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re DWPD and enterprise SSD endurance
Editor:- April 7, 2014 - DWPD (Diskful Writes Per Day) for 5 years - has become an established part of SSD jargon in the writings of enterprise SSD makers in recent years.

But I couldn't recall having seen an endurance figure expressed in this way before from Fusion-io.

A blog last month - written by Chris McCall, Senior Director, ioControl Marketing, Fusion-io - gives the answer for the ioDrive2 (a PCIe SSD).

It's 4.4

Is that good or bad?

In the number score wars - there are competing MLC SSD drives which are better.

For example:- The real answer to - what's good enough? - when it comes to DWPD - depends on the application.

Going back to Fusion-io's blog - which has the unoriginal title - When it Comes to Enterprise Reliability, Not All Flash is Created Equal...

Why do I say it's unoriginal?

Because since 2002 - when I prefaced a reliability article on StorageSearch.com with the introduction - "All solid state disks are not created equal" - that same phrase - or something similar - has popped up as the title in many different vendor articles and white papers about SSDs.

Anyway Chris McCall... in his blog is analyzing endurance in the specific use case of iSCSI hybrid appliances (which are intrinsically performance constrained by market considerations).

After revealing the ioDrive2's DWPD - Chris goes on to say that the flash in the ioDrive2 will last much longer than the hard drives in the same box - with wear-out risk (in the application scenario he paints in his blog) being after 23 years of use.

Chris's blog will reassure newcomers to the entry level enterprise SSD market - that they don't need to worry about the kind of systems wear-out and frequency of refresh (replacement) cycles which has been a factor in some parts of the SSD market in the past - due to a mismatch between the raw SSDs and the system use cases.

If it was me though - I'd change the title of the blog.

PS - before you get too hung up on a particular value of DWPD...

An experienced reader told me recently - he was interested in knowing DWPD at different operating temperatures - a number which almost no vendor he talked to - was able to give him with any degree of confidence.

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Users will continue choosing SSD systems which are technically very different on the inside - even when their apps requirements (for performance and capacity and compatibility) look superficially the same from the outside.

That's because other factors outweigh these top level headline tech specs...
new SSD thinking inside the box (May 2014)

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from the SSD news archive
February
2014
A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class architectures

Marvell samples 5K IOPS smartphone SSD (eMMC 5.0)
January
2014
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
December
2013
LSI agrees to be acquired for $6.6 billion

A New CEO for Violin

1st day for NMBL
November
2013
Primary Data gets $50 million funding

Toshiba may buy assets of bankrupt OCZ

LSI samples the most ambitious design of a single chip SSD controller in SSD history.
October
2013
Crocus seeks to annul core STT patents

McObject shows in-memory database resilience in NVDIMM

Toshiba chooses DensBits' adaptive flash IP
September
2013
Violin does IPO

WD wants Virident

Cisco wants WhipTail

Micron samples first Hybrid Memory Cube devices
August
2013
SMART samples memory channel SSDs

2013 SSD market timeline

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Popular white papers and PDFs in April 2014
Editor:- April 10, 2014 - I'm not a great fan of PDFs - but there are some on the mouse site.

Here are some of the most popular PDFs which StorageSearch.com readers have been seeing this month (so far).

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the new enterprise aristocrats of SSD
Editor:- March 14, 2014 - 7 years is the standard expected service life for a good industrial SSD - but in the enterprise SSD market 4 years may be long enough to earn a company its place for elevation into the elite ranks of the aristocracy - for class-act companies which have been seen regularly in all the right places - such as the Top SSD Companies Lists.

I didn't realize I was already unconsciously thinking this way - but the thought sprang into my frontal lobes in response to a short email from Bill Bodei - who is Senior Director of North American Channels at Kaminario.

Bill said - Big fan of your writings.... (on StorageSearch.com)

I said - Kaminario sure gave me some interesting things to write about for a while. Now everyones a born again SSD server genius just because they can write the cloud version of hello SSD world. But the more you engage with customers the more you learn. So there are still some advantages for the enterprise SSD aristocrats like Kaminario - of having been engaged in the market for more than a few quarters.

