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those who tweet loudest
those who tweet loudest in hybrid storage arrays imageEditor:- February 18, 2015 - Re the visibility seeking marketing activities of enterprise storage companies - I found much to agree with in a recent blog - Hybrid Storage Array Industry Social Landscape - by Don Jennings, Senior VP - Lois Paul & Partners (a storage industry proven PR).

Among other things Don says "not many of the storage companies in our analysis have clear content strategies to provide information and value to their followers. This is especially true on YouTube, where these companies are rarely posting anything other than product-usage videos. We also dont see any of them engaging with industry media and influencers..."

The essential output from Don's article is that he ranks 5 companies in the hybrid storage array market - based on the noise level and following they have achieved on social media.

The companies (in alphabetic order) are:- Avere, Nimble, Tegile, Tintri and XIO.

Setting aside for the moment any reservations you might have about the validity of using social media as a significant enough comparative measure for enterprise companies - Don comes up with some interesting statistics for each company about the level of its followers, tweets etc.

And by that measure Nimble comes out top of his list. ...read the article

Editor's comments:- As with any measurement - you have to ask questions like
  • why has this method been chosen? Is it simply convenience?
  • And how valid does such a ranking carry over into other interpretations? etc - such as future business outcomes.
In this case - the agenda is clear enough - Don's company LPP is in the media business - and some companies are clearly more noisy (and better understood) than others in "editorial like" contexts.

If your company isn't doing well enough in the social media blare - then maybe you should change your agency.

A devil's advocate counter argument to that might be to say that a single well designed ad can take a company positioning message to more targeted people than all the people who see a vendor's tweets and blogs in a year. And every day I see companies in this industry who lack the confidence to invest in themselves in an advertising context - preferring instead to cast their fortunes on the winds of the media lottery newswires.

And another counter argument is that not all important relationships and engagements are as visible as you might think on social media. Why should they be - if there are pre-existing or better ways in which the parties in the same mutual interest segment can communicate?

For example - I've been talking to Don Jennings regularly about his storage industry customers since June 2003 - but (at the time of writing this) we aren't 1st level contacts on linkedin.

And a lot of the people I talk to about weighty matters in the SSD market would be horrified by the idea of others knowing what they're thinking about. I'm not saying that one private communication is worth ten tweets - but if it's about about a new business plan - or the order from your biggest customer - it can be worth much more.

On the other hand. Social media may be the only independent (non financial and non technical) way you can rank some of the companies you're interested in. As only 1 of the 5 companies above - for example - has got high enough in the search noise level to appear in the Top SSD Companies.
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from the SSD news archive
December
2014
Western Digital acquires Skyera

Kaminario gets another $53 million funding

Netlist revalidates core patent related to ULLtraDIMM's
November
2014
Steve Wozniak joins Primary Data

Foremay readies 8TB 2.5" military SSDs
October
2014
Netlist asks court to shut down SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM

Memblaze launches new 14S latency PCIe SSDs in Europe
September
2014
A3CUBE - first US customer shipments soon

Samsung mass produces 3TB 3D 10 DWPD PCIe SSDs

Seagate reports low take up of hybrid drives
August
2014
Samsung ships 10nm SAS SSDs

Diablo unveils DDR-4 flash DIMM SSDs

July
2014
SanDisk launches ZetaScale (enterprise flash memory tier software)

NxGn Data exits stealth with promise of in-situ SSD processing
June
2014
SanDisk to buy Fusion-io

IBM is #1 in rackmount SSD revenue
May
2014
Seagate agrees to acquire LSI's flash business for $450 million

Kaminario guarantees amplified usable capacity
April
2014
SanDisk samples 4TB 2.5" SAS SSDs

Violin enters the SSD integrated server market
March
2014
Samsung says its 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD are 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs
February
2014
A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class architectures

Marvell samples 5K IOPS smartphone SSD (eMMC 5.0)
January
2014
IBM revamps TMS rackmount SSDs and launches memory channel SSD servers (with SanDisk / Diablo inside)

Half Micron's nand flash now used in SSDs

InnoDisk's (MO-276) nanoSSD in full scale production

Netlist says ULLtraDIMM SSDs infringe its patents

And prior to that...

what changed in SSD year 2013?


