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Data architectures and technologies born from the lessons of the SSD market now influence every vital aspect of computer memory, storage, processing and software.
Top SSD Companies - 2016 Q3
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big SSD ideas in past years
2011 IPOs and acquisitions showed that SSD companies had become valuable.

The SSD software market became real and useful even if the main use of such software (with caching and tiering products) was to simplify the sale and deployment of more SSDs.
2012 In SSD form factors... we said Hi - to 2.5" PCIe SSDs.

In the SSD controller space... adaptive R/W DSP flash management became a truly competitive ecosystem with over 10 companies marketing such technology.
2013 In SSD form factors... memory channel flash SSDs (DIMM compatible flash SSDs on the DRAM bus) made their initial appearance.

Due to its unique ability to accumulate and integrate multiple design efficiencies related to flash SSD use in the enterprise - the rack became the most important form factor around which enterprise SSD vendors focused their strategic product ideas.
2014 In-situ SSD processing and the idea that random access memory doesn't have to be RAM (but can be flash with the right software) were among the many ideas which clarified.

And in form factors... M.2 opened doors for new markets for PCIe SSD acceleration.
2015 The concept of cost effective alternatives to DRAM gained momentum from a growing ecosystems of more than 10 competing SCM DIMM wars product families (using various types of memory and software) which were announced by major vendors.
SSD market history

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The SSD and memory systems market is now a self-aware interconnected ideas ecosystem in which the detailed implementation of new advanced technologies has to take into account the big data and big controller architecture ideas in all the other parts of this new SSD aware ecosystem.
No more deference to other markets

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what were the big SSD, storage and memory architecture ideas which emerged and came into sharp focus in 2016?

the SSD ideas in 2016?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com - October 13, 2016
In popular fiction about time travel it has often been said that the paradox you want to seriously avoid is meeting yourself coming forwards while you are actually traveling back.

In writing about the computer market this is something which happens to me a lot - as I look back on detailed technology and market predictions from the past and compare them to what happened. There's nothing too mysterious about this swinging back and forth in content time. It's just something which happens when I randomly dip into past pages I've written or edited on the web over 2 decades to remind myself - what was all that about?

One of those prediction paradoxes occurred recently in connection with an SSD news story in August 2016 - which intersected with a prediction article published in 2010 - which I had illustrated at the time with this spoof press release.
Stealth mode startup wakes petabyte SSD appliance market

Editor:- October 17, 2016 - Exabyte SSD Appliance emerged from stealth mode and today announced a $400 million series C funding round and immediate availability of its new Paranoid S3B series - a 2U entry level Solid State Backup appliance with 1PB (uncompressed) capacity. ...Latency is 10 microseconds (for accesses to awake blocks) and 20 milli-seconds (for data accesses to blocks in sleep mode.) The scalable system can deliver 20PB of uncompressed (and RAID protected) nearline storage in a 40U cabinet - which can be realistically compressed to emulate 100PB of rotating hard disk storage using less than 5kW of electric power.
Although some of the detailed flash memory predictions in that article 6 years ago were embarrassingly pessimistic compared to what we expect to be seeing in the near term future - the purpose of that article - this way to the petabyte SSD - was to explore the user value propositions which would enable solid state storage to become an attractive proposition to buy for high capacity enterprise storage even if hard drive capacity cost less per physical bit.

even if enterprise hard drives are free

And to make my point I used the extreme market boundary condition that even if magnetic storage drives cost nothing to buy - they would still be displaced by SSD based storage due to physical size, and operating costs.

The arguments I usedback then are accepted as everyday reasons to buy such systems nowadays - but I can confirm at the time of publication they fired the imaginations of many movers and shakers in the market.

Since 2010 as I've written various stories about various SSD systems companies I have from time to time wondered which company is going to show such products first. Several years ago I thought a hot contender was Skyera. But a few weeks ago on a booth at FMS - Nimbus Data was showing boxes which looked very similar to this concept. Although the Nimbus boxes are much faster than I predicted - because SSD power management has evolved to be much faster at cold boot than the good-enough examples I used in my old article. A critical ingredient of the spoof story and today's reality is software.

The petabyte SSD was (I thought in 2010) an elegant wrap up and last bullet point in a set of predicted user value propositions for SSDs which I had been writing about since 2003.

