| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
|PR in the SSD market?
Top 10 SSD Companies -
fast can your SSD run backwards?
are we ready for
infinitely faster RAM?
can memory chips be
made in the wrong country?
memory systems design - 2018 horizons|
|Editor:- July 27, 2018 - Problems in memory
systems design, how to improve SSD and memory architecture and discussions
about what are the best ways to optimize processing platforms to incorporate
the realities of modern memory and its abilities and limitations (instead of
merely drafting in freshly minted new memory chips to play zombie roles in
idealogically bankrupt data ponzi schemes) have all been grist to the mill of
covered her on StorageSearch.com in recent years. |
When discussed in
different contexts - in the RAM controller, in the SSD controller, in the
processor design, on the motherboard and in the array fabric stretching to the
cloud - then different tactical approaches can be taken - but at the top level
they are all subdimensions of enabling data to be created, captured and used
effectively and economically.
I saw a succint summary of the deep
question - "move data or compute locally?" - yesterday on pages 183
to 187 of
Memory System Design Robustness, Energy, Performance (290 pages - pdf) - by
Professor Onur Mutlu
in a keynote he presented July 3, 2018.
"A memory access
consumes about 1,000x the energy of a complex addition."
movement is a major system energy bottleneck."
Need a Paradigm Shift to... make computing architectures more data-centric."
the 2nd half of this (long) paper Onur describes the state of advanced research
and thinking into proposing and evaluating design solutions which intersect
with the ideas of optimizing data movements and processing inside memory chips
and memory arrays. ...read
the article (290 pages - pdf),
more papers like this
by Onur Mutlu
what's RAM really? - RAM in an
the latencies behind flash caching |
|Editor:- July 24, 2018 - A recent article -
of Application Data Caching : From RAM to SSD - on
Netflix Technology blog -
discusses their experience of using SSDs instead of pure RAM for caching data
(which in their case is mostly streaming videos). |
This trend of
flash replacing RAM in enterprise caches was a hot topic with my readers
in 2007 when
flash SSDs were approaching the tipping point of replacing
we know - flash won.
PCIe SSD market and
demands for server based flash caching were the key enablers in that victory
and for the formation of an independent
SSD software market.
Notable ISV pioneers in the flash caching applications arena were
IO Turbine - both
founded in 2009.
The technique of using flash to replace RAM is
now standard practice and thrives in many SSD form factors.
that the low latency portion of this market could become plug compatible with
DRAM (and replace most of
the DRAM market) - were a factor in the flare up of
SCM DIMM wars in 2015.
The business lessons learned from the
fizzling out of "SCM DIMM wars 1" - despite the
shortages of 2016/17 which should have assisted the flash tiered as RAM
concept - were that were that although "flash tiered as RAM" does
indeed provide useful outcomes it is in fact usable across a much
broader range of latencies than just the ultra-low latencies which the
NVDIMM-focused marketers had hoped would dominate these design-win
That's another reason I find the recent Netflix
technology blog interesting - because (although our industry talks much about
single digit microsecond memory fabric latencies) the Netflix case study
shows that high double digit microsecond latencies can be good
enough to replace most RAM.
observed during experimentation that RAM random read latencies were rarely
higher than 1 microsecond whereas typical SSD random read speeds are between
100500 microseconds. For EVCache our typical SLA is around 1 millisecond with a
default timeout of 20 milliseconds while serving around 100K RPS. During our
testing using the storage optimized EC2 instances (I3.2xlarge) we noticed that
we were able to perform over 200K IOPS of 1K byte items thus meeting our
throughput goals with latency rarely exceeding 1 millisecond. This meant that by
using SSD (NVMe) we were able to meet our SLA and throughput requirements at a
significantly lower cost."
Starting from that base - Netflix then
went a stage further in their software implementation and were able to achieve
typical latencies (with SSD rich caches) under 100 microseconds. ...read
FlashSystem 9100 |
|Editor:- July 18, 2018 - A recent blog -
the FlashSystem 9100 NVMe with FCM - by Barry Whyte at IBM - provided for me - a
satisfying sequel and finale to the story of whatever happened to the longest
running enterprise SSD accelerator product line in the history of the market -
the SAM>RamSan>FlashSystem - which were all
fast big shared memory boxes.|
(The new heir in the family saga -
the FlashSystem 9100 is a 2U box with NVMe SSDs inside which provides 403TB
usable uncompressed - and GbE, FC or SAS host connectivity.)
get a taster of the family story in these 2 marker articles - selected from
my numerous scribblings.
