| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
|the SSD Heresies
Top SSD Companies - 2007 to
fast can your SSD run backwards?
are we ready for
infinitely faster RAM?
40 years of thinking
about nvm endurance
not to compile a list of military SSD companies
headlines in past 12 months or so|
|December 2017 -
Diablo Technologies - which had been the first company to ship predominantly
flash memory based SSDs and memory accelerators compatible with DRAM DDR3/4 bus
slots - ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy. |
January 2018 -
Foremay announced the availability its new "Immortal" brand of
radiation hardened SSDs for the military and aerospace markets.
February 2018 - The
Gen-Z Consortium announced that the Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 was publicly
2018 - Nimbus announced it was sampling 3.5" 100TB SAS SSDs with
April 2018 - STT
announced a breakthrough design improvement to MRAM. STT's Precessional Spin
Current (PSC) structure lengthened retention time by a factor of over 10,000.
May 2018 - Micron
began sampling the industry's first SSD built on quad-level cell (QLC) NAND
2018 - GridGain began beta sampling its in-memory cache as a cloud
2018 - Intel and Micron agreed to a parting of the ways on future
Upto that point Micron had seen minimal revenue
from 3DXPoint whereas the potential of developing a software ecosystem centered
around this technology had strategic lock-in attractions for Intel regardless of
near term memory sales. Zsolt Kerekes - founding editor of StorageSearch.com
suggested "the memoryfication of processors and the flattening of latency
by SSD infrastructure means that traditional complex multi level cache server
processors are wasteful... and that due to trends in memory accelerators for the
defined software market... memory and processor companies (like Intel and
Micron) will in future have more reasons to become competitors rather than
collaborators in strategic designs in the cloud."
August 2018 -
Marvell began sampling the first NVMe-oF SSD Converter Controller. aimed at
a EBOF (Ethernet Bunch of Flash) applications.
September 2018 -
SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) entered the computational storage
2018 - DRAMeXchange (a market research company which tracked memory and SSD
price trends) said the supercycle of DRAM price growth - which had lasted for 9
consecutive quarters - was over. (See
cycles in the memory market for other historic examples and perspectives.)
more SSD history
bifurcations in SSD market history|
|Editor:- October 29, 2018 - there's a new article
on StorageSearch.com |
Bifurcations in SSD Market History.
about 4 ways to split the long messy timeline of SSD history into "before
and after" to help the understanding of now. ...read
Editor's comments:- maybe you've got your own
ideas about what these strategic splits should have been. And maybe you would
have thought of a better title too. This may be my last major article about
SSDs - so I packed in as much as I could.
sanitizing sensitive SSDs? heed my words oh prideful SSD
dust you were born
and unto dust you shall return
|Editor:- September 25, 2018 - A reader - Simon Zola
- Manager, AVTEL Data
Destruction emailed me last week after seeing my recent home page blog -
back at my 19 years of writing about the data recovery market - which I
concluded with this.. |
there an opposite concept to data recovery?
The flip side to data recovery is fast purge SSDs and
Simon said - "I have only just come across you
and your site and I would love to hear your opinion on meaningful data
sanitisation of SSD."
thought to myself how many years is it since I set up a dedicated
SSD fast erase / purge
page? - I checked. It started in 2009. (This is one of the joys and
frustrations of the web. Frustration - that you can't find stuff which has
been around for a long time - because it gets drowned by social chit chat. Joy -
in knowing that there must be a lot more readers out there who also care about
the same problems.)
Anyway - what I said to Simon was - "There is
a double digit list of standards by defence and government agencies which cover
various use cases and whether the drive is desired to be redeployed for another
project or not. The purpose of extreme autonomous SSD purge is to destroy enough
critical chips in the encrypted SSD so that if it falls into the wrong hands
(captured by enemy) then the SSD data will remain immune to the best
efforts of forensic data
recovery. Thats just one reason why DR and security agencies intersect and
are mutually aware. But as DR gets better then sanitisation has to advance too
(best way being destruction of the chips)."
