| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
top SSD companies
what's the state of DWPD?
popular SSD articles
hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
should we set
higher expectations for memory systems?
What were the big
SSD ideas to learn and forget in 2015?
for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory mix
|Non-Balanced Wear Leveling
- a paper by Renice|
|Editor:- July 28, 2016 - Renice Technology
recently published a paper -
Wear Leveling Algorithm (pdf) - which outlines the thinking behind a
specific technique in its industrial SATA3 SSD controller - model
- to improve
upto 3x compared to traditional methods. |
This is one of the
several techniques used in this controller to overall get a 20x
improvement in lifespan when using MLC. ...read
the article (pdf)
Editor's comments:- Ever since the
first flash devices were evaluated it has been known that some blocks are much
better than others.
As an example in this paper Renice shows that
in a modern 16GB MLC flash chip - even after just 10 P/E cycles the controller
is able to see a 3x difference between the fastest and average program time and
over 30% difference between the slowest and fastest read times.
The quality of wear resistance tells you something which
can be used to grade blocks.
Renice's non-balanced wear leveling
algorithm leverages these naturally occurring process variations so that
"the higher wear resistance blocks are selected to be erased more times
while the lower ones get protected instead."
Although there are
no fundamentally new ideas presented in this paper - because the technique is
just one permutation of many from the superset of all
techniques - this paper does provide a useful survey of classical wear leveling
techniques along with their associated trade offs in performance and endurance.
I got a good sense of judgment and balance in this paper - given the
Context is always important - and these techniques
are discussed in the context of general purpose, simple low power
which use modest speed
That's distinct thinking from new generation enterprise
array controllers in which visibility into other SSDs in the same array,
larger ratios of DRAM and knowledge about the applications software stack can
also be leveraged to reduce endurance.
Here are more articles on
|data dematerialization in
|Editor:- July 27, 2016 - Some of the big SSD
ideas in recent years have been:-
One way to interpret the essence of Symbolic IO's architecture - which was
partially unveiled in May
2016 - may be as a coming together of the 2 concepts in the same place...|
got me thinking this way was a recent blog -
look at Symbolic IO's patents - by Robin Harris on
his site - StorageMojo.com .
Symbolic IOs founder Brian Ignomirello who saw
and liked Robin's post - said among other things on
- "yes we (do) materialize and dematerialize data." ...read
PS - In a conversation I had about the market
yesterday (which I'll write about next month) I noted how during the past year
the SSD industry has been thinking much more about
systems architecture as the next emerging core for innovation in the same
kind of way that the market was buzzing about apps acceleration using SSDs on
the SAN and in servers via PCIe cards 8 to 10 years ago.
of all that previous market experience with
PCIe SSDs in servers
especially and the comparisons with other ways of getting similar results with
arrays of SAS / SATA SSDs in storage - and the feel-good confidence from having
made those difficult changes - that the data computing market is now
receptive to being more ambitious with re-engineering memory.
business incentive being that the gap between what is possible and what is
being done every day with current products is so huge and
(Huge savings for users. Multi-billion dollar new markets for vendors.)
already seen a lot of different approaches coming down the pipe in the past year
with technology announcements. But even though the implementation details are so
different - they're tackling the same problem.
With more toys in the
memory, SSD and software tool kit - there are now more permutations for
servers which exceed previous performance limits and slash away at legacy
The DNA of the semicondata market continues its
ruthless quest of doing more for less.
about RAM being able to store only a limited amount of data are becoming a
non-issue. Recently, Amazon introduced their X1 Instance, which lets customers
rent computing instances with 2 terabytes of RAM for just $13.34 per hour. At
such pricing levels, the economics of renting large clusters containing
virtually any amount of RAM are well within reach."|
President & CEO at GridGain Systems
in his blog -
Computing Will Dramatically Change Our Lives (July 14, 2016)|
|All the marketing noise
coming from the DIMM wars market (flash as RAM and Optane etc) obscures some
important underlying strategic and philosophical questions about the future of
When all storage is memory - are there still design techniques
which can push the boundaries of what we assume memory can do?
|where are we
heading with memory intensive systems?|
|revisiting animal brands in
|Editor:- July 19, 2016 - a
release today from Seagate
about new hard drives
isn't something I would have mentioned here were it not for its abundance of
animal brands which include:-BarraCuda, IronWolf and SkyHawk.|
me looking at 2 lists which I compiled a long time ago on this theme,
As I've often said
before - all the best animals have been taken. But it's interesting to look at
the 3 in today's news story.
press release today acknowledges that the BarraCuda was a well known brand
which it had used before. But what about the others?
had a wolf before - as a tape
library from StorageTek.
