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SSD market history
the Top SSD Companies - Q4 2014
the Top SSD Companies - 30 past quarterly editions
"compared to EMC" - the unreal positioning of AFA startups
flash wars in the enterprise the epic saga of nice vs naughty flash
hold up capacitors in 2.5" MIL SSDs

do you really need them?
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics
0 to 3S
Editor:- March 31, 2015 - I've been looking at different aspects of power hold up schemes in mission critical non volatile memory systems for over 30 years.

But every time I revisit this vast topic and compare fresh examples from the market - I learn something a little bit new.

My new blog - Zero to three seconds - demonstrates the extreme range of hold up times now in the market inside leading edge 2.5" military flash SSDs. the article
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refreshing the industrial SSD guide
Editor:- March 19, 2015 - I've recently refreshed the design of the industrial SSD guide on

image shows mouse building storage - click to see industrial SSDs article
industrial SSDs
Part of this redesign was bringing to the fore - a simple list of significant companies in the market which - in a way - goes back to the kind of site design here in the 1990s and early 2000s.

However, being conscious of the perils that can lead to - with some pages like RAID at one time in the past having been lumbered by a list running into hundreds of companies - I'm going to keep the new industrial list manageable and relatively short (under 100 companies).

If your company is missing from this list and you think it should be added - contact me.

The industrial / embedded SSD market is a segment which saw a decline in the number of vendors for a few years at a time when managers of those companies thought they could see bigger opportunities in other markets like consumer and enterprise. But recently I've been seeing a resurgence in industrial SSD company numbers for these reasons:-
  • the market opportunity for industrial SSDs has grown significantly - due to SSDs being everywhere.

    And even in places you wouldn't have expected!

    That's because new system products and applications have been enabled by SSDs and big data and IoT which never previously would have been viable using HDDs.

    That has attracted new industrial SSD startups - who are totally focused on the embedded market - and have chosen this in preference to all the other segments of SSD which might have calls on their technical and business development talents.
  • many companies which had exited the industrial market earlier - discovered they lacked the marketing skills needed to establish themselves in other markets. So they've come back to the industrial fold.
  • the infinite product scope of applications which can use embedded SSD (inside and outside traditional data processing) has created many opportunities for vendors to differentiate themselves by deep technology adaptations and customizations.

    This means vendors can be the best at 1 or 2 things - without needing to compete with all things - due to the number of permutations of applications, form factors and interfaces.
The redesign of the industrial SSD page will have 2 phases:-
  • now underway - getting the shape right:- capturing the top 50 to 100 or so relevant companies which should be in this list, and providing an overview of related articles and sub-guides.
  • the next phase - will populate the vendor list with deep links to a product example from each company.
Any questions? - just ask.

PR Agencies
re your autobiography...
I'd recommend a ghost writer.

PR Agencies - which aren't scared of mice
SSD conversations like this
Editor:- March 12, 2015 - I talk to founders of SSD companies nearly every day.

Yesterday - something I said - in one of the longest conversations I ever remember having had about enterprise SSDs - and I've had a few - inspired the person I was talking to - to change his plans from something quite different - and develop a new SSD systems company instead.

I learned that change of plan from his follow up email.

And if it does happen - then when his new company is ready - I'll let you know.

It's not unusual.

Some of the world's best known SSD companies were talking to me - long before anyone else knew about them - or cared about what they were thinking. Nice to know it's still happening.

The other nice thing is when people in SSD companies (or their customers) that I've never spoken to before - start their conversation with - I've been reading your articles for years - and that's what got me into SSDs.

Thanks for everyone who has said that - or thinks something similar.

So - if you're wondering - what comes next?

I haven't run out of ideas yet.

The next big article will be a shocker.

The seeds were planted in 2 separate, classification type, articles I wrote years ago.

It's just the impact of them coming together in the market - at the right time - which will shatter many business plans - and cause people to ask themselves - why did we ever think like that before?

If it's any consolation... I did too.
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from the SSD history archive
Novachips acquires HLNAND

Toshiba shows 1st BGA PCIe SSDs

Netlist gets preliminary injunction on manufacture of ULLtraDIMM SSDs

Western Digital acquires Skyera

Kaminario gets another $53 million funding

Netlist revalidates core patent related to ULLtraDIMM's
Steve Wozniak joins Primary Data

Foremay readies 8TB 2.5" military SSDs
Netlist asks court to shut down SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM

Memblaze launches new 14S latency PCIe SSDs in Europe
A3CUBE - first US customer shipments soon

Samsung mass produces 3TB 3D 10 DWPD PCIe SSDs

Seagate reports low take up of hybrid drives
Samsung ships 10nm SAS SSDs

Diablo unveils DDR-4 flash DIMM SSDs

SanDisk launches ZetaScale (enterprise flash memory tier software)

NxGn Data exits stealth with promise of in-situ SSD processing
SanDisk to buy Fusion-io

IBM is #1 in rackmount SSD revenue
Seagate agrees to acquire LSI's flash business for $450 million

