| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||..|
the Top SSD Companies
meet Ken and the SSD
fast can your SSD run backwards?
articles on StorageSearch.com
hidden segments in the enterprise
10 key SSD
ideas which became clearer in 2014
Astrological Age of enterprise SSD pricing
enterprise SSD arrays - HA is now mainstream|
|Editor:- October 13, 2014 - It's strange how a
subject which I first heard about as an exotic reference in a lecture 38
years ago keeps coming back to me in different ways. |
back to the present day - I can confidently tell you that
fault tolerant /
high availability SSD systems have now entered the mainstream of the
Furthermore I suspect that debates about all the
differing faiths of
SSD systems level reliability (and what "reliability" itself
means) could (one day soon) come to consume nearly as much of your time
on the web (when researching
as reading about
See how this journey began for me - and also how you
may have come into this equation too - in my
new blog on StorageSearch.com
| DRAM SSD
interfaces and PCIe fabrics are hotting up the top storage searches - in
anticipation of new enterprise architectures|
|Editor:- October 1, 2014 - Total
SSD article views on StorageSearch.com
grew 5% year on year in September 2014- despite all the changes in
Google algorithms and increased competition in the SSD market reporting space.
But what have readers actually been looking at?
reporting on the 30th quarterly
Top SSD Companies
later this month. That involves a lot of work, cross checking and writing
associated articles. All of which takes time. But what I can reveal today are
these observations - based on reader metrics.
- In Q3 2014 -
SSDs became the 2nd most popular SSD form factor which readers followed up
in articles and news stories. (#1 - in case you can't remember - has been -
since 2009 - PCIe SSDs)
What does that signify?
- In September 2014 - the 3 SSD related companies which our readers were
reading about most were:-
#1 - Diablo (DDR3/4 flash
#2 - A3CUBE
(PCIe memory fabric) and
#3 - Fusion-io (no
It won't come
any surprise to long term readers that there are still significant changes
coming in SSD enabled data server architecture.
accustomed to the idea that low latency flash inside servers has become an
essential part of the job description of any multi-user enterprise server - and
being offered a rich variety of competing alternative ways to bind CPUs and
storage with SSDs by the SSD
software market - the next natural questions for users and applications
developers to ask are these:-
- why do we have such low limits being set in directly addressible low
latency memory capacity?
- why should the performance in a single server box still dictate the
perfomance limits for critical data integrity and synchonization house keeping
tasks in strategic applications - when we have access to thousands of servers?
The roadmap vision I'm seeing emerge from
enterprise SSD developments in 2014 - is that while oems and users are being
offered more choices in form factors and flash memory types - each of which
adds to the raw confusion of which one is best to use - the mission statement
for the software developers and fabric enablers - or those who want to please
their investors - will
be to create SSDcentric platforms which enable these disparate pieces to be seen
as interoperable subsets of a bigger
- in which users can move freely across wide cost/performance boundaries without
hitting walls which restrict their freedom to expand in any direction they want
- why are our most expensive and fastest SSD enabled servers and storage
systems being forced to use different software to the cheaper ones we use in
But it will get more complicated than that.
early modern SSDs had to interoperate with legacy software and data storage in
order to justify their costs - future SSD software developers will have to look
at the messy patchwork of SSD accelerated servers and SSD SAN storage which
are being installed today as part of their future "legacy problem".
Seen from that angle - some solutions in the enterprise SSD jigsaw
puzzle box today - already seem to have better longevity prospects and
opportunities for future upcycling than others.
|advertising SSD technology
|Editor:- September 22, 2014 - This is a time of
year when many marketers are reviewing their business plans and wondering about
ways to increase their visibility to the people that matter in the SSD market.
You may not have known this but StorageSearch.com was the first
publication in the world to focus on the SSD market and we've been selling ads
which have helped to shape and change the SSD market for 15 years.
an interesting aspect of our customers which only occurred to me this afternoon
when I was thinking about how many great SSD ad slots we've now got to
If I look back at SSD related companies which have been
January 2013 - who were also significant multi-year SSD advertisers on
StorageSearch.com it yields a list like this:-
you may wonder - after seeing the above list - whether the primary reason
for SSD companies to advertise their wares at all was because they wanted
to get acquired?
But many of these customers of ours were advertising
SSDs on StorageSearch.com for
before there was any appetite for such activities.
Why did they do
They advertised to get noticed and to get more visibility for
their messages where the serious SSD customers are.
And maybe also in
some cases because they liked the market expanding SSD awareness content
which StorageSearch.com delivered.
What about advertising SSDs today?
no guarantee that advertising your SSDs will lead to your SSD company getting
acquired. (That would be a ridiculous notion.)
But it will get you
noticed sooner and deliver more visibly to people who make this market happen.
if you're not scared of mice, and if you're involved in sales,
marketing or business development in an SSD company - then you may be interested
in learning more about this.
To learn more - contact me by email
or take a look at these information pages.
|AnandTech article re age
symmetry performance bug in Samsung's 840 EVO SSD|
|Editor:- September 20, 2014 - Recalls, bugs and
firmware upgrades in consumer
SSDs are nothing new
- but there's a particularly interesting dimension of anxiety for SSD design
verifiers which is revealed in a recent story -
the nature of a read performance bug in Samsung's 840 EVO - which
appears in AnandTech.|
article's author Kristian
Vättö, SSD Editor at AnandTech says - "there is a bug in
the 840 EVO that causes the read performance of old blocks of data to drop
dramatically... The odd part is that the bug only seems to affect LBAs that have
old data (>1 month) associated with them because freshly written data will
read at full speed, which also explains why the issue was not discovered until
Editor's comments:- This shows that there is still
a high degree of immaturity and unwillingness to learn good practises from
other industries in some parts of the consumer design verification market.
many industries in which I worked in my pre online life - 1,000 hour tests
designed to seek out errors were part of the standard norm.
learned about these 1,000 hour tests 35 years ago when I visited an early
production version of a fuel consumption meter and data logger which I had
designed for auto engine test beds. I was going to change the power supply for a
replacement which we had screened through extended high temperature burn in -
because we had discovered a design fault in these units which came from a
leading PSU vendor - which could be detected by such testing. Our rack wasn't
in use - so I turned the power off.