Bill replied - Yes it sure has become a crowded market quickly. We're busy here, heads down, working towards a milestone that promises to give you more to write about, while doing our part to disrupt and leapfrog this nascent market of ours as we evolve into adolescence. :)

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In line with the trend of DRAM shrinking into nanometerland where nand flash has already gone before - Samsung recently announced volume production of 20nm 4Gb DDR3
Editor:- March 11, 2014 - 40 years ago in the early days of MOS LSI - whenever semiconductor companies like Intel wanted to characterize a new semiconductor production process and establish the "safe" design rules for manufacturability at ever smaller chip geometries (by doing a "shrink") the circuit and product of choice for the fab architects was memory - even if the eventual product for the wafer fab was going to be a microprocessor.

That's no longer true.

And so - more recently - in the past few years - if you've been looking at all those "nm" (nanometer) numbers in the news stories about IT related chips you can hardly fail to have noticed that it's been the flash memory devices which have been at the leading edge of the shrinking nanometer numbers.

And when looking at production devices - flash has been about 2 years in advance of DRAM and server CPUs.

You've often heard on these pages that it's only by breaking the safe design rules used in preceding generations that interesting new SSDs come to market.

And a big part of the to-do list for any SSD controllers is to cope with a predictable scale and style of expected memory defects and virtualize them away - creating a usable base level storage device.

Fitting in line with this trend (of DRAM going into tiny spaces where nand flash has already been) Samsung today announced it's using 20nm technology in the production of new 4Gb DDR3 DRAM.

As comparison points:
  • Samsung was doing volume production of 10nm flash (used in consumer eMMC SSDs for mobile phones) in November 2012.
The way this pattern has been going in recent years is that the first volume uses of new silicon geometries go into consumer markets - where if there's a data upset - you can see something wrong happening (blue screen or freeze and some lost data) - but never mind - turn the power off and try to resume where you left off before.

After several quarters of doing this - the chip bakeries have finely tuned their recipes and are ready to guarantee a less crumbly dough mixture for use in the enterprise.

But if these concepts are new to you - it's not worthwhile memorizing them. Because 3D nand flash changes the priority of future enhancements towards a preference for building upwards in more layers instead of merely thinning sideways.

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Hi Zsolt,

Have to thank you for all the good work on storagesearch.com. I have been following it for about the past year.
Bob Pearson, Principal Engineer - Cray
(email to the editor - March 25, 2014)

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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 since 2009).

With over 100 million enterprise PCIe ports already shipped - the converging PCIe SSD / server market is well positioned to expand into new applications.
the PCIe SSD directory on StorageSearch.com

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SSD ad - click for more info


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"The winners in SSD software could be as important for infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
get ready for a new world in which
all enterprise data touches SSDs

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Heyo Zsolt

I work for a company called Skybox Imaging, Inc. where I'm currently working on upgrading our storage system.

I found your web site invaluable in doing market research and wanted to thank you.

PS - I love the mice!
John McMaster, Flight Software Engineer
(email to the editor - February 28, 2014)


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SSD ad - click for more info


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"SSD efficiency is a very powerful differentiator in technology and I think it will also be very important in influencing business success too."
Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less flash


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a classic ad from SSD market history
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Curtis solid state disks
Clipper II
5 1/4" SCSI Solid State Disks
from Curtis


(ad appeared on StorageSearch.com
in January 2000)





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nice flash vs naughty flash
Sugaring flash for the enterprise
how the market changed from 2004 to 2013
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Enterprise endurance - and the SSD event horizon
Editor:- February 3, 2014 - I had not long before ftped up the first draft of my new Top SSD Companies article last Friday afternoon - when I got an email from a reader - who is an insider in an enterprise SSD company (and prefers to remain anonymous here) who commented on an article I'd written a few months before - the SSD event horizon.

He said - "I had not seen that article before.... really liked it and forwarded it to other people here. One other cause to consider for the event horizon is this.... A real problem is that when it comes time for (system) refresh, the customer looks at the wear life of the flash and observes that it has plenty of available life and decides to keep it instead of refreshing."

Editor's comments:- In case you haven't seen it yet either - the SSD event horizon article is hard to summarize - but - among the things discussed are the predictable revenue crashes which can hit enterprise SSD vendors from time to time - triggered when they ratchet up technical improvements in their products which increases SSD utilization for a homogeneous user base - at a faster rate than the sales ramp was growing before such changes.

Improvements in SSD systems endurance wasn't one of the examples mentioned in my original article - but when viewed from this angle - it is.

The event horizon impact on revenue is something I had also been discussing with another company last Thursday - this time from the perspective of dedupe.
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
PCIe SSDs ..
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies
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SSD news - in the past 30 days or so
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can I still buy WhipTail arrays? - blog by StorageMojo

Editor:- April 17, 2014 - In case you hadn't noticed - Cisco hasn't exactly been providing a rolling news narrative on what it's been doing with the products and technologies it acquired from rackmount SSD maker - WhipTail.