Kaminario guarantees amplified usable capacity
SanDisk samples 4TB 2.5" SAS SSDs

Violin enters the SSD integrated server market
Samsung says its 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD are 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs
A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class architectures

Marvell samples 5K IOPS smartphone SSD (eMMC 5.0)
IBM revamps TMS rackmount SSDs and launches memory channel SSD servers (with SanDisk / Diablo inside)

Half Micron's nand flash now used in SSDs

InnoDisk's (MO-276) nanoSSD in full scale production

Netlist says ULLtraDIMM SSDs infringe its patents
LSI to be acquired for $6.6 billion

A New CEO for Violin

1st day for NMBL
Primary Data gets $50 million funding

Toshiba will buy assets of bankrupt OCZ

LSI samples the most ambitious design of a single chip SSD controller in SSD history.
Crocus seeks to annul core STT patents

McObject shows in-memory database resilience in NVDIMM

Toshiba chooses DensBits' adaptive flash IP
Violin does IPO

WD wants Virident

Cisco wants WhipTail

Micron samples first Hybrid Memory Cube devices
SMART samples memory channel SSDs

Skyera promises 2U petabyte SSD
Diablo launches Memory Channel Storage

SanDisk will acquire SMART
WD will acquire Stec

Samsung enters PCIe SSD market

Whiptail offers clues to Users playing the SSD box riddle game
Fusion-io's CEO and CMO both depart

Micron samples new hot-swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs

LSI is #2 in PCIe SSD shipments in US
Diablo names SMART as flash partner for memory channel SSDs

Fusion-io and Astute Networks make (different) moves to make solid state cheaper in the iSCSI storage market
Violin entered the PCIe SSD market

InnoDisk's iSLCT technology repurposes MLC cells to SLC
remote PCIe SSD data sharing / caching introduced separately by Virident and Intel
Skyera entered the top 5 SSD companies list

RunCore is 1st to announce BiTMICRO OnBoard
35 years of SSD history

SSD market analysts
5 years ago in SSD market history
In April 2010 - XLC Disk unveiled a paper called - Paramagnetic Effects on Trapped Charge Diffusion with Applications for x4 NAND Flash Data Integrity - which it said would be discussed at the forthcoming NV Memories Worskhop (UC San Diego).

The company said its findings could have future applications in the enterprise storage market by solving the data integrity problems in x4 (four bits per cell) nand flash MLC SSDs within a new class of closely coupled hybrid storage drives - combining magnetic and solid state storage - in ultra high capacity storage systems (petabyte - class and above) aimed at webscale and cloud service providers.
Once upon a time it was useful for so called "startup" enterprise SSD companies to make detailed EMC bashing product comparisons with pre-existing EMC systems. What do we learn when such comparisons are made today?
Zsolt Kerekes, editor - in his blog - some random SSD thoughts about EMC (January 28, 2015)
"That whole dominant storage architecture thing has totally flipped. It was already slowly turning 180 degrees a couple years ago, but it is beginning to be much more obvious now. SAN is on the decline..."
image shows Megabyte doing the data round up - click to see SAN storage area networks directory
Chin-Fah Heoh, StorageGaga - in his reminiscent blog - the reverse wars – DAS vs NAS vs SAN (March 13, 2014)
those who tweet loudest
those who tweet loudest in hybrid storage arrays imageEditor:- February 18, 2015 - Re the visibility seeking marketing activities of enterprise storage companies - I found much to agree with in a recent blog - Hybrid Storage Array Industry Social Landscape - by Don Jennings, Senior VP - Lois Paul & Partners (a storage industry proven PR).

Among other things Don says "not many of the storage companies in our analysis have clear content strategies to provide information and value to their followers. This is especially true on YouTube, where these companies are rarely posting anything other than product-usage videos. We also dont see any of them engaging with industry media and influencers..."

The essential output from Don's article is that he ranks 5 companies in the hybrid storage array market - based on the noise level and following they have achieved on social media.

The companies (in alphabetic order) are:- . Setting aside for the moment any reservations you might have about the validity of using social media as a significant enough comparative measure for enterprise companies - Don comes up with some interesting statistics for each company about the level of its followers, tweets etc.

And by that measure Nimble comes out top of his list. the article

Editor's comments:- As with any measurement - you have to ask questions like
  • why has this method been chosen? Is it simply convenience?
  • And how valid does such a ranking carry over into other interpretations? etc - such as future business outcomes.
In this case - the agenda is clear enough - Don's company LPP is in the media business - and some companies are clearly more noisy (and better understood) than others in "editorial like" contexts.

If your company isn't doing well enough in the social media blare - then maybe you should change your agency.

A devil's advocate counter argument to that might be to say that a single well designed ad can take a company positioning message to more targeted people than all the people who see a vendor's tweets and blogs in a year. And every day I see companies in this industry who lack the confidence to invest in themselves in an advertising context - preferring instead to cast their fortunes on the winds of the media lottery newswires.

And another counter argument is that not all important relationships and engagements are as visible as you might think on social media. Why should they be - if there are pre-existing or better ways in which the parties in the same mutual interest segment can communicate?