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"Let's stop thinking about NVM as fast storage and start thinking about it as (slow) memory!"
Stephen Bates Technical Director PMC-Sierra in his blog - notes re SNIA NVM Summit (January 30, 2015)


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more volatility inevitable in enterprise SSD markets
Editor:- January 21, 2015 - "SDS (software defined storage) is a good example of an illusory market idea for comfortably bringing technologies together which due to its many incompatible incarnations which will probably rip many business plans apart."

That's one of the things I say in my new blog - what kind of SSD world 2015? - on StorageSearch.com

I'm not saying that SDS isn't important...

In the very same blog I point out that (due to their inherent flexibility) an installed base of server based SSD storage systems will be among the few types of enterprise flash products being marketed today which will still be reusable when many other so called "all flash arrays" (which have been designed only for backwards looking compatibilities) get sidelined and orphaned by future generations of SSD everywhere software.

We're still a long way from having stable and enduring reference platforms for the enterprise SSD age - which means more change is inevitable. ...read the article


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image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software


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Industrial SSD designers have refocused and chosen the viable reality of excellence in selected niches above the less feasible goal of having the best technology roadmap for all applications
12 key SSD ideas in 2014


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hybrid DIMMs
hybrid DIMMs


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"Don't place too much credence in what SSD companies tell you about the present or the future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
........coming soon
  • the Top SSD Companies in Q4 2014
  • the $Billion revenue enterprise SSD companies

SSD news

Avago acquires Emulex for $600 million

Editor:- February 25, 2015 - In 2014 - Avago Technologies - which until then had not seemed much involved in enterprise storage - suddenly got religion.

As a heavyweight interface chip and IP maker in other markets Avago must have asked themselves - what are the key interfaces we need to be the #1 enterprise storage connect company? - especially as more enterprise storage becomes solid state.
storage glue chips
storage glue chips
And that's the way to interpret the acquisitions (last year) of LSI and PLX followed now (as announced today) by the acquisition of Emulex - for approximately $606 million.


Netlist raises $10 million through share offering

hybrid DIMMs
hybrid DIMMs
Editor:- February 24, 2015 - Netlist today announced it has closed its previously-announced underwritten public offering of 8,846,154 common shares at a price to the public of $1.30 per share. Netlist estimates net proceeds from the offering to be approximately $10.4 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. Netlist intends to use the proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.


Diablo updates status of UlltraDIMM legal sanctions

memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs
Editor:- February 24, 2015 - If - like me - you've been following with interest the development of true SSD acceleration technologies packaged in RAM DIMMs (aka memory channel SSDs and similar names) then you may have been wondering - what's the current state of the play in the Netlist versus Diablo and SanDisk patent and implied rights to IP legal wrangle?

The last furious clash of legally related press releases - from both sides - in mid January - ended with a lot of smoke in the air - and dire expectations regarding body count. In particular the impression was that - until the next court session on these matters - further shipments of SanDisk's ULLtraDIMM SSDs would be suspended.

This is an update sent to me yesterday from a spokesperson communicating the Diablo side of things. So "we" and "our" in the text below means from the perspective of "Diablo".

re Preliminary Injunction - Diablo says
  • SanDisk has been granted a stay on their preliminary injunction, meaning that they can ship their inventory to Lenovo, Supermicro, and Huawei.
  • The preliminary injunction on Diablo is still in effect while we await the standard appeal process.
  • It continues to be our belief that the standard appeal process will find in our favor.
At the center of the dispute is the idea that our technologies compete. Our technologies do not compete. There is a long list of reasons why they don't. Here are some of them:
  • The Netlist NVvault is memory. The OS and applications see it and treat it as DRAM, which is why no OS drivers are necessary. Ours is storage. Ours is seen by the OS, hypervisors and applications as a block storage device and this is why MCS does require OS drivers.
  • They are used differently. For example, you typically would not put a whole database on a DRAM NV-DIMM but you would on an MCS-based device.
  • A DRAM DIMM can be used in place of DRAM, an MCS-based device cannot. An MCS-based device, because it is storage, requires separate DRAM in the system for execution. DRAM based devices are required to make the server run and are complimentary to MCS-based devices.
  • A DRAM NV-DIMM cannot be removed from the system and replaced with an MCS-based device and be expected to perform the same function.
  • The NVvault product is an 8GB device because it is a memory device. Since ours does not use DRAM and instead interfaces directly to flash, it is capable of being hundreds of gigabytes in capacity.
  • JEDEC has defined a DRAM-based NV-DIMM (NVDIMM-N) as a completely different category from an MCS-based device (NVDIMM-F) because they operate differently and service different applications in very different ways. There are several other companies building NVDIMM-N devices including Netlist, Viking and others, while Diablo is the only company we know of that is building an NVDIMM-F device.
  • Simply because they both fit into the same slot and use a similar interface does not mean that they compete. Most PCIe cards serve completely different functions and do not compete, even though they use the same physical interface (examples are graphics, audio, networking, and storage cards).
Editor's comments:- I think it's important for the SSD industry to know whether it can count on seeing a competitive market for memory channel SSDs being developed. For that to happen it is essential for Diablo to establish in the courts or by agreement as soon as possible that the roadmap for its kind of technology has a future.

