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Capacitor hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
is remanence in persistent memory a new security risk?
where are we heading with memory intensive systems and software?
NVMe over Fabrics, automatic characterization of 3D nand, SSD readiness for the Industrial Internet of Things and some other ideas.
what were the big SSD ideas which emerged in 2016?
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is it realistic to talk about memory IOPS?
Editor:- August 11, 2016 - 24 million IOPS on a single device is the title of a recent blog from Storage Switzerland which is a briefing note about Crossbar which operates in the conerging segments of the alt nvm and DIMM wars markets.

Among other things author - George Crump - says "Crossbar believes that it can achieve 24 million IOPS on a single 4TB NV-DIMM without the use of a RAM buffer or a capacitor." the article

Editor's comments:- when startups enter new emerging markets they are often tempted to make headline grabbing claims.

And I think the "24 million IOPS" (IOPs as in you and I think about them) has to be interpreted in that context. (How can you claim record breaking IOPS when all you've got is a memory IP - and that's just part of a yet to be integrated technology set which together make IOPs.)

This is not to decry the importance and validity of the tides of change in the SCM SSD DIMM wars market - which have consumed nearly half of my working hours in the past year.

We saw similar wild claims when the startup Fusion-io was trying to get across how PCIe SSDs would change the enterprise storage market by reference to the nearest similar technology when Fusion said in 2007 it would replace SANs. (Because SAN based SSD accelerators were at that time the SSD market's dueling weapons of choice.)

Going back to Crossbar - there is a genuine problem for the industry (which I touched on in an earlier post about Diablo's DMX software) - which is - what are the most useful metrics to judge tiered memory systems by?

As we've seen in the SSD accelerated storage pool market since 2009 - there's a wide spectrum of use cases and cost considerations which have many viable business intersections.

We need new "goodness" numbers for DIMM wars memories.

But I think using IOPS to characterize a memory product is less useful to describe why people might want to look at it than wattage, raw capacity in a DIMM, uncached raw R/W latency and price.

And - most important of all - what software does it work with? And how well does the software behave?

Micron's QuantX Development Board - pics on Tom's Hardware
Editor:- August 12, 2016 - A year after Intel and Micron preannounced their 3DXPoint / Optane bid for the alt nvm DIMM wars market (with the absence of any worthwhile technical details) we now know that you might have to wait another year to buy any.

But the companies have released more preliminary tech data and this week have been showing prototype development boards at FMS.

You can see a useful article about this - 3D XPoint SSD Pictured - on Tom's Hardware.

Among other things this says the new memories will have an endurance rating of 25 DWPD.

Also speed will not be fast as (selectively) promised last year.

This shouldn't come as any surprise to regular readers.

In June 2016 I recommended a video 3D XPoint, reality, opportunity, competition by Yung Lee, President & CEO - BeSang - who correctly (as it turns out) reinterpreted the performance claims of 3D XPoint and looked at the limitations, manufacturing costs and best likely application roles for this new technology from a deep semiconductor perspective.

Why is Micron rebranding the memory to QuantX? - the 3rd name for the same memory (so far).

Well why did Microsoft skip ahead to Windows 10?

Branding SSD related products is not as easy as you might think.

But it could be that by the time anyone can see these new products in an online shopping basket the original name will seem old.

military SSD from Waitan
military SSD drives with secure erase
encryption and self-destruct
from Waitan

related guides
does persistent memory pose new new security risks?
Editor:- August 4, 2016 - 35 years ago I noticed something curious about RAM which surprised me. But it wasn't important for my work at the time.

In a new blog on - is data remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor? - I link together some ideas which pinged across my path 3 times in as many decades. But I think these have more relevance now in the new context of emerging persistent memory systems. the article

fast is good - more is better
Editor:- August 9, 2016 - In some ways Mangstor has some quaint old fashioned ideas because its products are to be found in the segment of raw enterprise performance and you'll find them listed along with some others in my indicative article - the fastest SSDs.

Speed was indeed the gateway which opened the access to the enterprise SSD market back in the days of yore - although just as with cars - having long ago proved that SSDs can run faster than hard driven horses - the enterprise market has recently grown more sophisticated in its analysis of user requirements - even to the extent that vendors are now offering pricing schemes which are abstracted far away from traditional cost for capacity ideas of rotating storage.

Which brings me back to Mangstor - a company I described last year as having "less employees than cores in its SSD controllers."

There is another old fashioned business idea which we've seen has to be satisfied for any such company to succeed for long in the market. They have to be able to answer this question - posed by their ideal hypothetical customers...

