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popular SSD articles
what's the state of DWPD?
What were the big
SSD ideas to learn and forget in 2015?
market consolidation - beyond the mushroom cloud
|the memory boom bust cycle
(a simple explanation for non-technical readers)
|Editor:- I recently discussed the memory boom
bust cycle to a non technical reader who asked me to explain why high volume
semiconductor memory makers get into the situation of oversupply and lossy
Here's some of what I said.
The semiconductor memory
business has wavered between under supply and over supply since the 1970s.
the 1980s the best analagy was what economists called the hog cycle.
But any study of memory market history for the past 40 years shows
that there are also other competitive factors involved.
Simplest example when suppliers choose to use price as a way
to gain advantages in the market.
But another factor is that memory
is not a usable product by itself. And memory technologies have to be designed
to be optimal for end markets.
Memory makers have to guess years in
advance what the mix of products in the market will be to ensure they will get a
share of the end market.
If they get those guesses wrong there
is under / over supply which impacts prices.
The investments which have to be made in manufacturing plants are huge
and take place years in advance of even knowing in detail what the detailed mix
of products will be.
Memory makers mitigate their risks by choosing manufacturing processes
which have flexibility. (For example the ability to switch between making DRAM
or nand flash using the same equipment). But even with long term roadmaps such
plans can go wrong.
For example - sometimes technologies are harder to
As a sanity check FYI the entire SSD market
wasnt in any memory makers technology road map until recently. But
it affects everything they now do.
In the long term the risk of being uncompetitive (no one buys
the memory and you certainly go bust) or the fear of being locked
out of the SSD
market counts as worse score than temporarily having too much product at
too low a price. Because being in the game means you will get another
opportunity to supply memory and adjust product lines in the next memory
You wouldnt believe how much
data the memory people
suck in and analyze.
The problem is they are disconnected from the
end markets and because of that cannot make optimal judgements.
Theyre also biased by their
of how they managed risks and investments in the past.
Thats one reason why all the big companies will want to become
box suppliers. (It's more than
involves assumptions about being able to raise the revenue ceiling from
raw flash while also racking up incremental design efficiency gains
which are only possible
But the memory makers dont understand enough at present to make
it work. And they may have the wrong cultures too.
If the market stabilizes as I predict in
article then the enterprise SSD market may become as predictable as the PC
and server market were in earlier decades.
But were not near
Instead we need to go through more instability first.
(Because as I said
a year ago - "I
(still) don't think we've reached stability in reference enterprise SSD designs
and use cases"
Later:- as you'd expect with such a big topic - the boom and
bust business cycles in memory have been analyzed and dissected many times
Here are some links I found later which provide helpful
guidance for those - like my reader - who want to get a better feel without
being buried by semiconductor concepts.
For historic reasons - most
such discussions focus on DRAM - because that was the dominant memory revenue
earner in earlier decades - but the memory type makes absolutely no difference
to the principles.
- The life cycle of memory generations is related to price and volume in -
DRAM Pricing - a
white paper (2002) on the web site of
Tezzaron - which says
- "this life-cycle has been repeated often enough to exhibit some
I would encourage anyone (even
experienced semiconductor veterans) to note the 8 patterns listed. This
list includes almost everything you need to know to understand what drives
the predictable aspects of memory market behavior.
SSD news at this url
|"We agree on nothing..."|
Editor:- February 9,
2016 - In a new blog -
Storage Switzerland? - W.
Curtis Preston (who founded Truth
in IT) uses some thought provoking examples from the tv series
West Wing to describe how he resolved anticipated differences and made the
big step of joining the writing team and storage analysts at Storage Switzerland.
Kingston toughens up USB offerings with IronKey
February 8, 2016 - Kingston
it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation.
Tegile trims fat in Europe
Editor:- February 8,
headcount and costs in Europe were disproportionately high compared to
revenue - according to a story in SiliconANGLE
slashes global headcount in pre-IPO cost cutting - which discusses layoffs
by the company to improve its business efficiency.