If this doesn't happen quickly - and if the whole issue is left unresolved for another year - then the window of opportunity for this class of enterprise SSD may close. Because - as far as I know - Netlist doesn't have a Diablo like product in a similar state of market readiness.

So if Netlist were to succeed in preventing Diablo's product roadmap - there isn't a similar product which architects could fall back to. And even if Netlist chose to pursue that kind of product opportunity - which it can't do on its own the SSD market isn't going to wait idly by for another 2 years waiting for that to happen.

Other ways of adding applications intelligence into PCIe SSDs - and other alternatives to RAM cached to flash are already in development. And the software market has to judge - which new markets are most likely to return value on their developer investment.

Sanity check

Just to remind you - the bullet points above - came from Diablo and whether you agree or disagree with them or not (or quibble - as for example in - there is an industry of RAM resident databases - albeit they aren't the "typical" HDD architected databases which are now running in flash SSDs) the reason so many lawyers are involved now is more to do with the fact that 2 companies (Netlist and Diablo) have a different recollection of what they once agreed in a past collaborative project and they disagree on what rights that past agreement confers on what they're doing now.

If I get more updates I'll let you know.

The key things for now are:-
  • if you've got a design which uses 1st generation UlltraDIMM style memory channel SSDs - then you can still get products to fill those slots.
  • But - if you've been planning around the preannounced 2nd generation products - your projects are probably on hold.



"the most reliable 2.5 inch MLC SATA III SSD"
paves way to new budget military SSD - from Cactus


Editor:- February 23, 2015 - Cactus Technologies today announced the release of a new military 2.5" SATA SSD - the 230S PRO series - a military adapted variation of the company's proven 230S commercial grade family which Cactus describes as "the most reliable MLC based 2.5" SATA III SSD on the market."

Describing application roles Joseph Chang, VP of Engineering said - "It meets the price budget for applications where intense writing or extreme temperatures are not prevalent."

military storage directory and news
military SSDs
Features include:-
  • hardware AES256 Encryption
  • Jumper Triggered Write Protect,
  • NSA 9-12 or Quick Erase
  • 64GB to 640GB MLC capacities
  • Fixed BOM
  • Altitude spec of 100,000 feet
  • 3,000G Shock; 20G Vibration
  • Powerful Industrial ECC and Defect Management


Waitan launches secure self destructible SSDs for drone and other hostile military zone applications

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articles
Fast Purge SSDs
Editor:- February 19, 2015 - It's rare for me to hear about a new company in the military SSD market (I thought I knew them all already) - but an exception to that is Waitan which this week launched a 2.5" SATA SSD with 4TB capacity with special security options to protect and purge data if the SSD gets into the wrong hands - the StellaHunter.

"We believe the remote controlled secure erase and self-destruction functions are highly valuable for UAV, drone, and other remote controlled and unmanned systems where data on the systems' storage drives is confidential, which needs to be destroyed from afar during accidents or emergency scenarios" said James Zheng, Waitan's CTO.

Editor's comments:- Remotely triggered data destruction isn't a new idea in secure SSDs - but it hasn't really taken hold in the past due to the disruptive effect of false positives - such as when a security perimeter has been incorrectly set up or when a pacifier signal is lost for a short time for innocent reasons.

For those reasons Waitan's StellaHunter is triggered by 2 or more preset conditions. Users can also choose whether the SSD should be reusable after the secure erase or whether the SSD should have a destructive erase.


FalconStor shows why it has taken so many years to launch an SSDcentric next software thing

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
Editor:- February 19, 2015 - You might think there are enough SDS companies already - but SSDcentric data architectures are pulling system solutions in different directions - so until the dust settles and the landscape looks clearer - there are plenty of gaps for new companies to enter the market.

