| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
recovery in SSDs
How did we get into
such a mess - with SSD software?
hidden preference segments in the enterprise
nice vs naughty -
the epic saga of flash wars in the enterprise
| hold up
capacitors in 2.5" MIL SSDs|
do you really need them?
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 -
to three seconds - demonstrates the extreme range of hold up times
now in the market inside leading edge 2.5" military flash SSDs.
the industrial SSD guide|
|Editor:- March 19, 2015 - I've recently
refreshed the design of the industrial SSD guide
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
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
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.
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
- 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.
redesign of the industrial SSD page will have 2 phases:-
- 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
1 or 2 things - without needing to compete with all things - due to the
number of permutations of applications, form factors and interfaces.
- 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.
Any questions? -
- the next phase - will populate the vendor list with deep links to a
product example from each company.
|re your autobiography...|
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
I learned that change of plan from his follow up
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.
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.
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.
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
5 years ago in SSD market history|
|In April 2010 -
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
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
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..."
|Chin-Fah Heoh, StorageGaga - in his reminiscent blog -
reverse wars DAS vs NAS vs SAN (March 13, 2014)|
|SanDisk comments on
apparent customer drift away from its PCIe SSDs and redesign in its SAS models|
April 16, 2015 - in a
results related conference call (transcript)
this week SanDisk's
President and CEO - Sanjay Mehrotra
- said that in the enterprise market it was seeing some of the business
which had traditionally been implemented by its customers using
PCIe SSDs was moving
towards arrays of SATA
other things the company also reported on delays in customer qualifications of
its SAS SSD products -
despite which SanDisk still expects to maintain its position as the 2nd
Editor's comments:- despite recent
some unique strengths SanDisk still has big holes in its enterprise SSD product
spectrum - among which
2.5" NVMe SSDs
is the most obvious example. Although SanDisk says
this gap will be
fixed in 2016 (pdf).
You should be careful not to misconstrue
SanDisk's statement about enterprise PCIe SSD replacement by SATA SSDs as a
trend for all customers and all types of PCIe SSDs.
are decided by infrastructure,
roadmap and risk assessment preferences and business economics.
the other hand the move towards inplementing arrays of SATA SSDs as
upgrades to displace PCIe SSDs can occur in the least expected places.
SanDisk's own first generation
- for example - have 2 embedded SATA SSDs inside.
A3CUBE shows shape of R/W in remote shared memory fabric
April 14, 2015 - There was a disproportionately high amount of reader interest
in A3CUBE in
A3CUBE was one of those rare companies which entered the
Top SSD Companies list
within a single quarter of exiting stealth mode or launching their first
product. At that time they hadn't shipped any production products so we had to
make some guesses about how the architecture would work with different R/W
any remote memory caching system there are always some types of R/W activities
which work better than others and now we can get an idea of the headroom in
A3CUBE's remote PCIe shared memory from a new slidedeck released by the company
Foundation - all NVMe solution some benchmarks) which is based on a 4 server
In this 13 slide presentation - the most
interesting for me was #12 - which shows random writes. A3CUBE says "This
test measures the performance of writing a file with accesses being made to
random locations within the file."
The throughput range is
typically 700MB/s to 8GB/s. The low end is more impressive than it first appears
- when you consider that it's a 4KB record changed within a remote 64KB file.
Sonnet launches "Fusion PCIe Flash Drive"
and some notes
re the Fusion brand in storage
Editor:- April 13, 2015 - Last week
I raised the subject of the possible confusion which I thought could arise
from a company called Sonnet
Technologies having chosen the name Fusion for a new PCIe connected
In pursuance of that story I received some useful
clarifications about this
issue which I'm publishing as a correction / elucidation story below.
original post began like this...
Sonnet launches "Fusion PCIe
Editor:- April 7, 2015 - In a move which I think
will lead to inevitable confusion - Sonnet Technologies has
today launched a new consumer storage module called the "Fusion PCIe
"The Fusion PCIe Flash Drive leverages the
latest advancements in PCIe SSD design and Thunderbolt 2 technology, enabling
Sonnet to offer a storage device that fits neatly in the palm of your hand yet
delivers the blazing-fast performance of a multi-drive RAID storage system many
times its size," said Robert Farnsworth,
Sonnet Technologies CEO. "We think this will become an indispensable
accessory for the creative professional."
