the Top SSD
Companies - Q4 201639th
editor - StorageSearch.com
- March 10, 2017
|Since this series began
10 years ago it has helped millions of readers in the SSD ecosystem confidently
identify emerging market patterns and significant new companies. |
that time we saw flash
replace DRAM as the dominant SSD memory type,
PCIe SSDs changing the
nature of the server
market, the growth of the merchant
SSD controller market, the
birth of the
SSD software market
and its many children (including
defined everything, usable
rather than physical storage
models and lending a hand to the poor cousins still plowing with
horse drawn hybrid
At the end of 2016 the SSD market reached a
dominant technology position where its products
everything important in the external computing environment. But innovation
hadn't stopped and the SSD market had already begun looking inwards towards the
memory space and outwards
towards capturing data from a wider internet of things.
The next wave
of disruptive change in
systems architecture has barely begun.
wars and the growing number of value based tiered memory roles everywhere
is good for some kinds of memory solutions but it is being tempered by
that there will be smaller settings at the table for old familiar memory
types - especially DRAM.
And another slimming effect (doing more
with less) being seen in all legacy applications is
utilization from new architectures which are embedded in new SSD array
software. If legacy
was all - we'd be looking at much smaller future markets. But
is unshackling the performance boundaries of the pre-SSD era.
data anywhere can now be repurposed, upcycled and - if found valuable - can
be put to good use in a timely service delivery. And the world's data factory
is still at an early stage of play right now - similar to the pre-Amazon
Netscape web era on the dialup internet.
So it looks like we're going
to find this list useful for a little while longer yet.
the Top 25 SSD Companies - Q4 2016based on reader search (over
226,000 unique readers in this period)
1 - (tied) - Pure Storage -
same as before
Pure Storage said after the quarter ended that it
expected to get $1 billion of revenue in 2017.
1 - (tied) - Western
This is the first time at #1 for WD although 2 of the
SSD companies which it acquired in past years have been here before (Fusion-io and
it has taken many years for the branding effect to clarify we're now starting
to see a new SSD identity emerge from Western Digital which is distinct from the
sum of all the parts it has accumulated.
3 - Seagate
- down 1 place
The gap in search volume between the #1 and #3
in this quarter was at a historic low of just 22%.
4 - Foremay
- up 6 places
I guess you could say this is part of a "military"
wave in this list which you will also see below.
Foremay has been at
the forefront of shipping high capacity NVMe SSDs for military applications -
having nearly eliminated the traditional time lag of adoption for new interface
types in rugged markets.
At the core of this is much greater awareness
in defense systems designers about modern datacenter inspired architectures. And
long before the military market adopted SATA they had loved SCSI SSDs.NVMe is
the new SCSI. And it's got a plausible long term roadmap for those who like COTS
technology and wonder if the SSD they design in today will still be available
in 10 years.
Toshiba - up 15
This ranking now includes combined searches for SSDs from
both Toshiba and OCZ.
Due to financial problems in Toshiba due to
losses in its nuclear business Toshiba - in the following quarter -
attracted a lot of attention due to speculation about selling some or all of its
flash and SSD business.
2.5" PCIe SSDs,
6 - Violin
Memory - down 3 places
The long waiting game of would Violin
go bust or be rescued by some kind of magic ended in this quarter.
years ago Violin said it hoped to become a $1 billion revenue enterprise SSD
array company. From that time the direction of travel was down.
of enterprise SSD companies have no good reasons to survive
7 - V&G
also formerly known as RunCore - up 7 places
Custom form factors
and combinations of design features are an important part of V&G's SSD
8 - Diablo
Technologies - same as before
Although more than 20 companies
have made their intentions clear in the nvm as RAM market there aren't many
whose solutions you can buy ready to run in integrated systems.
is indisputedly the leader in the "NVDIMM flash as RAM" category.
But just as we saw in past phases of the SSD server acceleration
market - with PCIe SSDs
- when a market opportunity looks big enough - then competition comes in.