For example - I've been talking to Don Jennings regularly about his storage industry customers since June 2003 - but (at the time of writing this) we aren't 1st level contacts on linkedin.

And a lot of the people I talk to about weighty matters in the SSD market would be horrified by the idea of others knowing what they're thinking about. I'm not saying that one private communication is worth ten tweets - but if it's about about a new business plan - or the order from your biggest customer - it can be worth much more.

On the other hand. Social media may be the only independent (non financial and non technical) way you can rank some of the companies you're interested in. As only 1 of the 5 companies above - for example - has got high enough in the search noise level to appear in the Top SSD Companies.

"Don't place too much credence in what SSD companies tell you about the present or the future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
Cactus Technologies logo

SSD news

Intel and Micron promise 32 layer 3D nand SSDs by 2016

Flash Memory
flash & other nvm
Editor:- March 26, 2015 - Micron today announced it is sampling a new 32 layer 3D nand flash memory using floating gate cells - which has been designed in collaboration with Intel - and which provides 32GB MLC (2 bits per cell) in a single chip.

A higher density TLC (3 bits per cell) version with 48GB capacity will sample in the next few months.

Both devices are expected to be available in SSDs within the next year.

Toshiba samples 48-layer 3D nand

Toshiba 3D flash
Editor:- March 26, 2015 - Toshiba today announced it is sampling the world's first 48-layer 3D stacked 2 bit nand flash memory in 16GB chips aimed at the high capacity SSD market.

Mass production is anticipated to be in the first half of 2016.

Diablo's roadmap back on track following jury verdict

Editor:- March 25, 2015 - Diablo today announced it has won a "decisive victory" in its critical court battle with Netlist.
memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs

The jury unanimously concluded that there was no breach of contract and that there was no misuse of trade secrets. Further, the jury confirmed Diablo's sole ownership and inventorship of the "917 patent."

"We are extremely pleased with the jury's verdict today," said Riccardo Badalone, CEO and Co-Founder of Diablo Technologies. "We look forward to getting back to serving our customers and delivering on our exciting Memory Channel Storage roadmap."

Editor's comments:- Diablo replaced Fusion-io as the #1 most searched SSD company by the readers in Q3 and Q4 2014 - because you all know a disruptive SSD technology platform when you see it.

The long running legal tangles got to the point where Diablo was prevented by an injunction from making more products - pending a trial outcome. This verdict means the enterprise application acceleration industry can resume its onwards progress by being able to count on the availability of a significantly different flash latency asset and software platform for deployments inside the server box.

SSD Guru and Vector 180 from OCZ (and some random thoughts about product naming conventions)

Editor:- March 25, 2015 - We live in a world where it's pointless buying a phone unless you are prepared to develop and hone your SysAdmin skills - so I shouldn't be surprised by the growing number of software utilities aimed at the consumer SSD market.

An aptly named such product - SSD Guru (not be confused with SSD market gurus) - appeared in an email today from OCZ - which plays a supporting role for the company's "next generation" Vector 180 SSD (a performance optimized SATA SSD) aimed at "gamers, enthusiasts and workstation users."

consumer SSDs guide
consumer SSDs
Editor's comments:- re that "next generation" tag line - as I'm not familiar with the numbering system OCZ uses for its SSDs - I'm not sure whether this is OCZ's 180th consumer SSD (that seems a bit low by my count) or whether this is OCZ's 18th consumer SSD generation (that seems too high).

If I get a helpful note of what the "180" means - I'll add a note here later.

the problem with numbers

Because I read about so many products and suppliers - I do sometimes miss obvious clues.

For example - it took me about 11 years to recognize that the numbers in TMS's rackmount SSD systems (the RamSan boxes) had been incrementing by 100 every year or so - each time they included a new generation of controllers or memory. Which did make sense when it was explained to me.

And it looks like IBM is still maintaining that tradition. What comes next? (after 900?) - numbers are the easiest part of the SSD guessing game. It's what could be inside the next box we're not so hot at guessing.

Such product naming schemes do run into problems after enough time has elapsed as we've seen many times in computer history.

CPUs give us some clues - as they were the primary apps acceleration technology before SSDs.

(80)86, went (with some detours) to 286, 386, and 486 and then morphed into Pentium - which (unlike numbers) could be a registered trademark.

SPARC started with numbers and then added words.

SSD product names have many naming variations too.

But - going back to numbers.

The problem with numbers is when they get too long (due to the longevity of the product family) you have to recycle them - which makes it confusing for old people who saw them the first time around.

And (I know it may be unfair to say this about product marketers) but sometimes you get the vague feeling - particularly in more slowly evolving markets like autos - that the names and the numbers and the colors have changed. But inside everything that matters still remains exactly the same as it was before.

PS - in another announcement today - OCZ said it now has a higher capacity version of its fast enough enterprise 2.5" SATA SSD family. The new Intrepid 3700 SSD - has 2TB capacity, R/W speeds upto 540MB/s and 470MB/s (128KB blocks) and 91K / 13K random R/W IOPS (4KB blocks) .