IBM was similarly quiet for a year after it acquired Texas Memory Systems - although as IBM later revealed (earlier this year) - they had been busy selling a lot of those systems - and adding some improvements to make it blend in better with the family portraits.

In the past 10 years acquiring an SSD company has changed from being a rarified novelty. And in that time we've seen that what companies do after they've acquired an SSD company varies a lot.

The other end of the spectrum (compared to Cisco and IBM) when it came to post acquisition news noise - was LSI with SandForce, and maybe also SanDisk with SMART.

Returning to WhipTail, however... this week Robin Harris (StorageMojo) muses on what's happening now in the sales arena with WhipTail's arrays in his blog - EMC gets the Cisco Whiptail lash


BiTMICRO has new VP of Engineering

Editor:- April 16, 2014 - It had been 9 months since I last saw a news announcement from BiTMICRO. But I heard today that the company recently announced that Bharadwaj Pudipeddi has joined the company as VP of Engineering and Lead Architect.

Among other things - Pudipeddi's past design roles in notable SSD companies include 2 years at Violin Memory.


look who's thinking like an enterprise systems SSD company now?

Editor:- April 15, 2014 - I've been having new product or new business briefing conversations for over 20 years. But 3 weeks ago a new record for brevity (when it comes to sticking to the time allocated to discussing the planned topic) was established in a conversation I had with SanDisk. Because our time ran out - and we never even got as far as page one of the briefing document at all. ...see what we did talk about


OCZ betas the next incremental release of its SQL accelerator software

Editor:- April 10, 2014 - OCZ today announced it's inviting enterprise SSD users to participate in a 1.5 Beta Program for the next release of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator software.

OCZ says - ZD-XL 1.5 enables DBAs to unleash the full power of SQL Server 2014 features, such as flash Buffer Pool Extension (BPE) support, that enables database pages to be accessed faster by loading them directly from flash.


Crocus is pleased by initial patent ruling re - magnetic semiconductor memory block efficiency

Editor:- April 10, 2014 - Crocus Technology today said that the US Patent and Trademark Office has determined that there is a "reasonable likelihood" that it will cancel all or part of patent 6,980,469 which had been earlier awarded to Spin Transfer Technologies (STT) - due to prior art considerations.


Apacer samples water resistant industrial mSATA 3 SSDs

Editor:- April 10, 2014 - With the launch of 2 new devices which are now sampling - Apacer has added SATA 3 performance capabilities and DEVSLP power frugality to its range of mSATA SSDs which are aimed at the industrial SSD market - and can be custom coated to meet IP57 water-proofing and dust-proofing.

Apacer's new SSDs - the mSATA A1 and SFD 18S6 - (available in MO-300 or MO-297 form factors respectively) use 1x nm toggle DDR 2.0 NAND flash and are available in either SLC or MLC versions The MLC models have 475/430MB/sec R/W and upto 65K IOPS and capacity upto 256GB.


Micron's HMC controller team win design award

Editor:- April 7, 2014 - Micron today announced that one of its design teams has been named "design team of the year" by EE Times and EDN for the design work - done in collaboration with Altera (FPGA pioneer) - which led to the industry's first working Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) controller.

"Micron and Altera have been collaborating on HMC technologies since 2009 and are very proud of the interoperability work that has led to the industry's first demonstration of a fully functional HMC controller," said Tom Eby, VP of Micron's compute and networking business unit.

See also:- RAM news, SSD glue chips, SSD controllers


OCZ has new distribution partner

Editor:- April 7, 2014 - OCZ today announced that its entire range of SSDs (enterprise and consumer) will be available in the US distributed by Private Label PC - which already supplies over one million units of storage products per quarter to its customer base.

Editor's comments:- Private Label PC offers 11 SSD brands and an additional 4 flash memory brands in its product line card.


what's the market for Plextor's PCIe SSD?

Editor:- April 7, 2014 - I asked Plextor's virtual marketing representative in the US - Andrew Erickson at Alaniz Marketing to tell me more about Plextor's thinking about routes to market for their entry level (Gen2) PCIe SSD market offering - the M6e.

He said - "The M6e is marketed directly to consumers as an end-user upgrade and mostly via newegg and major e-tailers."