Yes we like what your product does - but do you have an easy way we can use a lot of them together - which preserves the essential character of attributes we like - without crossing over into product territories which other vendors do better?

Many products which look like stars as solo SSDs fail such scalability symmetry tests.

Mangstor's answer to such a question can be seen in an announcement today - " the availability of its TITAN NVMe over Fabric (NVMf) Target Software Storage Stack which tightly integrates NVMe SSDs with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) NICs and efficient use of x86 server capabilities to deliver network storage performance with upto 10x higher bandwidth and 1/10th the latency compared to iSCSI and FC-based AFAs."

Mangstor also says - its NVMf arrays based on TITAN software scale to petabytes of capacity and hundreds of GB/s as arrays are added with virtually no increase in latency.

In case you didn't see this article earlier - the value of low latency in enterprise SSD contexts was elegantly summarized in the SSD Bookmarks by IBM.

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lowering cloud wattage with low DWPD SATA SSDs
Editor:- August 4, 2016 - Although it's the faster SSD products (like PCIe SSDs and memory channel SSDs) which capture the attention of readers - because they show what is possible (and after a long enough interval we see pioneering enterprise speeds becoming commonplace at lower prices as we're now seeing with M.2 SSDs) nevertheless - when it comes to where most of the SSD slots are - the workhorse of the SSD market - in arrays, webscale and cloud - is still the simple 2.5" SATA SSD.

disk writes per day in enterprise SSDs
Well, maybe not that simple - because since about 2012 we started to see subtle power optimized and mostly read oriented (low DWPD) SATA SSD product lines being introduced specifically for use in dense populations in the cloud.

It's a big market for SSD vendors and SATA SSDs are a low risk choice for users because there are so many competing companies and products that ensure continuous improvements in value and quality.

A new addition to this crowded market is the - Nytro XF1230 (pdf) - a 1.9TB capacity SSD which consumes less than 5W, is rated at 0.67 DWPD - which Seagate announced will ship to channel partners next month.

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there was a flash memory bard
who said it's not really that hard
playing limerick sports
takes less time than reports
as all the words fit on a card
Editor:- August 24, 2016 - In case you missed it - there were a LOT of entries in the Flash Memory Limerick competition organised by NVMdurance.

The draw winner - announced at the Flash Memory Summit - was Tom Coughlin, President Coughlin Associates.

You can read Tom's winning entry and many other fine examples from people in the SSD industry who have invented many playful ways to link the ideas of endurance, flash, SSDs and even business development themes in unique ways that have never before been seen in SSD history. all the limericks

Compared to earlier phases in the SSD market more is changing.
the SSD Bookmarks - series overview


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John McClane will rescue his wife.
Scrooge will avoid a bad end.
And Dorothy will find her way back from Oz.
Zsolt Kerekes, editor - in his blog - trust and SSD services marketing
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SSD news

Netlist awarded new patent for hybrid memory architecture

Editor:- September 12, 2016 - Netlist today announced the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 9,436,600 (the '600 patent) relating to a multi-channel hybrid memory architecture that uses non-volatile memory to protect critical data in the event of power loss.

See also:- hybrid DIMMs

Everspin files for IPO

Editor:- September 9, 2016 - Everspin Technologies has filed for an IPO. Among other things in the form S-1 the company says:-
  • Everspin has shipped over 60 million MRAM units in 8 years
  • revenue has been at a run rate of about $25 million / year for a 2 year period
The company also said - "Our 5 largest end customers together accounted for 34% of our total revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2016, but none of these customers individually accounted for more than 10% of our total revenue during the period."

See also:- flash and other SSD nvms

69,000 flash dies per U in Nimbus's ExaFlash

Editor:- September 9, 2016 - Efficiency of the internal design and architecture is one of the competitive marketing differences between SSD boxes and drives. Because when customers see vastly different size packages claiming to do the same thing. It's one of the aspects which accounts for cost difference.

In simpler times it was easy to estimate how many memory chips were being used inside any SSD. Now it's difficult due to many different flash memory generations co-existing in the market and delivering similar roles (from a DWPD angle) while using dissimilar controller IP and software.

So it was useful to see in a recent press release (from Nimbus) that 276,480 NAND dies are used to implement 4.5 petabytes of raw storage in a 4U system which was launched recently.

Later:- on seeing this post - Thomas Isakovich, CEO of Nimbus said this.