Upto that point (in 2010) my technology predictions had been pretty reliable at anticipating disruptive changes many years before any such products or companies made them happen.

But the set of user value propositions wasn't as complete as I thought.

Storage and CPU equivalence were to be joined later by virtual memory equivalence.

This happened because the market experience of virtualizing storage and memory and leveraging ideas from the early adopters in the enterprise PCIe SSD market - uncovered yet another big gap - tiered memory and trading latency for density by adding more layers and a new core construct of persistent memory (with fast memory boot which doesn't rely on preloading from magnetic storage).

Thiese permutations been playing out in the SSDs news pages in the past 2 -3 years but the memory systems market still has a ways to go yet.

what happened to big SSD ideas of 2016?

Which reminds me of the tentative title of this blog.

It's traditional at this time of the year for me to start collecting together and reflecting on the big SSD ideas of the year.

You can see recent examples of these "big ideas" or annual round up blogs for various years here:- 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

In a long overdue break with past editorial tradition I'm going to change the format for my big SSD ideas of 2016 article. And as part of this - I've been asking people in the industry this question.

From the perspective of your company... what were the big SSD, storage and memory architecture ideas which emerged and became clearer in 2016?

Here are some of the early answers.
"As 3D NAND gets designed into all upcoming products we see everybody trying to manipulate and characterize the flash at a low level in ways that they did not all need to do before, partly because LDPC is required just to meet the specified endurance. This is delaying roll-out for many because they either do not have the required flash skills or they (other than our customers) do not have access to a tool for automatically characterizing the flash and generating the LLR tables."

Pearse Coyle, CEO - NVMdurance
"The integration of the PMEM/DAX driver into the Linux kernel allowing us to expose persistent memory as a block device so it can tie into existing block and filesystem infrastructure....

And also the NVMe over Fabrics standard and OS support. Allowing us to present NVMe over RDMA to enable a new level of performance for remote block storage."

Stephen Bates, Senior Technical Director - Microsemi
"The major storage manufacturers used the Flash Memory Summit (FMS) in August to make clear the importance of Storage Class Memory (SCM).

Their choices tell us a lot about the limitations of their existing NAND Flash technologies specifically in the area of endurance. It has been known for a while that Intel and Micron have chosen 3D XPoint as their approach. WDC stated that their approach will be ReRAM built into a 3-D NAND process architectural frame.

What this means is that Intel, Micron and WDC have decided to jettison a program/erase (P/E) mechanism, namely quantum mechanical tunneling, that has been at the heart of NAND Flash since its inception in the late 1980's.

The improvements in endurance in going from 2-D to 3-D NAND have clearly not been enough for Intel, Micron and WDC to remain with these technologies for SCM.

Samsung on the other hand look like they wish to stay with a tried-and-trusted P/E mechanism with their Z-NAND SCM offering. If Z-NAND is indeed an SLC version of their V-NAND, then endurance is probably in the tens of thousands. Schiltron technology is ideally suited for SCM in that we can reach millions of cycles of endurance while remaining with the tunneling-based P/E mechanism.

Furthering the concept of evolutionary development that has formed the foundation of silicon technology since its beginnings, Schiltron uses existing Fab tools and materials. We believe this will lead to the Storage Class Memory Revolution."

Andrew Walker, Founder and CEO - Schiltron
"NVDIMM-X"

Mike Amidi, CEO - Xitore
"Storage Class Memory... As storage class memories are emerging, the memory hierarchy will be changed. NOR-based NVDIMMs, such as 3D Super-NOR and 3D XPoint, will replace DRAM and SSD at the same time.

Also, software-based NVDIMM-P, such as HybriDIMM, will come to the storage class memory market. Storage class memories mingles fast-but-expensive volatile, and slow-but-inexpensive non-volatile memories together. As a result, it will significantly boost system performance at low cost and create huge market opportunities."

Sang-Yun Lee, President & CEO - BeSang
"SSD capacities exceeding HDD capacities are now shipping in volume this year in the enterprise."