Klaxons and sonalerts started
going off all over the place! - and people started rushing up to this bed to
ask what was I was doing?! - because I had inadvertently shut down the power
to other instruments in the same cabinet which were connected to other
engines which were still undergoing 1.000 hour tests.
years later (about 1990) - and in a different company - my engineers had
designed a database driven real-time broadcast program sharing and audio
routing control system for the
But the BBC insisted we run
a 1,000 hour software test with simulated users before they would let us
install the first system.
During the 1,000 hour test we actively ran
analysis code to look for anomalous behavior.
We found a bug! It was
in part of the real-time OS firmware which didn't recycle memory properly
after it was released from some real-time tasks.
The amounts of "stolen
memory blocks" had been too small to notice in our initial testing - but
built up over time and by adding more users. It was easy to fix - and we were
lucky that our customer had insisted on the tests.
I heard via
linkedin recently from one of the engineers who stayed with that industry - our
customer continued using and upgrading those systems for about 20 years. But the
story would have had a different ending (and much sooner) if the bugs hadn't
been picked up before being deployed to control broadcast feeds.
the enterprise SSD market - there's a lot more testing done on systems before
they are sold to customers.
But in the consumer market - a thousand
hours of extra design verification (42 days) can be the equivalent of as much
as 20% of the product's market life. And there's a different relationship with
end users - which verges on the low value churnable customer view rather than
towards seeking a high value long term partnership. So you can see why
engineers in consumer SSD design groups face a lot of pressure to release
designs too soon.
This type of long developing performance bug can be
a nightmare for product designers.
Due to its importance I listed it
1 of the 11 design
symmetries in SSD design - "age symmetry - How does the SSD performance
change relative to the time it has been running..."
|Many factors at play in
enterprise SSD market behavior still don't appear as explicit assumptions in SSD
product marketing plans.
A contributory cause for gaps in segmental understanding has been the
continuing pace of disruptive innovation in enterprise SSD-land - which has
meant there hasn't been a stable market template for vendors to follow.
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs|
|I think that 2014 will be
seen as the start of a new phase of creativity in the enterprise SSD market on
the subject of pricing and affordability. As evidence for that - I'm going to
mention 3 companies at the end of this article - whose recent activities - while
different in detail - were swirling around in my head this week.|
Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing|
|PCIe SSDs for use in
enterprise server acceleration have been shipping in the market since 2007.
It's one of the most popular SSD subjects pursued by our readers (and has been
With over 100 million enterprise PCIe ports already shipped - the
converging PCIe SSD / server market is well positioned to expand into new
|the PCIe SSD directory on
|2 days retention after 0.4
hot DWPD for 5 years and other things worth knowing|
October 23, 2014 - When choosing an SSD form factor and interface for a new
embedded / industrial project - in most cases that determination will be obvious
- and driven by considerations such as:-
- is the new project like something you did before?
- and what would you like to change based on what you learned from that?
Today I read a tour guide of the
of sizes and interfaces available in small embedded SSDs (pdf) - from Virtium - which says
among other things...
- or the availability of new smaller sizes or lower power SSDs or faster
SSDs or denser (more efficient) SSDs which in themselves can make new
application directions feasible.
"the 10-pin embedded USB module is not
officially regulated by any industry standards body, but thanks to industry R&D
in this case, rip-off and duplicate - OEMs can source
mechanically equivalent modules from multiple sources."
paper is several years old old - but still contains many relevant ideas. And
the reason I noticed it now was because it was easier to find than it had been
before - as it's one of a
of papers on the theme of selecting embedded SSDs according to design and
environmental considerations which Virtium has collected together in a new
resource page this week.
how does DWPD and retention come into
Within this set - a more recent paper -
considerations in SSDs (pdf) includes some stark graphs and observations
about data retention - which you should be aware of - even if you're not in the
"This shows the dramatic effects that temperature has on data
retention for given workloads. For the same 750 full drive writes (0.4
drive writes per day for 5
years), SSDs operated and stored at 85°C will only have 2 days of data
retention, whereas those drives at 40°C will have 1 year and those at room
temperature 25°C will exhibit characteristics of nearly 8 years of data
the article (pdf)
flash backed DIMMs - new directory on StorageSearch.com
October 21, 2014 - Although StorageSearch.com
has been writing about flash
backed DRAM DIMMs since the first products appeared in the market - I didn't
think that subject was important enough before to rate a specific article or
market timeline page.
That's unlike -
SSDs - which has become 1 of the top 10
viewed by readers after having had its own directory page here since
Despite my lack of initial enthusiasm for bybrid DIMMs (or
for that matter too) I realize that sometimes a
market is defined as
much by what it isn't as by what it is. Which is why I have relented.
so - to help clarify the differences between these 2 types of similar looking
storage devices (one of which I think is much more significant than the other
- but both of which are important for their respective customers) I have today
created a directory page for
hybrid DIMMs etc -
which will act as the future launch pad for related articles.