"Note as well that the D-series (all ExaFlash arrays actually) has dual active-active controllers built-in, so it is not a JBOF/JBOD. Makes the density of flash achievement all the more incredible."

reducing logistics time and costs risks in the consumer SSD market

Editor:- September 6, 2016 - The consumer SSD market is sensitive to cost and customers will go elsewhere if you can't ship products to international markets on time. Every day in production and shipping adds to the risks

Some of the business risks for vendors of customized SSDs aimed at the consumer market are diiscussed in a new blog by Longsys - reforming the retail channel market for SSDs with SDP . Factors analyzed include:-
  • quality (using different build processes)
  • price fluctuations in flash between the time that SSDs are ordered and when they are ready
Among other things the blog shows how Longsys (which is headquartered in China) has evolved business processes and technologies to speed up and simplify the international supply chain of custom SSDs.

For its SDP branded SSDs - the factory production process has been reduced from 15 days (for a typical 2.5" SATA SSD) to a single day. the article

Editor's comments:- this is an interesting business case study which tells you a lot about the internal logistics of the SSD market.

Judge rolls back EMC dedupe verdict aimed at Pure

Editor:- September 1, 2016 - Pure Storage today announced that an earlier court decision in favor of EMC related to dedupe has been set aside because an earlier patent by Sun may have been prior art.

Pure says that - "Based on that view, the judge granted Pure's request for a new jury trial that would specifically look at whether the earlier Sun patent should make the EMC deduplication patent invalid. Also, because the court's ruling eliminates any finding that Pure has infringed a valid patent, it dismissed EMC's request for a permanent injunction. EMC needs to prevail on validity before any damage award could be reinstated."

floppy drive dependent legacy assets get operational life extension from a new flash drive

Editor:- September 1, 2016 - SSDL today announced it has launched a floppy drive emulator - FLOPPYFlash (pdf) - which provides electronic emulation at the host interface level for a wide range of historic legacy floppy drives (3.5", 5.25" and 8").

The replaceable media "floppy" is implemented by a 3.5" cassette which looks similar to a floppy but in which the storage media is implemented by industrial CompactFlash card technology.

Editor's comment:- Strange as it sounds there are still expensive legacy systems in which the embedded computers and software rely on the integration of floppy drives for their operation. This is something I've been told by James Hilken, Sales Director of SSDL and others in the EOL SSD support market.

In such systems the availability of field replaceable peripherals saves users a tremendous amount of cost and operational disruption for their connected assets.

patent in China for NVMdurance's flash software

Editor:- August 31, 2016 - NVMdurance today announced it has been granted a patent in China related to its endurance optimization software.

There are several aspects to the company's multi-stage lifecycle endurance management.

life steps imageDuring the memory characterization and design phase its Pathfinder software determines multiple sets of viable flash register values, using a custom-built suite of machine-learning techniques.

Then in production, controllers which use its Navigator firmware choose which of these predetermined sets to use for each stage of life to ensure that the flash lasts as long as possible.

a new faster host for the mouse site?

Editor:- August 31, 2016 - When you see this note it means that has moved to a new web hosting company. It should mean that pages load faster. Editorial writing speeds however are still constrained by the same old brain as before.

new MIL-STD-461E/F EMI filtered NAS JBOD SSD from V&G

Editor:- August 24, 2016 - I found it interesting to see the level of detail available in the datasheet for a new rugged 8TB NAS JBOD SSD box (8.66 in (L) x 7.61 in (W) x 4.65 in (H)) from V&G because often such vital info is missing unless you sign up to get it. Among other things - the RVAS3400 (pdf) has these features and options:-
  • rugged NAS SSD JBOD from V and G256-bit AES encryption utilizing NIST, CSE, and FIPS140-2 certified encryption chips. Encryption keys can be loaded over ethernet or stored on the system's controller. The controller has a TPM security device for secure storage of the encryption keys.

    The RVAS3400 supports zeroization (SSD erase) procedures, meeting both DOD NISPOM 5220.22 and NSA/CSS 9-12 specifications.

    The time to erase using ATA Secure Erase is approximately 5 seconds, using NSA Erase it is approximately 16 minutes, and using DOD Erase it is approximately 48 minutes. (Erase times do not vary based on the amount of storage.)
  • Internal holdup:- 100ms @ 70W.
  • Integrated support for MIL-STD-704 28 VDC.
  • Weight:- less than 12 lbs.
See also:- military SSDs, the business of SSD customization

new industrial secure eUSB 3.0 10-pin SSDs from Virtium

usb 3 SSD for industrial secure rolesEditor:- August 22, 2016 - Virtium recently announced new models of eUSB 3.0 10-pin models in its TuffDrive SSD range which offers much faster speed than eUSB 2.0 at about half the power consumption.

