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SSD history
Memory Defined Software
industrial SSDs - boring right?
after AFAs - what's the next box?
3D nand fab yield - the nth layer tax?
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
who's who in the SSD market in China?
capacitor hold up times in 2.5" military SSDs
after 2017 - questions re SSD's onward direction
miscellaneous consequences of the 2017 memory shortages
improving the latency and energy of commodity DRAM using adaptive architecture - new research
Editor:- March 13, 2018 - The enterprise flash SSD market has a long history of design advances which came from the cumulative understanding gained by the independent characterization of memories - this mostly having been done by independent SSD and controller companies rather than the original manufacturers of the flash memories themselves. But I haven't heard much in the past 10 years about similar activities related to DRAM - and part of the reason may well be that the companies which used to do such in depth RAM characterizations in earlier phases of SSD history - the RAM SSD companies like Texas Memory Systems and Solid Data Systems - had mostly stopped design work on new high capacity RAM SSDs by about 2008 due to the competitive advantages (in a storage array context) of enterprise flash.

So I was surprised and delighted to come across a new report - Understanding and Improving the Latency of DRAM-Based Memory Systems (pdf) - by Kevin K. Chang - Carnegie Mellon University (submitted December 2017 as part his PhD) which document (in 200 pages approx) describes his ongoing work and insights into DRAM characterization and system optimization opportunities.

Chang's research measured and analyzed the relationships between supply voltage and latency in commodity DRAM and explored ways to optimize latency while still maintaining data integrity and reducing power consumption. Among several schemes also described in this paper:-
  • an adaptive latency scheme he calls "Flexible-LatencY DRAM (FLY-DRAM)" which leverages the variation of latency that occurs within different locailities of DRAM chips.
  • Voltron - a new mechanism that improves system energy by dynamically adjusting the DRAM supply voltage using a new performance model which is based on a better understanding of the relationships between cell retention, refresh rate, temperature and other system factors. the article (pdf)

See also:- what's RAM really? - RAM in an SSD context
"In 2017, DRAM bit volume growth was 20%, half the 40% rate of increase registered in 2016. For 2018, each of the 3 major DRAM producers (e.g., Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron) have stated that they expect DRAM bit volume growth to once again be about 20%. However monthly year-over-year DRAM bit volume growth averaged only 13% over the 9-month period of May 2017 through January 2018."
Are the Major DRAM Suppliers Stunting DRAM Demand? - announcing the new 2018 McClean Report by IC Insights (March 6, 2018)
"There are a multitude of trends (way too many to ignore!) that are causing OEM Customers to start thinking about getting rid of traditional SSDs all together. Now you think Im crazy, right? As a matter of fact, its already started to happen and its about to become even more prevalent than you think."
Ryan Smith, (previously Director of Product Marketing - Samsung Semiconductor and now Product Strategist at Hitachi Vantara) in his article on linkedin -the SSD Market is about to collapse! Save $100M's by reading this (March 2, 2018)
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prologing future application roles for FRAM
Editor:- March 1, 2018 - Applications for FRAM are discussed in a new article on EETimes. Among other things mentioned in the article - Cypress says its "FRAM line was designed specifically for the high-speed nonvolatile data logging needed for autonomous vehicles." the article - Cypress Sees a Future for FRAM

Editor's comments:- From a historic perspective FRAM (first mentioned in a news story here on StorageSearch back in November 2002 ) can be seen as a natural successor to the battery backed SRAM which became popular in industrial equipment designs including programmable controllers and process control instrumentation in the early 1980s.

But looking ahead - if there's a need for reliable fast data logging to enable crash recovery and instant restart and resume state of random state of play operations in IoT and machine applications which require small scale speed and reliability rather than masses of streaming data (a role where the capacity of flash compensates for its poor random write latency) then FRAM is one of several contenders for designers.

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Memory Defined Software - a new market in the making
Editor:- February 14, 2018 - There's a new software idea that's been experimented on in the AI skunkworks in the cloud and as patentable secret enhancements in next generation embedded processor designs. This new concept and exciting new market (for the VCs reading this) will be more significant than a new OS and will mark a break in the way that the enterprise thinks about software.

You had had plenty of warning about the new chips but memoryfication doesn't stop with faster storage. The idea didn't have a name when I started writing about it. But what it should be called is obvious.

Memory Defined Software doesn't have to work at being backwards compatible because the legacy storage industry will import and export to it if they want to play in data's future.

See more about this in my new home page - introducing - Memory Defined Software. (Sometimes you can change the world with software which breaks all the rules - if you can find the right platform to run it on.) the article

after AFAs? - the next box
Throughout the history of 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.

after AFAs - click to read rhe articleA new blog on - cloud adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be true.

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. the article
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Nimbus samples 100TB SAS SSDs

Editor:- March 19, 2018 - Nimbus Data Systems has made another significant advance in the development of multipetabyte energy-efficient solid state storage racks with the announcement today that it's sampling 100TB 3.5 SAS SSDs with unlimited DWPD.

