| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
SSDs - boring right?
after AFAs -
what's the next box?
3D nand fab
yield - the nth layer tax?
how fast can your SSD
who in the SSD market in China?
hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
after 2017 - questions re SSD's onward
consequences of the 2017 memory shortages
|survey shows that most big
data users are aware of the need for new processing/storage architectures
|Editor:- January 3, 2018 - NGD Systems (formerly
called NxGn Data) was one of the top SSD companies followed up by readers of
StorageSearch.com in December 2017. |
In December 2017 - NGD Systems
published the results of a survey on the need for Intelligence storage for
applications with large data sets.
The purpose of the study was to
gauge whether the movement of large data sets across existing processing and
storage architectures negatively impacts the cost and usability of the data by
The results of the survey -
Storage Survey Report (pdf) - conducted by G2M
Research for NGD - show that existing compute and storage architectures
adversely impact the performance and cost of these applications, and that new
architectures are needed if these applications are to continue to scale in size
NGD has been a pioneer of in-situ processing and
their current approach is to leverage ARM processing cores within the
(although other types of implementation and tiering within the memory/ storage
assets have been reported in these news pages from other researchers and
Among other things the survey report says...
the advent of digital computers, the IT industry has regularly oscillated
between convergence and disaggregation, as well as how specific functionality
has been packaged and delivered to those who use it. The movement of processing
capabilities into storage media, as represented by in-situ processing in SSDs,
represents a new evolutionary path in IT that has been made possible by the
solid-state nature of SSDs." ...read
the article pdf)
Editor's comments:- 3 years ago I listed "in-situ
SSD processing" as #1 of the
SSD ideas which changed in 2014.
The implementations of this new
architectural idea has had to adapt pragmatically to changes in the SSD market -
notably the emergence of standards like NVMe and associated fabrics - but also
to other technologies which have been introduced to enable
systems to work better such as
software and rethinking the relative size and roles of memory compared to local
adapted memory architecture).
|SLC / MLC /
tactical / permanent / real / virtual?
tradeoffs in the
design of mixed flash hybrid SSDs
|Editor:- December 20, 2017 - This month I
received a copy of a new (to me) paper -
of Techniques for Architecting SLC/MLC/TLC Hybrid Flash Memory based SSDs (27
pages pdf) - from Sparsh Mittal,
Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of
Technology Hyderabad who is among the co-authors of this significant
Re the scope - the authors say "For sake of a
concise presentation, we limit the scope of this paper as follows. We focus on
software-level management techniques for hybrid SSDs and not their circuit-level
design issues. We include techniques which use at least two types of Flash and
not those that merely use an SCM with a Flash cell-type.We focus on the key
ideas of each work and include only selected quantitative results, since
different works use disparate evaluation platforms and workloads. We hope that
this paper will be useful for computer architects, SSD designers and researchers
in the area of storage architectures."
Among other things the
paper discusses a wide range of externally referenced techniques including:-
- tradeoffs in using some portion of TLC or MLC as virtual SLC (to improve
latency and endurance)
- reliability and performance tradeoffs using volatile versus non volatile
RAM in buffers
- revitalizing worn MLC blocks as SLC
The authors note various
factors which are changing or need to change compared to previous generations
of SSD design.
- varying the size of SLC designated buffers based on analyzing application
usage to optimize garbage collection
- better runtime adaptation of control parameters
- the need for hybrid SSD specific simulators
If you've ever wondered about how to optimize SSD design by
using a mix of flash memory types in the same SSD then this paper is an
invaluable reference guide to the techniques which have been written about in
the public domain. ...read the
- fairness and QoS (quality of service) joining the formula of design goals
in SSD design in addition to the traditional must-haves of performance and
|Violin launches new sales model|
January 16, 2018 - Following its bankruptcy in
December 2016 and
re-energizing under new ownership Violin Systems today
signalled a new way it wants to do business with the
of various utility based purchase and leasing options for rackmount SSDs.
company says - "Standard buying options include both outright purchase and
pay-as-you-grow offerings with smaller upfront fee and additional capacity
invoiced over time. Lease options are available after qualification from Violins
preferred financial partners. Violins subscription model allows
organizations to pay on a monthly basis for storage used. All options include
support, installation and optimization as part of the purchase price."
comments:- With today's announcement Violin has joined mainstrean pricing
models which were innovated by various AFA and hybrid appliance vendors in 2014
- for reasons analyzed in my article at that time -
the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.
