLC. A few years after writing this article developments in
adaptive SSD controller design and DSP
- showed that MLC, TLC (x3) and even QLC (x4) can be
managed to produce
adequate operating life and data integrity.
- power up / power down - for the controller this is a different environment
than a notebook or conventional server acceleration SSD. It lives in a
datacenter rack with a short term battery hold-up and in no other type of
location - ever. The power cycling must be optimized to reduce the time taken
for the 1st data accesses from the sleep state.
design of the archive SSD presents many difficult challenges for designers and
I'm not going to understate them. But in my view they are solvable - given the
right economic market for this type of product and overall feature benefits.
Here are some things to think about.
- performance - R/W throughput and
secondary considerations for this type of device and likely to lag 2 to 3 years
behind the best specs seen for other types of rackmount SSDs. In the awake state
sequential R/W throughput - for large data blocks - has to be compatible with
rewriting the whole SSD memory space in approx 24 hours or less.
- refresh cycle - you know about
cycles in DRAMs - why
need one for
flash? The answer is that
seldom accessed data inside the SiliconLibrary could spend years in the
unpowered (or powered but static data) state. That would be a bad thing -
because the data retention of the memory block can decline in certain
the risk of data loss. So to guarantee integrity in the SSD is a
house-keeping task which ensures that ALL memory blocks in the SSD are powered
up and refreshed at regular intervals - maybe once every 3 months - for example.
If you're familiar with tape library management - think of it as "spooling
- surges and
bounce in the SSD. If uncontrolled - these could be a real threat to data
integrity. That's one of the reasons why the wake access time has been
specificied as a number like 20 milliseconds - instead of an arbitrary number
like 200 micro-seconds. Soft starting the power up (by current limiting and
shaping the slope) will reduce noise spikes in adjecent powered SSDs and also
back at the last bastions of magnetic storage
- awake duty cycle. I haven't said much about the nature of the duty cycle
for the powered up (awake) state for memory blocks. To achieve good power
efficiency I've assumed that in the long term this will be just a few per cent
of the time. But how will it look on any given day? That depends on the HSM
scheme used in the SSD library. My working assumption is that once an SSD block
is woken - it stays in use for a period ranging from seconds to minutes. The
controller which woke it needs to have a way of anticipating this. As the SSD
library is the slowest tier in the SSD storage world - it would be reasonable to
assume that the device which originated the request (an online SSD) can do some
buffering and pack or unpack data requests into multiple GB chunks. Something
for the "hello
world!" members of the design team to think about.
I published my long
term projections for HDD revenue in an earlier article -
Storage Market Outlook
2010 to 2015.
The hard disk market doesn't have to worry about an
imminent threat from bulk storage SSDs for many years.
Instead I think
the concept opens the door to a fresh opportunity for companies in the
storage market to re-evaluate themselves.
If they believe the PB SSD
will be coming (and the details may be different to the way I have suggsted)
where will their own companies fit in?
I've also started to discuss
this idea with software companies too. Because the new concept open up entirely
new ways of thinking about backed up data. What is it for? What can you do with
it? How can you grow new business tools from content which upto now - was just
out of site and out of mind?
There are many exciting challenges for the
(And many mistakes too in the initial draft of this
article - which I'll pick up and deal with later.)
Thanks for taking
the time to read this. If you like it please let other people know.
|Key ideas to take away
from this article
- More data is better - not worse. Data volumes wll expand due to new
intelligence driven apps. But the data archive will be seen as a profit center -
instead of a cost overhead.
- the "SSD revolution" didn't end in
2007. It will
not stop soon - and instead will factionalize into SSD civil wars. Some of these
will overlap - but many won't.
- True archive SSDs using switched power management may be able to pay for
themselves by saving on electrical costs, disk replacement and datacenter space
- even if the competing hard drives are free. But it will be impossible for
hard drives to deliver the application performance needed in the petabyte
ediscovery and Google API environment anyway.
- Petabyte SSD systems - used for
archive applications would
benefit from fast boot SSDs (with low standby power) but don't need fast
R/W performance at the single drive level. When originally writing this article
in early 2010 - I thought the fast boot and data integrity could only be met by
SLC - but now it looks like
technology coupled with developments in the
consumer market -
such as DEVSLP could provide these functions more cheaply.
- There will be no
room in the datacenter for rotating storage of any type. It will be 100% SSD
- with just 3 types of distinct SSD products.
Footnotes about the companies mentioned in this article
of the companies mentioned in the "fictional" part of this article -
to illustrate the 2016 press release - are real companies. Thiese are the
reasons why I chose the companies whose names I used to illustrate certain
concepts. And I hope they won't be offended.