Andrew went on to say - "Plextor is definitely moving into the enterprise space and we're expecting to see a couple of read intensive and multi-use ssd products later this year. It sounds like some of the enterprise firmware advances may already be evident in the M6e - though it's not being marketed in that way. I have seen some Plextor drives sold in high end gaming rigs, but I'm not aware of current plans to sell OEM at this time."


Skyera is hiring sales and marketing people

Editor:- April 3, 2014 - Skyera today said it plans to double its sales and marketing employee count in the near future.

Editor's comments:- Out of curiosity I wondered what kind of ad I'd see if I went onto linkedin and searched for "Skyera SSD". But instead of seeing any job ads from enterprise SSD companies - I just saw an ad for - custom logo branded USB memory sticks.


are you ready to adapt to new ways of thinking about DRAM?

Editor:- April 2, 2014 - enterprise RAM doesn't have to be boringly predictable.

If adding intelligence to flash makes better SSDs - then how about revisiting all the assumptions in DRAM too?

These ideas are brought together in the new home page blog on StorageSearch.com ...read the article


Fusion-io demonstrates life and capacity amplification effects of combining 2 software ingredients

Editor:- April 2, 2014 - In a benchmark demonstration this week Fusion-io showed the combined advantages of using NVM compression in conjunction with its Atomic Writes APIs in SkySQL environments. The results indicate that:-
  • 2x as much data can be stored on the same flash media - while giving similar performance and latency to the uncompressed case with legacy software, and
  • using compression and the new APIs - reduces write traffic and improves endurance limited operating life by a factor of 4x
Editor's comments:- compression has been used as a secret invisible endurance helper inside enterprise flash SSD systems (and as a way to speed up performance and housekeeping functions such as garbage collection) starting in 2007 with MFT flash management software from EasyCo.

From 2009 onwards - invisible compression speedup and reliability boosting became widely adopted in the industry - as they were both intrinsic parts of every SSD controller shipped by SandForce.

WhipTail was the first enterprise SSD array vendor I knew of to offer inline time compression as an explicit feature which users could turn on or off - to increase usable virtual capacit. That was in February 2009 - and James Candelaria (who at that time was WhipTail's CTO) mentioned this as an attribute in his SSD bookmarks for StorageSearch.com readers in September 2010.

However, in a later conversation (January 2012) with Cameron Pforr (who at that time was WhipTail's President and CFO) - Cameron told me they were no longer emphasizing compression because it led to latencies which were too long to be competitive - and instead they were focusing on performance.

Since those days many leading SSD array makers have used compression to offer tactical advantages in their products - particularly in cost sensitive markets like iSCSI. And compression and more efficient software are just some of many ingredients I identified in last year's article better thinking inside the SSD box.

To sum up - Fusion-io's demonstration this week simply confirms what anyone who knows their product line well would have already expected.

See also:- SSD compression - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com


Cactus looks at the thorny issue of embedded flash TCO

Editor:- April 2, 2014 - Cactus Technologies today published a blog - Solid State Storage Total Cost of Ownership versus a Really Low Price Today - aimed at designers in industrial markets - which discusses 4 sources of cost they should consider when selecting an SSD.

When looking at eol considerations - the author Steve Larrivee - warns that although designers may be counting on being able to delay requalifications by mining obsolete SSDs as unsold inventory from channels and brokers "for a considerably higher price... this introduces the possibility of counterfeit parts as well."...read the article

Editor's comments:- Although these raw headline factors are the same for designers in all industries - the weightings are often different in embedded markets due to the smaller sizes of equipment production runs - which means that design-centric related requalification costs are more significant as a factor in each system shipped than is the case in higher volume markets.


why aren't your readers looking for our SSDs?

Editor:- April 1, 2014 - I got an email this morning from a marketer at an SSD company which I won't name here to avoid embarrassment..

He said he'd seen the Top SSD Companies series - and wondered what his company might have to do - in order to appear in it.

I recognized the company name.

By my pro-active research they've had a minimalistic listing here on StorageSearch.com since they entered the SSD market in 2010.

But to steer the conversation to a measured start - I looked at my incoming emails - and discovered that his company had never before today contacted me about their SSDs, and had never been mentioned in an email from an SSD reader. (Which adds up to a lot of SSD emails.)

So I guess my answer is this.

If an SSD company has never bothered to reach out in the past to millions of my SSD readers - then don't expect those same readers to make looking for your SSD products their top priority.

This is perfectly serious - and not an April fool story.

I've been geting emails like this from SSD marketers every month for the past 7 years - since 2007 - which is when the Top SSD Companies list began.

