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the SSD Heresies
Top SSD Companies - 2007 to 2018
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are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?
40 years of thinking about nvm endurance
how not to compile a list of military SSD companies
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what happened in SSD Year 2018?
Editor:- November 11, 2018 - there's a new article on StorageSearch.com - SSD Year 2018 - 3 things which have already happened and 1 which hasn't (yet)
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SSD news headlines in past 12 months or so
December 2017 - Diablo Technologies - which had been the first company to ship predominantly flash memory based SSDs and memory accelerators compatible with DRAM DDR3/4 bus slots - ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy.

January 2018 - Foremay announced the availability its new "Immortal" brand of radiation hardened SSDs for the military and aerospace markets.

February 2018 - The Gen-Z Consortium announced that the Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 was publicly available.

March 2018 - Nimbus announced it was sampling 3.5" 100TB SAS SSDs with unlimited DWPD.

April 2018 - STT announced a breakthrough design improvement to MRAM. STT's Precessional Spin Current (PSC) structure lengthened retention time by a factor of over 10,000.

May 2018 - Micron began sampling the industry's first SSD built on quad-level cell (QLC) NAND technology.

June 2018 - GridGain began beta sampling its in-memory cache as a cloud service.

July 2018 - Intel and Micron agreed to a parting of the ways on future 3DXPoint development.

Upto that point Micron had seen minimal revenue from 3DXPoint whereas the potential of developing a software ecosystem centered around this technology had strategic lock-in attractions for Intel regardless of near term memory sales. Zsolt Kerekes - founding editor of StorageSearch.com suggested "the memoryfication of processors and the flattening of latency by SSD infrastructure means that traditional complex multi level cache server processors are wasteful... and that due to trends in memory accelerators for the memory defined software market... memory and processor companies (like Intel and Micron) will in future have more reasons to become competitors rather than collaborators in strategic designs in the cloud."

August 2018 - Marvell began sampling the first NVMe-oF SSD Converter Controller. aimed at a EBOF (Ethernet Bunch of Flash) applications.

September 2018 - SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) entered the computational storage market.

October 2018 - DRAMeXchange (a market research company which tracked memory and SSD price trends) said the supercycle of DRAM price growth - which had lasted for 9 consecutive quarters - was over. (See boom bust cycles in the memory market for other historic examples and perspectives.)

more SSD history

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strategic bifurcations in SSD market history
Editor:- October 29, 2018 - there's a new article on StorageSearch.com

Strategic Bifurcations in SSD Market History.

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directoryIt's about 4 ways to split the long messy timeline of SSD history into "before and after" to help the understanding of now. ...read the article

Editor's comments:- maybe you've got your own ideas about what these strategic splits should have been. And maybe you would have thought of a better title too. This may be my last major article about SSDs - so I packed in as much as I could.

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sanitizing sensitive SSDs?

heed my words oh prideful SSD

from dust you were born

and unto dust you shall return
Editor:- September 25, 2018 - A reader - Simon Zola - Manager, AVTEL Data Destruction emailed me last week after seeing my recent home page blog - looking back at my 19 years of writing about the data recovery market - which I concluded with this..

Disk Sanitizers
disk sanitizers
Is there an opposite concept to data recovery?

Yes.

The flip side to data recovery is fast purge SSDs and disk sanitizers.

Simon said - "I have only just come across you and your site and I would love to hear your opinion on meaningful data sanitisation of SSD."

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articles
fast purge SSDs
I thought to myself how many years is it since I set up a dedicated SSD fast erase / purge page? - I checked. It started in 2009. (This is one of the joys and frustrations of the web. Frustration - that you can't find stuff which has been around for a long time - because it gets drowned by social chit chat. Joy - in knowing that there must be a lot more readers out there who also care about the same problems.)

Anyway - what I said to Simon was - "There is a double digit list of standards by defence and government agencies which cover various use cases and whether the drive is desired to be redeployed for another project or not. The purpose of extreme autonomous SSD purge is to destroy enough critical chips in the encrypted SSD so that if it falls into the wrong hands (captured by enemy) then the SSD data will remain immune to the best efforts of forensic data recovery. Thats just one reason why DR and security agencies intersect and are mutually aware. But as DR gets better then sanitisation has to advance too (best way being destruction of the chips)."