Greg Wong, President - Forward Insights
"The most significant ideas we at Virtium see and are directing our resources toward center on taking SSD security, reliability, durability, and manageability to a much higher level, to meet the needs of increasingly connected industrial embedded environments. These ideas are now being realized through drives self-encryption capabilities, advanced remote-monitoring software, dramatically reduced power requirements, and the development of SSDs specifically for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)."

Scott Phillips, VP Marketing, Virtium Solid State Storage and Memory
"From Mangstor's perspective, we are heavily invested in NVMe over Fabric (NVMf) technology for which our NX-Series Storage Arrays are based.

With the ratification of the NVMf specification this past June, flash devices such as SSDs and storage arrays can now communicate over RDMA networks (such as RoCE or InfiniBand), delivering the same high performance, low latency benefits as local attached NVMe.

Storage arrays based on NVMf, such as our award-winning NX6320, avoid the lower level SCSI transport layer, which results in faster data throughput and accelerated data access making NVMf solutions ideal for compute-intensive HPC and database applications."

Scott Harlin, Director of MarComms - Mangstor
"Nvme and soon 3D Xpoint are affordable, solve low queue depth and write performance issues and will make performance claims from the usual suspects irrelevant... Removing the interface bottleneck was the giant step here."

Guido Meijers, System Engineer at Greenpower
"I think definitely it is NVMe. We have seen the demand has increased unbelievably this year. Most customers told us that NVMe were their first choice of new systems design since it combines ruggedness of traditional SATA and the high speed of PCIe."

Manager at a rugged SSD company
"From our experience in 2016 we have seen 2 major things.

First is the combination of storage with the hypervisor (like our eEVOS). Without which customers would need to use 2 suppliers (storage and hypervisor) which would make support a nightmare sometimes.

The other is NV-DIMM techology, we have customers and partners implementing it with our product. It provides best of both worlds - RAM speed with extreme I/O and data still remains in case of server crash."

Tvrtko Fritz, CEO at euroNAS GmbH
"For Hyperstone, the biggest idea and industry trend that we pushed and participated in is the implementation of page-based-FTL running on DRAM-less controller architectures. This approach improves random write performance, increases endurance while maintaining power-fail robustness at the same time. As this architecture also reduces system cost it is also adopted in consumer markets.

We also see a significant adoption of USB 3.0 in industrial/embedded markets. Certainly, the most hyped topics, at the FMS for instance, were 3D NAND and NVMe but for both we do not yet see any sufficiently mature products or any massive adoption in our markets"

Susan Heidrich, Sales & Marketing Manager - Hyperstone
interesting but...

Not everybody I spoke to was quite so focused on the immediate application of big bang raw technologies.

Some vendors - in industrial and military markets - told me that their business focus in 2016 had been more biased towards service oriented offerings.

For example Limuel Yap VP of Global Business Operations - V&G said that many of V&G's efforts in 2016 have been in enhancing previously designed and conceptualized products.

And when I asked Camellia Chan who is Managing Director at Flexxon about this article she said - "Basically we are not the technology leading company. Instead where we are focusing is on continuing to provide legacy product to industrial, medical, automotive customers We support a lot of EOL SSD products worldwide. Most of our customers are facing the problems of discontinued products and we are the ones who support them."

that's all - for now

As usual I'll be adding more to this article right up to the end of December 2016.

So tell me what you think. Send me your comments by regular email [Zsolt@StorageSearch.com] or via linkedin.

Meanwhile here's what I said about 2015.

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Hmm... it looks like you're seriously interested in SSDs. So please bookmark this page and come back again soon.

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A conversation I had (in November 2016) with Charles Tsai, President - AccelStor provides a useful example of how, nowadays, even the simplest type of SSD product plan has to be aware of strategic considerations in a wide range of contexts which are sweeping across the whole market.
a winter's tale of SSD market influences
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SSD ad - click for more info

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Some suppliers will quote you higher DWPD even if nothing changes in the BOM.
what's the state of DWPD?

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Is more always better?
The ups and downs of capacitor hold up in 2.5" flash SSDs

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Retiring and retiering enterprise DRAM was one of the big SSD ideas which took hold in the market in 2015.

Over 20 companies have already announced products for this market among which are Memory1, 3DXPoint etc

But what are the underlying reasons that will make it feasible for slower cheaper memory to replace most of the future DRAM market without applications noticing?
latency loving reasons for fading out DRAM

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Software is the data heat pump which can transform the entropy of flash memory arrays from mere storage systems into higher value random access memory.
Where are we heading with memory systems and software?