SCM DIMM wars picture is further complicated by the fact that form factors don't
matter as much as they used to due to the localization effect of new fabrics and
that genuinely new memory types are also hoping to get in on the act.
said that - I think flash will remain the mainstream technology in this segment
in the short term as the newcomers have yet to prove their reliability.
new thinking in RAM,
9 - Nimbus
Data Systems - up 11 places
10 - NGD
Systems - new name for NxGn Data - down 6 places
11 - Micron
- down 4 places
cycles in memory markets - SSD lessons
12 - Primary
Data - up 11 places
This is the highest rank so far for Primary
13 - Samsung
- down 4 places
14 - Kaminario
- down 1 place
enterprise SSD services marketing
15 - Intel
- down 10 places
Intel may have suffered in this quarter for having
previously over promised the performance and availability of its much hyped
but unavailable Optane SSD product family. Not so much of what they unveil,
leak or hype about future memory systems is taken as gospel.
SSD ideas of 2016,
of memory intensive systems,
16 - NVMdurance
- up 11 places
This is the first time in the Top SSD Companies List for
controller firmware and IP
17 - BiTMICRO
- up 5 places
18 - Virtium
- down 6 places
19 - InnoDisk
- down 1 place
20 - Mangstor
- down 5 places
In this quarter Mangstor announced the departure of
its CEO who had been a co-founder of the company.
The company had been
the first to demonstrate ultra low latency across NVMe fabrics (in 2015)
using software which it had written to support its 100 core SSD controller based
PCIe SSDs and racks.
In the following quarter we learned that this kind
of fantastic performance would become less rare due to standardization efforts
and productization of low latency NVMe fabric software from other sources -
notably Excelero. A later casualty of such developments was EMC's DSSD
21 - EMC
- up 4 places
22 - Symbolic
IO - first time appearance in this list
Symbolic IO was still
emerging from stealth and hadn't revealed much upto this quarter. But what the
company did say held out the promise of an entirely new architecture
leveraging persistent memory, processing efficiency and software.
SSD companies in 2016 - (editor's cut),
23 - Microsemi
- up 9 places
RAM SSDs, SSD
controllers, interface glue
24 - Netlist
- down 7 places
25 - (tied) - Tegile
Systems - up 3 places
hybrid storage arrays,
25 - (tied) - Hyperstone - first
time appearance in this list
In the following quarter we learned that
Micron has used Hyperstone's USB 3 SSD controller in the design of a new eUSB
SSD product line aimed at low power, reliable server boot and logging
applications in the IoT market.
|Who were the SSD companies just outside this
The next 10 or so companies (listed in ranking order) were:-
who d'you call for the
SSD crystal ball?
market idea of SSD year 2016 (editor's cut)
the big SSD memory architecture ideas in 2016?
hidden and missing market opportunities for enterprise flash
|It looks like you're seriously interested
in SSDs so if you've got the time - you might also want to take a look at
the home page of StorageSearch.com
which - unlike most home pages - also includes some real content.|
In this quarter 3 companies joined this list for the first time:-
Hyperstone, NVMdurance and SymbolicIO.
VCs in SSDs
about the publisher
the Top SSD Companies -
in enterprise flash arrays market
Branding Strategies in
the SSD Market (case studies)
SSD story why's the plot so complicated?
market self awareness is the only thing which matters
|Pure Storage announced
availability of its of petabyte-scale rackmount SSD - the FlashArray//m - which
in 7U includes 512TB of raw flash delivering 1.5PB of effective capacity (based
on its customer use metrics).|
|SSD news stories in
October 2016 |
|When all storage is made
from memories the dividing line between storage and memory is much more fluid
than it has been before. And the new philosopher's stone by which alchemy
memory chip arrays are repurposed along this spectrum from one to the other -
raising and lowering the data entropy - is software rather than controller
|where are we
heading with memory intensive systems?|
| What's data? - Now hold
on - that's too philosophical. Encode data a different way... to make it work
better - now you're talking engineering. But that's a discussion for another
time. Right here we don't care what the data means. It just comes and goes.