IBM's FlashSystem 9100?
the same kind of horse show (in
role) but with a different technology animal inside and the recent
changes in the design architecture today in 2018 are as significant as when TMS
redesigned the main memory array in the RamSan product line from RAM to flash in
their 2007 model - the
Barry Whyte's new blog says among things:-
storage development team in Hursley started work on the design of a new
generation box back over 3 years ago when I was still based in the UK. The idea
was to build a low rack density, and high performance control enclosure that
could take NVMe Flash drives, both in terms of NAND Flash based, and look to the
future of SCM technologies, such as 3D Xpoint, Z-SSD and whatever else will
come along." ...read
Editor's comments:- throughout the 30 or so years
history of the RamSan and the multi OS supported SAM - Shared Access Memory
system which came before and the new FlashSystem (which cane after (and which
may have changed its name again depending on when you read this) is the the
idea of a product line which evolves to accomodate new memory technologies but
retains the legacy purpose of putting data in a box where it can be accessed by
many different servers at the lowest practical latency cost.
of LTO-8 tape may be a good thing|
|Editor:- July 14, 2018 - I haven't written much
about tape drives and
tape libraries in recent
years (less than 8 news stories in 8 years) because the writing which had
already been appearing on the wall for a long time -
about the mainstream
migration away from tape - was still clearly legible despite having been
written long ago and crumbling in the dusty vaults of web pages deep down in
the logfile statistics.|
But a recent blog -
Reasons To Purchase LTO 8 Tapes - by UK tape reseller ODSI - prompted me
on linkedin with this.
#4 for liking this tape / LTO-8 (resistant to instant malware attacks because
data on tape is effectively offline) is a clever way to argue that a negative
feature can have positive aspects when viewed in a particular context. Shows
that the art of tape marketing sophistry hasnt been lost despite the demise in
significance of the tape market itself."
roadmap to the
|"GridGain is to
defined software - what
Texas Memory Systems
was to SSD accelerators on the SAN, and
Fusion-io was to
server based SSD accelerators - a long term innovator and pioneer. So when you
see educational articles like this you know theres real authority."|
- editor - StorageSearch.com
- commenting on linkedin (June 21, 2018) about a new article -
Architectures: What's Next for In-Memory Computing written by Abe Kleinfeld,
President & CEO at GridGain
Systems - and published on The New Stack.|
comments:- among other things I liked (apart from the whole article) were the
examples of customer metrics using IMC.
For example:- Abe mentioned
"Workday uses its in-memory computing platform to process
about 189 million transactions per day, with a peak of about 289 million
per day. For comparison, Twitter does about 500 million tweets per day."
What I like about Abe Kleinfeld's market wake up
call articles about IMC is it shows the proven power of using this type of
In the early days of the mission critical SSD market
customers who got massive computing gains from using SSD acceleration preferred
to keep quiet about it - which could be frustrating for the pioneering vendors
who had educated them, analyzed their
and installed their impossibly faster systems. Users didn't want competitors
(or enemies) to learn what had been done.
why use SSDs?
(2003 to 2005)
|If you could go back in
time and take with you - in the DeLorean - a factory full of modern
memory chips and SSDs (along with backwards compatible adapters) what real
impact would that have? |
|are we ready for
infinitely faster RAM?
|To be or
not to be? |
Mice or mouseless? - that is the question.
|Editor:- June 18, 2018 - If you trawl the
archives of Shakespeare's scribblings (even the fake plays and musicals) I'm
pretty sure he didn't have anything to say about the
role of mice as icons
on a data storage web site. Although he did have a lot to say about life,
changes, revolutions, dynasties and successions. |
So why the question?
- mice or mouseless?
is for sale.
I'm retiring - and I'm looking for a new owner for the
site who will value my readers.
I will stop updating StorageSearch.com on December 25, 2018.
And I'll freeze the site after that date - pending the formal closing of the
sales process.Mice or mouseless will be one of the
to be determined by the new owner in 2019 - whoever they may be.
part of this plan I have also told advertisers that the web ad model (which has
worked so well since 1996) is now EOL. This means the site will be offered for
sale without any ties. ...read more
Defined Software - a new market in the making|
|There's a new software idea that's been
experimented on in the AI skunkworks in the cloud and as patentable secret
enhancements in next generation embedded processor designs. This new concept and
exciting new market (for the VCs reading this) will be more significant than a
new OS and will mark a break in the way that the enterprise thinks about
You had had plenty of warning about the new chips but
memoryfication doesn't stop with faster storage. The idea didn't have a name
when I started writing about it. But what it should be called is obvious.
