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the SSD Heresies
Top SSD Companies - 2007 to 2018
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
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40 years of thinking about nvm endurance
how not to compile a list of military SSD companies
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Septembers of yore in storage market history
September 1998 - StorageSearch.com was still in stealth mode and I was getting ready for the launch in October. What was going through my mind at the time? I couldn't remember exactly so I looked in my emails at that time. Here's what I found.


September 1999 -Western Digital announced the recall of 400,000 recently shipped desktop hard drives due to a manufacturing defect found in chips supplied to WDC in the month before the announcement which their QA assessment indicated could result in the hard drives to fail to power-up after 6 to 12 months of full-time use.


September 2000 - M-Systems announced that VMIC had selected the DiskOnChip flash disk as the local storage device in its new line of Linux-based single board computers (SBCs).


September 2001 - We'll never forget the shock to the world of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. But in the week before that there was the usual trickle of regular storage news from which I've picked this.

A new product announced by Adtron was a 6U VMEbus form factor SCSI-2 (that's parallel SCSI) storage blade which could be offered with either 5.4 GBytes of flash SSD storage or 120GBytes of hard drive storage.

You'll note here that the HDD version has capacity which is 22x bigger than the SSD.

In those days (2001) Adtron was making some of the highest density SSDs in the world so you can take that comparison as a limiting ratio for the 2 technologies in a COTS context.

In 2018 (which is when I'm writing this) those comparative ratios are well on their way to switching to the other way round.

Today the highest density flash storage can provide 7x as much uncompressed data capacity as the highest density HDD in the same physical space. And once you take compression into account (along with usable performance) the SSD to HDD maximum usable data storage densities have changed places.


September 2002 - InfiniCon Systems announced the general availability of the first commercially available I/O system that employed the new InfiniBand networking standard... marking the advent of new data center deployment architectures.

In that press release InfiniCon said - "Leading analyst firms have projected that approximately 50 percent of servers shipped by 2005 will employ InfiniBand as a high-speed networking connectivity vehicle."

Editor's comments:- As we know now that didn't happen. But it did seem plausible at the time because earlier (in June 2001) a news story from InfiniSwitch said "Research from (a well known company) estimates that more than 75 percent of all servers shipped in 2004 will be shipped with InfiniBand connectivity."

It was partly for those reasons that in a news comment (July 25, 2007) I first used the term "Storage SoothSayers" to describe this type of vendor leverage of market data in the early stages of technology markets. And I later added "SoothSayer" as a semi permanent heads up alert in the market research companies list on StorageSearch.com in May 2008.

SSD market predictions and interpretations in those days were even more prone to include high degrees of uncertainty due to the disruptive nature of the SSD market - and even when I was writing such predictions myself.

That's why in 2013 I penned the cautionary blog - Can you trust SSD market data?

Going back to InfiniBand.

It was a combination of competing alternative technologies (the increasing number of processor cores, and faster ethernet) which meant that InfiniBand never got near its original dreamed for market share.

See also InfiniBand news highlights on StorageSearch.com - 2000 to 2018.

The modern equivalent of early InfiniBand is Gen-Z. But you can never be too confident where markets will go. NVMe fabric is getting better too.
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new thinking in SSD controller techniques reveals "layer aware" properties exploitable in 3D nand flash
Editor:- August 28, 2018 - A new twist using RAID ideas in SSD controllers has surfaced recently in a research paper - Improving 3D NAND Flash Memory Lifetime by Tolerating Early Retention Loss and Process Variation (pdf) by Yixin Luo and Saugata Ghose (Carnegie Mellon University), Yu Cai (SK Hynix), Erich F. Haratsch (Seagate Technology) and Onur Mutlu (ETH Zürich) - which was presented at the SIGMETRICS conference in June 2018.

The authors say that in tall 3D nand (30 layers and upwards) the raw error rate in blocks in the middle layers are significantly worse (6x) compared to the top layer. Therefore to enable more reliable and faster SSDs using 3D nand for enterprise applications they propose a new type of RAID which pairs together the best predicted half of a RAID word with the worst predicted half from another chip in the same SSD.