The ExaDrive DC100 has balanced performance 100K IOPS R/W and up to 500 MBps throughput and consumes 0.1 watts/TB - which Nimbus says is 85% lower than competing drives used in similar array applications - such as the Micron's 7.68TB 5100 SATA SSD.

Nimbus says the use cases are:-
  • Data centers and cloud infrastructure (scale, efficiency)
  • Scale-out systems (object and file storage)
  • Edge computing (IoT, embedded applications)
General availability is expected to be summer 2018.

See also:- this way to the petabyte SSD (2010)

what's the cost of deciding what is to be done?

Editor:- March 10, 2018 - "In any computer architecture, it takes a lot more energy to fetch and schedule an instruction than it does to execute that instruction" says Rado Danilak, founder and CEO - Tachyum - in his new blog - Moore's Law Is Dying - So Where Are Its Heirs? - which among other things - shows how the transactional costs of fetching instructions and data in classical processors. the article

Editor's comments:- the needs of the cloud, coupled with growing understanding between the tradeoffs between processors, memory, controller dynamics, software and energy consumption since the widespread deployment of solid state storage have been the inspiration for rethinking all the classical elements of computer architecture. Some of that thinking has been rooted in the memory space but just as significant has been a rethinking of what processors should aim to do.

Tachyum announced external funding for its Cloud Chip last month. And as with previous disruptive technologies - part of the warm up process for the market - is to educate more people about how things work now so they can better appreciate what the new technologies offer.

WDC's enterprise flash hopes which were pinned on SanDisk are evaporating - says The Register

Editor:- March 8, 2018 - If you're interested in seeing market share charts for the biggest enterprise SSD drive companies then take a look at a new entertaining article - 2 years and $19B later: What happened to WD's SanDisk enterprise flash advantage? on The Register by Chris Mellor who says among other things:- "WDC bought SanDisk in October 2015 for $19B. The deal closed in May 2016. Since then SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra and a string of other execs have joined Micron, now run by Mehrotra. It's tempting to see much of Micron's gain as WDC's loss." the artticle

Editor's comments:- If the enterprise SSD market was expected to stay the same in terms of architecture, software and purpose then today's market shares would mean more.

But as you know I think the next advance towards supporting big memory apps may make AFAs and enterprise SSDs seem as quaint as optical drives. Enterprise SSDs won't EOL overnight - storage history suggests that AFAs and other storage arrays will continue to exist for another decade or more but as a progressively declining percentage of the memoryfication systems market. And eventually enterprise storage systems may just head towards being a legacy emulation in software defined memory systems and the cloud rather than real actual Storage PHY and on-premises boxes.

Going back to WDC and SanDisk... with acquisitions come patents too. Maybe they will prove to be more valuable than product lines.

See also:- SSD company acquisitions - 2000 to 2017

mouse site readers not scared by memoryfication of content

Editor:- March 1, 2018 - Strange as it may seem - article views on in February 2018 were 23% higher than the year ago period.

Having written for so long about SSDs and the impact of flash on the enterprise it would be ever so easy to just rest awhile longer in those comfortably worn grooves.

To be truthful it's been a struggle for me to visualize and try to anticipate the important next step trends of the memoryfication of everything. Unlike storage - which was relatively simple and well bounded by latency tiers and interfaces and form factors - the new threads of architectural data system change are appearing in disparate places - such as memory systems, inside the dark spaces of processors and slashing across the legacy imaginings of system software.

Unscrambling the next generation possibilities isn't straightforward - because ever since about 2016 new developments in rackmount boxes and NVDIMMs and SSD controllers have not been so isolated in their immediate market impact as they used to be.

So I'd like to say thanks to my readers for keeping up your interest and thanks too to the many industry muses who by what they do and say and talk about - keep me thinking about the next thing. And thanks too to my customers (advertisers past and present) without whom my web publishing career would have been 22 years shorter.

A3Cube's Cofounder 'Rising Entrepreneur of the Year'

Editor:- February 28, 2018 - A3CUBE today announced that its co-founder Emilio Billi has been nominated among the Rising U.S. Entrepreneurs of the Year 2017 by The Technology Headlines which identifies top entrepreneurs that have shown an unwavering focus on innovation and create an organization which delivers change to the industry.

"I have always believed in my ideas even if many times 'experts' said to me that there was no market for them. I never listen to them." said Emilio whose story was chosen as the cover for the December issue of the magazine.

Editor's comments:- I'm not a fan of "editor pick" awards but re this one for Emilio at A3CUBE I said on linkedin - "Rightly so. A3Cube's pioneering hardware commitments to big low latency memory fabric were years ahead of the other PCIe connected memory fabric solutions. And they set themselves very demanding latency aspirations." readers (as you'd expect) often recognize the significance of new memory related technologies before anyone else.

