| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
|top SSD companies
SSDs - boring right?
after AFAs -
what's the next box?
3D nand fab
yield - the nth layer tax?
how fast can your SSD
hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
where are we
heading with memory intensive systems?
|who's who in the SSD market
in China? |
editor - October 16, 2017|
|Nowadays you can't expect to understand
the worldwide SSD market and realistically predict the likely source and
direction of strong influences without having some cognizance of the SSD
market in China.|
As the publisher of StorageSearch.com I have been
in the fortunate position that (since the 1990s) the founders of many SSD
companies have contacted me. Consequently during a long span of
I've had thousands of conversations with influencers in this market
trying to understand
the unfettered potential for memory systems products and discuss how to solve
the barriers of technology,
In the early days of earning my
living from the
SSD market the principal movers and shakers were mostly US based companies.
But from about 2006 I started to see significant products entering the
international SSD conversation from companies who were coming from China.
wasn't as fluid as talking to US companies because my working language is
But I quickly realized from our common language (the
characteristics of the SSDs themselves) and from our email discussions that
there was a treasure trove of talent in China which had independently been
looking at SSD related design problems and solving them for their own customers.
the time some of these China based SSD companies emerged as "newcomers"
to the international markets via news or ads on my web site and others some of
them were already fully operating companies and had more actual customers
than is typically the case for US tech companies when they emerge from stealth
or seek VC funding or
launch their first products.
StorageSearch has always been an
By the close of 1993 my
publication had customers and readers in over 23 countries. So I've always
been receptive to learning more about companies which are pushing the boundaries
forward in the technology segments I write about regardless of where they are.
And with single exception of the
military and aerospace SSD
markets - where the proximity of the manufacturer and customer are an
essentially intertwined and primary part of the qualification equation - I
mostly think that - SSD technology has no geographic boundaries.
why I've never published a list of "SSD companies based in China".
Although if you wanted a list like that you could make a good start and
prepopulate it - were you minded to do so - by a
search of the
archives here on the mouse
If you prefer a commercially off the shelf list of China SSD
companies, however, I recall that - in
March 2016 -
announced a report Opportunities
in China's SSD Market which among other things listed oems, controller
suppliers and others in that region of the SSD ecosystem. (See more
SSD market analysts,
list of market research
companies who have been mentioned in storage context.)
thing you could do if you were interested in the SSD market in China would be to
look at events like - China
Flash Market Summit - which took place last month.
All of which
above is long way of setting the scene for a very long conversation I had
last Friday with Michael Wang
who is founder of Saniffer whose
company is the leading distributor of special test equipment and bus analyzers
for SSD companies in China.
this year I had added Saniffer's logo - which is a dragon - to my list of
animal brands in the
I had noticed Saniffer as a presence in the
storage test market some
years before but I didn't have a reason to write about it. We only started
talking to each other about the SSD market this year. That's when Michael
told me he first noticed my SSD articles about 10 years ago.
fun talking about the early days of the SSD market in China and we both knew
many of the same people who had founded companies which went on to achieve
He asked if I had been to China. I said - no -
I don't travel anywhere for work reasons because I find being connected is more
efficient use of my time.
Another explanation is I tend to get lost
easily. Even if my starting point is
than half a mile from where I live if you want to know the worst of it. (And
a story popular in my family is how I spent 3 days in 1974 walking around the
streets of Southampton without being able to find the university where my degree
in Electronic Engineering was due to commence. When I got hungry I abandoned my
quest to get food and then started searching again. This loop was exited only
when I met some others doing the same course - one of whom later became my
What did the SSD mouse learn from an SSD dragon?
location... Because of where he is, and the nature of his business, Michael
Wang is in an ideal position to become aware of SSD drive and controller
companies in the China market from the time they are being designed.
written before about the business benefits of
and Michael confirmed that he's seeing some of his customers designing custom
SSDS and even new controllers and he said there are new SSD startups in the
China market which will be significant when the outside world gets to hear
I was already sold on the strategic visibility and
potential of the design tools market. I told Michael that in 1990 when I
stuck a bus analyzer on multiprocessor systems to see what really was happening
to data in real-time and how data went through memory from SSD and HDD
storage compared to what everyone expected it confirmed that bottlenecks
existed in many places. We could fix them because in those days we had a lot of
the source code and the software mix was simple and under our control. But in
today's SSD market the software
comes from many places and
is the limiting factor for everyone.
It's a big problem to solve in
which bus analyzers and machine learning all have a part to play.
increasing complexity of memoryfication systems means that there are many prizes
to be won.
Knowing what happens is better than guessing. SSD
arrays can be improved by discovering behavior which is optimized for a
different view of dataflow economics compared to the target installation.
