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SCM - competing semiconductor approaches compared
Editor:- January 10, 2017 - In a new video Storage Class Memory - Reality, Opportunity, and Competition -Sang-Yun Lee, CEO - BeSang presents his analysis of the technology SWOT state of the market.

SCM video

Among other things Sang-Yun Lee (whose company offers 3D super-NOR as an alternative competing SSD and SCM technology platform) notes the weaknesses of some competing technologies:-
  • when looking at cross-point structure memories (such as Micron's 3DXpoint) - "is the worst nightmare for manufacturing"
  • when looking at NVDIMM-P (such as Diablo's Memory 1) - "performance is not predictable at all times"
Editor's comments:- In some significant areas I disagree with the finality of some of of Mr. Lee's conclusions.

For example I think that changes in system aware software can improve the usability of nand flash as DRAM. This is because I think the applications experience leans more heavily towards the elastic behavior of the entire "virtual" memory system as a working model rather than transmitting every bump in the road from the native physical memory (even when that memory is DRAM) for reasons discussed here.

Also when it comes to concern about the endurance of nand flash when used in DRAM emulation - I am satisfied that due to the variability of DRAM data churn (which follows a time and fractional data change pattern in real applications - rather than all DRAM contents being equally turbulent) and provided that the emulated data capacity is big enough (and supported by a suitably sized RAM cache ratio) then I think that flash endurance is good enough for reasons discussed here.

On the other hand - due to the fact that SCM applications currently require a great deal of characterization and testing and may require proprietary tuning - and due to the diverse nature of risk / reward attitudes in the enterprise user base (which we already see when it comes to memory systems) I expect fragmentation will occur in SCM adoption.

On the one hand there will be those who are satisfied with the risks posed by software enhanced DRAM emulation (because they have the technical resources to assess the risks and have applications which match the software supported by early SCM solutions).

And on the other hand there will be many who prefer to wait to get solutions which rely more on native hardware and rely less on the magic promised by new software data architectures.

When memory technologies change then systems designers have to invest learning time to understand the implications of competing offers. And whatever your background Sang-Yun Lee's presentation will get you thinking about many important comparative technology issues ...see the video

See also:- the SSD heresies
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A3CUBE and memory fabrics....
Editor:- January 10, 2017 - When A3CUBE started talking about supporting big memory fabrics with PCIe (in 2014) there weren't too many other choices out there.

Now in 2017 the SSD and SCM news pages are awash with announcements about big memory systems. And growing industry support for NVMe over Fabric was one of the big market developments in 2016.

We're already seeing signs of clear fragmentation in the memory fabric market (mostly via server based interface expansion preferences such as PCIe, IB and GbE but some of the memory applications are also being cannibalized by tiered memory, new semiconductor memory solutions and DIMM wars.)

In this context it was interesting to see a recent video (January 2017) from A3CUBE which shows how their PCIe connected shared memory fabric can work with NVMe components too. ...see the video
A3cube and NVMe
3DXpoint revenue
"3D cross point we've said is a very de minimis amount of revenue in -- fiscal 2017. We will ship for revenue, but it's actually a fairly small amount and then we've set the expectation for somewhere around 5% of company revenues in 2018."

Ernie Maddock, CFO - Micron (January 10, 2017) in Micron Presents at Needham Growth Conference (transcript - by

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"While NVMe over PCIe shaves off about 10µs relative to SAS, NVMf can shave off about 100µs from the roundtrip latency between two hosts relative to protocols such as iSCSI. It also saves CPU usage from TCP/IP processing.

This can be particularly beneficial in scale-out systems for transferring data between hosts. It does require RDMA-capable NICs and DCB-capable switches, so it will take some time for mass adoption."
Umesh Maheshwari, founder and CTO, Nimble Storage in his recent blog - NVMe and NVMs - What to Expect (December 28, 2016).


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SSD news

NVMe now, NVDIMM coming - says Web-Feet Research

Editor:- January 16, 2017 - Web-Feet Research today announced it has released the 12th annual edition of its SSD market reports - SSD Markets and Applications 2017 ($5,500) - which concentrates on the enterprise market with the emergence of PCIe, NVMe (U.2 and M.2) and NVDIMM SSDs as well as quantifying the client and commercial markets. It addresses the difficulty of migrating from HDD to SSD and to Hybrid and All Flash storage systems while advancing the ‘intelligent processing’ of memory and storage.