- WD Solid State
Storage (SiliconLibrary) - WD's SSD business unit has been intensively
testing SSD data integrity by running individual SSDs through thousands of
power cycles - since 2005 - as part of verifying its
data protection architecture. These are the longest running such test programs
I know - and they have already harvested data from millions of hours of device
tests (by 2010).
Understanding what happens to MLC SSDs when subjected
to these stresses is a key factor in the confidence to design bulk storage SSDs
- in which each memory block may undergo upwards of 5,000 power cycles in its
Although many other industrial flash SSD companies
also have experience in this area - WD also has experience with designing hard
disks which have good power performance in sleep mode. These features have not
been widely deployed in MAID systems because of the long wake access time. Will
the 20mS wake time - which I've proposed for archive SSD prevent its acceptance?
We will see.
- Fusion-io (SSD
port) - although SSDs currently use standard interfaces within and between racks
- I speculate that in some markets there will be a cost / performance advantage
to creating a new proprietary interface to "get the job done." I'm
proposing that Fusion-io - already the best known brand in the
PCIe SSD market (2010)
- is a likely company to adapt its products for new markets when the need
arises - and create a new defacto industry standard for inter-rack SSD ports.
- Google - It's not
unreasonable to expect that in the 6 years following publication of this article
Google (who already markets
is the #1 search company,
and is working on an SSD based OS
for notebooks) will be setting many key standards for the manipulation of large
data sets within the enterprise. Google APIs will be as important to CIOs in
the future as Oracle and other SQL compatible databases have been in the past
as tools which support data driven businesses.
|When 1,000 Terrorbytes
gather - it's spooky.|
SSD Milestones from
|HDS has shipped 19PB of
enterprise flash in past quarter|
Editor:- May 9, 2014 - A recent
blog - in ArchitectingIT
- says that 3 leading vendors shipped a sum total of over 50PB of
rackmount SSDs in
Q1 2014 - with HDS
- apparently having shipped more flash capacity than either EMC or Pure Storage
according to estimates by the blog's author Chris Evans.
NetApp has shipped 59PB of SSDs in past 3 years
November 19, 2013 - Among other things - Network Appliance
it has has shipped over 59 petabytes of flash storage in the past 3 years.
comments:- What NetApp actually said was "over 60PB to date".
My calculation goes like this... The company shipped 1PB in its first
year in the SSD market - which ended in the 3rd quarter of
it's shipped approximately 60PB in 3 years. Probably more than 1/2 of that will
have been in the past year.
How does that compare with others? It
doesn't sound like a lot in the context of today's market.
by Toshiba - the
analyst data which
projects that 8,000 PB of enterprise flash SSDs will ship in 2014.
Skyera will ship half petabyte 1U SSD in 2014
August 13, 2013 - Skyera
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.
Nimbus ships petabyte SSDs / month
22, 2013 -
Nimbus Data Systems
it has been shipping at the rate of over 1
petabyte of SSD
storage / month.
WhipTail shipped over 3 petabytes SSD storage in 2012
January 17, 2013 -
that its revenue grew 300% in
2012 and that
it has shipped a total of over 3.7 petabytes of SSD storage
Nimbus HALO OS supports 0.5 Petabyte SSD in a single SSD file
In January 2012 -
its entry into the
enterprise SSD market with the uveiling of the company's -
E-Class systems -
which are 2U rackmount SSDs with 10TB
eMLC per U of
capacity and no single point of failure.
Nimbus software (which
supports upto 0.5
petabytes in a
single SSD file system) automatically detects controller and path failures,
providing non-disruptive failover.Pricing starts at $150K approx for a 10TB dual
0.4 Petabyte SLC SSD feasible in a single cabinet
December 2011 - Texas Memory
imminent availability of the
- a 4 port (FC/IB) 1U
which provides 10TB of usable 2D (FPGA implemented)
RAID protected and hot
swappable - SLC
capacity with 100/25 microseconds R/W latency (with all protections in
place) delivering 400K IOPS (4KB), 5GB/s throughput - with no single point of
failure (at $20K/TB approx list).
The high density and low power
consumption of this SSD made it feasible to stuff over 400TB of usable SSD
capacity into a single cabinet
without fear of over
Hybrid Memory Cubes tick boxes for feasibility of Petabyte SSDs
In October 2011 - Samsung and
launched a new industry
initiative - the Hybrid
Memory Cube Consortium - to standardize a new module architecture
for memory chips - enabling greater density, faster bandwidth and lower power.