The most significant this week was FalconStor - who announced a new SSDcentric storage pool redeployment and management platform called FreeStor - which the company says works across legacy, modern and virtual environments.

FalconStor says - "The heart of FreeStor is the Intelligent Abstraction layer. It's a virtual Rosetta Stone that allows data - in all its forms - to migrate to, from and across all platforms, be it physical or virtual."

They've posted a good video which describes it all.

FalconStor's natural partners are enterprise SSD systems vendors and integrators who have good products but who don't have a complete (user environmentally rounded) software stack.

Editor's comments:- For 4 years FalconStor gave me the impression of a storage software company which didn't know what it wa going to do with the SSD market - despite having a base of thousands of customers in the enterprise storage software market.

FalconStor's delay can now be explained. They were studying what needed to be done - and it took a lot of work.

If you want to understand who else is offering a product concept which is similar in vision to FalconStor's FreeStor - I'd say Primary Data. Although due to a difference in ultimate scaling aspirations and markets - I would say that FalconStor's product is lower end and currently more accessible. Part of the reason being that FalconStor already has a customer base for pre SSD era software - which they are hoping to convert incrementally.


$34 million funded SDS company Springpath emerges from stealth

image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage
VCs in SSDs
Editor:- February 18, 2015 - Springpath emerged from stealth with these related announcements.

A server based data platform priced from $4,000 per server per year.

A distribution agreement with Tech Data who will offer Springpath's software preloaded onto servers.

$34 million funding from investors Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Redpoint Ventures


Seagate and Micron collaborate on enterprise

click to see directory of SAS SSD companies
SAS SSDs
Editor:- February 12, 2015 - Micron and Seagate today announced a strategic multi year agreement which among other things will secure for Seagate a supply of nand flash for the SAS SSD market while also providing for Micron a framework of SSD controller IP and designs with which it can populate gaps in its own enterprise SSD range.

Editor's comments:- Although modern adaptive DSP controller IP can work with any type of flash - there are applications in cloud and storage arrays in which simpler controller designs - which integrate user based code (to leverage awareness of the state of the whole array) can provide cheaper systems. Such SSDs can be made even more reliable - when they can leverage knowledge about a particular trusted source of flash.

For example in April 2012 - SMART Storage (now part of SanDisk) revealed it had figured out a way to get 5x more endurance from consumer grade flash when using old-style non-adaptive SandForce controllers. The technique preconditioned R/W timing parameters in the flash memory using intelligence gained from experience with the company's (different) adaptive controllers.

Seagate's toughest competitors in the SAS SSD market have been SanDisk, Toshiba, HGST and even Samsung - so from that perspective - there are reasons for preferring to source flash from and trust in Micron.

Micron hasn't dipped into the enterprise SSD acquisition pool to the same depth as some other big hostages of the SSD market. I think this was partly because Micron didn't want to be seen as competing with its "natural" historic systems customers. But that had left Micron with an enterprise SSD product line lacking any central theme or controller roadmap.

In that respect - Micron's new collaboration with Seagate - will ensure a prescence for Micron's flash in large scale arrays and systems in very cost competitive and difficult to customize environments - in which Micron's own SSD IP would never have been regarded as a serious alternative.


how reliable are consumer SSDs? - new data from OCZ

Editor:- February 12, 2015 - OCZ recently published data about the reliability of its past generations of consumer SSDs.

OCZ says that the SSDs it has shipping since it has been a Toshiba group company (and using Toshiba's flash) are about 40x more reliable than OCZ's popular consumer SSDs were about 4 years before. And part of the story is also changes in controller technology.

Editor's comments:- in this paper OCZ's measure of reliability is - returns during warranty and confirmed defects - which are now at 0.6% and 0.3% respectively.

broken barrel image - click to see the SSD data recovery directory
SSD Recovery
Another angle of viewing consumer SSD reliability can be seen from data recovery data.

Intel last year disclosed that of the 100,000 notebooks used under its control - it encountered the need for 1 SSD recovery per day.

The 2 data sets - from OCZ and Intel are incomplete - and not directly comparable due to differences in sampling periods, warranties and model mixes. But if you assume a 1 year sampling period - for the data recovery based data - then you end up with a failure figure which is similar to the newest SSD data from OCZ.