Defined Software doesn't have to work at being backwards compatible
because the legacy storage industry will import and export to it if they want
to play in data's future.
See more about this in my blog -
Memory Defined Software. (Sometimes you can change the world with software
which breaks all the rules - if you can find the right platform to run it on.) ...read the
- what's next?|
| Throughout the
the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user
memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached
storage in the same data processing environment. |
classic blog on StorageSearch.com
adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be
Like many of you - I've been thinking a lot about the
evolution of memory technologies and data architectures in the past year. I
wasn't sure when would be the best time to share my thoughts about this one.
But the timing seems right now. ...read the
|If you're one of those who
has suffered from the memory shortages it may seem unfair that despite their
miscalculations and over optimimism the very companies which caused the
shortages of memory and higher prices - the major manufacturers of nand flash
and DRAM - have been among the greatest beneficiaries. |
of the 2017 memory shortages|
storage news - this news page from 2000 to 2018
zaps supercaps in IBM's FlashSystem|
Editor:- August 9, 2018 -
which reported $10.8 million revenue in the quarter ended June 30, 2018 - has
revealed some interesting
developments of its MRAM technology
- Everspin's MRAM is the new nvm which
IBM hinted it was using in
its recent blogs about the new FlashSystem 9100
NGD Systems demos ASIC version of In-Situ Processing SSD
Editor:- August 2, 2018 -
NGD Systems today
demonstrations of a new ASIC implementation of controller which is compatible
with its Catalina-2 In-Situ Processing SSD architecture. The NGD Systems
Newport platform has 16 flash channels, NVMe 1.3 PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 storage
compatibility and will be offered in SSDs in a variety of form factors
Computational storage represents a paradigm shift in analytics
for petabyte-scale data sets, said Nader Salessi,
CEO, NGD Systems. Our next-generation Newport platform enables
computational storage to cross the chasm from a niche use case to
broad market adoption. In doing so, the Newport platform further enables
near-data processing for real-time analytics on large-scale data sets with
improved power and density, both in watts per terabyte and terabytes per cubic
Radian samples dual port Open-Channel 2 SSDs with byte
Editor:- July 24, 2018 -
it is sampling the first Open-Channel 2
compliant flash SSD in a U.2 form factor with up to 12TB of Flash, and uniquely
including up to 12GB of byte addressable PMR (Persistent Memory Region
style user NV-RAM) which can be memory mapped, or block addressable via
standard NVMe commands enabling hosts to control zero-copy transfers of data
between the flash and NV-RAM.
wrapping up 40 years of memories about endurance
July 20, 2018 -
wrapping up SSD endurance
(selective memories from 40 years of thinking about endurance) is my new blog
on the home page of StorageSearch.com
were plenty of other things to say about SSDs in that time - but somehow a
one dimensional view of SSD design - seen through the filter of endurance and
wear out - overly absorbed me and fascinated my readers for a long time. This
is my last article on endurance. No more. Ever. I promise. (I may have said
that before but this time I really mean it.) ...read the article
WD samples terabit QLC
Editor:- July 19, 2018 - Western Digital today
it has begun sampling 1.3Tb single chip nand flash chips using 96-layer QLC.
Micron and Intel agree to part ways on 3DX
July 16, 2018 - Intel
and Micron have
agreed to a parting of the ways on future 3DXPoint development.
today "Technology development beyond the second generation of 3D XPoint
technology will be pursued independently by the two companies in order to
optimize the technology for their respective product and business needs."
comments:- this shouldn't come as any surprise.
At a time when flash
and DRAM memory have been manufacturing-capacity constrained and other competing
(formerly emerging) nvms have been seeping into niche products assisted by
unlearning curve memory
reminiscent of OPEC oil price fantasies - Micron has reported that 3D XPoint
revenue has been significantly absent. At the same time - Intel has reaped
benefits from its (not so stickily captive as it used to be) processor base
for the past 2-3 years by merely talking about the possibilities of future
architectures which might use 3DXPoint.
These 2 differences in
perspective have stayed politely unresolved in corporate communications by both
companies in the past year - despite the underlying differences in outlook and
Here's some of what I said about this on linkedin.
may be Intel's new bubble memory / digital watch. One interpretation is that
Micron (a real memory company) has seen through the emperor's clothes. Another
interpretation is that Intel (a past tense systems company) believes it can mesh
together memory (which is a bit different but not that great) and customer
flexible glue logic and old processors to create a new effective type of
backwards compatible but forward looking memoryfied CPU platform.