Anyway Simon - whose
company does Onsite Physical Destruction of HDDs and SSDs in Australia pointed
me towards an interesting
video - re Mobile Data
Destruction which shows the type of thing his company does. It's on
youtube which means that many of you won't be able to see it right now if
you're viewing this at work.
So I'll describe what happens...
The video shows a van which arrives at your site and delivers via a conveyor
belt all the drives you want shredded - presumably while one of your security
people watches it happening. (You'd have to verify the exact design and chutes
etc yourself obviously to satisfy yourself there are no magical trap doors - or
maybe you could just rent the facility. It depends on your own circumstances.)
That prompted me to realize that it had been about 2005 when I had
last written much about the
services and equipment business (as opposed to autonomous drive purge)
because in a way - once you know what needs to be done - what more can you say
about it? But maybe that page could do with a refresh - which is why I'm writing
We are much more sensitive and vigilant about environmental
impacts nowadays (2018) compared to the start of my own career (1977) when
many of the industries which paid the wages of our local communities and
where our friends and neighbors and customers worked were inevitably sometimes
spilling stuff into the sky, ground and water.
So I said - Hi
Simon - I forgot to ask this... how is the shredded material from the sanitized
drives processed? I mean the cost from an environmental hazard point of view?
Simon said - 0 to land fill. (And then he gave me a list of who
reprocesses what afterwards - which you can find out more about on his web
Editor's comments:- I'm guessing that wherever you live you
might be interested in the possibilities opened up a mobile service like this.
My own modest needs in this category have always been simply
managed by the expedient of a log splitter or ax - but I'm only smashing one
drive each season or less. Some of the kids of family friends have made
artworks out of the little chunks of smashed up drives and mangled chips.
dustry grains are less artistic but better from the security angle.
|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?
/ more pages
Memory announces new agreements related to its MRAM|
November 11, 2018 - Spin
Memory (formerly called Spin Transfer Technologies) today
a $52 million Series B funding round and an agreement with
Applied Materials to create a
comprehensive embedded MRAM solution and also a commercial agreement with
Arm for the licensing of Spin Memorys
Endurance Engine design IP to address SRAM applications in SoCs.
processors in in the Post Modernist Memoryfication Era
university researchers disclose delusion of security blanket
delivered by popular self encrypting SSDs
Editor:- November 8,
2018 - Researchers at Radboud University, in
the Netherlands have recently
a paper - self-encrypting
deception: weaknesses in the encryption of SSDs (pdf).
conclude - "we found that many hardware implementations of full disk
encryption in SSDs have critical security weaknesses, for many models allowing
for complete recovery of the data without knowledge of any secret... This
challenges the view that hardware encryption is preferable over software
encryption. We conclude that one should not rely solely on hardware encryption
offered by SSDs."
After discovering the ineffectiveness of the
protection offered by the encryption hardware in the models affected - the
authors alerted the authorities and agreed to wait 6 month before publishing
their paper so as to enable the manufacturers - whose products had been tested
(Micron and Samsung confirmed the vulnerability issues) to work on firmware
The paper also examines commonly held assumptions about the
security of encryption engines in various states when analyzed from particular
attack directions. ...read the
Editor's comments:- as with all
aspects of SSD design
- the correlation between what the customer expects and what does actually
happen in the real world depends on the quality of the designers and the
verification process. That's why it's not unusual in mission critical projects
SSDs for the customer verification process to take longer in elapsed time
than it took to design the original SSD.
fast purge SSDs,
Why consumers should
expect to see more flaky SSDs (2009)
Everspin announces new fab deal to make more MRAM
November 5, 2018 - Everspin
it would augment the production capacity for its Toggle MRAM by means of a
multi-year partnership to use the fabs of SilTerra
(Malaysia based semiconductor manufacturing services company). Initial
production is expected to start in calendar year 2020. Everspin said it will
continue in parallel to operate its manufacturing line for Toggle MRAM in
Understanding Macro Memory Market Trends
Moore's Law is
history - Newton's 3rd may be better
Editor:- November 1, 2018
- Although memory cell behavior is best understood by referring to quantum
physics there seems to be a role for Newtonian Mechanics in the
memory markets - especially when it comes to patent disuputes and tariff
I refer of course to that well known phrase I learned at
ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
earlier versions of this SSD news page - now in
- the simmerings of the memory patent and tariff disputes between the US and
China went something like this...