See also:- Recommended web marketing sites on MarketingViews


DCIG ranks top rackmount SSD vendors

Editor:- March 31, 2014 - If you're interested in rackmount SSDs then DCIG has published the DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer's Guide (free sign-up page) - which provides detailed comments on the strengths and weaknesses of rackmount SSD systems from 20 different vendors - which are currently available in the market today (includes list prices).

DCIG have created their own multi-dimensional scoring system in which they look at component features such as density (TB/U), software compatibility (for example ease of integration with VMware), and management functions (dedupe, tiering, snapshots etc). DCIG has ranked these systems overall - and compared many of them to others in the same price band. Another useful feature of the report is a background story about the design heritage or market history of each product.

Editor's comments:- I've read the report and think it's a good read with respect to the raw data and detailed observations about many of the systems listed.

As to the product rankings?

I think whether you agree or not - depends on whether you would assign the same weights to each constituent in the confidential matrix of factors which DCIG have devised.

For some users it will reflect your own priorities - for others - the scoring outcome would be entirely different.

Among the SSD vendors listed in the report - the happiest will be Nimbus (who have been crowing today about being #1) - and happy too should be HP (which is #2).

Some vendors - whose products are best in class in a particular dimension - don't score highly in the main list because they lose out on the "sum of all things which DCIG think you might need" - which is an application dependent judgement - rather than being a universal "goodness" attribute.

The only company which is conspicuously absent from DCIG's list (at any rank) is Fusion-io. Does DCIG know something we don't? That's very odd.


Skyera's history of flash memory and storage video

Editor:- March 27, 2014 - I was a few weeks late in discovering this talking heads SSD video...

But I don't think 2 weeks matters too much when the subject is the history of flash memory and storage (video) - and the main speaker is Frankie Roohparvar, COO - Skyera - who's been in the non volatile memory business for 30 years and has over 480 patents. (Launching the video and facilitating the content is David Davis EnterpriseStorageGuide.com.)

In a really non technical way (which even a VC or lawyer can understand) Frankie covers the ground from the earliest nvm (cavemen making marks), lists the iconic use cases for flash based products like ipods and cameras - which kept this market alive and innovating - and brings things right up to date with the business thinking inside Skyera's petabyte scale SSDs.
Skyera talks about histroy of flash memory
If your education didn't include semiconductor physics - and you're still struggling with imagining how MLC differs from SLC and eMLC, and how endurance, adaptive R/W controllers and all those electrons (locked in leaky cells) inter-relate to each other - Frankie's verbal explanation will make it all fit into place.

On the business case for Skyera's approach - Frankie reaffirmed something which I think the company has always been clear about - "When 90% of the system cost is flash you really need to understand the internal workings of flash (to drive the cost down to a new lowest level)." ...listen to the video

See also:-


Our new 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD is 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs - says Samsung

Editor:- March 25, 2014 - Although Samsung's own mystery meat navigation inspired enterprise SSD selection page doesn't list this product yet (at the time of writing this) Samsung is engaged in the 2.5" PCIe SSD market - and is shipping a 1.6TB NVMe PCIe SSD rated at 7 DWPD for 5 years to Dell for use in its PowerEdge R920 servers.
Samsung 2.5 inch PCIe SSD image
Editor's comments:- if someone at Samsung can tell me a better way to navigate their SSD web site I'll insert a product data link - otherwise (in the best traditions of consumer SSD vendors) you'll just have to make do with a picture - and guess what happens inside.


Silicon Motion's FerriSSDs

Editor:- March 23, 2014 - FerriSSD (pdf) from Silicon Motion - is a PATA SSD on a chip (BGA) which I learned about from Jonathan Bruce - who suggested it for my article - Inanimate Power, Speed and Strength Metaphors in SSD brands - because - he said - the "Ferri" prefix means "strong or durable".

...Later:- March 31, 2014 - in the same product family - Silicon Motion is now sampling a high performance 6Gb/s SATA FerriSSD - the SM659 (8GB to 64GB capacity, with regular cache, 80,000 random IOPs, and 30K Program/Erase (P/E) cycles) - which fits into a 90-ball BGA package measuring just 16x20x2mm.


SSDs need Data need SSDs

Editor:- March 21, 2014 - Recently I went to an informal pub reunion with some schoolfriends that I haven't seen for 40 years.