Alan Niebel , CEO - Web-Feet Research says (among other things)

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"With the adoption of new interfaces like NVMe and the Memory Channel, and embracing emerging media like 3D NAND and Persistent Memory (ReRAM / XPoint) the industry is undergoing a transformation. The old computing storage model is unable to keep up with the amount of data needed to be stored. It needs to merge storage into memory in order to process in real time more complex data, diverse data types and much higher volume of data anticipated through 2021.

"Even though NAND-Flash based SSDs perform at several orders of magnitude higher than hard-disk-drives they suffer from the same non-deterministic inadequacies as compared to solutions based on XPoint memory. Flash memory based SSDs suffer the indeterminate delay inserted by the Flash Translation Layer in its production of the of physical block addresses. This is one reason that All-Flash-Array architects like Pure Storage desire additional physical control at the FTL. Additional storage system functions such as deduplication, compression, error coding, power-on fill, data recovery ops, check pointing, and scrubbing are further accelerated by this approach.."

NVDIMM market report

Editor:- January 11, 2017 - The NVDIMM market is estimated to grow at 64% CAGR over the course of 2016 to 2020 according to 9Dimen Research who recently published a report Global NVDIMM Industry 2016, Trends and Forecast Report ($2,850, 153 pages).

See also:- who's who in storage market research?

Another $75 million to support Kaminario's business outlook

Editor:- January 10, 2017 - Kaminario today announced it has secured $75 million in a new round of financing, bringing the company's total funding to $218 million.

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VCs in SSDs
The company which is privately owned and doesn't disclose revenue says "Hundreds of customers rely on Kaminario K2 to power their mission critical applications and safeguard their digital ecosystem."

Editor's comments:- Kaminario has changed the internal make up of its flash drives (form factors, interfaces and components) in its arrays many times and has said in the past that its systems are based on an SDS model.

Today's news of continuing investment in the company seems to be a bet that whatever the consolodated enterprise memory systems market of the future might look like any vendor which can grow its sales through multiple transitions of raw technology uncertainty is valued.

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In June 2012 - when writing about Kaminario's long range philosophy about the SSD market I said they were a rare example of a systems company which had good roadmap symmetry (having an architecture and software which was not closely tied to the advantages of any particular memory type or SSD form factor - but which could plausibly leverage future market improvements in SSDs with smaller bumps than vendors who had over optimized their systems to leverage transient technology spikes).

This is as much about choosing the customers, applications and segments as designing the business plan. Because some customer segments are so price and performance sensitive that only well adapted memory systems can compete and sell in such applications.

It always comes back to marketing in the end.

Foremay fires patent warning post about flash data destruct spikes

Editor:- January 10, 2017 - If you're seriously interested in data security in SSDs you'll already know that encryption is simply a promise to delay access to secured data rather than a guarantee that it will remain denied to those who shouldn't see it. That's why the SSD fast purge / autonomous data destruct / fast secure erase market has developed so many ingenious ways to offer better security assurance - which you can pick to match your deployment's time to erase, electrical power to erase and monetary cost budget.

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fast purge SSDs
I noticed a new post on linkedin by Dennis Eodice VP Strategic Sales - Foremay - who says the company has a patent - 9,317,422 - for a technique which physically destroys the nand flash in an SSD using addressibly directed high voltage.

The implied message being that if any other companies have used similar techniques to secure SSDs which are sold in other regions - Foremay thinks this patent is enforceable to prevent this technique being used in competing SSDs sold in the US.

How do banks use big memory systems to detect fraud?

Editor:- January 9, 2017 - In the early 2000s I started hearing stories from vendors of ultrafast SSDs about how their fast memory systems were helping banks to not only ease the choke points in their transactions but also provide insights into fraud prevention.

A new white paper GridGain Systems provides a good introduction and synthesis of the various roles of in-memory computing in accelerating financial fraud detection and prevention (pdf) which includes many named bank examples.