Samsung's new 128GB BGA TLC SSD

Editor:- March 19, 2015 - Samsung today expanded its eMMC product line with a new 128GB BGA TLC SSD aimed at mid-market smartphones and mass market tablets. 3d BGA SSD for phones from Samsung

The new 3 bit device has 260MB/s sequential read performance (similar to MLC eMMC 5.1).

IOPS (5,000 / 6,000) are sufficient to support high definition video.

Microsemi has a new BGA SSD
and is acquiring Vitesse for $389 million

Editor:- March 17, 2015 - Microsemi today introduced its 2nd generation highly secure, rugged 64GB BGA SLC SSD - the MSM064. Features include:-
  • TRRUST-Purge clears encryption key in less than 30ms
miniature SSDs approx 1 inch and smaller
tiny SSDs
  • hardware-based self destruct - renders media data forensically unrecoverable in less than 10 seconds
  • anti malicious attack technology
  • no super caps or batteries
  • write protect option for read-only applications
"Embedded computing applications have increased the need for compact small form factor, highly secure and trusted data-at-rest protection," said B J Heggli, GM for Microsemi's memory and storage business. "We introduced this latest 64GB SSD in our BGA package to expressly meet the data security and extreme reliability requirements of a growing number of embedded applications. And because Microsemi owns the processor technology, customers are also assured of critical long-term availability."

PS - also this week - Microsemi announced it has agreed to acquire Vitesse Semiconductor for approximately $389 million.

Vitesse designs a diverse portfolio of high-performance semiconductors, application software, and integrated turnkey systems solutions for carrier, enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide.

Memblaze enters 2.5" PCIe SSD market

2.5 inch NVMe SSDs
2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs
Editor:- March 16, 2015 - Memblaze today announced it is showing a 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD variant of its PBlaze series at CeBIT in Germany.

Memblaze was the 27th most highly searched SSD company by readers of in Q4 2014.

another design win for Seagate's Nytro in China cloud market
pcie  SSDs - click to read article

Editor:- March 12, 2015 - QingCloud mentioned high capacity and low cost among the reasons for selecting Seagate's XP6209 (pdf) (PCIe SSD) as components to build the low latency SSD infrastructure of its cloud services for the China market - in a press release today.

Editor's comments:- who are the new cloud companies in China?

Meet China's Cloud Innovators - a blog by Charlie Dai, Principal Analyst - Forrester Research

See also:- the big market impact of SSD dark matter

SanDisk shows the softer under belly of flash

Editor:- March 12, 2015 - SanDisk already attracts more interest in its software from readers than any ISV in the SSD software space - something I recently disclosed in the Q4 2014 edition of the Top SSD Companies.

Why so much interest?

It's because they've got a lot of enterprise software. (Partly due to having acquired a lot of software rich companies.)

In a recent press release about SanDisk's latest contribution to open source - to benefit Ceph storage - I saw an interesting list of other areas they have done work on too.
  • The Android OS stack for mobile devices
image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
  • The Linux kernel for memory management and file system to enable better performance with flash
  • The Android Real Path Storage library, an Apache licensed project maintained by SanDisk, that enables application developers to use external memory like SD cards in their Androids
  • SCST, a GPL-licensed SCSI target software stack that is maintained by SanDisk developers
  • and Enterprise applications like Cassandra, MySQL, Hadoop and others to optimize them for use with SanDisk flash technology.
It sure takes a lot of software to make flash memory work with the non flash world. It's much more than the low level care stuff you'd expect in flash controllers.

Part of this complexity stems from the asymmetry inherent in flash R/W IOPS - and the problems of masking this fact - using disguises and ruses - from legacy software which was originally created for symmetrical devices like HDDs and DRAM. But another complex motivator in the software plot is to do with data granularity and reliability too.

Before you get too nostalgic about good old DRAM, however, its reputation has been trashed (pdf) too.

It seems that when you scrutinize any chips which have very small internal geometries - then you see that bad things happen. It's just that we've learned to expect it with flash (due to all those battles between nice and naughty enterprise flash) and we always expected better behavior from DRAM. So when such problems hit good old reliable DRAM (as they do about once every 10 years) everyone is surprised.

news image - 2.5 inch NVMe SSD - click for infoHGST samples 3TB 2.5" PCIe SSD

Editor:- March 11, 2015 - HGST is sampling a new range of SSDs for the 2.5" PCIe SSD market.

The 2.5" NVMe Ultrastar SN100 (pdf) has upto 3.2TB capacity.

Editor's comments:- No DWPD data was available when I looked. Which makes the recent related announcement somewhat useless to any product specifier. It must be aimed at investors.

Lattice closes acquisition of Silicon Image

Editor:- March 10 , 2015 - Lattice Semiconductor today announced the close of its acquisition of Silicon Image for approximately $606 million.

3D InCites blog re Samsung's 3D TLC

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - What happens when you combine 3D and 3 bits per cell in the same flash?

Flash Memory
flash & other nvm
A recent blog - Samsung's V-NAND Flash at the 2015 ISSCC - published on 3D InCites summarizes the key parameters of Samsung's approach to combining 3D and TLC and offers some critical analysis.

