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And the best buy SSDs shall be the worst (if you change your workloads)

Editor:- August 2, 2014 - An applications optimized SSD system can be the cheapest buy - if you always use it for the original purpose - but it can be a poor choice if you throw the wrong type of applications at it. Enter - the good ole general purpose fast SSD array.

The conflicts are examined in a new blog - Real Flash Storage Systems multi-task! written by Woody Hutsell, IBM who among other things says - "It just so happens that flash appliances with built-in deduplication are the worst choices for database acceleration." ...read the article

The idea that an SSD which is best for one type of use may have the worst characteristics for another - was also examined from an architectural point of view in my classic article - how fast can your SSD run backwards?


real-world performance of flash storage systems

Editor:- July 23, 2014 - Editor:- July 23, 2014 - How does flash storage perform in the real world? - Demartek aims to provide some answers by reporting on the performance tests which it has carried out on SSD and hybrid systems from many of the leading enterprise SSD companies in a session next month at the Flash Memory Summit (August 5).

Demartek says attendees will come away with reasonable estimates of what they can expect in practice and the results also reveal additional advantages of flash-based storage, with what Dennis Martin, President - Demartek calls "happy side effects". ...more info


say hello to CacheIO

Editor:- June 10, 2014 - CacheIO today announced results of a benchmark which is described by their collaborator Orange Silicon Valley (a telco) as - "One of the top tpm benchmark results accelerating low cost iSCSI SATA storage."

CacheIO says that the 2 million tpm benchmark on CacheIO accelerated commodity servers and storage shows that users can deploy its flash cache to accelerate their database performance without replacing or disrupting their existing servers and storage.

Editor's comments:- The only reason I mention this otherwise me-too sounding benchmark is because although I've known about CacheIO and what they've been doing with various organizations in the broadcast and telco markets for over a year - I didn't list them on StorageSearch.com before.

That was partly because they didn't want me to name the customers they were working with at that time - but also because with SSD caching companies becoming almost as numerous as tv stations on a satellite dish - I wanted to wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing. (And now I think they they are.)


what's in a number?

Editor:- March 4, 2014 - SSDserver rank is a latency based configuration metric - proposed as a new standard by StorageSearch.com - which can tersely classify any enterprise server - as seen from an SSD software perspective - by a single lean number rating from 0 to 7. ...read the article


ESG reports on clustering Virident's PCIe SSDs

Editor:- January 23, 2014 - ESG today published a test report for Virident / HGST's FlashMAX II (PCIe SSDs) which validated the ability of this product family and its related software (vShare ) to be configured for useful operation in an Oracle RAC environment in high availability configurations which were clustered via Infiniband.

Although ESG said performance was good they also commented on some current limitations of the product suite for this type of application. In particular:-
  • the lack of a graphical interface for setup and performance mintoring,, and
  • the lack of support for other supported fabrics such as 10GbE (mentioned in the report as a future option), and PCIe fabric (which was not mentioned at all in this report).



how to avoid hot pluggable PCIe SSD failures

Editor:- December 3, 2013 - What happens if you test PCIe SSDs for their sensitivity to data corruption or even failure - in the event of sudden power loss?

You'd think that with more hot pluggable products coming into the market -especially in the 2.5" form factor - that the experimental outcomes would be known by the designers and problems debugged so that users wouldn't have to worry.

In August 2013 Quarch Technology launched some special test equipemnt to inject power related faults into PCIe SSDs - and the company today announced it has extended this range to automate power line error testing of PCIe SFF SSDs.

Andy Norrie, Technical Director at Quarch Technology told me today that "Almost every combination of test kit we have tried in Quarch (a number of friendly customers lent us kit and eval drives to get the new module up and running) has failed in some way. Sometimes failing to come back up again nicely, sometimes with a full BSOD which will almost certainly have risked data loss."


memory channel SSD vs PCIe SSD write latency - 3rd party benchmarks

Editor:- November 7, 2013 - If you've been wondering how Diablo's memory channel storage compares with PCIe SSDs - click here to a new whitepaper (pdf) which includes some useful data. The application isn't important but it's the first public glimpse which goes usefully beyond the graphs shown in the product launch documents.