The timing of this
new pricing approach from Violin may signal a judement that the upward
movement of memory prices makes it a good time for the company to re-engage
proactivelywith the competitive market.
The industry has been through
a difficult year of "upwards" movements in raw memory
pricing. And one of
the consequences of the
shortages was that utility led pricing models and leasing projections
for flash based enterprise storage - which had been set during the downward
curve decade - led to problems with companies whose businesses and brading
propositions had been so closely tied to them. That is what - I believe led to
the necessity of Tegile's
acquisition / rescue last summer.
small can be beautiful - wearable SSD tech at CES
January 11, 2018 - Among the conventional SSDs at
CES this week - Longsys
its booth has been talking about software and hardware customizable eMMC
such as small form factor (8mm x 10mm) for smart wearable devices and small
capacity eMMC (128MB / 256MB / 512MB) for industrial control, security
surveillance and IoT applications.
|Editor's comments:- The role of
in mission ritical SSDs has been written about on StorageSearch from time to
Indiustrial SSD vendors used to be divided in their opinions
about its merits but pSLC has been gaining traction due to its contributions to
reliability and speed.
For more details about how this is done see -
of Techniques for Architecting SLC/MLC/TLC Hybrid Flash Memory based SSDs (27
Longsys said this week that it uses pSLC in its
new industrial memory cards and this improves the write performance upto
is not your grandfather's industrial SSD market
SMART Modular gets patent for truly autonomous NVDIMM
Editor:- January 8, 2018 - flash backed DRAM
NVDIMMs aren't new but an interesting subtlety in the design emerged in a
release today from SMART
Modular Technologies who announced that its (optionally encryptable)
DDR-4 NVDIMMs (8GB to 32GB) now feature Autonomous Self Refresh - the new thing
being that a patent is involved.
"SMART's patented ASR feature (patent number
9,779,016) allows SMART's NVDIMM to independently initiate a backup after an
event which results in a system freeze or "hang" without power loss.
Active data in the NVDIMM is saved and recovered in events such as an OS crash,
CPU fault, MCU fault, BIOS hang, blue screen, or other motherboard failures."
I understand it - the patented issue is that the NVDIMM system itself detects
that power has failed or recovered to a critical threshold - and that the save
and restore operations are performed "without any intervention from outside
the memory unit".
Among other things - the advantage is that the
data in the NVDIMM can be trusted to a higher level of confidence than if the
power disturbance was detected at one location in an array of chips on a
motherboard - which may have happened after the power event had already
corrupted data in a DIMM elsewhere - or if the external event was detected too
late for the attached controllers to shut down writes in a guaranteed manner.
also:- is data
remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor?
Micron and Intel will pursue different flash futures in 2019
Editor:- January 8, 2018 - Micron and Intel today
that they will work independently on future generations of 3D nand flash after
having shipped the last jointly developed products in early 2019.
both companies will continue to jointly develop and manufacture 3D XPoint at
the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) joint venture fab in Lehi, Utah,
which is now entirely focused on 3D XPoint memory production.
is FRAM museumware?
Editor:- January 7, 2018 - It's
been a long time since I heard anyone advocating FRAM.
update from Fujitsu
Semiconductor says that its FRAM devices are displayed in an exhibit
called "New Electro Hall (Link to Cyberspace)" in the Science Museum,
FRAM products have very low capacity (kb upto 1Mb) and low speed (1 to
3.4MHz) but they have very low power operation too and can be used in "batteryless"
systems which harvest power from non traditional power sources such as vibration
- using piezoelectric transducers.