One of them who manages databases at a telco said - I've read some of your SSD stuff Zsolt, but for people like me the real problem is not just making things go faster - it's keeping the data alive and usable. What can SSDs do to help enable better information architecture?

I've been thinking about that for nearly 30 years... so we had an interesting conversation.

It's fair to say that without data you wouldn't need SSDs.

But it's also the case that - with enough SSDs in the right places - you can invent new data which didn't exist before.

Anyway - on that theme - and to even up the article mix a bit - take a look at - Are You Making the Most of Your Dark Data? - a new article by Timo Elliott

See also:- SSD software, The big market impact of SSD dark matter


SAS SSDs - the stellar performers in the 2013 enterprise market

Editor:- March 20, 2014 - I asked Gregory Wong, President, Forward Insights if he could enumerate for StorageSearch.com readers what he meant by his tantalizing comment that - "within the enterprise segment, SAS SSDs stood out as the stellar performer" - which is something he said in a recent email promoting another new SSD market report.

I'm empathetic to the business pressures of those in the storage market research business - and keenly aware of the thin line which divides - on the one hand - saying too little - so that potential buyers find it hard to assess if a new report will be money well spent - and, on the other hand - saying too much - and worst of all - revealing the exact things which report buyers would happily pay to know.

That's because in 1992 when I started publishing the outputs of my own enterprise market research - I did it the hard way - as carefully formatted market reports which cost money. Luckily there was a much easier business for me - as I learned in 1996 when I went over to the dark side of a web advertising driven business model - in which content and ideas were tossed into the eco-sphere of http and it was much easier as I could save time by linking to raw content - instead of having to make it look pretty.

So what I actually said to Greg - re his SAS SSD "stellar performer" comparison was this...

"Without giving too much away... would you be prepared to illustrate that statement with a comparison or number?"

Well Greg gets a lot of email - and so do I - and sometimes they just disappear deep down the screen. But between the two of us this one has resurfaced.

So I can convey to you Gregory Wong's assessment that in 2013 - the SSD market grew 38% on unit basis and 28% on revenue basis. The corresponding growth rates for SAS SSDs were 134% and 69% respectively."

This is just one tiny snippet of data from one of his many detailed reports about the SSD market. So - if you need to more details about the plot - and have the money to buy the book - that's a useful data cavern to rummage around in.

See also:- what changed in SSD year 2013?, SSD market analysts


the evolution of enterprise flash

Editor:- March 19, 2014 - If you follow SanDisk on twitter - @SanDiskDataCtr - you may have noticed they recently tweeted a link to one of my classic articles - the evolution of enterprise flash - a 10 year history

One thing which hasn't changed since the early days of enterprise flash - is the concept of a "naughty" type of flash memory - which sensible, cautious types point at saying - that is never going to be reliable enough.


Micron samples Marvell based M.2

Editor:- March 18, 2014 - Micron today announced it's sampling a 512GB M.2 SATA SATA SSD - the M550 (with DEVSLP and 550/500MB/s R/W speeds) - aimed at consumer markets - which is based on Marvell's 88SS9189 controller.


Tegile has shipped 1,000 hybrid SSD arrays

Editor:- March 18, 2014 - Tegile Systems today announced it has shipped 1,000 of its Zebi storage arrays (hybrid SSD ASAP racks) since making the solution generally available 2 years ago.


how safe are your assumptions about SLC?

Editor:- March 18, 2014 - SLC is regarded as the "gold standard" in nand flash memory today when it comes to SSD endurance.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say - "SLC is the depleted uranium standard" when it comes to choosing ingredients for hardening the SSD data integrity sandwich.

So you can imagine my surprise- when in a recent conversation about the reliability aspects of SSDs - I was told about some unique and proprietary "brutal and awkward test patterns" - which had uncovered design flaws in a new type of SLC memory while it was being characterized for use in SSDs.

This indicated that SSDs designed using that memory in some applications could be killed in as little as 3 to 9 months of use.

This design vulnerability never showed up at all in the "standard" SSD controller test patterns which are used throughout the industry. And their application wasn't for an SSD accelerator - but for a regular speed SSD.

From the customer point of view - if you want an embedded SSD which you can rely on - it's nice to know that some people still design SSDs the old fashioned way - and test every assumption along the way.