Capacities range from 2GB to 256GB, while drawing less than 1W. Size is 36.9mm x 26.6 mm.

See also:- USB SSDs, M.2 SSDs

Plexistor demonstrates low latency memory fabric on commodity hardware

Editor:- August 19, 2016 - If you don't want to be tied to any particular proprietary big memory hardware - but do need memory fabric - what kind of performance can you expect using software absrtaction products?

Plexistor recently demonstrated it can handle millions of remote writes per second at latencies as low as a few microseconds in a benchmark on Mellanox infrastructure over 100GbE using Plexistor's persistent memory over fabric software.

Benchmarks performed on a Mellanox infrastructure over 100GbE using Plexistor's PMoF Brick demonstrated record performance: more than 1.6 million random 4KB IOPS at less than 6µs with throughput of 7GB/sec.

where memory goes - compression follows

Editor:- August 19, 2016 - Cache memory compression techniques and a survey of why and where they can be useful featured in a news story here in April 2015 and was part of the rethinking RAM in an SSD context industry trend which is sweeping across computer architecture.

But where can we find examples of such techniques being used?

A recent case is a new version of software from A3Cube - which relates to their RAM over FABRIC system. Among other things - Fortissimo Foundation 2.6 now includes In-Memory compressed IO caching.

we're #1 in enterprise SSDs - says Samsung

Editor:- August 11, 2016 - which SSD company is the market share leader in enterprise SSDs? (Drives not racks.)

Samsung has claimed the #1 crown in a recent story which quotes various percentages (32% to 45%) from 3 market research companies which relate to the first quarter of 2016.

Editor's comments:- In part Samsung may be reaping some benefits from the frenemy trend in the enterprise storage systems market.

This is the change in supplier relationships when SSD drive companies begin to sell complete rackmount SSD systems as part of their product portfolios. While Samsung remains a component company and not a systems company (and the risk assessment of its SSD oem customers suggests that Samsung isn't a threat to their own business) this is a good enough reason for many array vendors to prefer Samsung as a drive supplier.

Among other things in my 2015 big SSD ideas roundup article I said this...

"Vendor strategies which once appeared safe...(list) are no longer safe assumptions when your biggest supplier can become your biggest competitor. Or when your biggest customer can become your competitor."

In detail the frenemy concept is more complex - because when you look at the range of segmentation in the SSD enterprise and the differences in latency tiered products and IPs needed to become a leader in each of those segments - an experience supplier risk assessment can be finely grained - as in "this company has systems products for webscale and cloud - but my market is traditional mid range enterprise - which requires more services and software - so therefore such a supplier is not an immediate threat to my business."

Such assessments have a short life in today's market however as everything will change due to growing user sophistication and dissatisfaction - as I discussed in my article - 90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.

But for now - and not withstanding the unreliability of inferring too much from SSD market data - and given the new trend for intelligent tiered memory systems to change the disposition of enterprise SSDs in server and storage systems - any company which has a leading market share position in enterprise SSDs today has to be congratulated with the warning that everything is still changing and the rate of change is speeding up.

PS - the ability of past SSD shipment data to predict long term future success is something which I called into question over 9 years ago when I started publishing the Top SSD Companies series.

You - dear readers - still have the ability to change markets, surprise us all and remind us that the SSD architecture idea stands out as 1 of the 3 main disruptive changes in the computer business in the past 40 years.

SMART samples 32GB DDR4 hybrid DIMMs

Editor:- August 9, 2016 - SMART Modular today announced imminent sampling of its 32GB DDR4 NVDIMM-N (hybrid DIMMs).

Editor's comments:- Having recently written my blog - is data remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor? - I asked SMART - "Does your IP offer the option to encrypt data backed up to the flash in the NVDIMM?"

Arthur Sainio who is Director Product Marketing at SMART told me - "Yes, it does have the capability to do encryption, but it has not been enabled. We are in discussions at the JEDEC meetings as to how this is implemented with the NVDIMM specifications."

Nimbus re-emerges from stealth with 1PB / U raw HA SSD

Editor:- August 9, 2016 - Nimbus Data Systems has emerged from its self imposed exit into marcomms stealth mode with the announcement of a new range of Ethernet/FC/Infiniband attached rackmount SSDs based on its new ExaFlash OS with GA in Q4 2016.

Entry level products start in a 2U box with 50TB raw capacity for under $50K and for larger configurations Nimbus says its ExaFlash offers an effective price point as low as $0.19 per effective gigabyte (including all software and hardware).