SSD test and verification market sounds like an exciting place to be.
- going back to the title of this blog - what answer can I offer to the
question of - who's who in the SSD market in China?
Bearing in mind
that all market data is imperfect and that even when you have "reliable"
data the way in which you interpret it is
by what your own position and preconceptions the answer is... no one knows
all the answers but it always helps to find others with similar interests who
might know more than you.
That's how we learn. From each other.
- Michael Wang suggested that for those in China a new (to me) SSD engineering
community web site is SSDfans.com
|If you're one of those who
has suffered from the memory shortages it may seem unfair that despite their
miscalculations and over optimimism the very companies which caused the
shortages of memory and higher prices - the major manufacturers of nand flash
and DRAM - have been among the greatest beneficiaries. |
of the 2017 memory shortages|
|"When Rob Commins, VP
of marketing at Tegile looks into the crystal ball, he sees one large shared
memory pool as opposed to a shared storage pool."|
|Above quote from the blog -
Will All-Flash Storage Look in 5 Years? - EnterpriseStorageForum.com
(September 12, 2017)|
Editor's comments:- The big tiered memory
appliance having more capacity than today's AFAs was the home page blog on
StorageSearch.com in April 2017 - see
memory systems - "raw chip memory... how much as SSD? how much as
|What's the new business
plan for Nimbus? |
Does selling SAS SSD drives replace selling petabyte
How has Nimbus been affected by the memory shortages and
higher memory prices?
|sauce for the SSD
|Toshiba lost flash fab output due to malware|
October 19, 2017 - Adding to the
manufacturability yield woes which we already knew had contributed to the
recent memory shortages and their
impacts on the SSD market there were reports earlier this week that Toshiba had lost
production due to the impact of ransomware.
Digitimes - the
first to report this story - said malware had delayed about 100,000 wafer
starts. Later comments on
Analysis put the story into a better context.
New Visions for Digital Storage
Editor:- October 11 ,
2017 - The 2017 Storage Visions
Conference . will be held Monday, October 16, 2017 in Milpitas, CA..
The conference theme is "New Visions for Digital Storage"
and the conference will bring together the vendors, end users, researchers and
visionaries that will meet the growing demand for digital storage for all
aspects of unstructured and lightly structured data. Among other things
expert panels will include:-
- Bringing Compute to the Data.
Over the entire history of
computing data has resided in storage and memory, and has been summoned to the
data processing element as it is needed. Today the industry is discovering that
the movement of Big Data to the processor consumes inordinate power and incurs
significant time penalties.
This panel, featuring leading companies
who address this issue, will discuss their current efforts to move compute to
the data to save power, accelerate processing speed, and even improve
scalability, in order to greatly enhance the cost/performance of tomorrow's
- Hardware Visions for Ubiquitous Storage and Memory.
non-volatile solid-state storage technologies are set to replace or supplement
DRAM in many applications. New fabric technologies will enable fast network
storage using NVMe devices.
Flash memory is moving to more and more
3D layers with three-level cells and four-level cells capable of reducing the
costs for flash memory and driving its use. At the same time, HDDs as well as
magnetic tape and optical storage are getting faster.
Infinidat secures $95 million C round
Editor:- October 3, 2017 - Infinidat today
it has closed a $95 million Series C financing round. Equity raised by the
company to date totals $325 million.
Infinidat says that several
hundred enterprise customers have adopted its (hybrid storage)
with more than 2 exabytes of storage deployed globally.
SSD Bookmarks -
from Infinidat, VCs in
Seagate confirms $1.25 billion stake in consortium to acquire
Editor:- September 28, 2017 - Seagate today
its participation in the consortium led by Bain Capital Private Equity that has
entered into an agreement to acquire Toshiba Memory Corporation.
In the agreement, Seagate has committed to provide up to $1.25 billion in
financing to support the acquisition, to be provided at closing, which is
expected by March 2018. In addition, Seagate expects to enter into a long-term
NAND supply agreement with Toshiba Memory that will provide continuity of raw
NAND for Seagate's expanding SSD product portfolio.
comments:- Seagate's involvement in this acquisition was speculated in some
earlier reports on other sites but is now confirmed.
