click to visit home page
leading the way to the new storage frontier
the SSD Heresies
Top SSD Companies - 2007 to 2018
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?
40 years of thinking about nvm endurance
how not to compile a list of military SSD companies
SSD ad - click for more info


sanitizing sensitive SSDs?

heed my words oh prideful SSD

from 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 - looking back at my 19 years of writing about the data recovery market - which I concluded with this..

Disk Sanitizers
disk sanitizers
Is there an opposite concept to data recovery?


The flip side to data recovery is fast purge SSDs and disk sanitizers.

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."

Fast Purge flash SSDs directory & articles
fast purge SSDs
I 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 disk sanitization 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 this.

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 site.)

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.

Small dustry grains are less artistic but better from the security angle.

SSD news in Septembers of yore
  • September 2000 - M-Systems' Diskonchip SSDs appeared on Linux SBCs made by VMIC.
  • September 2005 - SimpleTech launched the world's first dual interface SSD.
  • September 2011 - Kaminario announced it was using Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs as a new option in its K2 rackmount SSD product line. Before that the K2 had been RAM only.
  • September 2013 - Micron began sampling the first implementation of its Hybrid Memory Cube - a DRAM architecture concept - which had been launched 2 years before.
  • September 2016 - Nimbus said that 276,480 nand flash dies were used in its recently demonstrated 4.5 petabytes (raw) 4U ExaFlash storage array.
  • September 2017 - UPMEM announced series A funding for its Processing In-Memory technology which integrates user-API accessible RISC processors as SoCs in DRAM.

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?


storage history
SSD history ..
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software ....
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies ..

... / SSD history / more pages like this

SSD news

Kaminario reports on the success of its switch to software business model - and an investment from Western Digital

Editor:- October 9, 2018 - Kaminario (which had been a thought leading rackmount SSD company but which announced 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.

In 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 - drivers, 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 acquired and absorbed within WD.

DRAMeXchange says - supercycle of DRAM price hikes is over

Editor:- October 9, 2018 - DRAMeXchange today reported how it's interpreting memory pricing and supply trends.

Re DRAM - 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 capacity expansion.
  • For 2019, DRAMeXchange expects the annual bit output to increase by nearly 22%.
re nand flash - DRAMeXchange says:-
  • 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.
  • 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.
See also:- storage market research directory
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
a simple guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles

Silicon Motion ships > 750 million NAND controllers / year

Editor:- 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 their Q3 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 ORG was announced today. The Xccela Consortium (at 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.

From 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 Violin

Editor:- October 3, 2018 - Violin made a huge splash with the readers of 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 prime value proposition and SAN had been a good enough business plan (FC SAN customers had money) until SSD accelerators from Fusion-io sweet talked their way into server slots with PCIe in 2007/8) and even after that there were plenty of market 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 confusing price points than any single technology platform or company could realistically master.

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 more 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 December 2016.

So 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.

But 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 - the fastest enterprise storage in the world just got faster!

That just 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 .
click for more info

When 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 memory array 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"...

From today's 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.

See also:- after AFAs - what next?
what's the value of infinitely faster memory systems?

2 new reports on the SSD market

Editor:- September 30, 2018 - Forward Insights has published 2 new reports related to the SSD market:-
  • Storage Class Memories - "Since the announcement of 3D XPoint memory by Intel and Micron, increased attention has been focused on alternative memory technologies..."
see also:- storage market researchers
who's who in the SSD market in China?
Memory Channel SSDs - 2013 to 2017 (timeline of stories)

data integrity in DRAM

new paper lists and describes known techniques

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

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

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

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

enterprise performance reports and the SSD marketers toolkit

Principled Technologies acquires Demartek

Editor:- September 17, 2018 - There was a time in the early adoption years of the enterprise flash SSD / AFA market when due to the generally poor understanding of flash by traditional rotating storage benchmarkers and consequential plethora of meaningless benchmarks littering the web pages of computer publications which had recently become aware of the importance of SSDs it meant that one of the business factors which could delay the launch of products for SSD startups when their prototypes were ready for evaluation was the difficulty in finding an external test lab which had credibility with independent observers.

These independent observers on the web - who needed to see plausible reports - included the evaluation teams in systems companies who were seeking new products to shortlist for their own inhouse tests from a disruptive market in which for many years no one knew where the next great products might be coming from. I was often asked by SSD startups if I could recommend such benchmarking report writers. And I talked to customer evaluation teams too.

One of the small number of credible test labs whose published work in this market I grew to respect in this category was Demartek .

Well - this week I saw the announcement that Demartek has been acquired by a company called Principled Technologies.

Editor's comments:- I hadn't heard of Principled Technologies before but looking at their client portfolio it includes a bunch of leading (past and present) enterprise SSD companies including Fusion-io, Seagate, Toshiba and Virident. I had already written my introductory piece above (about how credible technical literature is a necessity for marketing new enterprise products) before I looked at Principled Technologies and saw that this is precisiely the service which they deliver.

See also:- decloaking hidden marketing segments for enterprise flash, test systems news stories, play it again Sam (as time goes by) - the problem with flash write IOPS, understanding flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations

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

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

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

Burlywood announces Series A funding

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

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

SNIA enters the computational storage market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:- storage industry trade associations - update on the sale

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

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

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

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

SSD ad - click for more info

storage search banner

Megabyte went through his Michelangelo  phase - click to enlarge 1998 SSD news image on StorageSearch

Megabyte went through his
Michelangelo phase.

Targa removable storage module for avionics with 3 interfaces  ethernet   USB and RS-422 for SWAP  under 5W
fits in the palm of your hand
removable 128GB rugged military storage
all in one Ethernet+USB+RS-422 < 5W power
from Targa Systems


the fastest SSDs I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still
hard currency in
SSD marketing

commenting on Violin Systems - October 3, 2018

Flexxon SSDs for indistrial medical and automotive applications - overview image

IMA (Industrial, Medical & Automotive)
XTREME series SSDs - from Flexxon

Septembers of yore in storage market history
September 1998 - was still in stealth mode and I was getting ready for the launch in October. What was going through my mind at the time? I couldn't remember exactly so I looked in my emails at that time. Here's what I found.

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

In later years - in an SSD context - I learned that WD invested enormous resources into verifying all the component design aspects of storage drives including how many times they could survive being powered up and down.

In 2009 a few quarters after WD had acquired SiliconSystems Gary Drossel, VP of Product Planning, in WD's SSD business unit emphasized how big was the investment made for long term testing. He joked that the large number of their SSDs now undergoing long term tests in WD's labs would have almost made the Test Labs one of SiliconSystems' top 10 customers not so long before.

see also:- the cultivation and nurturing of "reliability" in a 2.5" SSD brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going back to InfiniBand.

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

See also InfiniBand news highlights on - 2000 to 2018.

The modern equivalent of early InfiniBand is Gen-Z. But you can never be too confident where markets will go. NVMe fabric is getting better too.