But the new IronWolf brand - as a
marketing construct - cleverly combines several different metaphors
- wolf - as in the animal metaphor
I haven't seen SkyHawk used
for an HDD before - but it was used as the brand for a
launched by Skyera in August 2012. Skyera was later acquired by
Western Digital which
could have made it a problematic choice for a storage related product. Except
that differences between HDDs and SSDs are now well understood and WDC EOLed
that product line so Seagate's SkyHawk and WDC's SkyHawk aren't circling in the
same marketing skies at the same time.
But even if they were - the
general principle is you can't exclusively trademark such common words.
The main exception to this being a well known fruit which appears in the same
scene as a serpent in the Book of Genesis.
|Until about the middle of
2015 - it was still generally agreed that if you used classical (non adaptive,
non DSP) controllers then the endurance estimates you needed to take into
account were still the figures supplied by the semiconductor memory makers.
Then a new company came along - whose founders had been researching a
different way of characterising flash endurance for over a decade.
|SSD endurance myths
|relating NVMdurance's machine learning to
Editor:- July 29, 2016 - Nearly every SSD in the
market today from the smallest SSD on a chip to the bewildering array of
rackmnount systems can be viewed as a choice of how to select and mix the raw
ingredients of SSD IP and integrate them into products which (for better or
worse) match up to and satisfy user needs. How these decisions are made depends
on the DNA of the product marketers, the technology teams, familiarity and ease
of access to some technologies rather than others, business pressures and
timing, the willingness to take risks, and sometimes - just luck.
all products - no matter how complex they appear - can be analyzed as a specific
set of choices made from the architecture and IP selections which are possible.
many articles in the past I've shown you how - whether you're looking at the
design of SSDs or systems - there are rarely more than 2, 3 or 6 raw available
decisions which determine each piece of the jigsaw. And I know from the
feedback I get from SSD specifiers and architects that these simple
classifications can be useful in helping to compare different products and even
in choosing which competitive approaches are similar enough to make comparisons
But when you get down into the details of implementation at
each layer in the product design - every one of these dimensional options
which go into the permutations blender to shape the total product identity - can
itself be complex and multilayered.
Take the example of the raw magic
tuning numbers which enable the raw R/W program, erase, threshold voltages,
shaping and timing parameters inside a flash memory. The question of how much
and when has been at the heart of what makes some SSDs better than others ever
since flash was first used in SSDs.
Some SSD designers have spent
their whole careers measuring and modeling how these choices interact with the
flash cell and can be tweaked to improve speed, power consumption and
reliability. You can get a flavor of this in my article -
and DSP ECC IP.
In a conversation with
NVMdurance's CEO -
earlier this year (April 2016) almost the first thing I did was try to relate
and place the work they were doing within the simple frameworks I'd written
So I asked him how similar it was to something which I
wrote a long article about in
April 2012 - when
SMART announced a
range of SandForce
driven SSDs which had 5x higher endurance - while using exactly the
same industry controller - but using magic tuning numbers which they had
learned from analyzing the adaptive settings from their own adaptive controller
Pearse said - yes - he knew that work. And what NVMdurance was
doing was the same type of thing.
He said that some leading companies
which had the flash talent had done similar things in their proprietary SSDs
Pearse told me that as the complexity of flash increased -
with more layers and TLC - it was becoming harder for designers to manually
(or using human expertise) guarantee they were choosing the optimum magic
numbers - because there were now so many variables involved.
said that what was different about NVMdurance was that they were delivering the
magic numbers based on characterising a sample of typically 100 devices and then
performing machine based simulations to see which numbers would work best -
while also using a multi-stage life cycle model - which was designed to use
different tuning after a fractional amount of the expected endurance had been
As far as he knew from his conversations with memory companies -
no-one else had made the same kinds of investments in this machine intensive
modeling - and that was the key difference - because NVMdurance had a proven
process for delivering good tuning numbers over a variety of memory generations
I hoped at the time that someone would write a paper saying
more about it. Tom
Coughlin has done that.
learning enables longer life high capacity SSDs (pdf) - published this week
describes the background principles and operation of NVMdurance's pathfinder and
plotter software tools and shows you how NVMdurance have tackled this complex
tuning problem to deliver a software delivered IP which can give endurance
results which are similar to adaptive adaptive R/W controllers but which don't
need such expensive processors or such complex run-time firmware. ...read
the article (pdf)
Toshiba samples 64 layer 3D TLC
Editor:- July 27,
2016 - Toshiba
today said it is sampling 64 layer 3D TLC flash in a 32GB device and plans
production in the first half of 2017.