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This paper describes how in memory computing provides the low latency data sharing backbone which is needed to enable pattern detection for fradulent activity to be assessed in real-time while at the same time enabling genuine transactions to proceed quicky.

Among other things, the paper says...

"The move from disk to memory is a key factor in improving performance. However, simply moving to memory is not sufficient to guarantee the extremely high memory processing speeds needed at the enterprise level... Clients who have implemented the GridGain In-Memory Data Fabric to detect and prevent fraud in their transactions have found that they can process those transactions about 1,000 times faster." the article (pdf)

NVMdurance names new CMO

Editor:- January 9, 2017 - NVMdurance today announced that Kevin Kilbuck has been appointed as Chief Marketing Officer.

Kevin, who had previously been Director of Marketing at Micron, said - "We are at the tip of the iceberg of the flash disruption in storage, and NVMdurance is providing unique solutions to enable this."

BCC predicts $850 million market for carbon based NRAM in 2023

Editor:- January 9, 2017 - BCC Research recently announced a report - is NRAM Creating Market Volatility? - which among other things - predicts the size of the NRAM market based on technology developed by Nantero.

storage market research
market research
In the preamble BCC says...

"Can you give us a small peek at why NRAM will hold the advantage vs. Flash, SRAM and DRAM in the coming years? - The key word is breakthrough. With NRAM we depart the world of silicon and embrace cell phones, laptops and even an internet, that is increasingly going to become carbon based organisms. Smaller components that work faster but require less energy are absolute winners."

See also:- flash and alt nvms

SSD article in Military and Aerospace Electronics

Editor:- January 4, 2017 - If you're interested in military SSDs and mil SSD companies then a recent article - security and solid-state media driving data storage in the December edition of Military and Aerospace Electronics includes comments from various companies in the market. Among other things the article says...

"Today almost all aerospace and defense data storage for deployed applications have moved to solid state memory." the article

See also:- SSD market history, User Value Propositions for buying SSDs (2005)

Persistent Memory Summit - what's coming?

Editor:- January 3, 2017 - This is usually the time of year we'd be looking out for announcements from the Storage Visions conference - which for 15 years had been co-sited with CES. That link has now been cut with Storage Visions 2017 now taking place in October.

This decoupling makes sense when you consider that most of the innovations in the storage market have been coming from the cloud and enterprise markets rather then the consumer market.

If you're looking for a flagship event in January - consider instead the 2017 Persistent Memory Summit - (January 18, 2017, San Jose, CA).

Among the topics as you might expect from any standards org event (this event being run by SNIA) will be a presentation called - Rethinking Benchmarks for Non-Volatile Memory Storage Systems.

The need for a "goodness" or "aptness" standard for non DRAM based memory systems and components is something I discussed in an earlier news blog - is it realistic to talk about memory IOPS? (August 2016).

At the root of such a new standard will be how do you get agreements on latency zoning for different zones of temporary data?

I think a key factor on the usability of big memory emulation (even in a flattened latency world where all storage is solid state) is that different parts of the memory contents change more often than others. So even after you've figured out the best ways to cache and tier the memory systems - the experience of memory is still very application and infrastructure dependent.

My guess is that if new standards for memory systems benchmarks do emerge then they will follow the same patterns of abuse that we've seen in the past with MIPS, MFLOPS, SPECint/fp/marks and IOPS. And that will give the tech writers something to write about for years.

Nimbus awarded patent for non blocking backplane technology

Editor:- December 21, 2016 - Nimbus Data Systems today announced it has been granted a patent - 9,268,501 - for the non-blocking data fabric architecture which is used in its petabyte scale SSD racks.

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"Conventional HDD-centric architectures employed by the majority of all-flash array vendors trap flash performance behind legacy shared bus and scale-up designs," said Thomas Isakovich, CEO and Founder. "Now patented, Nimbus Data's Parallel Memory Architecture overcomes the limitations of generic off-the-shelf servers, capturing the full performance potential of all-flash technology."

Editor's comments:- Nimbus's patent relates to a non blocking SAS-aware fabric technology.

Other notable SSD box makers which have gone on the record to talk about their non blocking matrix switch arrangements to reduce latency and improved throughput include Texas Memory Systems (now IBM's flashsystem) and Violin Memory (VXM).