CPU equivalence is the user
value proposition I wrote about in 2003 which was why the enterprise market
could adopt SSDs as a sustainable business model. Today the
of processors and the flattening of latency by SSD infrastructure means that
traditional complex multi level cache server processors are wasteful and will
become a niche. Looking forwards CPU and SSD equivalence exemplified in cloud
processors and in memory processing suggest that memory and processor companies
will have more reasons to become competitors rather than collaborators in
strategic designs in the cloud.
eASIC to be acquired by Intel
Editor:- July 12, 2018
- eASIC has
agreed to be acquired by Intel
- it was
Editor's comments:- For Intel this will strengthen and lengthen
its architectural chip supply engagements with customers who are looking for
customizable extensions to their data processing chip sets and who are at the
stage where they have a proven proprietary concept which they want to use in an
energy and performance footprint which is better than the FPGA implementations
enabled by products like those from Intel's earlier acquisition
Intel's earlier history (1970s to 1980s) its chipsets which supported common
functions around its processors helped the company remain at the center of
design and architecture decisions made by its systems customers. But because the
company's PC and standard server business was so successful it decided that it
didn't want to get involved with idiosyncratic customized consumer platforms
- a strategy which lost it the mobile phone and tablet markets.
had dabbled in the server grade ASIC and gate array markets in the late 1980s
when it gained access to IBM's custom IP. That experience - which was judged to
be a failure - showed that the custom business was more competitive and
more difficult for Intel than the safer option of extending markets for its
own standard processors.)
Today the biggest users of processors and
memory are cloud scale companies which are all (already or soon) designing
custom accelerators and useful chips sets to improve the effectiveness of their
infrastructures. FPGAs, customizable controllers and ASICs are all part of that
product mix. IP solutions like those from eASIC can be useful in applications
where the volumes and changeability of designs make ASIC too slow to market and
expensive - but the energy footprint and memoryfication requirements make FPGAs
a less than optimal fit for large volumes.
This acquisition will give
Intel greater visibility and flexible capability in the next wave of
application specific memory and processor enhancers.
glue chips in the SSD and
Samsung in production with next generation 90 layer V-NAND
July 10, 2018 - Samsung
mass production of a new faster generation of its V-NAND. Among other things
Samsung says about it:-
- the 90 layer 5th generation V-NAND has similar energy efficiency to the 60
layer previous generation. This is because the operating voltage has been
reduced from 1.8 volts to 1.2 volts.
- it has the fastest data write speed to date at 500µs, which represents
about a 30% improvement over the write speed of the previous generation, while
the response time to read-signals has been significantly reduced to 50µs.
- it's the first flash
to use of the 'Toggle DDR 4.0' interface. Samsung's new 256Gb V-NAND has
reached 1.4Gbps - 40% faster than its 64-layer predecessor.
Micron says patents claimed by UMC injunction in China were
already prior art in other countries
Editor:- July 5, 2018 - Micron
a statement about the recent injunction (see earlier story below)
related to the sale of certain memory chips and SSDs in China.
other things - Micron said...
- "The affected products make up slightly more than 1% of Micron's
- ""Micron is disappointed with the ruling by the Fuzhou
Intermediate People's Court. We strongly believe that the patents are invalid
and that Micron's products do not infringe the patents. The Fuzhou Court issued
this preliminary ruling before allowing Micron an opportunity to present its
- "Micron has submitted compelling evidence to the Patent Review Board
of China's State Intellectual Property Office demonstrating that the patents are
invalid because they are directed to technologies that were previously developed
and patented in other countries by other technology companies."
Micron memory sales in China at halt risk
July 3, 2018 - UMC today
the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court of the People's Republic of China today
issued a preliminary injunction against Micron
Semiconductor - which effectively could prevent ongoing sales and
supply of 26 DRAM and NAND-related items in China.
UMC said - it
filed patent infringement lawsuits against Micron with the mainland China courts
in January, 2018, covering 3 areas, including specific memory applications
related to DDR4, SSD and memory used in graphics cards. "With today's
ruling, Micron's products now face injunction for violating UMC's patent rights
in a court verdict that applies to all of mainland China."
comments:-Just as tides follow gravity and the winds so too does geoplitics look
down from on high on the worldwide memory market which for many years had the
illusory guise of a defragmented, friction-free, borderless market. I wrote
about how those illusions were being blown away in my April 2018 blog -
can memory chips be
made in the wrong country?
Later:- (July 5, 2018) - Take a look
at this interesting comment from within the memory industry- from Sang-Yun Lee,
President & CEO at BeSang
today on linkedin ...