See also:- consumer SSDs, SSD reliability papers


Hyperstone brings enterprise-class write attenuation to industrial USB SSD controllers

flash care article
flash care claims
Editor:- February 11, 2015 - When I see an assertion about 100x better flash endurance - I smile and think back to an article my SSD care scheme is the best - in May 2012 - which discusses this marketing idea and some of the unerlying technologies. So why mention it again today?

A press release today from Hyperstone (about their new flash management technology for industrial SSDs) contains this exact phrase.

"hyMap reduces Write Amplification by a factor of more than 100 in fragmented usage pattern and for small file random writes. Thereby, the reduction in effectively used write-erase-cycles results in higher performance, longer life and shorter random access response times. As a result, in many applications hyMap together with Hyperstone controllers and MLC flash enables higher reliability and data retention than other controllers using SLC. hyMap does not require any external DRAM or SRAM."

In the same announcement - Dr. Jan Peter Berns, Managing Director of Hyperstone - acknowledges that while these issues have already been discussed intensively for several years in the enterprise market. Hyperstone's new hyMap controller technology brings this kind of improvement into smaller, low power SSDs such as SD/MMC and USB which don't have the same kind of budgets for DRAM and CPU power as enterprise SSDs.


Northwest Logic provides FPGA support for Everspin's MRAM

Editor:- February 9, 2015 - Northwest Logic today announced controller support for Everspin's ST-MRAM - with interoperability proven on a Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA platform.

MRAM's core IP also supports traditional volatile DDR3 SDRAM - so the new support for MRAM will simplifiy the design of power fail protected low latency caches.


Benchmarking and Performance Resources

storage test equipment and analyzers news and directory
SSD analyzers
Editor:- February 6, 2015 - When it comes to SSDs - an SSD which is faster in a way that you can economically use - such as by converting faster latency into competitive dollars (trading banks) or by satisfying more virtual users with less servers (nearly everyone who owns a lot of heavily used servers) is worth looking at.

Although performance is not the only thing (and often is not even the most important thing) which makes up the cost of buying an SSD - or the justification to buy it - performance has been one of those parameters which - because it has helped to sell products - even when the numbers were unreliable or abused - has attracted a great deal of creative literary output in the SSD industry. Most of it fiction. Some of it fact.

I've written a lot of articles and emails on this theme myself. So many indeed - that I sometimes find myself in danger of writing something new - and then getting a sense of deja vu. IOPS? - I've got a feeling I wrote something like this before? A quick search confirms - yup I did. - Was it yeally that long ago? Let's just update the links so it makes sense if someone else finds it later.

It seems I am not alone in that respect. And a recent post on linkedin suggests a much better way of handling that.

The idea came from Greg Schulz, Founder of StorageIO - who has recently curated a whole bunch of articles which he's written, edited or likes into a single resource page - which he calls - Server and Storage I/O Benchmarking and Performance Resources

If you have the time - Greg has many articles on this topic which will inform and delight you.


Mobiveil supports Spansion's HyperBus NOR flash

Editor:- February 3, 2015 - Mobiveil today announced it will provide authorized controller support for Spansion's HyperBus flash memories.

HyperBus flash interface
HyperBus flash chips are low capacity, low pin count, faster (5x) NOR flash (BGAs) suited for some applications in the automotive electronics market.

Mobiveil's HyperBus flash interface IP (pdf) delivers upto 333MB/s using this 12-pin interface.


Emulex's 16GFC technology supported by DataCore

Editor:- January 28, 2015 - Emulex today announced that DataCore is releasing target mode support in its new SANsymphony V10 software-defined storage platform, for Emulex's Gen 5 (16GFC) HBA technology.


Western Digital invests in Skyera's MRAM supplier

Editor:- January 26, 2015 - Western Digital's investment unit was among the investors in a $29 million series B funding round in Everspin Technologies announced today.

Phill LoPresti President and CEO of Everspin said "With a leading worldwide foundry and storage customer participating in Everspin's Series B investment round, the entire industry spectrum is acknowledging ST-MRAM as the leading contender to drive beyond the limits of current mainstream memory."

Editor's comments:- Everspin's MRAM is one tier of the non volatile caching technology used in Skyera's rackmount SSD systems.

Western Digital recently bought Skyera - and my guess is that this investment in Everspin is to take out some of the risk of future availability of these memory parts at a time when an assured supply at higher volume may soon be needed.