That was just one of many new things I learned talking to Dave Merry and John Conklin co-founders of a new SSD company called FMJ Storage - which has - for the past several years been operating profitably while under the general market radar. You can see more about what we talked about in - Who's who in SSD? - FMJ


my idea of brain refreshing bliss - the 2 hour one on ones I've been having recently with the architects of SSD's future

Editor:- March 13, 2014 - Many of what used to be "1 hour conversations" with founders and the leading lights and influencers in ground breaking SSD companies - have for me - in the last week or so - often expanded into 2 hour sessions - as we all lose track of time exploring the important ideas which are really shaping this market - and none of us can think of a better place we'd rather be. (Even if it does mean - for some of my conversationalists - a rush for the plane or a dash down the garage / campus corridors to the next board meeting.)

I can't write about most of these conversations yet. And there are some I will never write about. But they do inform my thinking and my selection of topics for future SSD articles.

It's inevitable that the more time I spend talking - the less time I spend writing. But I'm selective in who I talk to - as some of your marcomms people, diary keepers and PR agencies, already know. And I type fast.

Luckily some of my articles already discuss strategic ideas which won't hit the consciousness of the populist enterprise SSD web sites - for years. So what do a a few days or so of lost trivial content coverage really matter?


PCIe Switching - new article in EnterpriseTech.com

Editor:- March 13, 2014 - A new article in EnterpriseTech.com - PCIe Switching Takes on Ethernet, InfiniBand - reviews the antecedents and current state of the PCIe fabric market. This should be of interest to anyone thinking about the emerging architectural influences which may impact their plans within the PCIe SSD market.

One of the many vendors discussed in the article - PLX - says it's "not targeting warehouse-scale datacenters... but is rather thinking on a smaller scale, from hundreds to thousands of nodes." ...read the article


Pure Storage's rackmount SSD shipment mille-stone

Editor:- March 11, 2014 - Pure Storage today announced it has shipped over 1,000 of its Pure FlashArrays (fast enough rackmount SSDs).

Editor's comments:- in case you didn't get that "mille-stone" thing. "Mille" is an olde English prefix (from latin) meaning "thousand".

In enterprise flash array history context:- Pure Storage's shipments milestone is less signficant than IBM's 1,500 FlashSystem 840s (fast rackmount SSDs), but more significant than Tegile's 1,000 Zebi storage arrays (hybrids) - which we have also heard about in this quarter.


Coho Data now shipping 2U MicroArray hybrids

Editor:- March 6, 2014 - Coho Data today announced general availability of its first product - a 2U SSD ASAP called the DataStream (an SSDserver 4/E) - which integrates PCIe SSDs, hard drives and a server into a web scale expandable unit (using an internal 52 port 10GbE fabric switch) to implement what the company refers to as a "MicroArray" designed with the philosophy of "Turning Tiering Upside Down (pdf)" to deliver a base building block unit of 180K IOPS performance (4KB).

Editor's comments:- you may judge for yourself the lofty scale of Coho's ambitions by this market soothsayer quote which they integrated in the launch press release - "By 2017, Web-scale IT will be an architectural approach found operating in 50% of Global 2,000 enterprises."

See also:- SSD empowered cloud


VMware enters the SSD market

Editor:- March 6, 2014 - With the launch of its Virtual SAN - VMware has at last joined the crowding SSD software ecosystem as a lead SSD player rather than (as before) in a subordinate role (as the legacy software dancing partner - a bit like dancing with your uncle or aunt at the wedding disco) which was the case before in hundreds of acceleration compatibility stories narrated by other SSD companies.

VSAN version 1.0 is an SSD ASAP (hybrid virtualizing appliance) - which supports 3-8 server nodes. The company says that "support for more than 8 will come later." ...read the details.

Editor's comments:- first impressions? It's late and doesn't look great (in features). But it will probably be deemed adequate for many users starting down this road.

Before dismissing it entirely (as some commentators and competitors have already done) let's remember that when LSI entered the SSD market in January 2010 - it was the "163rd company to enter the SSD market". And look where they are now.

Being late to market doesn't count as a mortal sin in the SSD marketing lexicon right now because first mover advantage (pdf) assumptions aren't valid in this phase of the market's development.

more comments re VSAN

"Our customers who had the opportunity to participate in the VSAN beta told us that in most cases, (our) Maxta MxSP performs better" - said competitor Yoram Novick, founder Maxta in his blog - Software-Defined Storage – the Devil is in the Details

"I'm especially proud of how the team has outperformed expectations. Today we're announcing GA support for 32 nodes. That means that Virtual SAN can now scale from a modest 3 node remote office, to a multi-petabyte, mega-IOPS monster — just by adding more server resources... and ...VSAN isn't bolted on, it's built in." - says Ben Fathi, CTO VMware - in his blog - Virtual SAN: Powerfully Simple and Simply Powerful


Fusion-io accelerates Yelp

Editor:- March 5, 2014 - Fusion-io today published an applications story about the use of its SSDs to accelerate the MySQL database infrastructure of Yelp while also extending the viable longevity of its existing datacenter boxes.


new CMO at Violin

Editor:- March 4, 2014 - Violin today announced it had recruited a new CMO - Eric Herzog.