"I feel that it is a power game
between Micron backed by US government and UMC backed by China government and
its DRAM partner in China. In terms of memory IP, Micron should be much stronger
than UMC and its China DRAM partner. Though, intention of UMC and China
government is clear: cross license or settlement for the clear path to DRAM
market for China DRAM startups. Micron's intention was to give hard time to
China DRAM startups using its strong IPs. Unfortunately, Micron got a strong
counterpunch from China government." ...read
more comments related to this
despite over $1 billion / quarter in storage revenue
Micron remains a confident DRAM company at the core
June 24, 2018 - Micron
disclosed some useful metrics and opinions about the SSD and memory market -
related to its experience in the quarter ended May 31, 2018- in its recent
conference call (transcript on seekingalpha.com).
- 71% of Micron's revenue in the quarter came from DRAM. DRAM revenue grew
- Storage Business Unit revenue (mostly SSDs and managed nand) was $1.1
confident that demand for memory products will continue to grow faster than in
memory business cycles due to new usage factors (the memoryfication of
- 3DXPoint sales were "very little".
& CEO Micron - said - "...AI driven, AI training driven compute
workloads have like 2x the amount of DRAM and 6x the amount of SSD. So, these
trends are really secular in nature. We are at the very, very beginning. And
same way in mobile in terms of our low power DRAM where we have very strong
position, DRAM contents requirements are going, continuing, to
comparing new embedded memory characteristics
overview from Objective Analysis
Editor:- June 20, 2018 -
Memories for Efficient Computing (pdf) - is a free white paper by Jim Handy - Founder - Objective Analysis which
summarizes and compares the technology status (cell size, R/W, endurance,
retention, temperature and manufacturabilty) of all the main embedded memory
types which are competing for design wins with
DRAM, SRAM and
flash in the
memoryfication market today.
Among other things Jim notes this...
"Another important consideration is the scalability of the technology.
Certain emerging memory technologies, particu-larly FRAM and PCM, have proven
challenging to scale. FRAM has not been successfully scaled below 90nm and PCM's
"On" resistance increases as the cell size decreases, making the
technology more noise sensitive as the process shrinks, although PCM researchers
successfully successfully developed a 5nm cell over a decade ago.." ...
read the article (pdf)
Editor's comments:- Throw away your
dusty old text books and scrub the
bookmarks. Jim Handy's free 2018 memory selector guide lists all the
memories whose names you can't quite remember.
Churchill said his
staff kept mixing up Iran and Iraq in WW2 so he insisted on them being called
Persia and Iraq in memos.
Likewise you may find FRAM, ReRAM MRAM
NRAM, PCM etc fading in and out of memorability in your organic brainspace
having waited nearly 20
years for them to become really emerged - which they finally did in 2017
thanks in part to the
price of flash and
DRAM having moved backwards in time and upwards in $/bit by 2-4 years
compared to earlier expectations as a result of business decisions by big
memory suppliers during the self inflicted
new report lists malware attack vectors for memory in
Editor:- June 14, 2018 -
Issues for Processors with Memory is a new report (90 pages, $975) by Memory Strategies International
with ramifications (I had to use that word) for the memoryfication of processors
The report includes a comprehensive list of the dimensions in
which security can be attacked and outline of design mitigation directions.
Among other things the scope includes:- "Issues of volatile
vs. non-volatile memory for cache and main memory involve consideration of
security hazards. Cryptography in multicore coprocessor systems are an issue.
Security of data on network buses is critical for military, medical and
financial systems with remedies suggested for replay attacks..." ...see more
about this report
remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor?,
CPUs for use with SSD architectures,
PIM, in-situ processing
and other SSD jargon
in-memory cache as a cloud service - beta from GridGain
June 12, 2018 - GridGain
the beta release and free trials of GridGain
Cloud - an in-memory cache-as-a-service that allows users to rapidly deploy
a distributed in-memory cache and access it using ANSI-99 SQL, key-value or REST
APIs. The result is in-memory computing performance in the cloud, which can be
massively scaled out and can be deployed in minutes for caching applications.