StorageReview.com tests Fusion-io's Atomic PCIe SSD
October 21, 2014 - Earlier this year - in
June 2014 - and
just weeks before SanDisk
announced it was acquiring the company - Fusion-io launched a
new generation of PCIe
SSDs - the Atomic Series - which was an overdue catching up exercise to
use cheaper 20nm flash.
At the time the headline product specifications seemed to me to be
adequate - rather than spectacular.
It's probably safe to assume they
were intended to restore the competitiveness of Fusion-io's products rather
than push performance boundaries.
But what are they like? And how
do they compare?
A new article -
ioMemory PX600 Review - published in StorageReview.com provides the
answers to how it performs and how it compares on popular OS platforms and
benchmarks. ...read the
how fast can your
SSD run backwards?, SSD
testing & analyzer news
HP plus EMC? - the SSD DNA mix from Jurassic Park
October 20, 2014 - I'm still here. I've been working on a new article (see
PS - I didn't think it was worth commenting here earlier about
that EMC / HP merger story - which is covered in many other places such as
reasoning was this.
No matter how you mix the DNA from 2 dinosaurs -
the result is unlikely to be a mammal.
and metaphors in the storage market and
animal brands in the
SSDs are made of this
Editor:- October 14, 2014 -
Without memory - there would be no SSDs.
And while naturally the
emphasis in SSD thinking is mostly on - how can we do useful and affordable
things with SSDs? - despite how terribly flawed the
raw material is which we
have to work with (which leads you to
and software) - it can
nevertheless be strategically useful for SSD specifiers to sometimes brace
themselves for a deep dive down into the cold details of how much better (or
worse) those raw memory characteristics are going to get - so you can
anticipate future developments.
This week the best place to look is
Samsung versus Samsung
3D MLC v 2D TLC (wrapped in
a SATA SSD)
Editor:- October 10, 2014 - What are the differences
seen at the SSD level when you compare Samsung's
nand (32 cells stacked vertically in the chip
MLC - with 2 bits
per cell discrimination) with 2D (planar) TLC (1 cell high fabrication but 3
bits per cell discrimination)?
versus TLC are different memory manufacturing techniques with different
technology roadmaps - but both are out in the wild of the market in
SATA SSDs at the
Handy - the SSD Guy - has published
a new blog -
Samsung's V-NAND and Planar SSDs which compares the possible differences
in performance and power consumption as viewed in the context of 2 SATA SSDs -
respectively - which use the same controller.
Re IOPS - Jim says "the
850 performs consistently better than the 840 at all block sizes for constant
streams of writes and for a 65:35 read/write mix. At the 100% read workload the
performance of the two SSDs is roughly equivalent."
comments:- Although small superficial differences emerge in the benchmarks -
I don't think they're significant.
Because even if you introduced 2
SSDs using the same memory technology at different dates for the
consumer market -
you might - as a product marketing decision - choose to tweak the controller
biases a different way.
Instead what I find more interesting is
how closely Samsung was able to match 2 SSD characteristics using different
memories. This is a shrewd strategic signal to their oem customers that they
know enough about the internals to deliver a consumer SSD with a given set of
characteristics regardless of what is the most convenient memory technology to
take from their fab.
In other markets - such as
industrial SSDs - being able to retain and deliver precisely the same SSD
power and performance envelope - despite using different types and
generations of raw flash
over a 7 year or so market period - has developed into a more refined
Netlist asks court to shut down SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM production
and recall units already sold
October 10, 2014 - Netlist
it has filed a motion for
injunction which seems to be intended to restrain Diablo and its
flash-side SSD integration partner SanDisk from any
further manufacture or sale of the ULLtraDIMM (memory channel SSDs).
Court has set a tentative date of December 2, 2014, for a hearing on Netlist's
motion. If granted this would immediately shut down any further manufacture and
sale of the ULLtraDIMM. Netlist has further asked the Court to order the recall
of any ULLtraDIMM products previously sold.
This series of legal disputes has been going on since last year. If you haven't
read those stories - the essential story is something like this.
some time in the past Netlist and Diablo had a technology supplier agreement -
as a result of which - Diablo had access to Netlist's IP related to
minimizing the capacitive load of complex circuits susch as controllers when
they sit on a DRAM style of bus. Netlist doesn't have any products which are
similar to SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM - but Netlist claims that the ULLtraDIMM
design has used its patented interface technology without a license. Countering
that - Diablo says it did get the rights to use some of the DRAM load
interface technology - and that in any case - this aspect of the design is
not the essential defining characteristic of their flash SSD architecture.
Diablo's CEO - Riccardo
Badalone retorted to Netlist's latest legal move saying this - "After
a year of court proceedings and months of discovery, Netlist still cannot
decipher how Memory Channel Storage works, much less substantiate that it
infringes on any of their IP."
Efficiency is important for web scale users - says Coho
October 9, 2014 -
as a file system - a web scale case study - a new blog by Andy Warfield , cofounder
and CTO - Coho Data
- made very interesting reading for me - as much for revealing the
authoritative approach taken in Andy's systematic analysis - as for the object
of his discussion (Facebook's storage architecture).
It reveals useful
insights into the architectural thinking and value judgments of Coho's
technology - and is not simply another retelling of the Facebook infrastructure
it you may get different things out of it - because it's rich in raw
enterprise ideas related to
dark matter users.
All of which makes it hard to pick out any single quote. But here are 2.
- re -
match between enterprise products and user needs
says - "In the past, enterprise hardware has had a pretty hands-off
relationship with the vendor that sells it and the development team that builds
it once it's been sold. The result is that systems evolve slowly, and must be
built for the general case, with little understanding of the actual workloads
that run on them."
