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SSD endurance
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the Top SSD Companies - 2007 to 2015
The enterprise flash story... why's the plot so complicated?
Decloaking hidden preference segments in enterprise flash
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From 2007 to 2014 - the dominant focus and center of SSD accelerator gravity was PCIe SSDs.

It was the rapid domino-effect adoption of 3rd party PCIe SSD accelerators by every mainstream server manufacturer - which changed the way that SSDs were perceived from being an alienlike technology promoted by industry outsiders to being a necessary option which was expected to be supported inside every new server product line.

But the next chapter of the fast SSD accelerator story looks more like a DIMM.
DIMM wars in SSD servers - Memory1 - episode 1
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"after numerous delays, a new wave of next-generation, nonvolatile memories are finally here. One technology, 3D NAND, is shipping and gaining steam. And 3 others - Magnetoresistive RAM, ReRAM and even carbon nanotube RAMs - are suddenly in the mix"
Mark LaPedus, Executive Editor - Semiconductor Engineering - in his new blog - Gaps in the memory hierarchy have created openings for new types of memory - which is flavored with some strong opinions from leading memory analysts.
the unsung hero of 3D endurance
Editor:- September 15, 2015 - One of the interesting surprises about 3D nand flash which emerged early in 2014 was that the endurance - reported by SSD designers - was better than you would have expected if you had taken as your starting point - assumptions about 2D nand with similar capacity and next generation (smaller) planar geometries.

Part of the explanation - which I discussed last year - was the use of different materials.

But there's more to it than that as I realized today in a new (to me) white paper The V-Nand paradigm shift (pdf) which came in a an email blast from Samsung.

In Samsung's version of 3D - the charge is held in a silicon nitride charge trap - which has better insulating properties than conventional 2D materials - and lower leakage. (Essential if you think about it to even get a hope of doing more levels.) That's the bit I already wrote about.

What I didn't appreciate before was this.

The SiN charge trap requires a lower voltage to program each cell than traditional 2D (floating gate) designs. (The destructive effect of the energy in these write pulses is one of the contributory factors to cell wear in 2D.)

The combination of better insulation and less destructive write process would give you a better endurance figure for the same flash process geometry in nanometers.

But a 3rd element in Samsung's 32 layer 3D (which you could say is the sneaky pragmatic business decision bit) is that these devices weren't 2Xnm geomtery at all.

Samsung decided to bring this technology to market with a mature proven 3Xnm process. (3Xnm gives you better endurance anyway than 2Xnm in 2D flash.)

So when Samsung talk about their 32 layer V-nand - with 35,000 P/E cycles "offering 10x increase in endurance over the 3,000 cycles provided by planar (2D) NAND" there are several ingredients which combine to get this headline figure. And that's why this paper is useful.

As to how much of that "10x" will continue to be sustainable as more layers are added and as cell sizes get smaller - will remain to be seen. Samsung's paper suggests that they are hopeful about aiming at 100 layers in the next few years.

But it's clear that a lower write pulse voltage is one of the unsung heroes in this better endurance story. the white paper

PS - not everyone is convinced about the market transforming imminence of Samsung's 3D nand.

In his August 2015 paper - Flash Technology:Annual Update (pdf) - Jim Handy founder Objective Analysis said "Samsung is shipping at a loss and we have found no evidence of a data sheet." Furthermore Jim is sceptical about the 3D nand industry's assertions that " the big ramp will be in 2017."
spreading the word about SSD
Editor:- September 23, 2015 - Like ghostwriters - their identities remain largely unknown - even when their works are widely read.

I'm talking here about PR agencies which have done good work in the storage industry.

I've recently updated my own list of editor proven PR agencies - to clear out the dead links.

For vendors who are new to the SSD and storage market this list (which has been online since 2001) can be a useful way to find a communications partner who will help to spread the word about what you do throughout the fragmented media jungle. ...see the list
SAS SSD market size - as interpreted by Micron
Editor:- September 3, 2015 - If you're interested in the possible size and direction of the SAS SSD market - here's some data supplied to me today by Micron.