Editor's comments:- Inside the box - is an
M.2 SSD. If it had
anything to do with Fusion-io
- the best known brand in the
PCIe SSD market - then
I think we would have heard about it before.
I often wonder what goes
through the minds of product marketers when they name new SSD products. Many of
the clever words have already gone as you can see in my
SSD brand name
Later corrections and clarifications
contacted Sonnet's CEO - Robert Farnsworth about this name confusion issue.
said - "Robert is there any connection between your new Fusion PCIe drive
and Fusion-io? I would be surprised if there was. Didn't you anticipate
confusion when naming this product?"
Robert told me - "Sonnet
Technologies has been using the Fusion name for our storage product since before
Fusion-io existed as a company. None of Fusion-io products carry the Fusion name
because Sonnet owns the trademark."
I got more of the
background history about the Fusion storage trademark issue from Greg LaPorte,
VP Sales and Marketing - Sonnet Technologies - whose detailed notes make
Greg said - "Sonnet was actually the first
to use, and trademark, Fusion' in association with storage back in 2005 and have
since used it for all Sonnet storage products. With respect to Fusion-io, yes,
Sonnet began using the trademark Fusion' for storage products before Canvas
Technologies became FusionMultiSystems in June of 2006 and well before they
named their first ioDrive in September 2007. Later they evolved to Fusion-io
for a company name but did not name their actual products with Fusion. They tend
to use "io" in the majority of their product names."
email also included this related story.
"When Apple came out
with the Fusion Drive, we brought this to their attention; Was Apple infringing
on a Sonnet trademark? Their answer was that Fusion is so commonly used for
product names, they felt it fell into the non-trademarkable category. We...
dont agree with that assessment but we have a good relationship with Apple."
One cache to bind them
April 2, 2015 - SanDisk
- which in the past 4 years has
companies listed in the Top
SSD Companies List (published by StorageSearch.com)
the availability of acceleration bundles which integrate 3 of the most recent.
Among other things these include:-
have built our enterprise flash business to offer the broadest range of storage
acceleration solutions to address customers' changing needs," said
VP and GM, Systems and Software Solutions, SanDisk. "The new
hardware-software bundles offer the best of both our hardware and software
portfolios in a single solution."
Editor's comments:- when
I first spoke to FlashSoft
in June 2011 -
they were already talking to many of the industry's leading fast SSD makers
about supporting their drives. And in my
2011 year end
summary (SSD software has started to become real and useful) - I said - "Think
of SSD software as being able to convert raw SSD gold into SSD jewelry. If
enough users like the style the end-result is worth a lot more than the scrap
But in the years immediately following there was a lot
of uncertainty for enterprise users who relied on any particular
SSD software solution
- as most such companies couldn't be relied on to continue support for your
favorite SSD if they were acquired by a competitor of that SSD. And in many
cases - the investment and roadmaps for the acquired caching products fizzled
The new FlashSoft bundles will appeal to some types of enterprise
users who like this style of roadmap continuity - where the personality of their
SSD (software and controllers) come from the same source.
On the other
hand - for oems and big users who want to differentiate their systems by using
COTS SSDs from any source and their own choice of software - this kind of
bundle will be seen as a strategic threat and will incline many of them to
look instead towards vendors who are seen as more "software agnostic"
- such as Seagate,
segmentations (and user preferences) in the enterprise SSD market.
has stopped suing Nimble
Editor:- March 31, 2015 - Nimble Storage
it recently entered into a written settlement agreement with NetApp re alledged
misuse of trade secrets etc dating back to
The terms of the settlement are confidential and are not material to Nimble's
Editor's comments:- 2 weeks later I saw
this related article -
How doomed is
NetApp? by Robin Harris
who says, among other things, "The latest troubling sign from NetApp is the
failure of their widely touted FlashRay project to ship a competitive product.
The VP in charge, left NetApp for
Pure Storage last
Intel and Micron promise 32 layer 3D nand SSDs by 2016
March 26, 2015 - Micron
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.
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
March 26, 2015 - Toshiba
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
March 25, 2015 - Diablo
it has won a "decisive victory" in its critical court battle with
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."
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 StorageSearch.com in
Q4 2014 - because
you all know a disruptive SSD technology platform when you see it.