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In SSD land - rules are made to be broken.
7 tips to survive and thrive in enterprise SSD

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is data remanence in NVDIMMs a new risk factor?
maybe the risk was already there with DRAM

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There's a genuine characterization problem for the SCM industry which is:- what are the most useful metrics to judge tiered memory systems by?
is it realistic to talk about memory IOPS?

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Many of the important and sometimes mysterious behavioral aspects of SSDs which predetermine their application limitations and usable market roles can only be understood when you look at how well the designer has dealt with managing the symmetries and asymmetries which are implicit in the underlying technologies which are contained within the SSD.
how fast can your SSD run backwards?

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The enterprise SSD story...

why's the plot so complicated?

and was there ever a missed opportunity in the past to simplify it?
the elusive golden age of enterprise SSDs

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How committed (really) are these companies
to the military SSD business?
a not so simple list of military SSD companies

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Can you trust market reports and the handed down wisdom from analysts, bloggers and so-called industry experts?

heck no! - whatever gave you that silly idea?
here's why

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Why do SSD revenue forecasts by enterprise vendors so often fail to anticipate crashes in demand from their existing customers?
meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

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the past (and future) of HDD vs SSD sophistry
How will the hard drive market fare...
in a solid state storage world?

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Reliability is an important factor in many applications which use SSDs. But can you trust an SSD brand just because it claims to be reliable in its ads?
the cultivation and nurturing of "reliability"
in a 2.5" SSD brand

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unraveling the unreal positioning of AFA startups
compared to EMC...

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Now we're seeing new trends in pricing flash arrays which don't even pretend that you can analyze and predict the benefits using technical models.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing


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A couple of years ago - if you were a big company wanting to get into the SSD market by an acquisition or strategic investment then a budget somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion would have seemed like plenty.
VCs in SSDs and storage



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Adaptive dynamic refresh to improve ECC and power consumption, tiered memory latencies and some other ideas.
Are you ready to rethink RAM?


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90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
market consolidation - why? how? when?


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With hundreds of patents already pending in this topic there's a high probability that the SSD vendor won't give you the details. It's enough to get the general idea.
Adaptive flash R/W and DSP ECC IP in SSDs


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SSD Market - Easy Entry Route #1 - Buy a Company which Already Makes SSDs. (And here's a list of who bought whom.)
3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market


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"You'd think... someone should know all the answers by now. "
what do enterprise SSD users want?


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We can't afford NOT to be in the SSD market...
Hostage to the fortunes of SSD


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Why buy SSDs?
6 user value propositions for buying SSDs


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"Play it again Sam - as time goes by..."
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs


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the SSD heresies
Why can't SSD's true believers agree on a single shared vision for the future of solid state storage?
the SSD Heresies


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There's one kind of market research report which you won't find listed on the website of any storage market report vendor - and that's a directory of all the other market research companies they compete with! Here's my list - compiled from over 20 years of past news stories - which includes all categories of market research companies...
who's who in storage market research?


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If you spend a lot of your time analyzing the performance characteristics and limitations of flash SSDs - this article will help you to easily predict the characteristics of any new SSDs you encounter - by leveraging the knowledge you already have.
flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations


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The memory chip count ceiling around which the SSD controller IP is optimized - predetermines the efficiency of achieving system-wide goals like cost, performance and reliability.
size matters in SSD controller architecture


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Are you whiteboarding alternative server based SSD / SCM / SDS architectures? It's messy keeping track of those different options isn't it? Take a look at an easy to remember hex based shorthand which can aptly describe any SSD accelerated server blade.
what's in a number? - SSDserver rank


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Aeon, Alacritech, ArmourDrive... etc
Inanimate Power, Speed and Strength Metaphors in SSD brands


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A popular fad in selling flash SSDs is life assurance and health care claims as in - my flash SSD controller care scheme is 100x better (than all the rest).
razzle dazzling flash SSD cell care


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These are the "Editor Proven" cheerleaders and editorial meetings fixers of the storage and SSD industry.
who's who in SSD and storage PR?