Commenting on the directions for future advances - the blog's author Andrew Walker says "I also heard that they may be looking at 4 bits/cell."

See also:- Samsung's V-NAND page, Unveiling XLC Flash SSD Technology (March 2008 )

8TB 2.5" PCIe SSDs sampling soon from Novachips

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - Are you interested in a world's first 2.5" 8TB (15mm height) PCIe Gen2 x4 SSD (pdf) with a single controller developed by Novachips. in Korea?

Novachip 8TB 2.5 inch PCIe SSDThat was an email I got recently from Sean Oh who is the sales representative for these products in Europe.

What would you say? I did the same. After reading up the info he attached (there's a SATA version too) I asked some questions about availability. Here's what Sean said.
  • The working engineering samples have been available since last year.
  • The 1st customer sample comes out in the next 30 days.
  • We plan to start a mass production in 2nd half of this year.
Editor's comments:- part of this story has its roots in a news story from May 2007 - when a company called MOSAID was talking about a new, light capacitive load, ring based, flash memory topology called HLNAND. To make it work they needed a controller. Novachips collaborated on the design and recently acquired the assets and patents.

SanDisk enters the rackmount SSD market

Editor:- March 4, 2015 - As I've been saying for the past several years now - the rack is a strategic component form factor for enterprise flash.

Rackmount SSDs click for news and directory
rackmount SSDs
And SanDisk recently announced it has joined the enterprise rackmount SSD market - with a new product - 3U 512TB array of 8TB SAS SSDs - with iSCSI (and upto 8 way SAS connections for local servers) called the InfiniFlash system (pdf) which leverages the market proven SanDisk ION Accelerator software stack which came with the acquisition of Fusion-io.

Pricing is under $2K / TB before compression or dedupe are applied.

Editor's comments:- SanDisk's pricing and storage density for the InfiniFlash is similar to Skyera's skyHawk FS (pdf) - launched in October 2014 - although the 2 products have very different internal architectures. The InfiniFlash is an array of standard SAS SSDs while the skyHawk FS is a proprietary design with internal big controller architecture - which can use any type of cheap, high density flash.

The availability of cheap, raw, white box rackmount SSDs like this from SanDisk, HGST and other vendors may put some pressure on traditional storage vendors to justify why they charge so much for - what in most cases - are in reality vanilla flash arrays with some added software features. But it's that software and related integration and migration services which have locked newer vendors out of these older markets.

Having said that - there are many types of users in the rackmount market who don't want the kind of software offered by companies like EMC, IBM, or HP and for whom - even the more creatively priced management functions integrated in boxes from newer companies like Tegile represent an expensive solution bundled with a data management approach which is different to what they need.

I first wrote about the conundrum of different rackmount SSDs - with different characteristics - co-existing at the same time and satisfying different user risk and value judgement profiles in a 2009 article.

In the 6 years since then - as the market has grown larger - it has been possible to delineate more functional differences in SSD box types than existed at that time - while at the same time - the variety of possible attached permutations - with respect to application compatibility, inherent technology risk factors, and buyer behavior - has grown too.

The result has been inefficient markets - and an inadequate range of products - often inappropriately marketed. Problems which I identified (with help from leading users and marketers) in my recent article - Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

Micron breaks ground on $4B expansion to Singapore nand fab

Editor:- March 3, 2015 - Micron today celebrated a ground breaking ceremony at the site of its Singapore NAND flash memory fabrication facility - which is planned to get $4 billion worth of expansion investment - and is expected to be operational in 2017.

new edition of the Top SSD Companies

Editor:- March 2, 2015 - Although it's nearly 8 years since began publishing its landmark series the Top SSD Companies and we now have more types of market data about SSD related trends than ever before - the need for a proven, focused, crowd-intelligence based list based on search hasn't gone away.

You could indeed argue that the need is even greater now.

We still live in chaotic times for SSD where the disruptive influences now include more technology types and the outcomes of the market blender includes the complex interplay and co-existence of multiple SSD software generations.

the top SSD companies  - new recently published a new edition of the list - based on market metrics in Q4 2014.

In the 31st quarterly edition of this article I also give you my background thinking for why this classic series will soon be joined by a new companion set of Top SSD Company lists - which have been 12 years in the waiting. the article

Avago acquires Emulex for $600 million

Editor:- February 25, 2015 - In 2014 - Avago Technologies - which until then had not seemed much involved in enterprise storage - suddenly got religion.

As a heavyweight interface chip and IP maker in other markets Avago must have asked themselves - what are the key interfaces we need to be the #1 enterprise storage connect company? - especially as more enterprise storage becomes solid state.
storage glue chips
storage glue chips
And that's the way to interpret the acquisitions (last year) of LSI and PLX followed now (as announced today) by the acquisition of Emulex - for approximately $606 million.

Netlist raises $10 million through share offering

hybrid DIMMs
hybrid DIMMs
Editor:- February 24, 2015 - Netlist today announced it has closed its previously-announced underwritten public offering of 8,846,154 common shares at a price to the public of $1.30 per share. Netlist estimates net proceeds from the offering to be approximately $10.4 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. Netlist intends to use the proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.