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
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.
aptly named such product -
SSD Guru (not be confused with
SSD market gurus)
- appeared in an email today from OCZ - which plays a
role for the company's "next generation"
Vector 180 SSD (a
performance optimized SATA
SSD) aimed at "gamers, enthusiasts and workstation users."
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
read about so many products and suppliers - I do sometimes miss obvious
For example - it took me about 11 years to recognize that the
numbers in TMS's
rackmount SSD systems (the
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
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
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.
went (with some detours) to 286, 386, and 486 and then morphed into
- which (unlike numbers) could be a registered trademark.
numbers and then added words.
SSD product names have many
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
3700 SSD - has 2TB capacity, R/W speeds upto 540MB/s and 470MB/s
(128KB blocks) and 91K / 13K random
(4KB blocks) .
Samsung's new 128GB BGA TLC SSD
Editor:- March 19,
2015 - Samsung
today expanded its
product line with a new 128GB BGA TLC SSD aimed at mid-market
smartphones and mass market tablets.
new 3 bit device has 260MB/s sequential read performance (similar to MLC
IOPS (5,000 / 6,000) are sufficient to support
high definition video.
Microsemi has a new BGA SSD
and is acquiring Vitesse for
Editor:- March 17, 2015 - Microsemi today
its 2nd generation highly secure, rugged 64GB BGA SLC SSD - the
- TRRUST-Purge clears encryption key in less than 30ms
- hardware-based self destruct - renders media data forensically
unrecoverable in less than 10 seconds
- anti malicious attack technology
- no super caps or batteries
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."
- write protect option for read-only applications
PS - also this week - Microsemi
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
Things (IoT) networks worldwide.
Memblaze enters 2.5" PCIe SSD market
March 16, 2015 - Memblaze
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 StorageSearch.com in
another design win for Seagate's Nytro in China cloud market
March 12, 2015 - QingCloud mentioned
high capacity and low cost among the reasons for selecting Seagate's
(pdf) (PCIe SSD)
as components to build the low latency SSD infrastructure of its cloud
services for the China market - in a
Editor's comments:- who are the new cloud
companies in China?
China's Cloud Innovators - a blog by Charlie Dai, Principal
Analyst - Forrester
the big market impact
of SSD dark matter
SanDisk shows the softer under belly of flash
March 12, 2015 - SanDisk
already attracts more interest in its software from StorageSearch.com 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
- 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
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
- and Enterprise applications like Cassandra, MySQL, Hadoop and others to
optimize them for use with SanDisk flash technology.
Part of this complexity stems from the
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
DRAM. But another complex
motivator in the software plot is to do with data granularity and
Before you get too
about good old DRAM, however, its reputation has been
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
about once every 10 years) everyone is surprised.
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.
NVMe Ultrastar SN100 (pdf) has upto 3.2TB capacity.
comments:- No DWPD
data was available when I looked. Which makes the recent related
somewhat useless to any product specifier. It must be aimed at investors.
Lattice closes acquisition of Silicon Image
March 10 , 2015 - Lattice
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
bits per cell in the same flash?
recent blog -
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.
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."
V-NAND page, Unveiling
XLC Flash SSD Technology (March 2008 )
8TB 2.5" PCIe SSDs sampling soon from Novachips
March 4, 2015 - Are you interested in a world's first
8TB (15mm height) PCIe Gen2 x4 SSD (pdf) with a single controller developed
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
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.
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.
- We plan to start a mass production in 2nd half of this year.
SanDisk enters the rackmount SSD market
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.
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
system (pdf) which leverages the market proven SanDisk
Accelerator software stack which came with the acquisition of
Pricing is under $2K
/ TB before
Editor's comments:- SanDisk's pricing and
storage density for the InfiniFlash is similar to
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
architecture - which can use any type of cheap, high density flash.
availability of cheap, raw, white box rackmount SSDs like this from
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
services which have locked newer vendors out of these older markets.
said that - there are many types of users in the rackmount market who don't
want the kind of software offered by companies like
HP and for whom - even the
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
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.
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 -
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs
Micron breaks ground on $4B expansion to Singapore nand fab
March 3, 2015 - Micron
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
2, 2015 - Although it's nearly 8 years since StorageSearch.com 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.
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.
recently published a new
edition of the list - based on market metrics in Q4 2014.
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. ...read the article
What happened before? - See the
SSD news archive