Editor's comments:- You can judge
the progress on this technology by the fact that in
March 2015 -
Toshiba was sampling 48 layer MLC.
Seagate unveils 2TB enterprise M.2
Editor:- July 26,
2016 - Seagate
a 2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD
aimed at the enterprise market. The Nytro XM1440 M.2 - which will ship in
November 2016 - will offer 30K IOPS / Watt.
Memory1... if you want it - you can have it
war phase of DIMM wars has now ended
Editor:- July 20, 2016 - Diablo Technologies
the production release and volume availability of its Memory1 128GB DDR4
system memory module.
Editor's comments:- Diablo's Memory1 unveiling
in August 2015
was part of a wave of similar announcements last summer. I commented on its
significance and listed the other contenders which emerged in an article -
on SSD DIMM wars technology?
The phoney war phase of SCM DIMM wars
has now ended with volume shipments of Memory1 (flash as DRAM).
now time for competitors who aren't yet shipping products in volume to start
publishing full technical specifications for their own alternative memory
products (if they dare) and for investment oriented stock-price puffing
announcements about DIMM wars productsto cease and be replaced by papers,
ads aimed at engineers.
trust me I'm a services marketer
Editor:- July 20,
2016 - 12 years ago a survey by StorageSearch.com
identified that service related guarantees for enterprise SSD systems could be
among the pivotal market adoption disinhibitors. But compared to the fast
moving backdrop of enterprise technology it's interesting to note that the
way marketers behave has changed so slowly.
It takes a long time
for marketers to understand and learn why their potential customers aren't
buying. Or why they aren't as excited by new products as their creators and
investors. I touched on the deep seated reasons for this kind of disconnect in
my article -
hidden and missing segments in the analysis of market opportunities for
enterprise rackmount flash (2014).
Pricing is an area
where we began to observe innovation in the SSD market at around the same
time and I wrote about some of the ways in which vendors were starting to
sidestep the issues of complexity (which arise from having to know too many
things which are unknown by most customers or unknowable) in my article -exiting the
astrological age of enterprise SSD pricing.
If you haven't read it
an inexact analogy is that if you're buying a plane you don't have to know
the physics about how it flies. Others who do know physics and how the bits
fit all together will certify that it's safe. The more important aspects for
you as a buyer are how it will fit into your business plans. It takes a long
time to learn those plane vendor things and become trusted. That's why in
mature markets where there are these high barriers to entry - you don't hear
about hundreds of new companies entering the plane market. Unlike the wild west
of SSD systems.
And if you're still with me at this point. Price is a
If you thought it was anything else and if you work
in SSD sales or marketing you've got a lot of reading or training courses to
Which brings me to a recent services related
release from Kaminario.
The message essence is their headline...
unveils storage industry's most comprehensive business assurance program."
much of that claim you agree with or disagree with is up to you. And don't
complain to me if you don't agree.
We've seen many similar sounding
service related assurance offerings from other vendors too.
be summarized as - buy this stuff from us and we'll always look after your
interests and make sure you don't regret it.
The details of such
service related offers always sound like it's Christmas. John McClane will
rescue his wife. Scrooge will avoid a bad end by giving away a turkey. And
Dorothy will find her way from Oz.
But when it comes to long range
service promises from any SSD company you need to use your common sense too.
what we've seen in the enterprise SSD market in recent years:- the
the EOL product lines and the
EOL and obsolescence of most current platforms and architectures -
it's worth reminding yourself that companies can only deliver on such
long term promises if they are still in business, remain profitable and remain
in control of their own destinies.