Seagate is not the biggest supplier of finance in this deal it is the most
interesting for me because its competitor
Western Digital also
has a different kind of stake in Toshiba Memory.
conflicts of interest will require resolution agreements (or lawsuits) to
determine how to compartmentalize and allocate some of the memory products -
particularly those which involve SSD IP from SanDisk.
|TrendForce says nand flash
shortages may end in 2018|
|Editor:- September 27, 2017 - After 6
consecutive quarters of shortages in the
nand flash memory market
said it expects
"supply and demand will reach a balance in 2018, moving away from the
undersupply situation of 2017." |
TrendForce anticipates that
seasonal effects may result in NAND temporarily swinging from undersupply
to oversupply in Q1 2018. But says the overall market trend for the whole 2018
is toward a stable equilibrium of supply and demand. The global NAND Flash bit
supply growth rate is currently projected at 42.9%, while the bit demand growth
rate is projected at 37.7%.
Editor's comments:- In 2017 the market
learned that all the past assumptions about how long the memory industry takes
to stabilize yields for new devices (and how those projections compare to
initial characterization phases) were wrong due to
nth layer tax in
high rise 3D. The memoryfication of computing (big memory as the new normal)
is also creating entirely new use cases which create additional demands on
chips in a parallel course to SSD but which are semi-independent of storage's
migration towards more solid state. So there are more memory demand factors at
work - not just more demand from previously well understood trends.
explained why I think it's likely that 2018 will end with shortages too in my
recent blog -
consequences of the 2017 memory shortages.
other market research
stories related to SSD
Toshiba says it will sell memory business to Bain led consortium
September 20, 2017 - Toshiba
its long awaited decision about who it has chosen to sell its memory business
to. It's a consortium led by Bain Capital using an acquisition cutout filter
created for this purpose called K. K. Pangea. The transaction (worth about $18
billion) is "expected to close by the end of March 2018."
reports which had speculated about the identity of members of the
consortium named at various times Dell, Apple and Seagate.
said in the above announcement "Western Digital has sought to prevent the
sale of the interests of the joint parties (meaning Toshiba and WDC) to any 3rd
party and Toshiba and WDC are currently engaged in litigation and arbitration."
on Bloomberg about the announced sale process says "The consortium
members weren't named in Wednesday's statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange."
renews custom supply agreement with Baidu|
|Editor:- September 18, 2017 - Seagate - which has
admitted being negatively impacted by the
shortages of 2017 and which sells
SAS SSDs through its
memory partner Micron
(although "the quantity is not huge" - according to a recent
on SeekingAlpha.com) and anyway this legacy SAS enterprise segment is
under attack from new competitors using
design platform - today
a new strategic agreement with Baidu which
renews and expands an earlier collaboration agreement announced 3 years ago.
Among other things Seagate says - "With regard to new products,
Baidu will be at the forefront of Internet users in China implementing Seagate's
new storage products, and also the 2 sides will jointly develop customized
systems to meet Baidu business needs. In addition, the procurement model for
both companies will be further upgraded to save costs for each side."
comments:- In an SSD
predictions article (Dec 2015) I said...
"The urge towards
greater customization will be driven by the need to improve the efficiency of
SSDs (cost of raw materials and competitiveness) and also technical
characteristics (performance, power consumption, reliability etc) which are
optimized specifically for well defined application specific needs."
forward to now - In the next few years (2018/19) storage users and suppliers
need to make plans for a memory ecosystem in which the traditional assumptions
about downward memory pricing and ample availability may no longer be valid.
These trends will
drive all data-factory industries to look at opportunities to increase
efficiency which - at system scales - will benefit from (and necessitate)
custom rather than standard design products.
the business of custom
hyperscale is nearly 1/4 of all enterprise storage revenue
September 14, 2017 - A new
from IDC confirms
the growing size of the enterprise storage systems market related to
hyperscale datacenters. Sales by ODMs to the hyperscale segment grew 73.5%
year over year to $2.5 billion in in the 2nd quarter 2017 to reach nearly a
quarter of the entire $10.8 billion in all segments.
comments:- 5 years ago in my article -
the big market impact
of SSD dark matter - I wrote about the future importance of web scale and
cloud companies to the development of the enterprise SSD market. These users
have been leading the curve in mainstream storage and memory architecture
adoption because they get immediate cost. benefits from
These changes in
market segmentation have also encouraged new
vendors to nurture significant business ambitions with unbloated lean product
catalogs while ignoring traditional (declining) legacy markets.
Mercury's 3D BuiltSECURE memory will take to the skies
September 11, 2017 - Mercury Systems
it received a $8 million order from a leading defense prime contractor for
BuiltSECURE high density secure memory devices manufactured at its DMEA-trusted
facility in Phoenix, Ariz. The high-speed memory devices will be integrated into
active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems deployed on an advanced
airborne military platform.
BuiltSECURE high density secure memory devices use Mercury's 3D
packaging technology to transform a 2D array of discrete memory devices into a
single, vertically stacked, dense ball grid array (BGA) package. Delivering
space savings up to 75%, the memory devices are also precision engineered to
withstand the harshest of operating conditions encountered during military
See also:- military
SSDs, what's RAM really?