This new RAID concept starts to be feasible in a very small population of chips - unlike traditional 2D nand schemes which need more chips to be installed in the SSD.

The new RAID is called Layer-Interleaved RAID (LI-RAID) - which the authors say "improves reliability by changing how pages are grouped under the RAID error recovery technique. LI-RAID uses information about layer-to-layer process variation to reduce the likelihood that the RAID recovery of a group could fail significantly earlier during the flash lifetime than the recovery of other groups." ... read the article (pdf)

Editor's comments:- the new RAID is just one of many gems in this research paper. Others being the discovery that remanence in 3D nand includes a significant short term charge loss (in the first few minutes after writes), and also that an endurance based characterization of a small part of each chip can be used to predict an optimized layer dependent threshold read voltage for all the layers in the chip. I've discussed the significance of adding the concept of "layers" to "number of raw chips" to the thinking in SSD controller design in my recent home page blog.

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Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment
Editor:- August 27, 2018 - Coughlin Associates today announced the availability of its new (14th annual) Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment Report - 2018 - (254 pages, $7,500).

Tom Coughlin (author and President Coughlin Associates) says...

"The report benefited from input from many experts in the industry including end users and storage suppliers, which along with economic analysis and industry publications and announcements, was used to create the data including in the report. We have made modifications to earlier reports to better model current market conditions. As a result of changes in the economics of storage devices higher performance solid-state storage will play a bigger role in the future. The cloud and hybrid storage including the cloud will be a bigger part of the media and entertainment storage market going forward."

Editor's comments:- Among other things the press release about the new report includes these interesting observations:-
  • By our estimates, professional media and entertainment storage capacity represents about 4.5% of total shipped storage capacity in 2017
  • In 2017 we estimate that 71% of the total storage media capacity shipped for all the digital entertainment content segments was in HDDs, with digital tape at 22.7%, 4.3% optical discs and flash at 2.0%. Flash memory dominates cameras and is finding wider use in post production and content distribution systems.
  • Overall cloud storage capacity for media and entertainment is expected to grow about 13.3X between 2017 and 2023 (5.1 EB to 68.2 EB)
See also:- other storage market research companies, a timeline of SSDs in tv and media

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If you could go back in time and take with you a factory full of modern memory chips and SSDs (along with backwards compatible adapters) what real impact would that have?
are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?
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storage history
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SSD SoCs controllers
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storage ORGs directory
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image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies ..
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archived storage news - this news page from 2000 to 2018
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SSD news

data integrity in DRAM

new paper lists and describes known techniques


Editor:- September 19, 2018 - A Survey of Techniques for Improving Error-Resilience of DRAM is a new research paper by Sparsh Mittal - Assistant Professor at IIT Hyderabad and Maruthi S Inukonda published in the Journal of Systems Architecture.

The authors say - "Aggressive process scaling and increasing demands of performance/cost efficiency have exacerbated the incidences and impact of errors in DRAM systems. Due to this, improvements in DRAM reliability has received significant attention in recent years from both academia and industry. In this paper, we present a survey of techniques for improving reliability of DRAM-based main memory. We classify the works based on key parameters to emphasize their similarities and differences. This paper is expected to be useful for computer architects, chip-designers and researchers in the area of memory/system-reliability. ...read the article

Editor's comments:- Among other things this paper has a detailed analysis of multi-dimensional ECC schemes, multi pin correction codes (discussion of fault coverage and overheads), the efficacy of retirement schemes for pins and chips, chipkill, RAID and various schemes for stacked DRAM arrays.