This was in response to some questions I asked yesterday about a growth figure "59%" which they had quoted in a press release (in August) about their first new SAS SSDs developed as part of their collaboration agreement with Seagate.
SAS SSD market - a view based on Micron's marketing assessments of various data sources revised in August 2015
Metric 2015 2019 CAGR
Revenue ($M) 1,973 3,730 17%
Gigabytes (M ) 1,828 11,700 59%
Units (M) 2.4 5.1 21%
Memory companies like Micron create, suck in and analyze thousands of analyst hours of raw and structured statistics about components and drives. And although - just as for anyone else - the fine details of such projections and interpretations can turn out to be wrong - it's nevertheless very helpful to understand some of the publicly viewable raw data which drives the thinking behind related product plans.
SanDisk and enterprise software?

after 4 years something is clear...
Editor:- September 1, 2015 - How long does it take for new enterprise SSD products (and vendors) to become part of the mental compass in your mind map? ...The reference points by which you think about new projects and compare your reading of new products?

In an earlier blog on these pages - the new enterprise aristocrats of SSD - I said "that 4 years may be long enough to earn a company its place for elevation into the elite ranks of the aristocracy - for class-act companies which have been seen regularly in all the right places - such as the Top SSD Companies Lists."

That was about enterprise SSD boxes (which have been changing a lot). Longer than 4 years and they've changed out of recognition. Sooner than that and not enough people understand where they fit in.

But how about SSD software?

History shows us that few enterprise SSD software solutions have survived close contact with the companies which acquired them for more than a handful of quarters.

But there have been exceptions.

In a recent blog Rich Petersen Director of Marketing, Software Solutions at SanDisk reflects on what's new in version 4 of FlashSoft (announced yesterday). Which among other things include:-
  • write-back caching support
  • improved stability mechanisms to reduce impacts from rogue VMs
Rich starts his blog with "3 years ago at VMworld 2012, we introduced FlashSoft software for VMware vSphere..."

And he ends it with "the best feature in FlashSoft 4.0 is peace of mind."

Of course there's some technology involved and you can read about the details in various links. But sometimes when it comes to reading about products like this - the thing which makes it worth reading about in more detail at all is that this product has been evolving in the market and in these pages for 4 years.

Which makes it one of the important angles of reference in the enterprise SSD caching compass.

But there are others too.

Seagate recently (in August 2015) acquired for itself a new magnetic storage caching compass too in the shape of Dot Hill. This comes in a different kind of package and aims in a different direction in which the hard drive elements are seen as part of the solution instead of the source of the problem.

from the SSD history archive
Aupera launches world's first M.2 MRAM SSD

Intel and Micron say more about future Optane memory

Diablo launches Memory1 (volatile flash replacing DRAM)
more lanes of SAS than anyone else in 4U SavageStor
Altera launches adaptive DSP controller for PCIe SSD market

Nantero gets $31 million funding for 300 C retention nvram
Tegile gets another $70 million funding

Nimble reports revenue growth of 53%

OCZ ships programmable power envelope 2.5" hot swap NVMe SSDs
WD's enterprise SSD revenue $224 million / qtr

Diablo resumes shipments of MCS following legal victories

Silicon Motion agrees to acquire PCIe SSD maker - Shannon Systems for $57 million
Toshiba samples 48-layer 3D nand

8TB 2.5" PCIe SSDs sampling soon from Novachips

SanDisk launches white box rackmount SSD - InfiniFlash
Avago acquires Emulex for $600 million

FalconStor's FreeStor enters SSD platform market

Northwest Logic provides FPGA support for Everspin's MRAM
Novachips acquires HLNAND

Toshiba shows 1st BGA PCIe SSDs

So we're looking at a list of 10 well known suppliers of flash arrays. Probably you've spent days already (or weeks) going through the features, which types of SSDs are inside the arrays etc, etc.

Now line them all up again in your mind.

Now imagine that every single one of these products is actually the same hardware.

And when I say the same - I mean the same.
towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market
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SSD news

PMC-Sierra agrees to be acquired for $2 billion

Editor:- October 6, 2015 - PMC-Sierra has agreed to be acquired by Skyworks for $2 billion it was announced yesterday.