Diablo updates status of UlltraDIMM legal sanctions

memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs
Editor:- February 24, 2015 - If - like me - you've been following with interest the development of true SSD acceleration technologies packaged in RAM DIMMs (aka memory channel SSDs and similar names) then you may have been wondering - what's the current state of the play in the Netlist versus Diablo and SanDisk patent and implied rights to IP legal wrangle?

The last furious clash of legally related press releases - from both sides - in mid January - ended with a lot of smoke in the air - and dire expectations regarding body count. In particular the impression was that - until the next court session on these matters - further shipments of SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM SSDs would be suspended.

This is an update sent to me yesterday from a spokesperson communicating the Diablo side of things. So "we" and "our" in the text below means from the perspective of "Diablo".

re Preliminary Injunction - Diablo says
  • SanDisk has been granted a stay on their preliminary injunction, meaning that they can ship their inventory to Lenovo, Supermicro, and Huawei.
  • The preliminary injunction on Diablo is still in effect while we await the standard appeal process.
  • It continues to be our belief that the standard appeal process will find in our favor.
At the center of the dispute is the idea that our technologies compete. Our technologies do not compete. There is a long list of reasons why they don't. Here are some of them:
  • The Netlist NVvault is memory. The OS and applications see it and treat it as DRAM, which is why no OS drivers are necessary. Ours is storage. Ours is seen by the OS, hypervisors and applications as a block storage device and this is why MCS does require OS drivers.
  • They are used differently. For example, you typically would not put a whole database on a DRAM NV-DIMM but you would on an MCS-based device.
  • A DRAM DIMM can be used in place of DRAM, an MCS-based device cannot. An MCS-based device, because it is storage, requires separate DRAM in the system for execution. DRAM based devices are required to make the server run and are complimentary to MCS-based devices.
  • A DRAM NV-DIMM cannot be removed from the system and replaced with an MCS-based device and be expected to perform the same function.
  • The NVvault product is an 8GB device because it is a memory device. Since ours does not use DRAM and instead interfaces directly to flash, it is capable of being hundreds of gigabytes in capacity.
  • JEDEC has defined a DRAM-based NV-DIMM (NVDIMM-N) as a completely different category from an MCS-based device (NVDIMM-F) because they operate differently and service different applications in very different ways. There are several other companies building NVDIMM-N devices including Netlist, Viking and others, while Diablo is the only company we know of that is building an NVDIMM-F device.
  • Simply because they both fit into the same slot and use a similar interface does not mean that they compete. Most PCIe cards serve completely different functions and do not compete, even though they use the same physical interface (examples are graphics, audio, networking, and storage cards).
Editor's comments:- I think it's important for the SSD industry to know whether it can count on seeing a competitive market for memory channel SSDs being developed. For that to happen it is essential for Diablo to establish in the courts or by agreement as soon as possible that the roadmap for its kind of technology has a future.

If this doesn't happen quickly - and if the whole issue is left unresolved for another year - then the window of opportunity for this class of enterprise SSD may close. Because - as far as I know - Netlist doesn't have a Diablo like product in a similar state of market readiness.

So if Netlist were to succeed in preventing Diablo's product roadmap - there isn't a similar product which architects could fall back to. And even if Netlist chose to pursue that kind of product opportunity - which it can't do on its own the SSD market isn't going to wait idly by for another 2 years waiting for that to happen.

Other ways of adding applications intelligence into PCIe SSDs - and other alternatives to RAM cached to flash are already in development. And the software market has to judge - which new markets are most likely to return value on their developer investment.

Sanity check

Just to remind you - the bullet points above - came from Diablo and whether you agree or disagree with them or not (or quibble - as for example in - there is an industry of RAM resident databases - albeit they aren't the "typical" HDD architected databases which are now running in flash SSDs) the reason so many lawyers are involved now is more to do with the fact that 2 companies (Netlist and Diablo) have a different recollection of what they once agreed in a past collaborative project and they disagree on what rights that past agreement confers on what they're doing now.

If I get more updates I'll let you know.

The key things for now are:-
  • if you've got a design which uses 1st generation UlltraDIMM style memory channel SSDs - then you can still get products to fill those slots.
  • But - if you've been planning around the preannounced 2nd generation products - your projects are probably on hold.

"the most reliable 2.5 inch MLC SATA III SSD"
paves way to new budget military SSD - from Cactus

Editor:- February 23, 2015 - Cactus Technologies today announced the release of a new military 2.5" SATA SSD - the 230S PRO series - a military adapted variation of the company's proven 230S commercial grade family which Cactus describes as "the most reliable MLC based 2.5" SATA III SSD on the market."