HMC will enable SSD designers to pack 10x more
RAM capacity into the same
space with upto 15x the bandwidth, while using 1/3 the power due
to its integrated power management plane. The same technology will enable
denser flash SSDs too.
university researchers compare SSD and tape archives
- October 2011
a white paper -
Using Storage Class
Memory for Archives with DAWN, a Durable Array of Wimpy Nodes (pdf) -
written by academics at University of California, Santa Cruz and Stanford
University - and published under the auspices of the Storage Systems Research Center
compared the long term cost and reliability of solid state archival storage and
traditional media - such as tape.
over 100 Petabytes of SandForce Driven SSDs in 1 year
announced it had shipped more than one million of its
SF-1500 and SF-1200 SSD
Processors since they were released into production in 2010.
Driven SSD manufacturers shipped more than 100 Petabytes of NAND flash into
the mainstream computing markets.
Fusion-io shipped 15 Petabytes of SSD accelerators in 1 year
that in the past 12 months it had shipped more than 15 petabytes of its
enterprise flash SSD accelerators.
The company said that more than
2,000 end users have chosen to architect their enterprise infrastructure
upgrades with Fusion's ioMemory technology, including more than half of the
EMC shipped 10 Petabytes of SSDs in 2010
EMC's President and COO,
Pat Gelsinger said the company had shipped 10 petabytes of flash SSD
storage in 2010.
TMS has shipped a Petabyte of enterprise SSDs
webinar (Nov 2010) -
Levi Norman, Director of
Texas Memory Systems
disclosed that the company already has more than a petabyte of its enterprise
SSDs installed and running in customer sites (mostly in banks and telcos). That
was a mixture of RAM SSD and flash.
In July 2010 - Skyera was founded.
The company was originally called StorCloud - but changed its name later. The
company was founded to develop the technologies needed for petabyte scale bulk
storage SSD systems which would be cheaper than HDD arrays.
NetApp ships a petabyte of flash cache
InJune 2010 -
disclosed that it had shipped more than a petabyte of flash SSD acceleration
storage since introducing the product 9 months earlier.
Spectra Launches Highest Density Tape Library
10, 2009 - Spectra Logic announced the T680 - the first
tape library which stores
a full petabyte of data in a single rack.
It supports 12 full-height
tape drives and 680 tape cartridges. Interface connections include - FC, SCSI or
iSCSI. Throughput is 10.4TB/Hour (compressed ) with LTO-4 drives and media.
EMC Announces Petabyte Disk Storage Array
January 26, 2006
- EMC announced availability of the world's first
storage disk array capable
of scaling to more than one petabyte (1,024 terabytes) of capacity.
The record capacity is made possible through the qualification of Symmetrix
DMX-3 system configurations supporting up to 2,400 disk drives and the
availability of new 500GB low-cost Fibre Channel disk drives.
Unisys Issues "Real-Time Petabyte Challenge"
8, 2004 - Unisys announced the "Real-Time Petabyte
Challenge" - a research initiative aimed at developing petabyte-sized
storage that will allow researchers, and businesses to have instant, real-time
access to vast amounts of data at a more affordable price.
storage is not a new phenomenon," said Peter Karnazes, director of High
Performance Computing at Unisys. "However, what is revolutionary is the
requirement to immediately access large amounts of this data. Within the next 5
years, as businesses strive to comply with information security legislation,
online petabyte storage will become a necessity. To realize this vision,
significant advancement in storage and storage management must be achieved to
dramatically reduce the cost of these storage systems, which would otherwise
fall in the range of $50 to $100 million using today's enterprise-class storage
devices. Unisys goal in this challenge is to develop a highly manageable system
of reliable commodity storage disks at one-tenth the price."
Sony Unveils PetaSite Tape Library
March 24, 2003
- Sony unveiled the PetaSite tape library family with up to 250TB of
native capacity per square meter of floor space, and a total native capacity of
up to 1.2 petabytes (PB).
The new systems, available in June 2003,
will bring high-speed backup and restores to life for enterprises and digital
content providers. Sustained native data transfer rates for the SAIT PetaSite
library will reach up to 2.88GB per second, and a standard file can be restored
in just over one minute.
StorageTek Backs Up a Petabyte of Weather Data
March 20, 2003
- With the help of StorageTek the National Center for Atmospheric
Research (NCAR) has surpassed the one-petabyte mark in its data holdings, which
range from satellite, atmosphere, ocean, and land-use data to depictions of
weather and climate from prehistoric times to the year 2100 and beyond.
At one petabyte, the archive is now more than a thousand times larger
than 1986, when it reached the one-terabyte level.
| "In modern petabyte
scale-out storage systems the focus must be on the architectural organizations
of the entire system and all related performance dimensions.|
storage node must be considered the building block of a complex ecosystem where
the interconnection plays a strategic role.
storage node becomes the equivalent of an HDD in the old storage architecture -
but must provide more complex functions."
Founder - A3CUBE in his paper -
Architecting a Massively Parallel
Data Processor Platform for Analytics (pdf) (March 2014)|