The next development on this tariff ping pong is
reported in a story (October 30, 2018) in EETimes -
US Bans Exports
to Chinese DRAM Maker - about Fujian Jinhua - which has been declared a
threat to US national security.
- July 2018 -
Micron's memory sales in China were the object of a preliminary injunction
obtained by UMC.
EETimes says - "The move means
that U.S. firms need a license for all exports, re-exports, and transfers of
commodities and software to Jinhua. Such license applications will be reviewed
with a presumption of denial..."...read the article
re Micron's "soft-announcement" of a DRAM replacement
Editor:- October 30, 2018 - A new article -
Divorce - Micron and Intel See Different Futures - by William
Tidwell - who is a regular memory market commentator on
SeekingAlpha.com - discusses among
other things:- the need for in-memory processing and signs that
Micron is working on a
new SCM memory architecture.
Re the interdependency of memory and
processor architecture Tidwell says - "...memory in today's system
architecture is locked in a fatal embrace with the CPU. It is stranded."
as part of a multi-page analysis and detailed speculative look ahead as to
what Micron will do with the fabs it gets from buying out Intel's stake in the
joint IMFT venture - Tidwell says - "Under promise, over deliver - is the
right strategy for Micron in the wake of Intel's 3DXPoint misadventures. I
believe this is what they are doing and that gives investors reason to hope that
the New Memory will be commercialized in FY '21." ...read
what's RAM really?
what's Metadata-as-a-Service got to with SSDs?
October 24, 2018 - There's a small number of new companies which attract my
attention because of the impact which one or more their founders has had on the
SSD market in the
So although it's not strictly speaking an SSD company - and I'm counting down
the weeks to my retirement in 2019 - and trying not to start too many new
strands of content which I can't complete tidily - I was very interested to see
these stories about a new company called Hammerspace
which provides a sequel to the question of what happened next to one of the
esteemed co-founders of Fusion-io and Primary Data -
that person being David Flynn
who has probably done more work on figuring out and managing the intricacies of
data and the latency and repurposing cost-benefits of legacy and new dynasty
architectures scrambled in the archeological mix of big data infrastructuer than
anyone else on the planet. Here are the links.
also:- SSDs in the cloud,
re SSD everywhere software,
Violin acquires X-IO Storage
Editor:- October 16,
2018 - Violin Systems
it has signed a letter of intent with X-IO Technologies to acquire
X-IO Storage, the
division of X-IO Technologies that developed the Intelligent Storage Element
(ISE) flash and hybrid storage array product lines. Financial terms were not
acquisitions in the
storage arrays and flash caches - timeline 2010 to 2017
$100 million AI investment fund launched by Micron
October 10, 2018 - Micron
that it will invest up to $100 million in startups with a strong focus on AI and
machine learning through its strategic investments entity, Micron Ventures.
And in a related announcement, the Micron Foundation launched a $1 million grant
for universities and non-profit organizations to conduct research on AI.
also:- VCs in SSDs
value of infinitely faster RAM?
joins the memory latency to do list
after AFAs -
what's the next box? - cloud adapted memory systems
Kaminario reports on the success of its switch to software
business model - and an investment from Western Digital
October 9, 2018 - Kaminario
(which had been a thought leading
rackmount SSD company
in January 2018
it was no longer supplying hardware systems directly itself) today announced
that it grew its topline software business more than 55% during the first 9
months of 2018, relative to the same time period in 2017.
addition, Kaminario said it has been operating with positive cash flow for the
quarter ending Sept. 30. Kaminario also announced that it received a strategic
investment from Western Digital Capital, the strategic investment fund of
Western Digital Corp.
Editor's comments:- Kaminario's change of
business model was in line with the market adjustment trends I had predicted
in my 2015 article -
mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market along
with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas. Its software can now be
viewed as a fault tolerant platform for SSDs supplied by Western Digital.