Mangstor gets another $5 million funding
July 15, 2016 - Mangstor
has raised another $5 million in funding according to a
in the Austin Business Journal.
also:- VCs in SSDs
Court of Appeals affirms jury decision on DIMM wars trade secrets
July 14, 2016 - One of the factors which stalled the anticipated business growth
in the memory
channel SSD market in 2014 and the first half of 2015 was uncertainty about
the outcome of a long running patent and trade secret dispute between Diablo and Netlist related to
how they had solved the line loading and latency problems associated with
connecting significant amounts of control logic and memory in standard
interfaces which had been originally designed to support low numbers of
external observers stopped fretting about that in
March 2015 when
a court verdict seemed to clarify the situation.
But Netlist appealed
that verdict and so there was still an element of uncertainty pending the
outcome of the appeal hearing scheduled this month.
release by McDermott Will & Emery LLP (the law firm acting for Diablo)
seems to close the book on this matter.
Diablo at the appellate briefing and oral argument on July 7, 2016. Two business
days after the argument, the Federal Circuit panel unanimously affirmed the
judgment in favor of Diablo."
SST qualifies NOR SuperFlash on mixed signal platform
July 12, 2016 - SST
qualification and availability of its low-mask-count embedded
NVM on GLOBALFOUNDRIES' 130 nm
advanced analog, mixed-signal and RF technology platform.
embedded SuperFlash memory solution requires the addition of only 4 masking
steps to enable cost-effective, high-endurance embedded flash for demanding
battery-powered applications such as drones, intelligent motor control, and
normally-off mobile computing.
Symbolic IO appoints CTO
July 12, 2016 -
Symbolic IO (which unveiled its
new memory intensive data architecture in
May 2016) today
that Rob Peglar,
formerly VP, Advanced Storage at Micron has joined the
startup's executive team as Senior VP and CTO.
"What Symbolic IO
is doing, is quite frankly, the most innovative approach to stored data in 20
years, with huge implications on compute and how we architect systems in general
and distributed systems in particular, " said Peglar. "It's not every
day that a company comes along with a truly innovative and new technology. What
Symbolic IO is doing is a once-in-a-generation, breakthrough approach to the
problem of optimally storing and using data for efficient computation. Just like
all the major players got their start, we've created new category called
computational defined storage."
where are we
heading with memory intensive systems?
custom SSDs cost more?
Editor:- July 12, 2016 - Do custom SSDs cost
Few questions in the SSD market have simple answers.
my new blog - some thoughts about
IP-Maker releases Gen 3 NVMe PCIe reference design
July 11, 2016 - for designers of
PCIe SSDs - IP-Maker has released
its new Gen 3 NVMe PCIe reference design which is based on the VC709
evaluation kit by Xilinx.
integrated with Xilinx's
PCIe Gen3 hard IP and a soft DDR3 controller. The
NVMe compliant design uses
a x4 lanes configuration.
the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2016
July 5, 2016 - Who are the top SSD companies - the companies which you
absolutely have to look at if you've got any new projects involving SSDs?
over 9 years StorageSearch.com
has been answering that question with the
Top SSD Companies
which ranks companies by reader research volume. Time is precious for all of
us and the crowd based intelligence of the
series has helped
millions of past SSD readers develop their own thinking about the market and
contextualize and prioritize what they read about the market.
there's a new edition of the list - based on metrics in
Q2 2016. And a new
occupant of the significant #1 slot. Can you guess who it is? You don't
need to guess. ...read
How Flash Arrays Help US DoD and DHS protect against threats
July 2, 2016 - A new blog by Zophar Sante,
VP of Business Development at BiTMICRO -
Help US DoD and DHS outlines how the roles of solid state storage have
changed in US government defense and security agencies in the past 20 years.
Among other things: - Zoph says - "The DoD and DHS are using
what they learned from SSDs in field and applying the same technology to their
data centers." ...read the
comments:- From the
perspective BiTMICRO was a pioneer of high performance flash SSDs for the
military market and one of the earliest advocates of flash in enterprise arrays.
the onset of the flash SSD era, however, DoD was already using rackmount
SSDs in the late 1980s for mobile data capture and analysis. In those days
the SSD memory technology in such boxes was inevitably
read recollections about that in the 2010 retrospective paper -
TMS History of
Working With the US DoD (pdf) by the founder of
Texas Memory Systems.
|What happened before?
|seeking the inner SSD
|I think it's not too strong
to say that the enterprise PCIe SSD market (as we once knew it) has exploded and
fragmented into many different directions.|
|what's changed in enterprise
|Why can't SSD's most ardent
believers agree on a single shared vision for the future of solid state
|the SSD Heresies |