Higher density boxes in this product line - D-series models - will have 4.5 PB raw capacity in 4U (12 PB effective).

Re the architecture - I haven't seen details - Nimbus says there is no data network between the storage arrays themselves, guaranteeing that performance truly scales in lock-step with capacity and with consistent latency.

4 petabytes raw 12 effective in 4U

video above shows the 4PB raw ExaFlash at FMS

Editor's comments:- if there are to be sustainable roles in the future consolidated enterprise SSD systems market for AFA vendors which previously sold arrays of SAS/SATA SSDs - and who don't own their own semiconductor fabs - the only viable ways to establish such platform brand identities are with SSD software and architecture.

There's a huge gap between the technological aspiration which Nimbus talks about and the weakness of its past marketing and the kind of funding which we've seen competitors in this market burn through in the past with mixed results.

In the next few quarters I hope we'll hear more from Nimbus about its business development plans and customer adoption.

See also:- roadmap to the Petabyte SSD, the unreal positioning of many flash array "startups"
What happened before?
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SSD news page image - click to  enlarge
seeking the inner SSD
Seagate SandForce SSD processors - click for more info
the awards winning silicon
accelerating world's leading SSDs
from Seagate

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?

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

related guides

industrial mSATA SSD
industrial grade mSATA SSDs
>2 million write cycles per logical block.
from Cactus Technologies

related guides
"We run 500 power on / off cycles on our industrial SSDs as part of the production process to ensure 100% security in case of any unexpected power fail. Most SSD manufacturers dont do this at all or test much fewer cycles."
RecaData in their blog - Curious about how our industrial grade SSDs are produced and tested in the factory? (July 28, 2016)

See also:- Surviving SSD sudden power loss

Targa Series 4 - 2.5 inch SCSI flash disk
2.5" removable military SSDs
for airborne apps - GbE / SATA / USB
from Targa Systems

related guides

9 years ago - in August 2007

Violin Memory launched an assault on the high end RAM SSD acceleration market with general availability of the highest density rackmount memory system.
SSD market history

"It's time for our industry to finally put to rest the outdated idea that flash arrays can offer either performance or reliability, but not both."
Dr. Weafon Tsao, VP - AccelStor in a press release (July 20, 2016) about the company's new NeoSapphire 3706-ES1 a 2U high-availability flash storage array - which - as well as a new NVMe array platform - will be shown at next month's Flash Memory Summit .

See also:- rackmount SSD segments vs user needs
Virtium  SSDs - click for more info
industrial SATA SSDs
efficiently matched to embedded needs
2.5" / 1.8" / Slim SATA / mSATA / CFast / M.2
StorFly – from Virtium

related guides
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?
90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
market consolidation - why? how? when?

do custom SSDs hav to cost more?
custom SSDs Few questions in the SSD market have simple answers.

Do custom SSDs cost have to cost more?

See my new blog - some thoughts about SSD customization.
recent headlines from

the news archive
May 2015 Researchers at Oak Ridge National Lab publish survey of data compression techniques and applications in cache and main memory
June 2015 Altera introduces adaptive flash controller IP leveraging technology from NVMdurance into its FPGA product line
July 2015 interest in Micron surges based on rumor that Tsinghua Unigroup might buy it
August 2015 DIMM wars heat up with Memory1 (flash as RAM) from Diablo and 3D XPoint (alt nvm) from Intel and Micron
September 2015 Mangstor gets series B funding for fastest NVMe flash
October 2015 OCZ offers "Host Managed SSD Technology" in 2.5" SSDs
November 2015 Netlist allies with Samsung to codevelop flash-as-RAM DIMMs
December 2015 NSF funds NxGn Data project to progress in-situ SSD processing
January 2016 Quarch says many SSDs fail their first hot plug tests.
February 2016 It's not worth paying more for SLC reliability in PCIe SSDs says Google field study
March 2016 New funding for endurance stretching NVMdurance

Cadence and Mellanox demonstrate PCIe 4.0 interoperability at 16Gbps.
April 2016 Samsung began mass producing the industry's first 10nm class 8Gb DDR4 DRAM chips.
May 2016 efficiently coded memory architecture unveiled in new systems by Symbolic IO

Encrip announces tri-state coded DRAM IP which can be used with any standard process
June 2016 Pure Storage said its AFA revenue in Q1 2016 was more than the leading HDD array brand
July 2016 Diablo announced volume availability of its Memory1 128GB DDR4 system memory module.
August 2016 Nimbus re-emerged from stealth with a 1PB / U high availability flash storage array (4PB raw in 4U).

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