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PR in the SSD market?
Top 10 SSD Companies - 2018 Q2
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?
can memory chips be made in the wrong country?
rethinking 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 the stories covered her on 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 Rethinking 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."

"Data movement is a major system energy bottleneck."

"We Need a Paradigm Shift to... make computing architectures more data-centric."

In 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. the article (290 pages - pdf), more papers like this by Onur Mutlu

See also:- what's RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context
Netflix - the latencies behind flash caching
Editor:- July 24, 2018 - A recent article - Evolution 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 RAM SSDs.

As we know - flash won.

The 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 FlashSoft and 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.

Expectations 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 industry wide SCM DIMM wars in 2015.

The business lessons learned from the fizzling out of "SCM DIMM wars 1" - despite the memory 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 pure play NVDIMM-focused marketers had hoped would dominate these design-win conversations.

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.

Netflix says...

"We 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. the article
re IBM's FlashSystem 9100
Editor:- July 18, 2018 - A recent blog - Introducing 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.)

You can get a taster of the family story in these 2 marker articles - selected from my numerous scribblings. IBM's FlashSystem 9100?

It's the same kind of horse show (in market 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 RamSan-500.

Barry Whyte's new blog says among things:-

"The 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." the blog

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.

See also:- rackmount SSDs
SSD ad - click for more info
inaccessibility 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 - Top 8 Reasons To Purchase LTO 8 Tapes - by UK tape reseller ODSI - prompted me to respond on linkedin with this.

tape drives
.. tape drives
"Reason #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."

see also:- SSD security, roadmap to the petabyte SSD
"GridGain is to memory 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."
Zsolt Kerekes - editor - - commenting on linkedin (June 21, 2018) about a new article - Memory-Centric Architectures: What's Next for In-Memory Computing written by Abe Kleinfeld, President & CEO at GridGain Systems - and published on The New Stack.

Editor's comments:- among other things I liked (apart from the whole article) were the examples of customer metrics using IMC.

For example:- Abe mentioned this...

"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." the article

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 technolgy.

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 bottlenecks and installed their impossibly faster systems. Users didn't want competitors (or enemies) to learn what had been done.

See also:- SSD education, 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 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 branding questions to be determined by the new owner in 2019 - whoever they may be.

As 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. more about this

Memory 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 software.

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.

Memory 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 - introducing - 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.) the article

after AFAs - what's next?
Throughout the history of 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.

after AFAs - click to read rhe articleA classic blog on - cloud adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be true.

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. the article

AccelStor NeoSapphire  all-flash array
1U enterprise flash arrays
InfiniBand or 10GbE iSCSI or 16G FC
NeoSapphire series - from AccelStor

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.
consequences of the 2017 memory shortages

Don't expect business to pick up where it left off when the next memory boom bust correction kicks in.
questions re trajectory of SSD market's onward rebound

The industry will learn a lot about the "goodness" of new memory tiering products by stressing them in ways which the original designers never intended.
RAM disk emulations in "flash as RAM" solutions

earlier noteworthy stories in the SSD news archives
May 2018 Micron sampled the industry's first QLC SATA SSDs

Mercury Systems said it was offering TLC flash in BGA SSDs for some types of military applications
April 2018 A research study of Google consumer workloads showed that in memory processing could at the same time halve power consumption and execution time.
March 2018 Nallatech entered the in-situ SSD market.
February 2018 Gen-Z specification 1.0 released for futuristic memory fabric designers.
January 2018 Foremay launched its new "Immortal" brand of radiation hardened military SSDs.
December 2017 ChinaDaily reported that China's NDRC was looking at complaints about high prices in the semiconductor memory market to determine if there was evidence to open an antitrust inquiry.
November 2017 IntelliProp demonstrated a memory controller for the emerging Gen-Z memory fabric.
October 2017 Quarch Technology launched a test suite which measures real-time SSD watts.
September 2017 Toshiba announced the winner of the $18 billion beauty pageant to find a suitable buyer for its memory and SSD business.
August 2017 Western Digital agreed to acquire Tegile which had pioneered innovative "utility" based customer pricing models in the hybrid storage array market.
July 2017 Viking shipped 50TB planar MLC 3.5" SAS SSDs based on a controller platform designed by rackmount SSD maker Nimbus.
June 2017 Toshiba began sampling the world's first 64 layer QLC (x4) nand flash memory. The 768Gb chips were the highest density nvms available.
news archive 2000 to 2018
storage history
SSD history ..
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
SSD symmetries article
SSD symmetries ..
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies ..

archived storage news - this news page from 2000 to 2018

SSD news

Everspin zaps supercaps in IBM's FlashSystem

Editor:- August 9, 2018 - Everspin - 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 architecture

Editor:- August 2, 2018 - NGD Systems today announced 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 including M.2.

“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 inch.”

Radian samples dual port Open-Channel 2 SSDs with byte addressable NVRAM

Editor:- July 24, 2018 - Radian Memory today announced 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

Editor:- 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

There 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.) the article

WD samples terabit QLC

Editor:- July 19, 2018 - Western Digital today announced it has begun sampling 1.3Tb single chip nand flash chips using 96-layer QLC.

Micron and Intel agree to part ways on 3DX

Editor:- July 16, 2018 - Intel and Micron have agreed to a parting of the ways on future 3DXPoint development.

Micron announced 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."

Editor's 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 price trends 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 expectations.

Here's some of what I said about this on linkedin.

3DX 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.