This was a pragmatic affinity after a long journey in flash which
may have had some original germ of a root in a conversation I had with
Kaminario's CEO in March 2011 - when Kaminario (which had emerged from
stealth as a RAM SSD
company) was looking for a flash partner. Kaminario - which had always
regarded its software as being the unique branding ingredient in the IP mix of
its systems - grew closer over many years of relationships with a succession
of leading enterprise SSD companies which were later serially
absorbed within WD.
DRAMeXchange says - supercycle of DRAM price hikes is over
October 9, 2018 - DRAMeXchange
how it's interpreting memory pricing and supply trends.
- DRAMeXchange says:-
- DRAM products have begun to see a weak price trend, showing only a 1~2% QoQ
hike in contract prices for 3Q18 due to the continued oversupply, despite the
coming of holiday sales season. DRAMeXchange expects the quotations of DRAM
products to decline by 5% or more QoQ in 4Q18, terminating the super cycle of
price growth for 9 consecutive quarters.
- DRAM manufacturers all expect a high possibility of oversupply in 2019.
Therefore, they have tried to postpone or slowdown the capital expenditure and
re nand flash - DRAMeXchange says:-
- For 2019, DRAMeXchange expects the annual bit output to increase by nearly
- nand flash experienced a price drop of around 10% in 3Q18 and expects a
steeper drop of 10~15% in the fourth quarter, considering the impacts of trade
war. Contract prices of 3D TLC NAND Flash chips in the channel market may even
drop by more than 15% in 4Q18.
- The nand flash market is influenced by the sluggish demand for consumer
electronics, while demand for the more profitable Enterprise SSD from servers
and data centers remains stable. However, the competition among Enterprise SSD
suppliers will become increasingly fierce; hence the prices of Enterprise SSD
are very likely to continue decreasing in 2019.
See also:- storage
market research directory
- On the supply side, nand flash suppliers have raised their output forecasts
as they have expanded their production capacity and improved the yield rates of
their 64/72-layer 3D NAND production.
Clarifying SSD Pricing
- where does all the money go?
guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles
Silicon Motion ships > 750 million NAND controllers / year
October 5, 2018 - Silicon
Motion says "We ship over 750 million NAND controllers annually
and have shipped over 5 billion NAND controllers in the last 10 years, more than
any other company in the world."
They might have been saying that
for some while but I only noticed it today when looking in the footnotes of
2018 preliminary press release which warned that "revenue is expected
to be within the lower half of the original guidance range of $136.0 million to
$142.9 million that the company issued on August 1, 2018." (Maybe that's
what happens if markets adjust to a smaller supply of more expensive than
anticipated memory chips - we'll have to wait to see Si Motion's analysis
on October 30, 2018.)
Editor's comments:- the shipment numbers for
controllers show how large the SSD market has become.
new website for Xccela Consortium - developing new local bus for
embedded memoryfication chips
Editor:- October 4, 2018 - A new
website to support a new storage
today. The Xccela Consortium (at
www.xccela.org) now has 12 member companies working to promote the Xccela Bus as
an open-standard digital interconnect and data communications bus suitable for
volatile and nonvolatile memories as well as other types of ICs.
the technology page..."In
its first iteration, the Xccela Bus is a high-speed, high-performance Octal SPI
bus that uses 8 data lines for command and data transfer. It is fully compliant
with the JEDEC xSPI standard. The bus is synchronous and supports both
single-data rate (SDR) operation, where one byte of data is transferred every
clock cycle, and dual-data rate (DDR) operation in which two bytes of data are
transferred every clock cycle. The Xccela Bus supports clock frequencies up to
200MHz and data transfer rates up to 400MB/sec (3.2Gbps).
bold claims are back from the newly confident sounding
Editor:- October 3, 2018 - Violin made a huge
splash with the readers of StorageSearch.com 11 years ago when they entered the
the Top 10 SSD OEMs
list - 2007 Q3 soon after exiting stealth mode.
By June 2011-
Violin Memory (as it was then called) was confidently talking about being on
its way to building a billion dollar company in this once simple market (when
fastest was a
proposition and SAN had been a good enough business plan (FC SAN
customers had money) until SSD accelerators from
talked their way into server slots with
PCIe in 2007/8) and
even after that there were plenty of
opportunities for rackmount enterprise flash but it was not the same simple
market it had once been.