Implementing XTS-AES for SSDs on Xtensa Processors
February 5, 2016 - "An XTS-AES engine based on the Xtensa processor can
provide performance that rivals most hardware solutions, but retains the ease of
design and flexibility found in software based solutions."
the summary of a paper -
the XTS-AES Standard on Xtensa Processors (pdf) - which is one of several
resources recommended in a new set of the
today on the home page of StorageSearch.com
were suggested by Neil Robinson
who is Product Marketing Director, Tensilica Processor IP, Cadence. ...see the suggested
top storage companies in 2015
editor:- February 5,
recently compiled a list of the
12 Storage Companies in 2015 (ranked by revenue).
This isn't the
same as top SSD companies (by revenue or search volume) but there will be a
degree of convergence between the 2 during the
in January 2001 I launched a series called the The 10 biggest storage companies
- in which I tried to predict 2 years in advance who the top 10 would be (based
That worked surprisingly well - but I EOLed the series
when my primary focus became SSDs.
Interesting from today's
perspective that in 2001 Dell
wasn't regarded as a serious storage company - and including them in my list
stirred the enterprise pot.
never fear 15nm TLC is here
with consumer facing DWPD
Editor:- February 3, 2016 - TLC was originally intended as
a consumer SSD technology (not that you'd realize this from reading about all
the enterprise arrays which have assimilated it).
OCZ recently announced
availability of a 15nm TLC based consumer range of 2.5" SATA SSDs - the
One of the interesting things about how the marketing of consumer
SSDs has evolved is that these new SSDs come with
DWPD guidance ratings
which are 0.25 DWPD.
Be aware, however, when comparing DWPD ratings
for consumer, enterprise and industrial SSDs that the warranty periods for these
different classes of drives - are different.
The Trion 150
warranty is 3 years -
which is typical for client SSDs - rather than 5 years (as for enterprise
related marketing messages have come a long way in the past 12 years or so.
2014 IBM said (in
effect) "You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems."
That was my summary of an IBM blog at the time.
Nowadays OCZ says this
about their Trion SSDs...
"Never Fear, OCZ Endurance is Here."
one way I've got to admire the reckless implied simplicity of OCZ's endurance
message. But I also groan in anticipation of how other vendors will retaliate
with similar endurance messages of their own.
I think OCZ's "never
fear" tagline may have been around since last summer (for the earlier
Trion 100 - which OCZ says "quickly became a top seller for us")
but as I don't visit consumer SSD pages any more than I have to (even
my own) I didn't
see it until today.
in the SSD Market,
razzle dazzling SSD care
Avalanche Tech completes $23 million funding round
February 2, 2016 - Avalanche
it has completed a $23 million funding round which will enable the companys
transition from R&D to commercialization and production of patent-backed
discrete and embedded non-volatile memory products based on STT-MRAM.
comments:- Avalanche has raised more than $80 million of funding since being
founded in 2006 (see
past years Avalanche has made some immoderate claims about the future storage
market potential for its technology - which in my view were not sufficiently
tempered by adequate competitive market knowledge of the complex
SSD and DIMM
wars ecosystem in which it finds itself today.
showcase product has been a
NVRAM based on STT-MRAM Technology. Key features are:- 50nS, no wait
writes, low standby current, 1 Trillion R/W cycles endurance, > 10 years data
retention: @ 85C.
Avalanche has recently positioned its AvRAM as
occupying a memory role for SoC designs which combines several desirable
aspects of SRAM and traditional nvm in a
Xitore decloaks into SSD DIMM wars market
February 1, 2016 - Another new name coming into in the SSD
DIMM wars saga
is Xitore which exited stealth mode
today with an announcement about their
NVM-X technology - which
promises "sub-2 microsecond latency" and 25GB/s bandwidth.
comments:- Xitore's web site currently has almost no information about its
product details beyond the headline claims.
The company, founded in
and whose management team includes experience in SSD companies related to
enterprise acceleration (including
Netlist), says it's
looking for first-round funding.
In outline Xitore's technology mix
sounds similar to Diablo
- but with these apparent differences:-
- shipping sampling status - Diablo has been shipping and sampling products,
whereas Xitore doesn't say anything about that yet
have to wait for more details to emerge.
- form factor for end product - Diablo's form factor ambitions start and end
in DIMMs. Xitore's web site implies that it is aiming to provide storage in a
box - which sounds like an SDS box in which the RAM tiering is the key element
but not the whole solution. (Maybe the flash is implemented by COTS SSDs.)
|What happened before?
|Who's got all the answers
to help understand how all the changes in the SSD market are coming together?
The answer is - no one and everyone and you too.|