The highlight for me is - a mean write latency of about 30µS for MCS compared to about 100µS for PCIe SSD- at a particular R/W ratio which may of course look nothing like your own setups.


Nimbus scores $40 per virtual desktop in IOmark-VDI

Editor:- October 1, 2013 - I was talking recently to Tom Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus Data Systems about the state of the market and a possible date for an IPO (which you can read more about in SSD news).

After that we moved onto the subject of why enterprise customers buy SSD arrays - and we traded stories about some of the explanations which get tossed around like IOPS per dollar - which when you scrutinize them in any detail are ridiculous. We've both seen leading edge silicon SSD companies put nonsensical graphs into their marketing presentations which don't lead you anywhere useful in the real world if you follow the superficial analysis. (That's because these vendors don't make systems - and are many steps removed from genuine enterprise thinking.)

Tom said most of his customers couldn't tell you how many IOPS their apps were demanding.

I said I've been writing about the "cost of satisfying a given number of virtual users for a particular type of app" as being a useful comparison figure (for storage). We both agreed that even if enterprises don't know for sure what their throughputs or IOPS are - they have a good idea of how many users they're trying to serve within their organization or at customer facing web interfaces. The payroll tells you one, the marketing people can tell you the other. And accounting can tell you how much it all costs. You don't need storage analyzer tools to get a feeling for where the ground level lies.

As our conversation had already veered towards the subject of a simple way that users can compare the costs of SSD storage for particular types of apps - and as I'd asked the question - he said there was a benchmark called IOmark-VDI which Nimbus had participated in recently with the Evaluator Group. He said he went into the process because he thought it might be a good thing to try out - and was gratified to found out that it shows the Nimbus product in a very good light with a cost under $40 per virtual desktop (pdf) achieved by a 2U Nimbus system supporting up to 4,032 linked clone VDI images.


measuring enterprise SSD performance - intro by Micron

Editor:- August 23, 2013 - EDN today published a introductory article on the subject of measuring enterprise SSD performance - written by Doug Rollins, Senior Applications Engineer at Micron - which could be useful for newcomers to this topic as it expounds some of the basic assumptions and jargon. ...read the article

See also:- Can you trust flash SSD specs & benchmarks?


FIO's ION software enables Breakthrough Shared Storage Performance

Editor:- June 13, 2013 - The performance of Fusion-io's ION Data Accelerator software - which you can add to its PCIe SSD cards, any standard server and some FC adapters to roll your own SAN rackmount SSD - is the point of a new blog by the company today which celebrates recent benchmarks for 2, 4 and 8 processor HP server configuartions (pdf).


Stec's profiler removes guesswork in sizing SSD caches for hybrid storage

Editor:- May 21, 2013 - Stec today announced that it's offering a free profiling tool - EnhanceIO Profiler - which can enable users to determine how much benefit they would get from using its EnhanceIO (SSD caching software) - before they even install any SSDs.

The company says that the "non-disruptive installation" can save hours of administrative trial and error by recommending the optimal block size, and the capacity and type of SSDs to be used for maximum performance gain.


SSD performance characteristics and limitations

Editor:- March 15, 2013 - published today - the new home page blog on StorageSearch.com is - a toolkit for understanding flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations.

It brings together in one place many of the tools I use every day when thinking about and assessing SSDs.


in memory database even better with FIO's flash

Editor:- November 20, 2012 - McObject recently released new benchmark results which indicate that the in-memory database company is not so unfriendly to flash SSDs as you may have thought from reading earlier company positioning papers.

It seems that a software product - which was originally designed for the DRAM-HDD world - is a good fit in the flash SSD world too - if you have the right scale of data and the right SSD. ...read more


new article - adaptive flash care IP (including DSP)

Editor:- June 19, 2012 - A few months ago I promised readers that I would publish a tentative list of SSD companies who use what I loosely called "adaptive DSP technologies in SSD IP" in their new designs. .