See also:- SSD
empowerment in cloud
DRAM costs lifted server revenues in Q1 - says Dell'Oro
June 12, 2018 - The top 4 Cloud Service Providers - Google, Amazon, Microsoft,
and Facebook consumed most of the 920,000 white box servers shipped in Q1 2018
according to a
by Dell'Oro Group who also
attribute higher average server selling prices to the DRAM price factor.
comments:- in recent
and other internet scale actors have switched roles from being early adopters
of SSD technologies (which they had been since the early 2000s) and - impatient
at waiting for big brand datasaurs to understand their requirements -
these big users have been at the forefront of designing new architectures to
increase the efficiency of storage and also push the boundaries of memory
who does storage market
dogs can sniff out USB drives and phones
June 11, 2018 - Police dogs have been trained to find hidden flash drives -
according to a recent
in the Verge.
consumer SSD guides,
fast erase SSDs
Memblaze launches new PPR enhanced 2.5" NVMe SSDs
June 8, 2018 - it seems like a long time since I heard from Memblaze. Today they
new dual port products aimed at the long established 2.5" PCIe SSD
market. (This form factor first headlined in SSD news pages and related events
Like many past products in this category from other
manufacturers - a key feature is the balance between raw data access performance
and power consumption the "performance-to-power ratio".
Excelero accelerates Ceph
Editor:- June 6, 2018 -
What would you do if you could find a way to reduce the latency of fault
tolerant distributed storage on commodity hardware by an order of magnitude?
Keep quiet about it and don't tell your competitors - would be a
Instead one of Excelero's
customers was happy to share their finding re
Ceph platforms in a joint
After researching NVMe-oF options the customer
(Germany based) teuto.net - tried iSCSI appliance-based storage solutions, then
vetoed them as limiting seamless growth and increasing costs as well as
vetoing Dell EMC ScaleIO, which didn't support NVMe-oF and was costly.
Using Excelero's software enabled a 10x reduction in Ceph
Flexxon's industrial SD cards show sophistication of a market
once seen as simple
Editor:- June 2, 2018 - Flexxon recently
a new family of industrial SD cards for use in automotive and medical markets.
Interesting to see that the range internal flash memories within this
single (superficially fairly simple standard) family includes:- SLC, pSLC (2D
and 3D), MLC, and TLC (which is 3D of course).
This shows how
sophisticated and nuanced the embedded market has become at analyzing value and
selecting the operating parameters for different use cases.
also:- tell the buyer
there's no such thing as a simple standard industrial SSD
Memory Summit - Lifetime Achievement Awards|
|Editor:- July 19, 2018 - As part of the
PR ramp up to next
month's Flash Memory Summit
the event team has
the winners of its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award:- Dov Moran and Aryeh Mergi. |
inspiration from Intel's first flash products in 1988, Dov and Aryeh co-founded
Israel in 1989 with the vision of building devices based on flash memory.
was CEO, and Aryeh was CTO and later also ran Marketing and Business
Dov's numerous inventions at M-Systems include the 1993 DiskOnChip,
whose design was adopted by Nokia for embedded flash in its cell phones. He also
invented the 1999 DiskOnKey USB Flash Drive. Aryeh was the key driver behind
TrueFFS, a Flash Translation Layer architecture that was adopted by Microsoft
for an early flash file system.
M-Systems introduced numerous other innovative products under the
leadership of Dov and Aryeh, including flash-based SIM cards, smart USB drives,
encrypted USB drives, and very early 4-bit/cell NAND flash (now
called QLC). They
are both named inventors of numerous patents. SanDisk
company in 2006, and Western Digital purchased SanDisk in 2016.
|Editor's comments:- When you now look back on
you see it from the vantage point of the certainty that the SSD and
memoryfication market has become a big and influential market. In my long ago
written profile of M-Systems - I said - "For a company which hasn't been
around since 2006, M-Systems left deep footprints." |
proud and grateful to say that M-Systems was a customer of mine. M-Systems ran
SSD ads here on the mouse site in 2004 to 2006. This SSD news page looked a bit
different in July 2004 as you can see
- in the waybackmachine archive.
ScaleFlux and Codelucida|
|Editor:- July 18, 2018 - IT Brand Pulse
recently published its
Storage Brand Leaders June, 2018.|
Editor's comments:- among
the new catagories in this list is "Computational Storage" - and a
company I haven't written about before - ScaleFlux. Although I have written a
lot about computational storage by its other names (in-situ SSD processing,
processing in memory etc).
ScaleFlux - whose technology is packaged in
a traditional PCIe SSD
accelerator form factor - is one of 2 companies I noticed on the list of
companies exhibiting next month at FMS which are new to me.
is Codelucida which has
developed a patented version of LDPC-based ECC technology for flash SSDs which
provides superior error rates and decoding speeds with a much lighter overheads
in terms of bit coding in the data and also runtime CPU loads.
also:- DSP ECC in
importance of being earnest about 3DXPoint |
and other SSD
editor - StorageSearch.com
- June 5, 2018|
thinking back about the top level differences between raw data storage
media in the 1990s one easy way to differentiate them was by latency.|
So an ordered list from fastest access time to slowest would run something
like:- SRAM, DRAM, flash (those were the main memories in those days) then
winchester disks (the magnetic hard drives / disks we nowadays call HDD),
optical drives and finally tape. And if you were sorting this list according to
the cost per byte stored then no surprise it would be read about the same.