"With our acquisition of PMC, Skyworks will be uniquely positioned to capitalize on the explosive demand for high performance solutions that seamlessly connect, transport and store Big Data," said David J. Aldrich, chairman and CEO of Skyworks. "Specifically, we plan to leverage PMC's innovative storage systems, flash controllers, optical switches and network infrastructure solutions to expand our engagements with some of the world's leading OEMs and ODMs as well as emerging hyperscale data center customers."

TrendFocus compares worldwide raw physical storage capacity of flash and HDDs

Editor:- October 5, 2015 - A new blog by TrendFocus - How far does NAND output have to grow in order to supply all our storage devices? - says that that 80EB of NAND flash will ship this year compared to 500EB HDDs.

The author Don Jeanette concludes - "it is evident that there is not enough NAND supply to take over all the storage requirements in the world at this point."

Editor's comments:- that's true as far as it goes.

But in my classic article - meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon (2013) - I explained why I think that SSDs will easily replace all hard drives in the enterprise much sooner than this type of capacity gap comparison would lead you to think. (It's a system architecture and virtualization thing.)

Micron acquires stealth mode NVMe SSD controller company - Tidal Systems

Editor:- October 3, 2015 - Micron has acquired Tidal Systems (a stealth mode controller company whose home page has the statement "Enabling PCIe NVMe Flash Storage Development" according to a news report by Tom's Hardware which suggests that the acquired company's controller technology is adaptive DSP.

Editor's comments:- In June 2015 I summarized the weaknesses of Micron's flash controller technology and commented on the oddity of its not having made any significant enterprise SSD acquisitions in the preceding 12 to 18 months. In which I said "Micron's enterprise storage strategy has not met the basic needs of Micron as a memory company. It doesn't have any strong SSD architectures and systems roadmaps of its own."

BTW - in the same article in a February 2014 note - I wrote about "Micron's DIMM SSD accelerator product gap / opportunity / threat"... That was recently addressed with the recent announcement of Optane.

So that leaves just one main outstanding action on the future Micron "to do list" - from the SSD analysis in their profile page here on the mouse site - the acquisition of a rackmount SSD reference architecture or product line.

the Top SSD Companies - new 33rd quarterly edition

Editor:- October 1, 2015 - has published a new edition of the Top SSD Companies.

2 of the fastest climbers in the new 33rd quarterly edition - which is based on market metrics in Q2 2015 - are players in the oldest game in SSD town (industrial SSDs) whereas a significant newcomer to the list is at the forefront of an increasingly sophisticated SSD software market. the article

UNIS agrees to invest $3.8 billion in Western Digital

Editor:- October 1, 2015 - UNIS, founded in 1988 and headquartered in Beijing, has entered into an agreement to make a $3.775 billion equity investment in Western Digital (for approximately 15% of Western Digital's stock right along with a seat on the board). Proceeds from the investment will go toward strengthening Western Digital's balance sheet.

Nimble's sales growth via US distribution rates "Rising Star" award

Editor:- September 28, 2015 - Nimble Storage was recognized for its outstanding sales growth through US distribution channels - it was announced today by the NPD Group whose sales tracker research formed the basis of "Rising Star" awards presented at a recent Global Technology Distribution Council summit.

InnoDisk enables hot swap of tiny SATA DOMs

Editor:- September 24, 2015 - InnoDisk today announced an enhanced version of its previously available Pin 7 power cable eliminator technology for use with small embedded SATA SSDs - such as those used on server motherboards (and in particular the company's ServerDOM SSDs which won a design award in January 2015. Innodisk's new SATA Pin 8 Vcc technology - which is available on motherboards from top manufacturers - eliminates the need for a separate power cable and is also compatible with hot swap.

Samsung opens new Silicon Valley semiconductor HQ

Editor:- September 24, 2015 - Samsung - which has had a campus in Silicon Valley since 1983 - has this week formally opened its new Device Solutions America headquarters which will bring together on a single campus over 700 employees who work in its semiconductor business.

You can see more local details in the San Jose Mercury News.