And it's surprising how far or how little it may have traveled. From the
cloud? Another storage device? Maybe it was computed just now from an earlier
matching of data. Sometimes the data arrives in a rush only to sadly discover
that it's not needed after all. There's a lot of data shuffling happening around
the world. Most of it isn't even for you.|
thing? - dataflow controllernomics|
|BeSang says 3D Super-DRAM
could fix multi-billion dollar money pit of memory industry's fab capacity
|Editor:- March 15, 2017 - Just as we're starting
to get used to a world view that memory fabrication capacity
not be enough to make all the memory parts needed - and that a pragmatic
global optimization from the user point of view may be to plan ahead for
memory systems which use tiering, flash as RAM, freshly minted shiny
nvms and new
SSD aware software to get
more storage and processing
done with less
chips - a journey which - depending who you are - begins or ends with the
idea of reducing
the ratio of DRAM to storage - and just as we're getting our heads adjusted
to the huge investments which would be needed to make DRAM technology
better and to believe that no sane investor (not even a
VC who loves SSDs)
would want to toss their money in that direction - a seemingly different
alternate get out of jail free option is offered in a new blog by Sang-Yun Lee,
CEO - BeSang -
in EE Times -
Among other things Sang says...
you consider planar DRAM shrinking from 18nm to 16nm, then, 20% more
dice-per-wafer could be achieved. To do so, multi-billion dollar should be
invested for R&D and
is required. In case of 3D Super-DRAM, it needs less than $50 million for R&D
and no EUV; and even so, it could produce 400% more die-per-wafer."
at the risk of repeating some of that:- 4x as much DRAM from the same fabs
without huge investments... How is that possible? ...read
Editor's comments:- You can get an idea of
the complex decision matrices facing memory makers. In past decades the product
types which determined the demand mix for memories (PCs, phones, servers) were
few in number and had predictable roadmaps. Now big demands for memory are
coming from cloud, IoT and new intelligence based markets which are creating
entirely new ratios and rules of what is possible with memory systems.
|In 2016 4 shining
companies - Diablo, Marvell, NVMdurance and Symbolic IO provided
significant technology markers for the way ahead for the SSD memory systems
SSD market lesson from 2016|
|In the context of strategic
changes in the merchant SSD controller market - all companies face the challenge
that there is only so far that they can go in getting mileage out of innovative
features in standard SSDs.
|a winter's tale
of SSD market influences|
|A big incentive for server
makers to engage in NVDIMM wars is that integration with motherboard resources
and firmware promises better lock-in at the customer level because traditionally
end users have been less willing to exercise their freedom to choose 3rd party
competitive suppliers for DIMM components.|
|the road to DIMM
|Getting acquainted with the
needs of new big data apps |
|Editor:- February 13, 2017, 2017 - The nature of
demands on storage and big memory systems has been changing.|
new storage applications by Nisha Talagala,
VP Engineering at Parallel
Machines provides a strategic overview of the raw characteristics of
dataflows which occur in new apps which involve advanced analytics,
machine learning and deep learning.
It describes how these new
trends differ to legacy enterprise storage patterns and discusses the
convergence of RDBMS and analytics towards continuous streams of enquiries.
And it shows why and where such new demands can only be satisfied by large
capacity persistent memory systems.
|Among the many interesting observations:-
- Quality of service is different in the new apps.
is rare. Instead the data access patterns are heavily patterned and initiated by
operations in some sort of array or matrix.
concludes "Opportunities exist to significantly improve storage and memory
for these use cases by understanding and exploiting their priorities and
non-priorities for data." ...read
- Correctness is hard to measure.
And determinism and repeatability
is not always present for streaming data. Because for example micro batch
processing can produce different results depending on arrival time versus event
time. (Computing the right answer too late is the wrong answer.)
SSD software news
where are we
heading with memory intensive systems?