It's one of the most important design techniques being used in some leading flash SSDs - in which the SSD designer can adapt the reliability, speed and power consumption of the SSD - not based on some faw away population model of flash chips - but optimized for the chips in each SSD - and adapting the controller behavior to what is measured and learned from interacting with the flash chips installed. This is a market changing technique. ...read the article

analyzer suite could speed up auto-tiering SSD evaluations
Editor:- November 29, 2011 - hyperI/O today announced availability of its Disk I/O Ranger software analysis tool for Windows environments.

The company says this will help users diagnose and understand disk storage access performance problems and to to verify that QoS levels are being met at the application/file/device level. It could also simplify the evaluation of auto-tiering SSD appliances by collecting real-time metrics.

Editor's comments:- I asked Tom West, President of hyperI/O what he was seeing of the SSD market from his perspective of selling storage analysis tools. He said -"One of the major users of the hIOmon software is listed within the top 10 of your latest - Top 20 SSD Companies."


Microsemi reports shake rattle and roll SSD results

Editor:- May 19, 2011 - Microsemi today announced that its TRRUST-STOR (2.5" rugged SSDs) are the industry's first SSDs to pass zero-failure testing at vibration levels that are consistent with the industry's most severe environments.

"No other SSD manufacturers have published zero-failure results at this level of vibration testing, which was conducted while our drives were fully operational, reading and writing data," said Jack Bogdanski, director of marketing for Microsemi. "The ability for SSDs to perform flawlessly under adverse environmental conditions is becoming increasingly important for applications where it is critical that data be protected at all times."

Microsemi's SSD units were pre-conditioned at 85°C for 336 hours.


How and why to monitor VM Performance

Editor:- February 23, 2011 - How to Proactively Monitor VM Performance is a new article on Data Center POST written by Alex Rosemblat, Product Marketing Manager at VKernel - who says "Proactive monitoring of a virtualized data center can assist in finding potential performance problems before they occur..."

Editor's comments:- OK he says a lot more than that - and that's why I mentioned his article here.

I used to do a lot of performance analysis in my pre cut and paste career because I designed systems with guaranteed apps response times. And in my current job I always check my stats before I look at my email. So I have a lot of empathy for the storage test and analysis market. The more you understand about the internals of complex systems the less likely you are to get mugged by them. ... read the article


SandForce publishes list of approved test tool partners

Editor:- January 31, 2011 -SandForce has started a directory of companies, tools, technologies and services to help SSD designers integrate its SSD processors and get them to market more quickly.

Each member company in the new SandForce Trusted™ program ensures that their products and/or services fully support SandForce SSD Processors and provides response to SandForce customer inquiries within 24 hours while committing to high-priority support for fastest problem resolution.

Editor's comments:- 6 out of the 7 initial companies in the new program provide test / design verification products.

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flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations


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Are you ready to rethink RAM?


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"If repeat writes to the same small address range (same flash blocks) is interspersed with read operations (what I call - the play it again Sam scenario - which occurs in database tables) the performance outcome varies significantly between different designs of flash SSDs."
the Problem with Write IOPS in flash SSDs


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RAM Cache Ratios in flash SSDs


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Bad block management in flash SSDs
This is an introduction to the thinking behind one of the many vital functions inside a flash SSD controller.

Native media defect quality in new flash memory chips has grown steadily worse in the past 10 years as geometries have shrunk.
click image to read the article - principles of bad block management in flash SSDs This article enumerates the scale of the problem and explains how intrinsically dodgy flash memory is transformed into dependable flash SSDs which you can entrust with your data. ...read the article


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partial A to Z index of StorageSearch.com

1.0" SSDs
1.8" SSDs
2.5" SSDs
3.5" SSDs

3 things could've killed flash SSD market

1976 - 2011 - SSD history
2011 - SSD timeline
2012 - SSD look ahead

20K RPM HDDs - no-show

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After SSDs... what next?
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Backup articles - tape / D2d / optical
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Bad block management in flash SSDs
Benchmarks - SSD - can your trust them?
Best / cheapest SSD?
Big market picture of SSDs
Bookmarks from SSD leaders
Branding Strategies in the SSD market
Buyers Guide to SSDs

Cables for storage interfaces
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Chips - storage interface / processors
Chips - SSD on a chip & DOMs
Cloud storage - with SSD twists
Controller chips for SSDs
Cost of SSDs - why so much?

more - A to Z
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