Anyway Simon - whose company does Onsite Physical Destruction of HDDs and SSDs in Australia pointed me towards an interesting video - re Mobile Data Destruction which shows the type of thing his company does. It's on youtube which means that many of you won't be able to see it right now if you're viewing this at work.

So I'll describe what happens...

The video shows a van which arrives at your site and delivers via a conveyor belt all the drives you want shredded - presumably while one of your security people watches it happening. (You'd have to verify the exact design and chutes etc yourself obviously to satisfy yourself there are no magical trap doors - or maybe you could just rent the facility. It depends on your own circumstances.)

That prompted me to realize that it had been about 2005 when I had last written much about the disk sanitization services and equipment business (as opposed to autonomous drive purge) because in a way - once you know what needs to be done - what more can you say about it? But maybe that page could do with a refresh - which is why I'm writing this.

We are much more sensitive and vigilant about environmental impacts nowadays (2018) compared to the start of my own career (1977) when many of the industries which paid the wages of our local communities and where our friends and neighbors and customers worked were inevitably sometimes spilling stuff into the sky, ground and water.

So I said - Hi Simon - I forgot to ask this... how is the shredded material from the sanitized drives processed? I mean the cost from an environmental hazard point of view?

Simon said - 0 to land fill. (And then he gave me a list of who reprocesses what afterwards - which you can find out more about on his web site.)

Editor's comments:- I'm guessing that wherever you live you might be interested in the possibilities opened up a mobile service like this.


My own modest needs in this category have always been simply managed by the expedient of a log splitter or ax - but I'm only smashing one drive each season or less. Some of the kids of family friends have made artworks out of the little chunks of smashed up drives and mangled chips.

Small dustry grains are less artistic but better from the security angle.

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If you could go back in time and take with you 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?
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storage history
SSD history ..
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
image shows mouse building storage - click to see industrial SSDs article
industrial 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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StorageSearch.com / SSD history / more pages like this
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SSD news

Spin Memory announces new agreements related to its MRAM

Editor:- November 11, 2018 - Spin Memory (formerly called Spin Transfer Technologies) today announced a $52 million Series B funding round and an agreement with Applied Materials to create a comprehensive embedded MRAM solution and also a commercial agreement with Arm for the licensing of Spin Memory’s Endurance Engine design IP to address SRAM applications in SoCs.

See also:- optimizing processors in in the Post Modernist Memoryfication Era


university researchers disclose delusion of security blanket delivered by popular self encrypting SSDs

Editor:- November 8, 2018 - Researchers at Radboud University, in the Netherlands have recently published a paper - self-encrypting deception: weaknesses in the encryption of SSDs (pdf).

The authors conclude - "we found that many hardware implementations of full disk encryption in SSDs have critical security weaknesses, for many models allowing for complete recovery of the data without knowledge of any secret... This challenges the view that hardware encryption is preferable over software encryption. We conclude that one should not rely solely on hardware encryption offered by SSDs."

After discovering the ineffectiveness of the protection offered by the encryption hardware in the models affected - the authors alerted the authorities and agreed to wait 6 month before publishing their paper so as to enable the manufacturers - whose products had been tested (Micron and Samsung confirmed the vulnerability issues) to work on firmware updates.

The paper also examines commonly held assumptions about the security of encryption engines in various states when analyzed from particular attack directions. ...read the artice (pdf)

Editor's comments:- as with all aspects of SSD design - the correlation between what the customer expects and what does actually happen in the real world depends on the quality of the designers and the verification process. That's why it's not unusual in mission critical projects using industrial SSDs for the customer verification process to take longer in elapsed time than it took to design the original SSD.

See also:- SSD security, fast purge SSDs, Why consumers should expect to see more flaky SSDs (2009)


Everspin announces new fab deal to make more MRAM

Editor:- November 5, 2018 - Everspin today announced it would augment the production capacity for its Toggle MRAM by means of a multi-year partnership to use the fabs of SilTerra (Malaysia based semiconductor manufacturing services company). Initial production is expected to start in calendar year 2020. Everspin said it will continue in parallel to operate its manufacturing line for Toggle MRAM in Chandler, AZ.