There are many more I
could have chosen. ...
read the article
- re efficiency
Warfield says - "Efficiency is important. As a rough approximation, a
server in your datacenter costs as much to power and cool over 3 years as it
does to buy up front. It is important to get every ounce of utility that you
can out of it while it is in production."
You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems -
Editor:- October 7, 2014 - Worried about
"None of the thousands of
products (fast rackmount SSDs) which IBM has shipped has ever
worn out yet! - says Erik
Eyberg, Flash Strategy & Business Development at IBM - in his new
storage reliability: Aligning technology and marketing. "And our
metrics suggest that will remain true in almost all cases for many, many years
(certainly well beyond any normal and expected data center life cycle)"
goes on to explain that's the reason IBM can now officially cover flash
storage media wear-out as part of its standard IBM FlashSystem warranty and
maintenance policies - without changing the prices for these services.
his blog has a
to a white paper about the reliability architecture underlying this product
(although it's behind a sign-up wall - which seems counter productive to me.)
comments:- Don't expect all other flash array vendors to follow suit (with
no cost endurance guarantees) - because this product range from IBM is based on
design rules and memory reliability architectures experience in FC SAN
compatible enterprise SSD racks which have evolved since the 1st generation
RamSan from TMS (in
2000). And for more than a decade
using other popular enterprise storage interfaces.
Holly Frost - who founded
Texas Memory Systems - and who was the CEO when TMS was acquired - told me a
revealing story about TMS's policies concerning the reliability of their SSD
systems and customer care procedures.
This conversation took place
in December 2011
- when the company was launching its first high availability SSD - which
became the basis of IBM's FlashSystem.
It still makes interesting
reading today. You can see it in
this article -
in the right hand column - scroll down to the box titled - "no single point
of failure - except..."
Toshiba orders 1 million SSD controllers this quarter from Phison
October 7, 2014 - A
report on Digitimes
says that Toshiba
has ordered "about one million"
SSD controllers from
delivery in the current quarter.
Editor's comments:- You can
get an idea of who else uses Phison's
Kingston etc) - and for what purposes - on
SolidFire gets another $82 million funding
October 7, 2014 - SolidFire
it has closed an $82 million Series D round of funding, bringing its total
funding to $150 million.
New investor Greenspring Associates led the
round along with a major sovereign wealth fund, with participation from current
investors NEA, Novak Biddle, Samsung Ventures and Valhalla Partners. SolidFire
will use the additional funds to extend its global reach.
building blocks of SolidFire's SSD systems are 1U
iSCSI rackmount SSDs
which include 10x 2.5"
SSDs. At that level it's the same as 100 or so other competing systems.
If you want fibre
channel access - you add a special 1U adapter rack to the native IP array.
So it's expensive - but keeps the unit costs of the most common building blocks
down - compared to including native unified storage in each rack. So in the case
of a big installation - it's a reasonable cost optimization tradeoff.
key difference is
software architecture and the fact they use a
architecture type of RAID
- which they call "no-RAID".
In SolidFire's no-RAID (which
is really big RAID) - the data is more widely dispersed across the drive
population than in classical (small architecture) RAID.
is much less disruption to data access and
performance when a drive
because SolidFire's software can manage upto about 100 racks as a raw storage
resource (1,000 SSD drives) - so the impact of a single drive down is small.
Users also have a high degree of flexibility as to how they micro manage
different virtualized segments of storage to meet their different QoS goals.
also:- VCs and SSDs
We need new software abstractions to efficiently handle all the
different emerging flavors of persistent enterprise memory - says SanDisk
October 3, 2014 - New enterprise software abstractions are needed in order
to efficiently utilize
all those unruly developments in
And laying the
framework for those ideas - along with some practical suggestions for where
applicable solutions might be coming from - is the theme of a recent blog -
Emergence of Software-Defined Memory - written by Nisha Talagala,
Fellow at SanDisk
- who (among other things) says:-
"We're seeing excitement build
for a new class of memory:- persistent memory - which has the persistence
capabilities of storage and access performance similar to memory.
"Given this richness of media technologies, we now have the
ability to create systems and data center solutions which combine a variety of
memory types to accelerate applications, reduce power, improve server
consolidation, and more.
"We believe these trends will drive a
new set of software abstractions for these systems which will emerge as
software-defined memory a software driven approach to optimizing memory
of all types in the data center." ...read
See also:- are you ready to
rethink enterprise DRAM architecture?
NetApp says - the time for taking risks with enterprise flash
startups is over
Editor:- October 1, 2014 -
of the flash startups is the provocative title of a recent blog by Craig Alger at NetApp - who
asserts that the "brief window of time where fast and agile (enterprise
SSD) startups can get the jump on large, slow manufacturers" has now
Craig questions how startups like
Tegile can expect to
compete now that "titans of the industry" such as NetApp, and EMC
(and by implication IBM,
HP too) have gotten their
flash toys acquired,
oemed, licensed and integrated neatly within vast product catalogs?
comments:- If you agree with Craig's premise - that all the disruptive
innovation is now over - then you'd probably also agree that it's not worth
taking risks with new enterprise SSD startups. Just stick with the big safe
vendors and you'll be OK.
You won't be surprised to learn I disagree.
This is what I said to Craig (by email) yesterday...
I saw your blog - Demise of the Flash startups - and might comment /
post about it. Liked the middle but disagree about the conclusion.