Tezzaron expects to ship ReRAM SSDs in 2016

Editor:- January 23, 2015 - Tezzaron Semiconductor recently announced it will use Rambus's ReRAM technology in forthcoming storage-class 3D memory devices for military, aerospace and commercial applications. The first of these designs is scheduled for production in 2016.


So you want x3 (TLC) and 3D?

Editor:- January 23, 2015 - Even if you already thought that adaptive R/W and DSP was an essential way for getting usable SSDs out of smaller 2D nand flash - then there are even more reasons for using this technology on the journey into 3D.

That's the conclusion you'll come away with after seeing DensBits's paper (presented at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit) called the Necessity for a Memory Modem in 3D Memories (pdf)

Among other things in this paper:- DensBits says that the scope for inter-cell interference grows from 8 identifiable routes in 2D to 26 for each cell in 3D.
3d interference effects in nand cells
But memory modem technology (DensBits's branding for their collection of adaptive R/W DSP IPs) will (over and above everything it already does for 2D) intelligently decouple read operations according to the severity of read operations expected in the new 3D architectures - and even supports the notion of TLC (x3) within 3D. (Which "needs state of art decoder and signal processing".)

Their conclusion? - Memory Modem technology is required for 3D NAND scaling ...read the article

PS - I know it's not new news - but I hadn't mentioned this article before and I think this type of technology will have a big impact on the SSD market in the next year or so as it weaves its way into SSDs made by the licensees.


Diablo appeals shipment injunction
says court was misled


Editor:- January 14, 2015 - Diablo Technologies today announced that it has appealed the court ruling (reported earlier this week - and initiated by Netlist) which had granted a preliminary injunction to halt Diablo's shipments of Memory Channel Storage based chipsets.

Diablo's appeal explains that the ruling is based on an erroneous interpretation of the contract and a failure to recognize the technology differences among the products involved.

Most importantly, however, the court did not find that Diablo MCS uses Netlist trade secrets.

Diablo says - to support the judgment, the order effectively rewrites the language in the contract signed by the parties in 2008: the additional words included in the order changed the terms of the contract significantly and imposed a new obligation that was not agreed between the parties. In other words, there was no violation by Diablo of the original contract. The court was misled about important technology distinctions:

The court relied on Netlist's representation that their HyperCloud and Diablo MCS "are used to perform the same function" which is not the case because the HyperCloud is DRAM (memory) and Diablo MCS is a block storage device (disk).

The court also relied on Netlist's representation that the products are competitive because they both "attach to the same memory channel."

Diablo also says "Netlist equates the 2 devices simply because they use the same location and i/o channel; extending that logic would equate all devices that reside in PCIe slots, which would be a similarly erroneous claim."

"It is important that the facts of the case are well understood; it should also be stressed that the court did not determine that Diablo uses Netlist trade secrets," stated Riccardo Badalone, CEO and co-founder of Diablo Technologies. "We offer an innovative storage device that gives customers great performance advantages, but with this injunction, the court is putting our company and our customers at risk. With this appeal, we expect to reverse this decision and get back to work."

Editor's comments:- are Netlist's products functionally different to those using Diablo's architecture?

Yes! The differences are so great that the 2 products are listed in different directories here on StorageSearch.com
  • Memory Channel Storage SSDs - which encompasses low latency, fast flash SSDs which plug into DIMM sockets and transfer data via interfaces which were originally designed for DRAM.
  • hybrid DIMMs, NV DIMMs, flash backed DRAM DIMMs - which includes DRAM modules which automatically save their contents when electrical power drops to an integrated non volatile memory from which the data is reloaded after normal power is restored.
The fact that standards organizations and some vendors have historically used the term "flash DIMM" in the context of both types of products - has contributed to industry confusion.

But the term - flash DIMM - is a description of the physical form factor - and tells you nothing about the operation and functionality of the device from a data architecture point of view.

The differences are vast and immediately obvious to anyone who's technical. But I was wondering how would I explain the gulf of difference to someone who doesn't know anything about computer design.

My analogy goes like this... Suppose someone offered you the choice of 2 types of backpack when you started a balloon ride.

One is a parachute, the other is a jetpack.

They both perform different functions - although - until you activate their functions they both might look the same.

OK I know you need a higher skillset to operate the jetpack.

And you also need a much more developed SSD software support ecosystem to deploy memory channel SSDs too.