Understanding Macro Memory Market Trends

Moore's Law is history - Newton's 3rd may be better


Editor:- November 1, 2018 - Although memory cell behavior is best understood by referring to quantum physics there seems to be a role for Newtonian Mechanics in the behavior of memory markets - especially when it comes to patent disuputes and tariff barriers.

I refer of course to that well known phrase I learned at school...

current events in storage and SSD"To ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

On earlier versions of this SSD news page - now in the archive - the simmerings of the memory patent and tariff disputes between the US and China went something like this...
  • July 2018 - Micron's memory sales in China were the object of a preliminary injunction obtained by UMC.
The next development on this tariff ping pong is reported in a story (October 30, 2018) in EETimes - US Bans Exports to Chinese DRAM Maker - about Fujian Jinhua - which has been declared a threat to US national security.

EETimes says - "The move means that U.S. firms need a license for all exports, re-exports, and transfers of commodities and software to Jinhua. Such license applications will be reviewed with a presumption of denial..."...read the article


re Micron's "soft-announcement" of a DRAM replacement SCM

Editor:- October 30, 2018 - A new article - the Divorce - Micron and Intel See Different Futures - by William Tidwell - who is a regular memory market commentator on SeekingAlpha.com - discusses among other things:- the need for in-memory processing and signs that Micron is working on a new SCM memory architecture.

Re the interdependency of memory and processor architecture Tidwell says - "...memory in today's system architecture is locked in a fatal embrace with the CPU. It is stranded."

And as part of a multi-page analysis and detailed speculative look ahead as to what Micron will do with the fabs it gets from buying out Intel's stake in the joint IMFT venture - Tidwell says - "Under promise, over deliver - is the right strategy for Micron in the wake of Intel's 3DXPoint misadventures. I believe this is what they are doing and that gives investors reason to hope that the New Memory will be commercialized in FY '21." ...read the article

See also:- what's RAM really?


what's Metadata-as-a-Service got to with SSDs?

Editor:- October 24, 2018 - There's a small number of new companies which attract my attention because of the impact which one or more their founders has had on the SSD market in the past.

news image - SSD and a  hammer So although it's not strictly speaking an SSD company - and I'm counting down the weeks to my retirement in 2019 - and trying not to start too many new strands of content which I can't complete tidily - I was very interested to see these stories about a new company called Hammerspace which provides a sequel to the question of what happened next to one of the esteemed co-founders of Fusion-io and Primary Data - that person being David Flynn who has probably done more work on figuring out and managing the intricacies of data and the latency and repurposing cost-benefits of legacy and new dynasty architectures scrambled in the archeological mix of big data infrastructuer than anyone else on the planet. Here are the links. See also:- SSDs in the cloud, re SSD everywhere software, memory defined software


Violin acquires X-IO Storage

Editor:- October 16, 2018 - Violin Systems today announced it has signed a letter of intent with X-IO Technologies to acquire X-IO Storage, the division of X-IO Technologies that developed the Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) flash and hybrid storage array product lines. Financial terms were not disclosed.

See also:- acquisitions in the SSD market
hybrid storage arrays and flash caches - timeline 2010 to 2017


$100 million AI investment fund launched by Micron

Editor:- October 10, 2018 - Micron announced that it will invest up to $100 million in startups with a strong focus on AI and machine learning through its strategic investments entity, Micron Ventures.

And in a related announcement, the Micron Foundation launched a $1 million grant for universities and non-profit organizations to conduct research on AI.

See also:- VCs in SSDs
memory defined software
what's the value of infinitely faster RAM?
controllernomics - joins the memory latency to do list
after AFAs - what's the next box? - cloud adapted memory systems


Kaminario reports on the success of its switch to software business model - and an investment from Western Digital

Editor:- October 9, 2018 - Kaminario (which had been a thought leading rackmount SSD company but which announced in January 2018 it was no longer supplying hardware systems directly itself) today announced that it grew its topline software business more than 55% during the first 9 months of 2018, relative to the same time period in 2017.

In addition, Kaminario said it has been operating with positive cash flow for the quarter ending Sept. 30. Kaminario also announced that it received a strategic investment from Western Digital Capital, the strategic investment fund of Western Digital Corp.

Editor's comments:- Kaminario's change of business model was in line with the market adjustment trends I had predicted in my 2015 article - drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market along with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas. Its software can now be viewed as a fault tolerant platform for SSDs supplied by Western Digital.