Describing application roles Joseph Chang, VP of Engineering said - "It meets the price budget for applications where intense writing or extreme temperatures are not prevalent."

military storage directory and news
military SSDs
Features include:-
  • hardware AES256 Encryption
  • Jumper Triggered Write Protect
  • NSA 9-12 or Quick Erase (can eliminate 512GB of data in <15 seconds)
  • 64GB to 640GB MLC capacities
  • Fixed BOM
  • Altitude spec of 100,000 feet
  • 3,000G Shock; 20G Vibration
  • Powerful Industrial ECC and Defect Management

Waitan launches secure self destructible SSDs for drone and other hostile military zone applications

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articles
Fast Purge SSDs
Editor:- February 19, 2015 - It's rare for me to hear about a new company in the military SSD market (I thought I knew them all already) - but an exception to that is Waitan which this week launched a 2.5" SATA SSD with 4TB capacity with special security options to protect and purge data if the SSD gets into the wrong hands - the StellaHunter.

"We believe the remote controlled secure erase and self-destruction functions are highly valuable for UAV, drone, and other remote controlled and unmanned systems where data on the systems' storage drives is confidential, which needs to be destroyed from afar during accidents or emergency scenarios" said James Zheng, Waitan's CTO.

Editor's comments:- Remotely triggered data destruction isn't a new idea in secure SSDs - but it hasn't really taken hold in the past due to the disruptive effect of false positives - such as when a security perimeter has been incorrectly set up or when a pacifier signal is lost for a short time for innocent reasons.

For those reasons Waitan's StellaHunter is triggered by 2 or more preset conditions. Users can also choose whether the SSD should be reusable after the secure erase or whether the SSD should have a destructive erase.

FalconStor shows why it has taken so many years to launch an SSDcentric next software thing

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
Editor:- February 19, 2015 - You might think there are enough SDS companies already - but SSDcentric data architectures are pulling system solutions in different directions - so until the dust settles and the landscape looks clearer - there are plenty of gaps for new companies to enter the market.

The most significant this week was FalconStor - who announced a new SSDcentric storage pool redeployment and management platform called FreeStor - which the company says works across legacy, modern and virtual environments.

FalconStor says - "The heart of FreeStor is the Intelligent Abstraction layer. It's a virtual Rosetta Stone that allows data - in all its forms - to migrate to, from and across all platforms, be it physical or virtual."

They've posted a good video which describes it all.

FalconStor's natural partners are enterprise SSD systems vendors and integrators who have good products but who don't have a complete (user environmentally rounded) software stack.

Editor's comments:- For 4 years FalconStor gave me the impression of a storage software company which didn't know what it wa going to do with the SSD market - despite having a base of thousands of customers in the enterprise storage software market.

FalconStor's delay can now be explained. They were studying what needed to be done - and it took a lot of work.

If you want to understand who else is offering a product concept which is similar in vision to FalconStor's FreeStor - I'd say Primary Data. Although due to a difference in ultimate scaling aspirations and markets - I would say that FalconStor's product is lower end and currently more accessible. Part of the reason being that FalconStor already has a customer base for pre SSD era software - which they are hoping to convert incrementally.

$34 million funded SDS company Springpath emerges from stealth

image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage
VCs in SSDs
Editor:- February 18, 2015 - Springpath emerged from stealth with these related announcements.

A server based data platform priced from $4,000 per server per year.

A distribution agreement with Tech Data who will offer Springpath's software preloaded onto servers.

$34 million funding from investors Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Redpoint Ventures

Seagate and Micron collaborate on enterprise

click to see directory of SAS SSD companies
Editor:- February 12, 2015 - Micron and Seagate today announced a strategic multi year agreement which among other things will secure for Seagate a supply of nand flash for the SAS SSD market while also providing for Micron a framework of SSD controller IP and designs with which it can populate gaps in its own enterprise SSD range.

Editor's comments:- Although modern adaptive DSP controller IP can work with any type of flash - there are applications in cloud and storage arrays in which simpler controller designs - which integrate user based code (to leverage awareness of the state of the whole array) can provide cheaper systems. Such SSDs can be made even more reliable - when they can leverage knowledge about a particular trusted source of flash.

For example in April 2012 - SMART Storage (now part of SanDisk) revealed it had figured out a way to get 5x more endurance from consumer grade flash when using old-style non-adaptive SandForce controllers. The technique preconditioned R/W timing parameters in the flash memory using intelligence gained from experience with the company's (different) adaptive controllers.

Seagate's toughest competitors in the SAS SSD market have been SanDisk, Toshiba, HGST and even Samsung - so from that perspective - there are reasons for preferring to source flash from and trust in Micron.

Micron hasn't dipped into the enterprise SSD acquisition pool to the same depth as some other big hostages of the SSD market. I think this was partly because Micron didn't want to be seen as competing with its "natural" historic systems customers. But that had left Micron with an enterprise SSD product line lacking any central theme or controller roadmap.

In that respect - Micron's new collaboration with Seagate - will ensure a prescence for Micron's flash in large scale arrays and systems in very cost competitive and difficult to customize environments - in which Micron's own SSD IP would never have been regarded as a serious alternative.

how reliable are consumer SSDs? - new data from OCZ

Editor:- February 12, 2015 - OCZ recently published data about the reliability of its past generations of consumer SSDs.

OCZ says that the SSDs it has shipping since it has been a Toshiba group company (and using Toshiba's flash) are about 40x more reliable than OCZ's popular consumer SSDs were about 4 years before. And part of the story is also changes in controller technology.