I would agree - if the pace of disruptive change in enterprise SSD
architecture had slowed down and if it already did solve most problems.
with a lot of very big
changes in utilization still to come - the potential market size for
genuinely innovative enterprise SSD startups (drives, systems and software) is
bigger than it was before.
"So there will more startup
companies to acquire, license from and compete with. No one's got a whole
stable solution architecture and credible roadmap yet. At best current flash
systems are stepping stones to somewhere else."
Oh - and if you're
wondering - which is the part of Craig's blog I liked the most (apart from the
cleverly provocative title) it was where he says "...those SSDs aren't as
expensive as they
used to be." ...read
Samsung mass produces 3TB 3D 10 DWPD PCIe SSDs
September 25, 2014 - Samsung
today announced it has started mass producing 3.2 TB NVMe
PCIe SSDs (HHHL)
based on its 3D flash memory
technology, for use in enterprise systems.
new NVMe PCIe SSD, SM1715 provides a sequential R/W speeds upto 3GB/s and
2.2GB/s respectively with
rated at 10 DWPD for 5
In March 2014 -
reporting on a conversation I had with
FMJ - I alerted readers to
their characterization of 3D for
- and the indication that endurance (due to better intrinsic materials) was2-3x
better than 2D at the same cell geometry.
Micron's enterprise SSD revenue grew 79% QOQ
September 25, 2014 - In its Q4 earning conference call today Micron said that about
66% to 75% of its nand flash had gone into client SSDs - with the remainder
being enterprise. However Micron also said its enterprise SSD revenue was up
79% quarter-on-quarter. ...full
transcript on SeekingAlpha.com
Diablo countersues Netlist
Editor:- September 25, 2014 - Diablo announced today
that is has filed a lawsuit against Netlist for unfair
business practices that violate Diablo's IP rights.
This appears to be
a countermeasure to 2 earlier lawsuits initiated by Netlist against Diablo -
which were widely reported by the SSD related press in
- Diablo reiterates that its
Channel Storage (DDR3/4 form factor
and interface compatible flash SSD) is a new and innovative architecture
that neither infringes upon, nor misappropriates any Netlist IP rights. And
Diablo argues that its MCS-based products and the
HyperCloud DIMM (high
density DRAM) - which were the cited products in Netlist's earlier legal
moves - are designed to serve different purposes and are not
Diablo says the contract between the 2 companies (which has been
mentioned in the press) clearly assigns legal ownership of the implementation
IP in the HyperCloud chipset to Diablo. As a result, Diablo is seeking damages
for breach of contract for Netlist's attempt to usurp the company's IP rights.
"We have been very patient throughout this entire process and it
is now time for us to share our side of the story" said Riccardo
Badalone, CEO and Co-founder of Diablo Technologies. "We will
demonstrate definitively that products based on the Memory Channel Storage
architecture do not use any Netlist IP."
rackmount SSDs - new reports from Evaluator Group
September 24, 2014 - Evaluator Group
it's expanding its comparison report coverage (priced from around $2,750 for
IT end-users) related to
rackmount SSD and
The latest addition to EV's research area are product
analyses for 15 vendors, including:
the next 3 years Evaluator Group expects Solid State Storage Systems to be the
architecture adopted for primary storage," said Camberley Bates,
Managing Partner & Analyst at Evaluator Group. "Performance to reduce
latency and improve consistency,
along with reliability
will drive this change. It is important IT end users understand the trade-offs
of design and technical implementation to best suit their needs."
State Evaluation Guide to understand the critical technology characteristics
EV says IT end users can clearly identify their requirements and priorities. The
Solid State Comparison Matrix allows for side-by-side comparison of product
specifications and capabilities. Evaluator Group guides IT end users through the
process with product reviews and expertise on managing and conducting a Proof of
Concept. Evaluator Group Solid State Storage Systems coverage includes products
specifically designed to exploit the characteristics of all solid state
What will you be getting?
EV is offering a
evaluation copy of their report for the IBM FlashSystem to people who
sign up for it.
Editor's comments:- with so many different
for enterprise SSDs and
user preferences - it's unrealistic to suppose that any simple side by side
product comparisons will suit all permutations of user needs. But having said
that - any reliable information which assists
user education and
comprehension into SSD arrays is a good thing.
Some flash array
vendors - realizing the futility of expecting that users will understand what
their products do and how they will interact with the
and demands of user installations and workloads - have instead opted to
side-step these delay laden hard user selection quandries -
which are exaggerated by
the concerns of getting it wrong - by instead offering new risk
delineated pricing models - as described in my article -
the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.
enterprise SSD box riddle game,
storage market research,
enterprise SSD users want?
Microsoft's SSD-aware VMs - discussed on InfoQ
September 24, 2014 - There are now so many
enterprise SSD software
companies that keeping track of them all is a little like tallying
2.5" SSD makers -
a tedious chore -which in most cases isn't worth the bother.
- SSD-centric software
important - and some vendors are more important than others - despite having
been latecomers in the
One such company is Microsoft.
news story today - Microsoft
Azure Joins SSD Storage Bandwagon on InfoQ
- discusses Microsoft's D-Series SSD-aware VMs - and places this in the context
of other products from well known sources.
The blog's author - Janakiram MSV says "One
important aspect of SSD based VMs on Azure is that they are not persistent. Data
stored on these volumes cannot survive the crash or termination of virtual
machines. This is different from both Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine,
which offer persistent SSDs. On Azure, customers have to ensure that the data
stored on the SSD disks is constantly backed up to Azure blob storage or other
CoreRise discloses who it's talking to - about SSD IP
September 24, 2014 - I've noticed some
news updates recently from CoreRise.
singly the content appears lightweight and more like tweets than the
usual kind of news I would write about on this page - but when viewed as a
total set they give a useful picture of technology directions at CoreRise.