This was a pragmatic affinity after a long journey in flash which may have had some original germ of a root in a conversation I had with Kaminario's CEO in March 2011 - when Kaminario (which had emerged from stealth as a RAM SSD company) was looking for a flash partner. Kaminario - which had always regarded its software as being the unique branding ingredient in the IP mix of its systems - grew closer over many years of relationships with a succession of leading enterprise SSD companies which were later serially acquired and absorbed within WD.


DRAMeXchange says - supercycle of DRAM price hikes is over

Editor:- October 9, 2018 - DRAMeXchange today reported how it's interpreting memory pricing and supply trends.

Re DRAM - DRAMeXchange says:-
  • DRAM products have begun to see a weak price trend, showing only a 1~2% QoQ hike in contract prices for 3Q18 due to the continued oversupply, despite the coming of holiday sales season. DRAMeXchange expects the quotations of DRAM products to decline by 5% or more QoQ in 4Q18, terminating the super cycle of price growth for 9 consecutive quarters.
  • DRAM manufacturers all expect a high possibility of oversupply in 2019. Therefore, they have tried to postpone or slowdown the capital expenditure and capacity expansion.
  • For 2019, DRAMeXchange expects the annual bit output to increase by nearly 22%.
re nand flash - DRAMeXchange says:-
  • nand flash experienced a price drop of around 10% in 3Q18 and expects a steeper drop of 10~15% in the fourth quarter, considering the impacts of trade war. Contract prices of 3D TLC NAND Flash chips in the channel market may even drop by more than 15% in 4Q18.
  • The nand flash market is influenced by the sluggish demand for consumer electronics, while demand for the more profitable Enterprise SSD from servers and data centers remains stable. However, the competition among Enterprise SSD suppliers will become increasingly fierce; hence the prices of Enterprise SSD are very likely to continue decreasing in 2019.
  • On the supply side, nand flash suppliers have raised their output forecasts as they have expanded their production capacity and improved the yield rates of their 64/72-layer 3D NAND production.
See also:- storage market research directory
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
a simple guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles


Silicon Motion ships > 750 million NAND controllers / year

Editor:- October 5, 2018 - Silicon Motion says "We ship over 750 million NAND controllers annually and have shipped over 5 billion NAND controllers in the last 10 years, more than any other company in the world."

They might have been saying that for some while but I only noticed it today when looking in the footnotes of their Q3 2018 preliminary press release which warned that "revenue is expected to be within the lower half of the original guidance range of $136.0 million to $142.9 million that the company issued on August 1, 2018." (Maybe that's what happens if markets adjust to a smaller supply of more expensive than anticipated memory chips - we'll have to wait to see Si Motion's analysis on October 30, 2018.)

Editor's comments:- the shipment numbers for controllers show how large the SSD market has become.


new website for Xccela Consortium - developing new local bus for embedded memoryfication chips

Editor:- October 4, 2018 - A new website to support a new storage ORG was announced today. The Xccela Consortium (at www.xccela.org) now has 12 member companies working to promote the Xccela Bus as an open-standard digital interconnect and data communications bus suitable for volatile and nonvolatile memories as well as other types of ICs.

From the technology page..."In its first iteration, the Xccela Bus is a high-speed, high-performance Octal SPI bus that uses 8 data lines for command and data transfer. It is fully compliant with the JEDEC xSPI standard. The bus is synchronous and supports both single-data rate (SDR) operation, where one byte of data is transferred every clock cycle, and dual-data rate (DDR) operation in which two bytes of data are transferred every clock cycle. The Xccela Bus supports clock frequencies up to 200MHz and data transfer rates up to 400MB/sec (3.2Gbps).


bold claims are back from the newly confident sounding Violin

Editor:- October 3, 2018 - Violin made a huge splash with the readers of StorageSearch.com 11 years ago when they entered the the Top 10 SSD OEMs list - 2007 Q3 soon after exiting stealth mode.

By June 2011- Violin Memory (as it was then called) was confidently talking about being on its way to building a billion dollar company in this once simple market (when fastest was a prime value proposition and SAN had been a good enough business plan (FC SAN customers had money) until SSD accelerators from Fusion-io sweet talked their way into server slots with PCIe in 2007/8) and even after that there were plenty of market opportunities for rackmount enterprise flash but it was not the same simple market it had once been.