Editor's comments:- in this paper OCZ's measure of reliability is - returns during warranty and confirmed defects - which are now at 0.6% and 0.3% respectively.

broken barrel image - click to see the SSD data recovery directory
SSD Recovery
Another angle of viewing consumer SSD reliability can be seen from data recovery data.

Intel last year disclosed that of the 100,000 notebooks used under its control - it encountered the need for 1 SSD recovery per day.

The 2 data sets - from OCZ and Intel are incomplete - and not directly comparable due to differences in sampling periods, warranties and model mixes. But if you assume a 1 year sampling period - for the data recovery based data - then you end up with a failure figure which is similar to the newest SSD data from OCZ.

See also:- consumer SSDs, SSD reliability papers

Hyperstone brings enterprise-class write attenuation to industrial USB SSD controllers

flash care article
flash care claims
Editor:- February 11, 2015 - When I see an assertion about 100x better flash endurance - I smile and think back to an article my SSD care scheme is the best - in May 2012 - which discusses this marketing idea and some of the unerlying technologies. So why mention it again today?

A press release today from Hyperstone (about their new flash management technology for industrial SSDs) contains this exact phrase.

"hyMap reduces Write Amplification by a factor of more than 100 in fragmented usage pattern and for small file random writes. Thereby, the reduction in effectively used write-erase-cycles results in higher performance, longer life and shorter random access response times. As a result, in many applications hyMap together with Hyperstone controllers and MLC flash enables higher reliability and data retention than other controllers using SLC. hyMap does not require any external DRAM or SRAM."

In the same announcement - Dr. Jan Peter Berns, Managing Director of Hyperstone - acknowledges that while these issues have already been discussed intensively for several years in the enterprise market. Hyperstone's new hyMap controller technology brings this kind of improvement into smaller, low power SSDs such as SD/MMC and USB which don't have the same kind of budgets for DRAM and CPU power as enterprise SSDs.

Northwest Logic provides FPGA support for Everspin's MRAM

Editor:- February 9, 2015 - Northwest Logic today announced controller support for Everspin's ST-MRAM - with interoperability proven on a Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA platform.

MRAM's core IP also supports traditional volatile DDR3 SDRAM - so the new support for MRAM will simplifiy the design of power fail protected low latency caches.

Benchmarking and Performance Resources

storage test equipment and analyzers news and directory
SSD analyzers
Editor:- February 6, 2015 - When it comes to SSDs - an SSD which is faster in a way that you can economically use - such as by converting faster latency into competitive dollars (trading banks) or by satisfying more virtual users with less servers (nearly everyone who owns a lot of heavily used servers) is worth looking at.

Although performance is not the only thing (and often is not even the most important thing) which makes up the cost of buying an SSD - or the justification to buy it - performance has been one of those parameters which - because it has helped to sell products - even when the numbers were unreliable or abused - has attracted a great deal of creative literary output in the SSD industry. Most of it fiction. Some of it fact.

I've written a lot of articles and emails on this theme myself. So many indeed - that I sometimes find myself in danger of writing something new - and then getting a sense of deja vu. IOPS? - I've got a feeling I wrote something like this before? A quick search confirms - yup I did. - Was it yeally that long ago? Let's just update the links so it makes sense if someone else finds it later.

It seems I am not alone in that respect. And a recent post on linkedin suggests a much better way of handling that.

The idea came from Greg Schulz, Founder of StorageIO - who has recently curated a whole bunch of articles which he's written, edited or likes into a single resource page - which he calls - Server and Storage I/O Benchmarking and Performance Resources

If you have the time - Greg has many articles on this topic which will inform and delight you.

Mobiveil supports Spansion's HyperBus NOR flash

Editor:- February 3, 2015 - Mobiveil today announced it will provide authorized controller support for Spansion's HyperBus flash memories.

HyperBus flash interface
HyperBus flash chips are low capacity, low pin count, faster (5x) NOR flash (BGAs) suited for some applications in the automotive electronics market.

Mobiveil's HyperBus flash interface IP (pdf) delivers upto 333MB/s using this 12-pin interface.

MSS wraps 2.5" SSDs snugly for surveillance drone flights

Editor:- February 3, 2015 - Mountain Secure Systems today announced it has recently shipped an order of hot swappable 2.5" SATA SSD modules to a leading defense contractor, which will be integrated into a pod system for the MQ-9 Reaper Drone - for use by the U.S. military to monitor U.S. borders and gather video surveillance intelligence.

The removable 2.5" SATA memory devices mate with a customized docking bay and are environmentally sealed for protection against rapid decompression, EMI, humidity, dust, salt fog, immersion and condensation.
news image  - rugged SSD pod from  Mountain Secure
The hot swappable device (pdf) includes mini mil-circular connectors (rated for 100,000 insertion cycles), +28VDC power, EMI filters, and captive thumb screws for docking.

"Mountain Secure Systems is proud to be a part of this important program," said Ken Dickson, GM of Mountain Secure Systems. "Our ruggedized data storage solutions have been extremely dependable for both commercial and military customers."

What happened before? - See the SSD news archive - January 2015


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