California Court halts sales of ULLtraDIMM SSDs

Editor:- January 13, 2015 - Netlist today announced that the US District Court for the Northern District of California has granted Netlist's motion for a preliminary injunction against Diablo Technologies for controller chips used by SanDisk in its high-speed ULLtraDIMM SSD product line.

Under the court's order, Diablo and SanDisk are prohibited from manufacturing and selling the controller chipset used by SanDisk in the ULLtraDIMM and as a result, from further sale or distribution of the ULLtraDIMM itself.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers - also rejected SanDisk's motion for reconsideration, asking that it be allowed to sell existing inventory of the enjoined products.

The court advanced the trial date to March 9, 2015, for Netlist's claims upon which the motion was decided, including claims against Diablo for trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, and other causes of action related to the components supplied by Diablo for the ULLtraDIMM.

The court's order specifically identifies the ULLtraDIMM as well as the eXFlash modules from IBM, although the injunction affects all modules containing Diablo components.

Editor's comments:- the possibility of such a injunction has been discussed in these pages before. At the heart of the dispute are whether an earlier design collaboration between Netlist and Diablo included the rights for both companies to use a critical interface design in the DIMM bus facing part of Diablo's memory channel storage design. A patent ruling on December 29, 2014 upheld Netlist's patents related to this.

The court case related to the injunction stems from Netlist's argument that if Diablo did not have the right to use the interface technology - then it follows that any design - such as the ULLtraDIMM SSD - which relies on such internal technology - should only be disallowed - pending any future agreement about licensing such a technology. (Which it may not choose to do.)

Netlist wants to create a low latency memory channel SSD product line of its own.

And even though Netlist is more than a year behind the productization of this integrated technology (compared to the first generation ULLtraDIMM designed Diablo and SMART Storage - which was acquired by SanDisk) the case from Netlist is that the market must wait for its own design or any designs for which it grants licenses.

From the Diablo side - its argument has been that they thought they had an agreement which allowed them to use the DIMM interface technology (in whose implementation they participated) in products which were different to Netlist's flash backed DIMMs.

At stake is a future market for server based accelerators which could be worth a low double digit percentage of the entire enterprise PCIe SSD market.

It's inconceivable that a small company like Netlist or Diablo would be able to satisfy such demands on their own - especially given the fact that neither has any core IP related to enterprise flash.

But future licensing partners (or wouldbe acquirers) need to be satisfied that the core technology they're using - is patent troll proof.


Greenliant enters enterprise PCIe SSD market

Editor:- January 12, 2015 - Greenliant Systems - has entered the entry level enterprise NVME PCIe SSD market - with the launch of its new G7100 (pdf) series MLC gen 2 x4 PCIe SSDs - upto 2.75 TB raw capacity, Full Height, Half Length form factor, 130K / 60K R/W IOPS, and endurance of upto 10 DWPD for 5 years.

Internally Greenliant's new PCIe SSD has a RAID protected array of miniature NANDrive SSDs which use the company's own controllers.

"Leveraging our in-depth flash memory knowledge and volume-proven NAND controller expertise, Greenliant is addressing the industry's increasing need for higher reliability, higher performance and larger capacity flash-based storage solutions," said Bing Yeh, CEO of Greenliant Systems.

Editor's comments:- ever since the company was founded - in 2010 - Greenliant's focus has been on the industrial and embedded SSD market. So it's surprising to see this new product aimed at the "enterprise" market. However it's part of an emerging trend in the market.


SanDisk spins off NexGen

Editor:- January 8, 2015 - SanDisk today clarified that "Hybrid systems incorporating hard-disk drives are not part of SanDisk's strategic focus."

This strategy direction statement by Sumit Sadana, executive VP and chief strategy officer, SanDisk was part of an announcement today that SanDisk has completed the spin-out of Fusion-io's ioControl (hybrid SSD systems) business as a separate company called NexGen Storage.

SanDisk has agreed to be a supplier of PCIe flash storage technology to NexGen but will not maintain an ownership interest.

NexGen will be led by John Spiers who was co-founder and CEO of the original NexGen company before its acquisition by Fusion-io in April 2013 (for $119 million).

Editor's comments:- In retrospect Fusion-io's acquisition of NexGen was a mistake.