Like all such lists this is a simplication.
Optical drives of
various flavors fought hard to be recognized as viable alternatives which could
sometimes be cheaper or faster than hard drives - which sounded more plausible
when drives were commonly moved from place to place as part of the data recovery
plan in the days before fast internet brought us the cloud. And there were
also many long battles in the early 2000s between
hard drives and tape
to determine which type of magnetic media delivered the lowest cost of archive.
That's the kind of thing which used to be the subject of storage news pages like
The main lesson from being at the sharp end of such discussions
history is that the tidy ordered
family trees which we see written by the inheritors of such technology
wars do not sufficiently capture the confusion and strength of arguments which
led to them.
That's because other issues which we take for granted
later (like - how fast do we actually need the data? and what's the consequence
of not getting it when we need it?) change over time as part of the evolution of
And even when everyone is approximately agreed on a general
future direction - such as towards more solid state storage - the differences
in approach can seem like ocean wide chasms.
As part of my reporting
on the new era of SSDs and talking to many evangelists in the SSD market I came
up with a phrase - the
SSD heresies - to describe how fierce these genuinely held
differences in belief could be - even when designers were contemplating
solutions to similar perceived product gap problems.
It's no surprise
then that the enterprise memoryfication market has advocates pulling towards
different priorities as the memory systems IP soil is fertile with
opportunities created by new product gaps created by the mainstream
adoption of SSDs while also benefitting from newly redefined value roles for
older media types too.
The battleground for converts is a proactive
cloud economy which is willing and able to measure and leverage the (lowest or
highest) random asset value of entire populations of drives and will move
towards exploiting valuable incremental differences with the currency of new
has the jury reached a verdict on flash tiered
In 2015 - the opening salvo of
SCM DIMM wars
- it seemed plausible that flash tiered as RAM might pose an existential threat
to growth in the DRAM market. The argument at the time offered by companies
like Diablo Technologies
being that a DIMM based solution which could transparently replace 80% or so
of DRAM with tiered flash instead (while delivering similar and sometimes higher
application performance - due to the affordability of bigger "RAM")
would be a market changer because flash had much higher capacity than DRAM at
lower cost. History (so far) shown us that such a transition didn't happen as
predicted - even when the price and availability of DRAM escalated to the pain
levels caused by the
shortages of 2016/7.
Knowing as we now do that users in the
market didn't all rush in droves to adopt the new flash DIMMs tiered as RAM -
the evidence suggests a reinterpretation of the technology is due. And I
think it would go as follows:-
- flash tiered as RAM in DIMM form factors (from a cloud use perspective) is
an incremental rather than a disruptive technology.
application benefits (when they occured) were typically a small improvement
(maybe 20 to 30%) compared to tiering flash as RAM in other form factors such
as PCIe SSDs or SATA SSDs. So the risk of switching to single source premium
devices in DIMMs wasn't worthwhile compared to using "generic" SSDs in
cheaper form factors.
- software plays a big part in new hardware adoption.
that it works takes years.
Memory products interface with more
types of software than storage products. Therefore proving that a new memory
defined software can be trusted requires either a very long time (for general
solutions) or a narrower captive application set.
approval and verification time to reach critical mass for general adoption by
users is longer than the lifetime of a single memory product generation.
That makes it difficult for a single memory product startup with its own unique
software requirements to reach a stable funding level unless it has a cash cow
Intel vs Micron - emerging
differences in assessing the near term strategic importance of recently
- the RAM market itself is changing - so the ideal direction of change for
users is memory solutions which can deliver applications outcomes in
consistently shorter times while analyzing bigger datasets.
itself has an intrinsic value. And my blog -
are we ready
for infinitely faster RAM? - explains why there was a limited appetite for
memory accelerators (much faster than DRAM) in the past - and why this appears
to be changing significantly.
As I hinted above we shouldn't be surprised
that the SSD design
heresies (what's the best way to design an SSD system - given all the
permutations of memory, interface, software and controller IP) has - like a
rolling stone gathering up sticky new moss - inevitably drifted into the
memory systems design heresies.
On a note of
SSD jargon - re the
evolving change of use in
what's an SSD?
- for me - as everything involving memory systems design nowadays is intricately
linked to controller design and software and architecture - I still think the
term "SSD" covers it. Unless "memoryfication" catches on.