Atmel - who?

Editor:- September 22, 2015 - It had been a long time since I last heard from Atmel (November 2005 according to my inbox - and that was about DVD chips) but 10 years is not so long that I had entirely forgotten that they once had a distant connection to the SSD market.

So when I saw an article alert to - Dialog and Atmel, 2 cultures to build 1 successful company? - by Eric Esteve, founder of market research company IPnest - that was my way of learning the recent announced that Dialog Semiconductor (which is not an SSD company) will acquire Atmel for $4.6 billion.

Eric who worked for Atmel at the time writes - "In year 2000, Atmel had more than $1,500 million of revenue from flash..

But he goes on to say that in 2014 "their flash product line was almost dead" - however they had "about $150 million of revenue related to other nvm".

Eric's article reassured me that although my eye had been off the ball of Atmel - there may have been good reasons (from an SSDcentric context). And it's a great way to wrap up the story of a company from the history archive. Eric's article

the fastest SSDs?

Editor:- September 21, 2015 - Raw speed used to be the most important success factor for enterprise SSD vendors throughout most of the market's history - but today performance is just one of many segments. Partly for that reason I hadn't updated the fastest SSD companies list for a while. But I have now. It includes some well known drives and boxes but some newcomers to the market too. the article

new SSD market report from TMR

Editor:- September 18, 2015 - SSDs with capacities of 80GB and below accounted for approximately 36% of the total $15 billion global SSD market revenue in 2014 - according to a new market report SSD Market - Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022 ($4,795 133 pages) published by Transparency Market Research which among other things profiles 10 leading SSD companies.

TMR says that Samsung, Intel and SanDisk accounted for over 57% of market revenue.

See also:- who does storage market research?

Mangstor gets $10 million series B funding

Editor:- September 17, 2015 - Mangstor today announced it has closed $10 million in Series B funding which will be used to fuel growth in sales and engineering and business development.

image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage
VCs in SSDs
"This investment confirms our leadership in NVMe over fabrics technology which delivers an order of magnitude higher performance at the lowest latency verses legacy iSCSI and Fiber Channel" said Trevor Smith CEO and co-founder of Mangstor .

Editor's comments:- last week I had a 90 minutes one on one with Trevor which we spent talking about gaps in the enterprise SSD market, Mangstor's technology and the competitive positioning of its PCIe SSDs and systems. You can see some of our discussion topics in their profile page.

Datalight's SSD firmware to go into manned spacecraft

Editor:- September 17, 2015 - Datalight today announced that its embedded filesystem (Reliance Nitro) and FTL (FlashFX Tera) have been selected by NASA for use onboard future manned spacecraft being developed as part of the Orion program.

rocket image from one of my novelsEditor's comments:- NASA has had a lot of mentions by SSD and storage vendors in articles and news here on the mouse site. Some of the application contexts have been ground based - but many have also been in space.

FYI the spacecraft image shown here isn't from NASA - it's from my 1990s unfinished online SF novel. One of many which I may resume when the SSD market slows down and becomes more predictable. (That's an excuse you can borrow and use yourself.)

RRAM SSDs in 2016? - Crossbar gets $35 million series D funding

Editor:- September 14, 2015 - Crossbar today announced it has completed a $35 million Series D funding round bringing total investment to $85 million to date.

Crossbar plans to use the funds to continue the commercial ramp of its RRAM NVM memory technology which is based on a simple device structure using CMOS friendly materials and standard manufacturing processes. It can be stacked in 3D, making it possible to combine logic and memory onto a single chip at the latest technology node.

Crossbar is currently working with beta customers to bring products to market in 2016.

revenue reported by Marvell was unreliable

Editor:- September 11, 2015 - Marvell today announced that it is downgrading its revenue expectations for the most recent quarter due to business which the company had logged as booked - now having gone away - and possibly having been booked in the wrong reporting period.

Reports from financial observers quoted on speculate that "Marvell may have been boosting quarterly sales by pulling them forward a quarter."