Editor's comments:- Having said
that - don't dismiss FRAM as this may be a type of museumware whose glory days
are yet to come.
A new article this week -
A New Memory
Contender? - in SemiEngineering.com surveys the history and technology
trends in ferroelectric memories and describes potential successors to FRAM
Microsoft acquires NASA's cloud hybridisor - Avere Systems
January 3, 2018 - Microsoft
it has agreed to acquire Avere Systems.
President and CEO - Avere Systems said - "When we started Avere Systems
in 2008, our founding ideology was to use fast, flash-based storage in the most
efficient, effective manner possible in the datacenter. Along the way, our team
of file systems experts created a technology that not only optimized critical
on-premises storage resources but also enabled enterprises to move
mission-critical, high performance application workloads to the cloud."...read
more from Ron Bianchini
Editor's comments:- There was a lot of
deep thinking in Avere. I wish them luck in the reset and recompile
SSD empowered cloud
after AFAs what's
next? - cloud adapted memory
eVaderis tapes out "MRAM inside" MCU
January 3, 2018 - One of the directions of future processor travel - with the
enabling of intrinsic nvm features is towards the design of ultra low power "normally-off/instant-on
microcontrollers with near zero latency boot".
Aligned with that
idea - eVaderis yesterday
it has taped out a fully functioning and licensable platform which leverages
sub 40nm STT-MRAM.
eVaderis says that 3 Mb of on-chip memory are fully
distributed across the system though different instances, covering different
functions such as working memory, configuration, state retention, code execution
and data storage.
"The tape-out of this innovative MRAM-based,
memory-centric MCU demonstrates our proficiency in disruptive, non-volatile
embedded IP design and flow for low-power, digital devices," said Virgile Javerliac, deputy
CEO and head of technology and marketing at eVaderis. "We now plan to
license the underlying IP to semiconductor manufacturers making sub-40-nm chips."
CPUs for use with SSDs
farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs
an overview of storage and nvm trends by Tom Coughlin
January 2, 2018 - "Optane NVMe SSDs (using the 3D XPoint technology) from
Intel introduced in 2017 do not appear to have caught on with enterprise
companies the way that Intel had originally hoped..." says Tom Coughlin,
Associates in his wide ranging new article -
Storage Projections for 2018 (on Forbes,com). ...read
Regulators will look at competition in memory market - says
Editor:- December 28, 2017 - China's NDRC (the
business standards regulator similar in scope to the SEC in the US, and the
EU in Europe) will be looking at competition in the semiconductor memory
market prompted by complaints about shortages and high prices from mobile phone
makers according to
article in ChinaDaily.com.cn which says among other things:- "The
commission has spoken to Samsung, the world's largest storage chip manufacturer,
but has yet to launch an official antitrust review process targeting the
UMC offers 40nm SuperFlash from SST
21, 2017 - UMC (a leading semiconductor
foundry) today announced
the availability of the company's 40nm process platform that incorporates
embedded SuperFlash non-volatile memory.
The newly available 40nm SST
process features a >20% reduction in eFlash cell size and 20-30% macro area
over UMC's mass production 55nm SST technology.
Editor's comments:- for
many of you who don't struggle with the temperature constraints of real
electronics systems you might glance at "40nm" and think - what's so
great about that? When 1Xnm has been the flag waving geometry for nand flash
for some time.
SuperFlash is NOR. And UMC says its robust SST process
performs according to JEDEC standards, with 100k endurance and more than 10
years of data retention at 85C and an operating-temperature range of -40C to
CPUs for use with SSDs
is not your Grandfather's industrial SSD market
IDC expects SSD revenue to reach $33 billion in 2021
December 20, 2017 - IDC
- "The outlook for the SSD industry remains strong as units, revenue, and
total capacity shipped are all expected to see robust growth throughout the
2016-2021 forecast period. In a new SSD forecast update IDC now expects
worldwide SSD unit shipments to increase at a 5 year CAGR of 15.1%. SSD
industry revenue is expected to reach $33.6 billion in 2021."