In the space of single week CoreRise reported visits from
Seagate (re SF3700
controllers), Micron (re
flash memory), SMI
(re controllers) and also JMicron
CoreRise also made a refreshingly candid comment
about its own attitude to the kind of reference designs which
SSD controller makers
typically offer SSD oems as a quick to market route to market (in which the SSD
maker simply takes the design from the controller maker as a ready made IP
solution and simply just adds their own memory.
CoreRise said that
due to quality considerations - and its own expertise - "as a rule,
CoreRise never uses the reference design due to potential defects. In the
past CoreRise has found critical bugs in almost every such solution."
Diablo is the #1 SSD company being followed up in recent weeks
September 23, 2014 - StorageSearch.com
doesn't publish a regular list of the Top SSD Companies searched for by readers
in the 1st 3 weeks of September.
7+ years of Top SSD
company tracker company history has demonstrated that 3 month (quarterly)
sampling periods are more reliable (than 3 weeks).
But if we did - a
3 week tracker - the #1 company this month would be - Diablo.
particular readers are looking at
presentation (pdf) from which I extracted these key features in earlier
SSDs news coverage in
- Diablo's converged memory architecture (flash tiered with DRAM) is planned
to support 700 million random cachelines / sec.
- Latency of each cacheline is about 48 nanoseconds.
- Diablo's NanoCommit supports byte addressable small writes to flash with
high transaction rates and the ability to mirror the DRAM contents to
Editor's comments:- I only
mention it - because of the scale of interest involved.
- The combination of technologies would enable something like a 1U server
with 25TB of converged memory.
One reason may
be that - as you'll see in the next news story below - having SSDs located in a
DIMM socket in one server - no longer precludes that very same data being
accessed by another server as if it were just a locally installed PCIe SSD.
- A3CUBE is #2
in September reader followups so far - and this is due to the story below.
A3CUBE - first US customer shipments soon
September 18, 2014 - earlier this week
imminent US customer shipments of its PCIe connected shared reflective memory
fabric - with the unveiling of the system software which works with its
previously announced RONNIEE Express platform.
Foundation software (overview pdf) is the new management and OS software
which enables application agnostic hardware based memory synchronization of
DRAM memory blocks across multiple servers (scalable to thousands) which are
connected via a PCIe fabric with worst case access times under 1 micro-second
(which includes operating system and software overhead). This enables access to
all the resources in the cluster as if they were local.
comments:- Before talking to Emilio Billi,
Founder - A3CUBE last week about the new Fortissimo - 3 ideas popped into my
- modeling the application performance
I realized that in
the absence of any other data (at this stage of the product's life cycle)- a
good predictive analog for the usability of this remote shared memory system
would be Diablo's memory
channel SSD architecture.
The key difference being that the 1st
generation MCS has typical latencies around 3 to 5 microseconds (compared to
800nS RONNIEE Express), and MCS is operating with flash - whereas RE operates
with DRAM. But as a first order approximation -my thinking was that any app
which works well with MCS in a local server - will work just as well - or better
- in a remote server connected by RE.
- the importance of strategic software standard support
guess is that for many smaller developers of large memory architecture systems
- SanDisk's ZetaScale
(and related) APIs will come to be regarded as a "safe" hardware
independent SSD software platform for flash. So - if it was easy to integrate
A3CUBE's Fortissimo / RE within such APIs - that would provide a gateway to a
much bigger market.
So I mentioned all those
things to Emilio when we spoke. And this is what I learned.
- beyond legacy storage and SSD fabrics
Obviously to get
business now - A3CUBE has to demonstrate that their products can be useful and
competitive when used with existing storage and SSD installations and
But as more of the installed base moves towards
(always intended to include SSDs at the outset), and in the next 5 to 10 years
as we see the current new generations of "software as something useful in
an SSD server" - give way to new
ecosystems - developed by stealth mode companies like
Primary Data -
whose products don't even exist yet (except as tantalizing
investment objects and
patent applications) - I could see that the A3CUBE style of connection - would
still fit in well - because the ability to replicate and synchronize
remote memory in multiple servers at latencies which are closer to hardware than
software - isn't going to go oyt of fashion.
- Emilio said Diablo was one of the first external companies to recognize the
work that A3CUBE was doing. And he said that Diablo's APIs should work
easily with A3CUBE's platform (just as many other memory intensive apps).
- as I speculated before our conversation - the ability to seamlessly converge
remote low latency RAM with remote flash across an almost unlimited set of
servers - is a mind boggling ecosystem enabler. Because we should now view SSD
memory products which do useful things locally in a single server - as simply a
subset of a continuum which can span racks and cabinets - and change not only
cost dynamics - but the very determination of what type of apps are possible.
- Emilio said a significant bottleneck in all previous fabric systems was
the mechanism of metadata synchronization.
That's traditionally done
in software - and no matter how many hundreds or thousands of servers you have
in your installation - the scalability of those systems ultimately comes back to
the software mechanism of how fast 2 servers can replicate or share a set of
In A3CUBE's RE platform - the ability to broadcast an identical
content of shared memory across hundreds or thousands of connected nodes is
done in silicon.
- re reliability? - I put it to Emilio that everything was being staked on
the reliability of the RE platform - and I asked more about that.
said that the Fortissimo / RE system can be configured to drop back to an
ethernet fabric if the core RE fails - but if budget allows - then it can fall
back to another RE. In neither event do you lose data or access to data. A3CUBE
has been collecting reliability data from their early access systems - and will
publish more about that later.