ZIPmagic has more full SSD compression profiles for Windows

Editor:- September 8, 2015 - ZIPmagic Software today launched a new version of their run time full SSD drive compression utility - which now includes Lempel-Ziv-Simon Disk Compression (pdf)

4 different (preselectable) compression modes are supported - which provide different compression ratios and have different characteristics in terms of how soon the full compressed disk can be used - ranging from immediately while the SSD is being compressed.

ZIPmagic says "Lempel-Ziv-Simon Disk Compression supports all OSes from Windows XP through to Windows Server 2016, whether 32 bit or 64 bit, from a single setup package."

Editor's comments:- Australia based ZIPmagic - which first appeared on this news page in August 2014 - is looking for SSD companies which may be interested in bundling their software. They have an introductory rate of of $1 per device.

Because of its background the company's web site is focused entirely on consumers but I think that there may also be industrial applications for this kind of technology too. For oem inquiries contact Keith Tan (Director of Sales & Marketing) via linkedin or Simon King (CTO) via email.

NexentaStor available with InfiniFlash

Editor:- September 3, 2015 - Nexenta recently announced support for SanDisk's InfiniFlash AFA box.

List price for the integrated solution including, perpetual software licenses, controllers, InfiniFlash, 3 year support and installation can be as low as $1.500/Raw TB.

See also:- towards enterprise hardware consolidation, SSD prices

US Court says Netlist must pay posted bond to Diablo

Editor:- September 2, 2015 - Netlist has been ordered to pay Diablo the full bond it posted in partial compensation for the profits which Diablo lost while being restrained from manufacturing and shipping products during part of the now completed lawsuit re memory channel storage IP according to an announcement today from Diablo.

Wikibon predicts when enterprise flash market will cross over with HDD storage

Editor:- September 1, 2015 - A recently publihsed blog - the Status of Flash for Practitioners by David Floyer , CTO - Wikibon was recommeded to me by a reader.

Unfortunately a factual error stopped me dead at the preamble - "When enterprise flash first came out in 2008"...

2008? - That's wrong. Vendors had already been promoting and selling enterprise focused SSD systems and products for years before that. As those vendors included my advertisers and their customers included my readers – I was in a position to know. The incremental creep of enterprise flash deployment from its modest start in 2004 can be seen in the history of the SSD market and archived SSD and storage news.

OK - aside from that gripe - the Wikibon article tackles the long running predictive game of pinning a year at which the capacity orinented enterprise flash storage market will crossover the HDD part. (The game gets easier as you get closer in time to the event being predicted. I started publishing my own guesses about this in 2010.)

Wikibon guesstimates today that - "spend on flash storage for latency is projected to be about 29% in 2015, and break the 50% barrier in 2017. Also the spend on flash for capacity is projected to be 1% in 2015, and break the 50% barrier in 2021. HDDs are projected to be about 2% of total data center storage revenue by the end of the forecast period in 2026."

See also:- How will the hard drive market fare... in a solid state storage world?, can you trust SSD market data?

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SSD jargon

"Are you still in the camp that thinks proprietary hardware is the better path? Simply take a look at the leading global hyperscalers, i.e. AWS, Azure, Google, Apple and how their Data Centers look... How long before everyone else hops on the bandwagon?"
Marius Tudor, VP Business Development Coho Data - in his new blog To Cloud or Not to Cloud...Publicly

the enterprise SSD story...
why's the plot so complicated?
the golden age of enterprise SSDs
The Golden Age of enterprise SSDs?

hold up capacitors in 2.5" MIL SSDs

do you really need them?
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics
0 to 3S
Editor:- I've been looking at different aspects of power hold up schemes in mission critical non volatile memory systems for over 30 years.

But every time I revisit this vast topic and compare fresh examples from the market - I learn something a little bit new.

My new blog - Zero to three seconds - demonstrates the extreme range of hold up times now in the market inside leading edge 2.5" military flash SSDs. the article
90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive
In one of the most highly read articles on in recent years - I looked at drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD systems market along with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas. The conclusion?

"90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive."

Before publication - I discussed these ideas with various readers for about 3 months and since publication you won't be surprised when I tell you it has been at the core of many conversations since. the article
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