The enterprise SSD market was a business I
knew well and its strategic nature and size attracted huge numbers of
competitors offering more software bundling options, latency bands and
price points than any single technology platform or company could
As Violin progressed to IPO in
August 2013 its
earlier arguably plausible leadership advantages had already eroded and it
was clear that wanting it all wasn't the same as getting it. This was a market
which was moving towards a
customer rather than technology dictated model where it was better to be
excellent at one thing than above average at too many. In the 3 years after
its IPO Violin slid towards the cliffs of being acquired or bankrupt - the
latter case occurring in
after all the words I had already written about those
bubble years of
rackmount SSDs I've been cautious about writing overmuch about the new Violin Systems too-soon.
I have noted more caution and more measured tones of outlook on their web site -
even when I haven't written about them here.
This week I saw that
Violin's old confidence is back - in a press release about its new boxes with
NVMe over 32Gb FC - and the headline -
fastest enterprise storage in the world just got faster!
made me smile.
It's good to see such confidence emanating from this
direction once more.
And another reason I smiled was because in 2002
I was running ads for a company called
Texas Memory Systems
to promote - "the World's Fastest Storage" - which at that time was
the RamSan-210 .
Violin rev 1.0 emerged in 2007 and for the next several years afterwards they
and TMS were the 2 companies which dominated the fastest SAN compatible
rackmount flash SSD segment.
The competitive swot blurred later when
TMS entered the PCIe SSD market (which Violin wasn't engaged in early enough to
leave a mark) and the 2 companies were less often head to head when Violin
defocused from a latency-centric offering and began bundling software as a
feature into its boxes. (TMS had long made a virtue out of its non server
rooted silicon rich
controller architecture - and even when it was later acquired by IBM - in
October 2012. - its RamSan boxes grew accretions of limpet-like surrounding
software boxes as there was no natural roosting perch for the software to do
anything inside the original boxes.)
Going back to Violin rev 2.0 and "the
fastest enterprise storage in the world"...
perspective it's not clear to me that you could get a concensus of expert
opinion as to what constitutes "fastest enterprise storage"
and what shape, interfaces and capabilities and applications value it should
have. But I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still hard
currency in SSD marketing.
after AFAs -
value of infinitely faster memory systems?
Megabyte went through
| no more Red Hat jokes -
Novembers of yore in SSD market history|
||Solid Data Systems
discussed the advantages of SAN SSD accelerators in the article -
Solid State File-Caching for
Performance and Scalability.|
||Texas Memory Systems
announced the industry's first NAS SSD for enterprise acceleration.|
produced a 64Mb ferroelectric RAM chip using Ramtron's patented FRAM
Intel announced an
agreement to up a new jointly owned company IM Flash Technologies.|
Texas Memory Systems
demonstrated its first native
rackmount SSD accelerator.
M-Systems which had
been a pioneer in the use of MLC in SSDs. |
||Google opened its doors to
developers who wanted to work with a new operating system
Chrome OS which was
designed at the outset around solid state storage and which specifically
excluded the paradigm of hard
published a paper which examined the possible future advantages of using arrays
of storage class memory nodes as a cost effective archiving solution compared to
hard drives and tape.|
||First mention of
Diablo Technologies on
StorageSearch.com with news of a $28 million funding round.|
||NetApp underwhelmed SSD analysts with the
announcement that it had shipped 59PB of SSDs in the past 3 years.|
||Steve Wozniak rejoined the old "band"
of the enterprise flash accelerator songbook writers from Fusion-io in the
newly emerging Primary Data.|
||Netlist revealed how it was going to enter the
storage class memory SSD DIMM wars market by way of a 5 year joint development
||Elastifile announced it had been granted a US
patent for a method of managing flash-aware adaptive data management in
cloud scale meshes. |
||IntelliProp demonstrated a memory controller for
the emerging Gen-Z memory fabric.|
I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still commenting on Violin Systems - October 3, 2018
hard currency in