- re when can customers order these systems?
Emilio said that the
first production system is already scheduled for delivery to a US customer next
So to my way of looking at it - the general availability
issue just seems to be related to how many of the software features are nice to
have versus essential. That will depend on what the applications are.
- re my other points - Emilio said that legacy big memory software platforms
are already supported by Fortissimo (see their site for more details) and we
found a lot to agree about re the other things I mentioned above.
Seagate announces strategic technology agreements with Baidu
September 17, 2014 - Seagate
it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Baidu,
China's largest web services firm.
Under the agreement, Baidu will give priority to Seagate products when
considering components for all Baidu servers and storage facilities. In return
Seagate will give priority to Baidu when providing enterprise storage products
and relevant support, as well as maintain a dedicated engineering team for
Editor's comments:- This is a very significant
business announcement for Seagate. But it shouldn't come as any surprise - as
the destinies of the companies were already set on a natural convergence of
interests course which only needed the missing part of the IP jigsaw (SSDs) to
complete the required harmony.
Here below is a verbatim quote from
my coverage of Seagate's acquisition of LSI's SSD business in
think that even if Seagate disregarded any new markets - and focused only on the
high volume potential of existing cloud infrastructure customers and big web
entities (like Google and Baidu) - who need value based enterprise SSDs - but
who are perfectly capable of designing their own software and APIs and firmware
tweaks - then Seagate could leverage the LSI SandForce SSD roadmaps for the next
several years as a business tool to establish it as one of (several) leaders in
the utility SSD segment of the cloud."
The big market impact
of SSD dark matter,
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs
Silicon Motion has fastest UHS-II SD card controller
September 17, 2014 - Silicon Motion
the SM2704 which the company says is the world's fastest single-channel
UHS-II SD card
controller solution (aimed at the professional photography and video
recording market) with a maximum R/W read speed of up to 280MB/s and 260MB/s
"Silicon Motion is the #1 merchant supplier of
UHS-I/II card controllers, which are the majority of our overall SD card
controller sales" said Wallace Kou,
President and CEO of Silicon Motion.
Maxta appoints new VP of business development
September 17, 2014 - Maxta
the appointment of Jim
Fitzgerald as its VP of business development and OEM sales. Fitzgerald
joins Maxta from Nexenta
where he was VP of business development.
another auspicious design win for ULLtraDIMM
September 16, 2014 - SanDisk
that its ULLtraDIMM (memory channel SSD)
has been selected by Huawei
for use in its RH8100 V3 servers.
Huawei is ranked the top server
supplier for cloud and
mobility in China - by Sino-Bridge
Editor's comments:- Since the
announcement that IBM was
using ULLtraDIMM SSDs in some high end servers - there haven't been many
conspicuously auspicious design win announcements like today's Huawei story.
One reason is that IBM had a head start on the market - having worked
with Diablo for years to
refine the MCS architecture and software APIs.
Another reason is that
the 1st generation ULLtraDIMMs apparently guzzled more electrical power than
modern RAM DIMMs even
though they were still within the permitted power envelope according to industry
This means that in order to support arrays of them in a
server design (and indeed you do need arrays to get
performance beyond the PCIe SSD level) requires a redesign of the copper
power tracking on the motherboard. You can't just plug large numbers of
ULLtraDIMMs into any old server without analyzing the thermal consequences.
Silverton Consulting interview with Pure Storage
September 16, 2014 - Until now Pure Storage
hasn't said enough about its software or SSD architecture - which has been a
big negative as far I've been concerned.
Plugging that product data
deficit - the company's Chief Technical Evangelist - Vaughn Stewart recently
shared his thoughts in a podcast interview -
talks all-flash storage with Pure Storage (podcast) published on Silverton Consulting - from
which this quote is taken.
"Vaughn provides a good rational as to
why we haven't seen any Pure Storage SPC-1/SPC-2 benchmarks, mainly because SPC
will not audit storage that uses data reduction."
comments:- I haven't listened to it yet - because I don't have itunes on my
work PC and have other things competing for 45 minutes of my time. (Written
documents are more productive.) But I mention it here - because Pure Storage
has been 1 of the top 5 companies which readers have been searching for this
month - so I think that maybe a big news story may break soon.
how to configure Micron SATA SSDs for VSAN as a lower cost and
faster alternative to SAS HDDs in a Dell PowerEdge
September 12, 2014 - Micron
today published a new blog -
Demo 2014: A How-To Guide - which gives a top level configuration summary
of a recent benchmark demo it ran at VMWorld.
says "Our primary goal was to demonstrate best-in-class VSAN performance
and show how that compared to a standard VSAN configured with SAS HDDs. One of
the most interesting aspects of our configuration was that our M500 client
(cheap SATA) SSDs were actually less expensive than the SAS 10K HDDs (in the
comparison system)." ...read
Editor's comments:- An interesting thing
(for me) is that - for reasons explained in the article - Micron configured
VSAN to see the M500 SSDs as HDDs.
How will the hard
drive market fare... in a solid state storage world?
- BTW 4 days after the above post - Micron
SATA SSD family - a low power (150mW typ), range using 16nm flash - and
available in M.2, mSATA and 2.5" form factors.
Seagate launches new improved Nytro PCIe SSDs
September 10, 2014 - Seagate
2 new PCIe SSDs -
which are based on the SSD product lines and brand assets of the recently
acquired SSD business of LSI.
XP6302 is a HHHL, gen 3 PCIe SSD - which provides up to 1.75 TB of
usable eMLC capacity with 200 microseconds average latency, and 295K/79K
(8KB) and rated for 0.9 DWPD
endurance for 5 years. .