Fusion didn't have enough cash or people resources to invest in bootstrapping 2 entirely new systems businesses (one in the fast SSD rackmount market, and the other (based on NexGen) in the hybrid SSD appliance market) at a time when both markets were already becoming much more specialized and differentiated.

Can NexGen succeed as a standalone company?

Hundreds of other companies are also competing in the hybrid market - so you can ask them. Most likely NexGen will get acquired again.


Toshiba shows early version of BGA PCIe SSD

Editor:- January 7, 2015 - Toshiba announced it will showcase a prototype of the world's first PCIe single package SSD - with up to 256GB in a single BGA package at CES this week. The NVMe compatible device fits into 16mm x 20mm x 1.65mm and weighs under 1g. See also:- BGA SSDs, PCIe SSDs


InnoDisk's ServerDOM wins excellence award

Editor:- January 7, 2015 - InnoDisk today announced it has received the 2015 Taiwan Excellence Award for its ServerDOM (SATA SSD) which can be used as a boot drive in 1U servers.
Innodisk boot DOM SSD
Internal storage space for enterprise servers is a precious resource. InnoDisk's ServerDOM (20mm x 31mm x 7mm) fits onto the SATA connector of modern enterprise servers (from which it draws power). A 2nd failover drive can be snugly fitted - as shown above - if needed for HA applications.


Samsung mass producing gen 3 PCIe SSDs for notebooks

Editor:- January 7, 2015 - 19 months after launching its first M.2 PCIe gen 2 SSDs aimed at the notebook market (the XP941 (pdf) in June 2013) - Samsung said it is now mass producing the follow-up SM951 - which supports gen 3 PCIe.

Samsung says - "For ultra-slim notebooks and workstations the SM951 can read and write sequentially at 2,150MB/s and 1,550 MB/s respectively..."

The SM951 is the first SSD to adopt L1.2 low power standby mode (the PCIe SSD equivalent of the power saving devsleep mode in SATA SSDs) . When hibernating in L1.2 mode, the SM951's power consumption is less than 2mW.


Cactus SSDs helped over 100,000 drivers avoid getting lost

Editor:- January 6, 2015 - Cactus Technologies today disclosed it has shipped over 100,000 units of its 210 Series (32GB MLC) - 2.5" PATA SSDs - to a German automotive OEM company for use in their infotainment (integrated audio entertainment and GPS navigation) systems.


OCZ unveils new controller

Editor:- January 5, 2015 - OCZ said it would showcase its new JetExpress SSD controller this week at CES.

JetExpress will be the heart and soul of OCZ's future product line. JetExpress silicon is native SATA and PCIe/NVMe and will support multiple form factors including M.2, 2.5-inch SATA, and SFF-8639 which enables PCI Express speeds in a compact 2.5-inch form factor.


Web-Feet sizes 2015 industrial SSD market

Editor:- January 4, 2015 - Help is available if you're trying to grapple with estimating the size and likely shape of the industrial SSD market.

Web-Feet Research today anounced it has released a report ($5,550) which includes forecasts for Industrial Markets and Applications.

What's in it? Among other things - the report's author Alan Niebel says... "Within each of the 6 commercial sub-markets: Networking/Telecom, Connected Home, Automotive, Industrial, Medical, and Avionics/Aerospace/Military the forecast of SSDs, Embedded Flash Drives (EFD), and Flash Cards are quantified for over 40 end-use applications. This forecast provides a separate breakout for SSDs by form factor including modules and another section for EFDs and Flash Cards by form factor for units and average capacity and revenue. Geographic splits are also included."


WD demos 3.5" PCIe hybrid HDD

Editor:- January 2, 2015 - "WD is committed to working with the industry to push the boundaries of what you might expect from a traditional hard drive," said Matt Rutledge, senior VP , Storage Technology, WD recently as the company previewed the demonstration of a prototype 3.5" SATAe hybrid drive.

WD's 4TB 3.5" hybrid hard drive includes upto 128GB flash cache and looks like a single volume to the application.


what's up and upcoming at StorageSearch.com?

Editor:- January 1, 2015 - SSD readership and article downloads on StorageSearch.com increased 10% and 20% respectively in December 2014 compared to the year ago period. While it's nice for me that both are up - it's better that stickiness is up more.
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In February 2006 - White Electronic Designs announced the availability of its industrial grade CompactFlash cards in densities upto 4GByte. The rugged MIL-STD-810 CF cards supported over 4 million program erase cycles.
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