The enterprise SSD market was a business I knew well and its strategic nature and size attracted huge numbers of competitors offering more software bundling options, latency bands and confusing price points than any single technology platform or company could realistically master.

As Violin progressed to IPO in August 2013 its earlier arguably plausible leadership advantages had already eroded and it was clear that wanting it all wasn't the same as getting it. This was a market which was moving towards a more customer rather than technology dictated model where it was better to be excellent at one thing than above average at too many. In the 3 years after its IPO Violin slid towards the cliffs of being acquired or bankrupt - the latter case occurring in December 2016.

So after all the words I had already written about those bubble years of rackmount SSDs I've been cautious about writing overmuch about the new Violin Systems too-soon.

But I have noted more caution and more measured tones of outlook on their web site - even when I haven't written about them here.

This week I saw that Violin's old confidence is back - in a press release about its new boxes with NVMe over 32Gb FC - and the headline - the fastest enterprise storage in the world just got faster!

That just made me smile.

It's good to see such confidence emanating from this direction once more.

And another reason I smiled was because in 2002 I was running ads for a company called Texas Memory Systems to promote - "the World's Fastest Storage" - which at that time was the RamSan-210 .
click for more info

When Violin rev 1.0 emerged in 2007 and for the next several years afterwards they and TMS were the 2 companies which dominated the fastest SAN compatible rackmount flash SSD segment.

The competitive swot blurred later when TMS entered the PCIe SSD market (which Violin wasn't engaged in early enough to leave a mark) and the 2 companies were less often head to head when Violin defocused from a latency-centric offering and began bundling software as a feature into its boxes. (TMS had long made a virtue out of its non server rooted silicon rich memory array controller architecture - and even when it was later acquired by IBM - in October 2012. - its RamSan boxes grew accretions of limpet-like surrounding software boxes as there was no natural roosting perch for the software to do anything inside the original boxes.)

Going back to Violin rev 2.0 and "the fastest enterprise storage in the world"...

From today's perspective it's not clear to me that you could get a concensus of expert opinion as to what constitutes "fastest enterprise storage" and what shape, interfaces and capabilities and applications value it should have. But I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still hard currency in SSD marketing.

See also:- after AFAs - what next?
what's the value of infinitely faster memory systems?

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Megabyte went through his Michelangelo  phase - click to enlarge 1998 SSD news image on StorageSearch

Megabyte went through his
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Novembers of yore in SSD market history
November 2000 Solid Data Systems discussed the advantages of SAN SSD accelerators in the article - Solid State File-Caching for Performance and Scalability.
November 2001 Texas Memory Systems announced the industry's first NAS SSD for enterprise acceleration.
November 2002 TI produced a 64Mb ferroelectric RAM chip using Ramtron's patented FRAM technology.
November 2005 Micron and Intel announced an agreement to up a new jointly owned company IM Flash Technologies.

Texas Memory Systems demonstrated its first native InfiniBand rackmount SSD accelerator.
November 2006 SanDisk acquired M-Systems which had been a pioneer in the use of MLC in SSDs.
November 2009 Google opened its doors to developers who wanted to work with a new operating system Chrome OS which was designed at the outset around solid state storage and which specifically excluded the paradigm of hard drives.
November 2011 SSRC published a paper which examined the possible future advantages of using arrays of storage class memory nodes as a cost effective archiving solution compared to hard drives and tape.
November 2012 First mention of Diablo Technologies on StorageSearch.com with news of a $28 million funding round.
November 2013 NetApp underwhelmed SSD analysts with the announcement that it had shipped 59PB of SSDs in the past 3 years.
November 2014 Steve Wozniak rejoined the old "band" of the enterprise flash accelerator songbook writers from Fusion-io in the newly emerging Primary Data.
November 2015 Netlist revealed how it was going to enter the storage class memory SSD DIMM wars market by way of a 5 year joint development with Samsung.
November 2016 Elastifile announced it had been granted a US patent for a method of managing flash-aware adaptive data management in cloud scale meshes.
November 2017 IntelliProp demonstrated a memory controller for the emerging Gen-Z memory fabric.


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the fastest SSDs I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still
hard currency in
SSD marketing

commenting on Violin Systems - October 3, 2018
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