See also:- more
Samsung improves 10nm DRAM speed and yield
December 20, 2017 - Samsung
today that it has begun mass producing the industry's first 2nd-generation
(faster) 10nm class 8Gb DDR4 DRAM. This has been accomplished using legacy
fab processing without needing yet the recourse of
Re data integrity:- Samsung says a newly devised data
sensing system enables a more accurate determination of the data stored in each
cell, which leads to a significant increase in the level of circuit integration
and manufacturing productivity.
shortages:- Samsung's new 10nm DDR4 features an approximate 30%
productivity gain over the company's 1stgeneration 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4.
comments:- as always there are a wide range of memory geometries being used in
the market in various ages of legacy fabs.
But to set the context on
10nm DRAM here are 2 competitive comparisons from some smaller competitors in
the high capacity DRAM market.
- Taiwan based Nanya
- recently announced
production shipments of its own "independently-developed" 20nm
process 8GB DDR-4 DRAM.
Toshiba samples subtly different SAS hard drives
December 19, 2017 - I thought this was a joke at first. But it's for real. Toshiba today
it is sampling the AL15SE - a 2.5" SAS HDD with 10,500 RPM spin
This is the first time there has been a new
speed since the 1990s although it falls between the previous two fastest
Now I guess that rotating
experts can start worrying about whether the new frequency drives will create
subtle reliability reducing resonances if they are mixed in the cabinet with
Seriously though - the combination of 12Gbs SAS in
the new hard drives and the almost imperceptible improvement in latency (hard to
notice when it's so slow compare to SSDs) shows that the storage industry which
has been desperately seeking more SSDs than it could get or afford in 2017 has
become receptive to any new nuanced device which can store data in an array
better than what came before.
HDD articles & news
from the home page of SSDs...
in memoriam Diablo
Editor:- December 15, 2017 - Diablo Technologies has
filed for bankruptcy. More details can be seen in -
Diablo Technologies files for bankruptcy - in the Ottawa Business Journal.
had been earlier signs that the company had ceased operations.
story in the Register -
out at Diablo as plug pulled on website - noted a series of key personnel
departures and a recent statement by the company's legal counsel consistent
with the white space now on the company's home page and Diablo's non
appearance at FMS in
comments:- Here's what I said today to a reader who asked my views about the
fading away of Diablo Technologies.
of Memory1 benchmarks (some of which were done by Diablo's own customers) is
that with some workloads you would get substantial performance benefits
(compared to assembling the same memory size with multiple DRAM based servers).
But it was clear even in Diablo's own published benchmarks that
with small data sets the performance was slightly worse (than without Memory1).
So as a user you had to be very clear to size the system in an appropriate
way. And clever enough to do it.
But more critically to the business case - I think investors must
have thought that if the company can't make buckets of money at a time of memory
shortage and high raw DRAM prices then there would never be a better
had shrewdly insulated itself from the cost of the next round of legal battles.
And the years of uncertainty in the earlier rounds must have deterred many
The memoryfication market with tiered enterprise
memory now has so many competitors and so many form factors that no one
can be guaranteed to get a sizable chunk of it with any single product. It's
really a fragmented market in which there are many ways to get similar results
using entirely different mixes of technology at the server, box and
infrastructure levels. Sad outcome really.
Diablo's Memory1 was a
bold offering. And the industry is better for having been pushed towards
considering memory tiering at the sub microsecond level and the attendant needs
of software stacks and hardware - sooner - because of Diablo's efforts than it
might otherwise have done.
One way to interpret the ill preparedness
and rush to hype of Intel/Micron's unready Optane (née 3DXpoint) in
2015 was as a panic response to the outbreak of
flashed over by rumors of Diablo's Memory1.