4 years before the above headline recognition A3CUBE entered the Top SSD Companies researched by readers in Q1 2014. This was the same quarter in which the company exited stealth mode and I commented on the rarity of such quick breakthroughs at the time.

new industrial single chip PCIe NVMe SSDs from Silicon Motion

Editor:- February 27, 2018 - Silicon Motion today announced production of 2 new industrial grade single chip PCIe NVMe SSDs.
  • SM689 supports PCIe Gen 3x4 interface in 16mm x 20mm
  • SM681 supports PCI Gen 3x2 interface in 11.5mm x 13mm
Both products can support multiple capacity configurations ranging from 16GB to 256GB and include enterprise-grade advanced data integrity and reliability capabilities using Silicon Motion's proprietary end-to-end data protection, ECC and data caching technologies.

Data integrity features include end-to-end data path protection, which applies ECC to the SSD's SRAM and DRAM buffers as well as to the primary NAND Flash memory array.

who makes single chip SSDs?
say farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs

ioFABRIC awarded patent for latency aware software

Editor:- February 27, 2018 - ioFABRIC today announced it has been awarded a patent for an innovation in its Vicinity policy engine for creating and managing data volumes based on latency requirements.

The patent protects a method for maintaining fast response times by auto-migrating data when hardware resources are added or decommissioned, when performance degrades due to overconsumption, or application use requirements change. Vicinity can apply this policy even when a volume is spread over multiple nodes and storage devices

SSD software
Latency - the SSD bookmarks

Innodisk joins industrial M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD market

Editor:- February 21, 2018 - Innodisk has joined the nascent market for industrial grade M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs and will introduce such new products (which will be available in both 2 and 4 lane PCIe 3.0 versions) at the Embedded World event next week in Germany.

Gen-Z 1.0 now available to view

Editor:- February 13, 2018 - The Gen-Z Consortium today announced that the Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 is publicly available on its website.

ts memory media independence and high bandwidth coupled with low latency enables advanced workloads and technologies for end-to-end secure connectivity from node level to rack scale.

Editor's comments:- Gen-Z follows in the multidecade footsteps of Infiniband and then recently PCIe memory fabrics - but Gen-Z was born with with confident expectations that because of SCM DIMM wars andthe memoryfication of the enterprise there is a real business potential that memory boxes could become the mainstream instead of sitting in the side lines of HPC.

The rev 1.0 specification is a 980 plus page pdf - which I haven't read through yet - but which shows definite promise of a being a thought provoking page turner.

From what I've seen so far the thinking looks like a modern, secure and media agnostic way to request or respond to byte and block addressable (or addressed by default as the next component) data packets between a huge scalable population of components which can be memory devices, processors or controllers.
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Branding Strategies in the SSD Market
Animal Brands and Metaphors in the Storage Market
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SSD news in Marches of yore
March 2005 .Curtis (which at that time had shipped over 15,000 accelerator SSDs worldwide) revealed that its Nitro SSDs (3.5" FC RAM SSDs) had accelerated the network infrastucture in a major phone provider in China. The customer, the GuangDong Branch of China Mobile was the biggest provincial branch in the Chinese Telecom industry, with over 30 million users.
March 2006 noted that the number of SSD manufacturers listed on its SSD directory page (at that time) had grown to 35 companies.
March 2010 Pliant Technology published a benchmark which showed that an array of 16x SAS SSDs could achieve similar IOPS as a proprietary architecture rackmount flash array from Texas Memory Systems, or an array of PCIe SSDs from Fusion-io
March 2014 Samsung said its new 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD was 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs.
March 2015 SanDisk entered the enterprise rackmount SSD market - with a 3U 512TB array of 8TB SAS SSDs called InfiniFlash.
March 2017 Intel began sampling its long awaited first enterprise SSD which used 3DXpoint (Optane) memory and which was aimed at the HHHL PCIe SSD market.
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
Don't expect business to pick up where it left off when the next memory boom bust correction kicks in.
questions re trajectory of SSD market's onward rebound
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IMA (Industrial, Medical & Automotive)
XTREME series SSDs - from Flexxon

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.
consequences of the 2017 memory shortages

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

The industry will learn a lot about the "goodness" of new memory tiering products by stressing them in ways which the original designers never intended.
RAM disk emulations in "flash as RAM" solutions

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

new edition of the Top SSD Companies
Editor:- January 19, 2018 - today published the Top SSD Companies in Q4 2017 - the 43rd quarterly edition in this market defining series.

There's a new #1 - which portends changes coming to the market soon.

Previous #1 SSD companies in the past 11 years (and the pivotal factors which escalated them to the top at that time) have included:-
  • SanDisk (enterprise SSDs - #1 in 2015)
  • Memoright (fastest 2.5" SATA flash SSDs - #1 in 2008)
  • BiTMICRO (first TB 3.5" SSD - #1 in 2007).
Want to know who moved up to #1 in Q4 2017? the article