XP6210 is a FHHL gen 2 PCIe SSD with 1.86TB usable 19nm cMLC
capacity, with 50 microseconds average latency 185K/120K R/W IOPS (8KB),
and rated at 1.6 DWPD
endurance for 5 years.
Dell uses Avago's 12Gb/s SAS chips in new RAID systems
September 10, 2014 - Avago Technologies
that Dell has
selected Avago's 12Gb/s SAS technology (recently acquired from
LSI) for use in
RAID controllers in Dell's new PowerEdge Servers. See also:-
storage glue chips
Seagate reports low take up of hybrid drives
September 10 , 2014 - Seagate
that it has shipped its 10 millionth solid-state hybrid hard drive (SSHD).
says it has experienced rising demand over the last 2 years for these
solutions that offer the speed of SSDs combined with the industry's highest
Editor's comments:- The low take up of
Seagate's hybrid drives for notebooks - which are 10x smaller than equivalent
SSD shipments - rather than (as Seagate must have hoped when they launched these
products 10x bigger) shows that StorageSearch.com's original assessment about
the flaws in the concept (reported on these news pages in April 2005) were
At that time I pointed to the segmental shrinking
acceptability of the integrated hybrid drive concept concept which my
analysis suggested was due to the inflexibility of having to fix the ratio of
flash to magnetic media when the drive is made rather than being able to
adapt and optimize these ratios of capacity and performance at the system
level. The all in one hybrid also precludes optimum integration of the caching
regimes with the various OSes.
Having said that - a niche market is
better than no market. And the recent acquisition of LSI's SSD business -
which gives Seagate control of the
SandForce SSD controller
family - will give Seagate the leverage to grab a sizable chunk of the
notebook SSD market - if it chooses to use that leverage.
OCZ samples hot swap, fast 2.5" NVMe SSDs
September 9, 2014 - OCZ
that this month it will begin sampling a new
swappable enterprise PCIe SSD - the Z-Drive 6000 - a native PCIe 3.0
NVMe 1.1 solution - which the company says "provides industry-leading
IOPS per dollar".
It has a SFF-8639 connector, internal
data protection, "consistent low
latency", and encryption.
OCZ also unveiled a new
SATA SSD aimed at
cloud markets - the
Saber 1000 - which uses OCZ's Barefoot 3 controller and
19nm nand flash memory.
Editor's comments:- Although OCZ
demonstrated the SSD industry's first working 3.5" PCIe SSD prototype 4
years ago - in August
2010 - the company didn't follow through to establish an early lead in its
natural successor - the 2.5" enterprise PCIe market.
reason for that loss of momentum was financial problems at OCZ which for a
few years weighed against introducing new products which didn't have
immediate profitable markets.
Now, however, with OCZ having been
almost a year as a Toshiba group company - the small form factor enterprise
NVMe market looks like a natural fit for OCZ - as an extension of its long
running conventional form factor PCIe SSD accelerator business and SAS SSD
HGST announces 2nd generation clustering software for FlashMAX
Editor:- September 9, 2014 - HGST today
a new improved version of the
clustering capability previously available in the
PCIe SSD product line
acquired last year from Virident.
allows clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices to deliver
one or more shared volumes of high performance flash storage with a total usable
capacity of more than 38TB.
HGST says its Virident HA provides a "high-throughput,
low-latency synchronous replication across servers for data residing on FlashMAX
PCIe devices. If the primary server fails, the secondary server can
automatically start a standby copy of your application using the secondary
replica of the data."
For more details see -
Virident Software 2.0 (pdf)
Editor's comments:- This
capability had already been demonstrated last year - and
ESG reported on the
technology in January
But at that time - the clustering product called vShare -
was restricted to a small number of servers - and the data access fabric was
restricted to Infiniband
With the rev 2.0 software - the number of connected devices has
increased - and users also have the lower cost option of using
Ethernet as an alternative
StorageSearch.com updates 10 key SSD ideas in 2014
September 2, 2014 - StorageSearch.com today published a new home page
blog - 10
key SSD ideas which emerged and clarified in 2014.
Yeah - I know
it's not January 2015 yet - but it already feels like enough big SSD changes
have happened this year already to make an end of year type of round up
article not only desirable but imperative. ...read
Seagate completes acquisition of LSI's SSD business
September 2, 2014 - Seagate
it has completed its previously announced acquisition of the assets of LSI's Accelerated
Solutions Division and Flash Components Division from Avago Technologies.
"There is a growing opportunity for mobile and enterprise
flash-based storage solutions, which is why we're excited about this strategic
technology acquisition," said Steve
Luczo, Seagate Chairman and CEO.
Enterprise PCIe flash and SSD controller products, and its engineering
capabilities into Seagate's leading storage technology portfolio and product
development will expand our ability to meet a broader base of customers' needs
and drive new revenue opportunities."
|SSD news -
|In September 2005 -
SimpleTech (STEC) launched the world's first dual interface SSD. At launch time
the Zeus Dual Interface SSD, with both a USB and SATA interface, offered
capacities up to 192GB in a 3.5-inch form factor, and sustained read/write rates
of 60 MBytes per second.|
Michelangelo was looking for David.
was looking for the inner SSD.
SSD news icon on StorageSearch.com since
sudden power loss|
|Why should you care
what happens in an SSD when the power goes down? |
This important design
feature - which barely rates a mention in most SSD datasheets and press releases
- has a strong impact on
SSD data integrity
This article will help you understand why some
SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of application) might fail in
others... even when the changes in the operational environment appear to be