Storage SSDs - 2013 to 2017
Toshiba and Western Digital bury the hatchet over flash
December 13, 2017 - Toshiba
and Western Digital
a global settlement agreement to resolve their ongoing disputes in litigation
and arbitration, strengthen and extend their relationship, and enhance the
mutual commitment to their ongoing flash memory collaboration.
The parties' agreement to resolve all outstanding disputes ensures
that all parties are aligned on Toshiba's sale of TMC to K.K. Pangea, a special
purpose acquisition company formed and controlled by a consortium led by Bain
Capital Private Equity, LP ("Bain Capital"). The parties have agreed
on mutual protections for their assets and confidential information in
connection with the sale of TMC, and on collaborating to ensure the future
success of TMC as a public company following an eventual IPO.
slicing Toshiba's SSD beauty pageant - timeline of stories
will increased fab capex secure future memory dominance?
December 12, 2017 - In his recent article -
billion bet (on ZDNet) - Robin Harris
says this capital expenditure on semiconductor production facilities by the
company which produces half the world's DRAM and flash memory ups the ante for
AFA market revenue grew to $1.6B in 3Q17 - says Dell'Oro
December 6, 2017 - "AFA market revenue grew 33% yoy in 3Q17, reaching
$1.6 Billion" according to a new report -
Systems Quarterly - published by Dell'Oro
"All Flash Array is a very important technology
segment in external storage. In fact, as a percentage of external storage
revenue, it has been growing dramaticallyfrom 22% in 3Q16 to 28% in 3Q17.
So every vendor is determined to expand their position in all-flash storage
systems" said Jimmy
Yu, VP at Dell'Oro Group.
Editor's comments:- Dell'Oro's press
release lists the 5 biggest vendors and the company can provide more analytical
data in their purchaseable reports.
HyperBus adopted by JEDEC
Editor:- December 5, 2017 -
that its HyperBus
low-pin-count memory interface has been included in the new eXpanded SPI
interface standard from the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association.
provides a range of automotive qualified NOR flash "HyperFlash"
and self-refresh DRAM "HyperRAM" product families.
also:- interface glue chips,
Samsung's future flash price trends discussed by Morgan
Editor:- December 1, 2017 - A story on Bloomberg -
Stanley Defends Downgrades of Asia Tech Titans after Rout follows the
reaction to an
analyst report by Morgan Stanley
which downgraded prospects for Samsung due to the
inevitability of corrections in the memory market and anticipated price
Among other things the earlier report said - "We see
downside risk as NAND prices have started to reverse in 4Q17. Meanwhile,
visibility on DRAM supply-demand dynamics has reduced beyond 1Q18."
later Bloomberg article says - "Everyone knows NAND prices will fall..."
comments:- comments from market
researchers are loved by the objects of their analysis when they result in
a positive market reaction. And are less well liked when the stories dent their
share price. In a 2012
article about one of the SSD heavyweights of that period I discussed this
syndrome and said - "If an SSD company is worth about the same on a
Friday as it was on the Monday - that's taken as a sign that everything's going
there yet? |
| After more than 20 years of writing guides to
the SSD and memory systems market I admit in a new blog on
we there yet? - that when I come to think about it candidly the SSD
industry and my publishing output are both still very much "under
|If you're one of those who
has suffered from the memory shortages it may seem unfair that despite their
miscalculations and over optimimism the very companies which caused the
shortages of memory and higher prices - the major manufacturers of nand flash
and DRAM - have been among the greatest beneficiaries. |
of the 2017 memory shortages|
- the next box|
| Throughout the
the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user
memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached
storage in the same data processing environment. |
new blog on StorageSearch.com
adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be
Like many of you - I've been thinking a lot about the
evolution of memory technologies and data architectures in the past year. I
wasn't sure when would be the best time to share my thoughts about this one.
But the timing seems right now. ...read the