Recadata enters rugged M.2 SSD market

M.2 SSDs
Editor:- December 20, 2016 - The M.2 SSD form factor was originally designed as a mainstream solution for consumer SSDs but in recent years we've seen many new M.2 products appearing in other markets where size matters too.

Today Recadata - which is best known for its rugged SSDs aimed at military systems launched an M.2 SSD product line - the M700 Series M.2 SSD series.

chacterizing 4Gb MRAM

Flash Memory
Editor:- December 19, 2016 - The gap between the capacities offered by MRAM and DRAM were huge until a year ago which meant that MRAM applications engineers couldn't simply upcycle traditional RAM roles into born again NVDIMM style non volatility.

MRAM was a memory which sounded interesting but only for those with very low storage capacity applications which could tolerate a high cost per gigabyte. And in this role MRAM has been just one of many new nvms seeking design slots in a crowding multi-latency tiered memory market dominated by flash.

In this competitive context any talk of "higher capacity" chips may change the balance of interest for design engineers between "dismiss entirely" and "maybe keep an eye on it" for future applications.

Everspin narrowed the gigabit gap in April 2016 with the shipments of 256MB ST-MRAM and the promise of Gb sampling to come later.

Now a roadmap for more broadly usable MRAM begins to sound more credible with a report in Nikkei Technology that 4GB ST-MRAM prototypes are being characterized by SK Hynix and Toshiba. the article
What happened before?

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9 years ago in SSD market history
January 2008 - After a 20 year absence from the SSD market EMC re-entered the SSD market with the launch of its Symmetrix DMX-4 networked storage systems. These disappointing marketing sops turned out to be merely HDD architecture storage trays populated with COTS SSDs from STEC.

See also:- 2008 milestones - in SSD history - "this was the first year in which fast flash SSDs - aimed at the enterprise accelerator market - broke the asymmetric R/W IOPS barrier! - with random read and write IOPS both being the same in a single product. This R/W symmetry was something which had previously been regarded as only being possible for RAM SSDs."

SSD market 2016?

and 4 companies which made me stop and think
click to visit home pageEditor:- December 30, 2016 - If you've been having difficulty finding a common thread which links together all the apparently disconnected hot new technology developments which we have been reading about in 2016 and which will dominate most of the SSD and memory developments in 2017 then you're not alone.

But I think I've found it. And it's at the heart of my new home page blog on the new article

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All the marketing noise coming from the DIMM wars market (flash as RAM and Optane etc) obscures some important underlying strategic and philosophical questions about the future of SSD.
where are we heading with memory intensive systems?

Targa Series 4 - 2.5 inch SCSI flash disk
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for airborne apps - GbE / SATA / USB
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I think it's not too strong to say that the enterprise PCIe SSD market (as we once knew it) has exploded and fragmented into many different directions.
what's changed in enterprise PCIe SSD?
12 months of headlines
December 2016 Violin seeks bankruptcy protection.
November 2016 Silicon Motion announced the "world's first merchant SD 5.1 controller solution."
October 2016 Rambus announced it is exploring the use of Xilinx FPGAs in its Smart Data Acceleration research program.
September 2016 Everspin files for IPO to expand MRAM
August 2016 Seagate previews 60TB 3.5" SAS SSD

Nimbus demonstrates 4PB 4U HA AFA at FMS
July 2016 Diablo announces volume availability of its Memory1 128GB DDR4 DIMM
June 2016 Pure said its AFA revenue in Q1 2016 was more than leading HDD array brand
May 2016 efficiently coded memory architecture unveiled in systems by Symbolic IO

Encrip announces tri-state coded DRAM IP which can be used with any standard process
April 2016 Samsung began mass producing the industry's first 10nm class 8Gb DDR4 DRAM chips
March 2016 New funding for endurance stretching NVMdurance

Cadence and Mellanox demonstrate PCIe 4.0 interoperability at 16Gbps.
February 2016 It's not worth paying more for SLC reliability in PCIe SSDs says Google field study
January 2016 Quarch says many SSDs fail their first hot plug tests.

Plexistor announces availability of its Software Defined Memory

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