SSD has the vitue of being short. (Rob Peglar, President at Advanced Computation
and Storage LLC on seeing this
on linkedin - "I think you just invented a new word" - but
actually - due its convenience as a shortcut spanning a wide slice of memory
architecture trends - I've been
it since 2017.)
Going back to emerging differences of opinion re
memoryfication futures - my point is that whatever any particular manufacturer
may tell you about the overwhelming superiority of their own approach to memory
product design (and whether they're a fabless IP startup or a memory T-Rex)
the memory is still just a part of a data system - and in the rich memory sea we
now have - other design approaches to memory soup may do the same job just as
well. (This is exactly the same advice as the first bullet point - don't
believe everything SSD companies tell you about the past, present or future of
the SSD market - in my 2012 article -
SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide.)
A recent example is the
differences in the strategic outlook for memories between Intel (infatuated
with 3DXpoint) and Micron (still in love with DRAM) which have been aired
in public statements about policy, investment directions etc.
Dreams: Intel And Micron Diverge by analyst William Tidwell on
SeekingAlpha.com - examines the "stark differences between the two
companies". And among other things he says - "Intel has never ceased
aggressively hyping the technology... projectecting up to $8 billion in XP DIMM
revenue in 2021. Micron, on the other hand, has been almost completely silent,
revealing little other than its branding and its confidence that the new
memory has great potential." ... ...read
This evoked (on linkedin) a reaction by Sang-Yun
Lee the founder of BeSang
(a let's make memory chips better IP company) who asked on
- "Why Intel is so obsessed with 3DXP?..."
I replied like
"Agreed that 3DXP doesnt deliver many benefits now. But it
could be used as an incubator technology which enables software developers to
explore new systems level optimisations which play around with closer
integration of processors and low latency big local memory having fewer caches.
defined software platforms will create big market opportunities as
significant as Wintel, Unix, http were before. The new software doesnt need to
be Intel memory based (could be done better today with other combinations of
memory). But 3DXP provides ISVs a convenient reference point which is good
enough to make such experiments easy to try. Intel needs just one of these
experiments to succeed to save its processor future.
Big gamble? -
sure. 3DXP is a honey trap for new software. Maybe not the best memory
technology today but the software industry can still remember how sweet Intels
past roadmaps used to taste.
That's despite Intel having been absent
at the conception or birth of the
enterprise PCIe SSD
accelerator market which was the first transformative step in the
memoryfication of the enterprise."
who d'you call
for the SSD crystal ball?,
why did we get
into such a mess with SSD software? (2012),
hostage to the
fortunes of SSD (2013),
SSD story - why's the plot so complicated? (2015)
DRAM makers collude to protect high prices?|
| Editor:- May 1, 2018 - One of the almost
of the memory shortages and price hikes centered around 2017 has been
greater scrutiny of the memory market by regulators and now -
class action lawsuit (pdf) filed against the 3 largest DRAM makers
(Samsung, Micron, and Hynix) which dominate the market.|
things the plaintiff document alleges - "Defendants combined and
contracted to fix, raise, maintain, or stabilize the prices at which DRAM was
sold in the United States from at least June 1, 2016 to February 1, 2018 (the "Class
Period"). Defendants' conspiracy artificially inflated prices for DRAM
throughout the supply chain that were ultimately passed through to Plaintiffs
and the Class, causing them to pay more for DRAM Products than they otherwise
would have absent Defendants' conspiracy."
As with many legal
documents this one is a long read. In it the plaintiffs suggest that these
memory companies communicated their strategies by means of public investor
statements - "During the Class Period, Defendants continued their efforts
to coordinate their DRAM supply decisions, as reflected in public comments by
Defendants that urged each other to keep industry supply in check. Defendants
each made public statements affirming their commitment to the common plan to
curtail supply, and to not compete for each other's market share by supply
expansion. For example, Defendants informed the other Defendants through public
statements, that they would keep total wafer capacity flat in order to constrain
DRAM supply growth, they would only grow DRAM supply between 15-20% in 2017,
even as DRAM demand grew 20-25%, and that they would refrain from taking each
other's market share." ...read
the lawsuit (pdf)
Editor's comments:- The tactics each sales
force used to decide allocation between different customers and bundling deals
(if any) may come under scrutiny. Dealing fairly in a shortage requires very
strong controls to avoid tipping into anti competitive behaviors.
history of the memory market does include proven examples of past
price fixing. You can read more about them by visiting
https://www.justice.gov and searching for
RAM news - ain't what it used
history of understanding and misunderstanding SSD pricing