Editor's comments:- it's often the case that when business doesn't go the way that investors would like - they blame/change the marketing.

I had identifed weaknesses in Violin's marketing on this site even when they were on the upward ride. Doesn't mean to say I would know how to fix them in today's much more complicated enterprise market.

There are no easy SSD business options. But getting a new marketing brain - when you have SSD business headaches is a no-brainer.


OCZ launches Z-Drive 4500 - 19nm enterprise PCIe SSD

picture of Z drive 4500 PCIe SSD from OCZEditor:- March 4, 2014 - OCZ is still using LSI's SandForce SSD controllers (8x SF-2582 enterprise SATA (pdf)) in its newest PCIe SSD - the Z-Drive 4500 Series - launched today - which has upto 3.2TB of usable 19nm flash, R/W bandwidth of 2.9GB/s and 2.2 GB/s respectively, and 252K / 76 K R/W IOPS (4KB) in a FHHL form factor and is integrated with Windows WXL and OCZ's VXL caching software.

Being physically smaller than OCZ's legacy Z-Drive R4 - the new 4500 will be compatible with more server platforms.

The embedded controllers operate thermal-throttling - which means that if the drive gets hot - the performance is reduced to avoid runaway overheating.

The Z-Drive 4500 comes with integrated Windows Accelerator (WXL) Software - and is also fully compatible with OCZ's legacy VXL virtualization and caching software.

Like previous generations of PCIe SSDs from OCZ - the Z-Drive 4500 is bootable.

OCZ positions the Z-Drive 4500 as its best yet enterprise PCIe SSD family which "advances the Z-Drive Series feature-set by supporting higher performance and a more robust architecture."

See also:- ...Z-Drive 4500 briefing notes (pdf)

Editor's comments:- OCZ's VXL bundles have been very successful in small to medium scale enterprise deployments.

The evolution of this product line - supporting as it does another new generation of (lower cost) memory - will further extend its reach.


what's in a number?

Editor:- March 4, 2014 - SSDserver rank is a latency based configuration metric - proposed as a new standard by StorageSearch.com - which can tersely classify any enterprise server - as seen from an SSD software perspective - by a single lean number rating from 0 to 7. ...read the article


LSI blog discusses hyperscale and customer driven change in the datacenter

Editor:- March 4, 2014 - "It's no longer enough to follow Intel's ticktock product roadmap" - says Rob Ober, Processor and System Architect LSI - in his new blog about Restructuring the datacenter ecosystem -in which he goes on to say "Development cycles for datacenter solutions used to be 3 to 5 years. But these cycles are becoming shorter."

And when talking about rack scale architectures - Rob says "Traditionally new architectures were driven by OEMs, but that is not so true anymore."

Editor's comments:- I could have picked out several other things I like (and agree with) - your favorite snippets may be different to mine. I'm looking foward to the next 2 articles in this series.

See also:- new thinking inside the SSD box, the big market impact of SSD dark matter, when all enterprise data touches SSDs , how did the SSD software market get into this mess?


Micron taps enterprise market to head storage business

Editor:- March 3, 2014 - Micron today announced that Darren Thomas has been named as VP of Micron's storage business unit.
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SSD news - February 2014

SSD news - January 2014

SSD milestones - month by month in 2013

SSD market history - all
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"It's not newsworthy"
Why being the 49th SSD company to do the same thing doesn't rate a mention on StorageSearch.com's news page - even if it was widely reported on other sites. Why won't I publish your press release?
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"...My advice re SSDs for database acceleration has always been - try before you buy. That's because the performance model which you have in your head may not be the same performance model which is at work inside your system."
...Editor (in many conversations) about the interplay of enterprise software with SSDs in database apps.
...
Surviving SSD 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 and operational reliability.

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 negligible.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. ...read the article
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"In 1998 - StorageSearch.com published a daily updated online directory of SSD vendors - in which Megabyte the mouse was shown chipping away at a rock - which remains the current site metaphor used for general SSD news...."
...from:- SSD market history