Series A funding for RISC CPUs in DRAM
September 8, 2017 -
UPMEM - a fabless semiconductor
startup - today announced
3 million Euros series A funding for its Processing In-Memory technology.
integrates user-API accessible RISC processors as SoCs in DRAM. The company has
in eeNews (Oct 2016) as saying...
"The fundamental benefit of
processing-in-memory is the combination of DRAM and CPU. We attach 1 DPU per
DRAM bank. It means 16 cores per 8Gbit DRAM chip. On a 16Gbyte DIMM, we deliver
256 cores, and 8 of them can be added to a standard CPU socket. We end up with a
co-processing system of 2048 cores together with 128Gbytes of DRAM per socket."
The PIM chip, integrating UPMEM's proprietary RISC processors (DRAM
Processing Units, DPUs) and main memory (DRAM), is the building block of the
first efficient, scalable and programmable acceleration solution for big data
applications. Associated with its Software Development Kit, the UPMEM PIM
solution can accelerate data-intensive applications in the datacenter servers 20
times, with close to zero additional energy premium.
"We are no
longer in an era were CPUs and other hardware getting continuously faster would
mask the slow speed of inefficient software," said Reza Malekzadeh, General
Partner at Partech Ventures (among the investors). "UPMEM's solution
addresses the performance needs of modern scale-out applications while
preserving datacenter and infrastructure hardware investments."
Editor's comments:- As a fan of
in assessing new technologies - on
"A simple way to understand the kind of application
opportunities and limits of Upmem's solution is to look at the ratio of CPU
cores to GB of DRAM. That gives you the power envelope and tells you what
problems it's best suited for. The articles
linked on Upmem's web site are very informative as far as they go."
this announcement the spectrum of
SSD processing solutions in the market had ranged in latency and benefit
The memoryfication of the enterprise and the aspiration
more within memory systems (which will lead to storage systems being an
emulation in memory and the
of the AFA as we know it) is being driven by
storage applications for big apps (as described in a slides by Parallel
Machines in February
- adding user deployable API and RAM in the flash controller (NxGn - which exited stealth
PS - "The first time I suggested to a processor
design team that they should look at adding support for solid state storage in
their new CPUs instead of just adding more cores was about 2000. I got the
response at that time - what's an SSD? And nothing more came of the matter."
- from the blog -
CPUs for use with SSDs in the Post Modernist Era of SSD and Memory Systems
|SSD news in
Octobers of yore |
- October 2000 - Viking siad it would soon ship the industry's highest
capacity CompactFlash cards to resellers nationwide. The 256MB components
were for digital cameras, MP3 players, portable computers and PDAs.
- October 2002
- Platypus Technology named customers and announced lower pricing for its
fast (50,000 IOPS) QikDATA M-series redundant solid-state storage
accelerators. The PCI bus 8GB model cost approximately $12,500.
- October 2003
- Memtech said its Wolverine 2.5" military SSD (8GB 12.5mm high) was
available with 8 years warranty.
- October 2008
- IMEC started research on Resistive RAM (RRAM) cells as a potential candidate
to replace conventional flash memory.
higher price of DRAM and nand flash in the past several quarters due to demand
and yield issues has been like manna from heaven to companies with alternative
The change in relativistic competitive landscape has had the
same effect as if the alternative nvms could time travel 2 years into the future
while nand and DRAM have stayed looped in Groundhog Day."
editor - StorageSearch.com
commenting on -
is so DRAM easy for some memory-flingers - the Register (August 17, 2017)|
- the next box|
| Throughout the
the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user
memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached
storage in the same data processing environment. |
new blog on StorageSearch.com
adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be
Like many of you - I've been thinking a lot about the
evolution of memory technologies and data architectures in the past year. I
wasn't sure when would be the best time to share my thoughts about this one.
But the timing seems right now. ...read the
there yet? |
| After more than 20 years of writing guides to
the SSD and memory systems market I admit in a new blog on
we there yet? - that when I come to think about it candidly the SSD
industry and my publishing output are both still very much "under
|RAM has changed from being
tied to a physical component to being a virtualized systems software idea - and
the concept of RAM even stretches to a multi-cabinet memory fabric. |
RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context|
|If you're trying to predict
and anticipate how the supply of next generation nand flash will ramp up in the
next year compared to how you've seen memory successions before then the 3D nand
flash market has presented many problems of analysis and interpretation.|
|3D nand successions?-
more dimensions of analysis|
|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
the SSD news
trust SSD market data?
RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context
Can you tell me the best
way to get to SSD Street?