SSD 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 memoryfication 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 announced today.

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 Altera.

In 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.

(Intel 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.

See also:- glue chips in the SSD and storage market

Samsung in production with next generation 90 layer V-NAND

Editor:- July 10, 2018 - Samsung today announced 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 today issued a statement about the recent injunction (see earlier story below) related to the sale of certain memory chips and SSDs in China.

Among other things - Micron said...
  • "The affected products make up slightly more than 1% of Micron's annualized revenues."
  • ""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 defense."
  • "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

Editor:- July 3, 2018 - UMC today announced that 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."

Editor's 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 - who said 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." more comments related to this

despite over $1 billion / quarter in storage revenue

Micron remains a confident DRAM company at the core

Editor:- 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 earnings conference call (transcript on
  • 71% of Micron's revenue in the quarter came from DRAM. DRAM revenue grew 56% yoy.
  • Storage Business Unit revenue (mostly SSDs and managed nand) was $1.1 billion.
  • 3DXPoint sales were "very little".
Micron seems confident that demand for memory products will continue to grow faster than in past memory business cycles due to new usage factors (the memoryfication of everything factor).

Sanjay Mehrotra, President & 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 increase." the article

comparing new embedded memory characteristics

free overview from Objective Analysis

Editor:- June 20, 2018 - New 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 old web 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 memory shortages.

new report lists malware attack vectors for memory in processors

Editor:- June 14, 2018 - Security 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 market.

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

See also:- is data remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor?, optimizing CPUs for use with SSD architectures, SSD security, PIM, in-situ processing and other SSD jargon

in-memory cache as a cloud service - beta from GridGain

Editor:- June 12, 2018 - GridGain Systems today announced 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

Editor:- 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 report by Dell'Oro Group who also attribute higher average server selling prices to the DRAM price factor.

Editor's comments:- in recent years CSPs 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 systems performance.

See also:- who does storage market research?

dogs can sniff out USB drives and phones

Editor:- June 11, 2018 - Police dogs have been trained to find hidden flash drives - according to a recent story in the Verge.

See also:- consumer SSD guides, data recovery, fast erase SSDs

Memblaze launches new PPR enhanced 2.5" NVMe SSDs

Editor:- June 8, 2018 - it seems like a long time since I heard from Memblaze. Today they announced 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 in 2012).

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 common answer.

Instead one of Excelero's customers was happy to share their finding re Ceph platforms in a joint press release today.

After researching NVMe-oF options the customer (Germany based) - 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 latency.

Flexxon's industrial SD cards show sophistication of a market once seen as simple

Editor:- June 2, 2018 - Flexxon recently announced 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.

see also:- tell the buyer there's no such thing as a simple standard industrial SSD

SSD ad - click for more info

storage search banner

SSD news page image - click to  enlarge
he's been chipping away to uncover
the inner beauty of SSD value propositions
here at this url since 1998
Flexxon SSDs for indistrial medical and automotive applications - overview image

IMA (Industrial, Medical & Automotive)
XTREME series SSDs - from Flexxon
Flash 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 announced the winners of its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award:- Dov Moran and Aryeh Mergi.

With inspiration from Intel's first flash products in 1988, Dov and Aryeh co-founded M-Systems in Israel in 1989 with the vision of building devices based on flash memory.

Dov was CEO, and Aryeh was CTO and later also ran Marketing and Business Development.

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 purchased the company in 2006, and Western Digital purchased SanDisk in 2016.
Flash Memory Summit - event logo - click to see details
Editor's comments:- When you now look back on SSD history 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."

And I'm 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 here - in the waybackmachine archive.
Targa removable storage module for avionics with 3 interfaces  ethernet   USB and RS-422 for SWAP  under 5W
fits in the palm of your hand
removable 128GB rugged military storage
all in one Ethernet+USB+RS-422 < 5W power
from Targa Systems
new - ScaleFlux and Codelucida
Editor:- July 18, 2018 - IT Brand Pulse recently published its Flash 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.

The other 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.

See also:- DSP ECC in flash controllers
the importance of being earnest about 3DXPoint

and other SSD memoryfication heresies
by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - June 5, 2018
the Memoryfication HeresiesWhen 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 this.

The main lesson from being at the sharp end of such discussions in storage 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 computing.

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 software designs.

has the jury reached a verdict on flash tiered as RAM?

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 memory 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.

    The 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.

    But proving 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.

    The software 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 niche application.
  • 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.

    Speed 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.
Intel vs Micron - emerging differences in assessing the near term strategic importance of recently commercialized nvms

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 said 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 using 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 - Enterprise 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.

The blog - XP Dreams: Intel And Micron Diverge by analyst William Tidwell on - 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." ... the article

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 linkedin - "Why Intel is so obsessed with 3DXP?..."

I replied like this...

"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.

New memory 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."

See also:- 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), the enterprise SSD story - why's the plot so complicated? (2015)
did leading DRAM makers collude to protect high prices?
Editor:- May 1, 2018 - One of the almost predictable consequences of the memory shortages and price hikes centered around 2017 has been greater scrutiny of the memory market by regulators and now - a class action lawsuit (pdf) filed against the 3 largest DRAM makers (Samsung, Micron, and Hynix) which dominate the market.

Among other 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." 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.

The history of the memory market does include proven examples of past price fixing. You can read more about them by visiting and searching for "DRAM".

See also:- RAM news - ain't what it used to be

a history of understanding and misunderstanding SSD pricing