See also:- DRAM news in an SSD context, reliability stories in the news archive, fault tolerant SSDs


looking back at many years of gigs with the data recovery market

Editor:- September 14, 2018 - Recovering data from damaged storage media (magnetic, optical or semiconductor memory) in the absence of a usable backup is one of those subjects which intersects with many technology disciplines.
  • reliability - oems can learn about their design weaknesses by engaging with real world failed drives
  • government agencies - need to recover unique data from deliberately or accidentally destroyed storage
  • consumers - may have precious photos or documents on a drive which was never backep up
  • enterprise users - may discover that a single mode failure such as sysadmin error, new software install or site-wide calamity has trashed their data and backups too
  • financial companies - may need to trace deliberately altered server records
Every year at about this time when the hurricanes hit the US the data recovery pages get a spike of readers - even though they are rarely updated. It's one of those things which triggers mixed emotions. I'm sorry that anyone needs to look this type of stuff up. But I'm glad if anyone finds that the articles empower them in their onward recovery journey.

In my new home page blog on StorageSearch.com - some thoughts about data recovery - I look back at what I learned about this market - where a simple transaction with a credit card can propel you straight into high tech spook technology. ...read the article


Burlywood announces Series A funding

Editor:- September 12, 2018 - Burlywood - which is developing software-defined flash controller architecture for hyperscale data centers - today announced it has completed its Series A funding with proceeds totaling $10.6 million.

See also:- a history of VCs in SSDs, SSD software, SSDs in the cloud


SNIA enters the computational storage market

Editor:- September 12, 2018 - In its SNIA matters newsletter this month SNIA said it is forming a new work group looking at Computational Storage.

SNIA says - "SSDs and other storage devices now have compute capabilities. How do such devices inform the host and other clients, in a standard way, of their capabilities? How does the host program these devices in a vendor neutral way? Those are some of the questions the new Computational Storage TWG will tackle."

Editor's comments:- as a departure from its usual way of doing things SNIA says that during the initial phase of this work companies "do not need to be a SNIA Member to participate."

Computational storage aka in-situ SSD processing also associated with processing in memory etc was one of the key SSD ideas which changed in 2014 - as noted in my annual summary on StorageSearch.com at that time.

Thinking about this new standards discussion and engagement by SNIA I think it's likely that the most powerful elements of computational storage will be very application specific and led by cloud customer and proprietary AI industry platform requirements.

This means that long before any so called "standards" emerge it may already be clear who the leading proprietary companies in the market already are. (As was the case during the early years of PCIe SSDs) .

But in the long term it will be useful to define general software frameworks - standards - for interrogating and initializing the customizable features of computational storage products so that a software ecosystem can grow around doing useful things with a variety of competing intelligent memory systems having different price points and acceleration capabilities and just enough "compatibility" to reduce the risks on the road to inevitable mainstream adoption.

See also:- storage industry trade associations


StorageSearch.com - update on the sale

Editor:- September 3, 2018 - Re the planned sale of StorageSearch.com (expected to occur at the end of 2018) an update document has been produced to help buyers with whom I've been having discussions to self select from a range of options related to the web properties and assimilation plans and handover services.

Background... A public announcement offering StorageSearch.com for sale was made in June 2018.

It's not too late to indicate your interest in this.

However - I've still got a few important articles I'd like to write before I'm finished and start my retirement on December 25, 2018.


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



Marvell samples first NVMe-oF SSD Converter Controller

Editor:- August 7, 2018 - Marvell today announced it is sampling a new controller to simplify the design of Ethernet connected NVMe-oF SSDs.

The 88SN2400 - which is aimed at a EBOF (Ethernet Bunch of Flash) applications - utilizes a simple, low-power and compute-less Ethernet fabric instead of a traditional PCIe fabric controlled and managed by an enterprise-class server SoC with integrated 100GE controllers.

As an indicator of performance Marvell says that a typical 2U24 shelf with populated with 88SN2400 attached SSDs can support up to 18M IOPS. Utilizing a Marvell Ethernet switch that supports 2Tb/s and the Marvell 88SN2400, data center operators will be able to benefit from a 150GB/s pipe of pooled storage, and better power consumption per IO compared to general purpose architectures. The SSD converter controller is optimized for a small footprint and can be attached to existing backplanes providing ease of service and eliminating single point of failure. The technology can also be designed into future Marvell SSD and emerging SCM controllers.

See also:- the storage interface glue chips and IP page


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.

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