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Virtium

Virtium provides memory and solid state storage solutions for single board computers and systems.
Virtium logo - click for more info
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Virtium's products are designed to satisfy demanding applications in the embedded computing, telecom, networking, storage, military and aerospace markets. Virtium is the only manufacturer going the extra mile to offer special services that save design engineers and procurement professionals time, money and deliver a worry-free experience.

Established in 1997, Virtium is a privately-held, financially-sound technology company with its own U.S.-based design and manufacturing facility. Headquartered in Southern California, the company maintains representative offices throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.
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industrial SATA SSDs
efficiently matched to embedded needs
StorFly – from Virtium
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Virtium - addresses and links

corporate HQ

Virtium Technology, Inc.
30052 Tomas
Rancho Santa Margarita CA 92688
USA

tel:- +1 (949) 888 2444

url:-http://www.virtium.com

worldwide operations
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see also:- Virtium - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com, Virtium's SSD page
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Editor:- January 31, 2014 - Virtium made its debut in the Top SSD Companies List - in the new edition published today - which is based on metrics in Q4 2013.


Who's who in SSD? - Virtium

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor September 28, 2012

Virtium entered the SSD market in October 2008 with a product called LeanSTOR - an AMC form factor SSD module for the AdvancedTCA market.

Virtium's current line of SSDs are aimed at industrial markets - and are available in a variety of form factors including 2.5", 1.8", mSATA and CFast.

Virtium has a new pragmatic approach to how industrial SSD designers can achieve their long term supply continuity objectives, and be efficient in their use of expensive SSD assets while living with the reality that the raw chip material which goes into industrial SSDs is subject to stormy technology forces from much bigger markets (consumer and enterprise flash) which are outside its direct control.

See my article below for more details.
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Virtium asks - can you really afford to waste money on "general purpose" rather than "environmentally optimized" industrial SSDs?
Editor:- September 12, 2012 - Virtium today launched a new line of SSDs for the industrial market. The StorFly range includes 1.8", 2.5", Slim SATA, mSATA and CFast form factors that are specifically designed for embedded systems that have unique capacity and workload requirements.

Editor's comments:- In a recent conversation with Gary Drossel, VP of product strategy at Virtium - I learned that the company is taking some new approaches to the age old problems faced by equipment and systems designers who need high reliability at industrial temperatures, but who also need to be able to maintain exact functional replacements - without redesign over a multi-year single system life which will represent many memory chip product generations.

There are several prongs in Virtium's new SSD design fork. And it's when you add them all up that they can make a big cost difference to the customer - who otherwise may have to over-specify product parameters in so called "general purpose industrial SSDs" to be sure of being safe in the parameters which actually matter in their particular application design.
  • temperature characterization:- Virtium has a pro-active program of characterizing flash memory at different operating temperatures in the industrial range. Therefore if you've got an application which you know is going to spend most of its life running at -10C, or at +80C - for example - then instead of having to guess and extrapolate how much raw endurance you might need - based on a headline datasheet number - you can have an SSD which reliably meets your precise needs without having to overspecify a high safety margin (on overprisioning or memory type) - with the additional cost that entails.
  • continuity of BOM:- the traditional way to ensure long term functional fit of SSDs in equipment used to be via memory process roadmaps coupled with stockpiling devices from obsolete memory product generations.

    Gary told me that one of the fundamental assumptions which has changed in the SSD market is that with SLC becoming a much smaller part of the world memory mix - no-one can be sure that anyone will still be making merchant market SLC in the future just because they have been the same memories in the past. Instead the flash market is predominantly MLC. Recent history has shown that entire flash product lines can disappear without notice due to changing market conditions.

    Virtium's strategy is to design SSD families which can adapt to use whatever popular type of MLC is in the market - while still presenting exact compatibility at the driver, interface, form factor, power consumption, reliability and performance level.

    That's a much more realistic option - Gary said - than pretending that the needs of niche industrial SSD suppliers will somehow be maintained and protected by memory companies who will be focused even more than ever on the high volume markets for SSD (consumer and enterprise).
  • investing in the driver firmware:- Gary said that many industrial SSDs in the market today include design features which have been optimized to make them look good in benchmarks for other markets - due to the design DNA of other products made by those SSD oems.

    Yet when Virtium asked its customers what OS they were using in their embedded designs - most of them weren't using the OS or software which looked anything like what competing general purpose industrial SSDs had been polished for.

    Virtium's strategy at the driver and firmware level is to optimize performance and reliability with the kind of workload which more typically represents the embedded code of its customers. That provides better multi-generation compatibility, better efficiency (in terms of memory chips), lower power consumption and also better reliability.
Virtium's (complex when you first hear it) value proposition for designers who use SSDs in industrial apps is that if they know enough about how and where their SSDs will be used - they don't need to waste money by overspecifying general purpose SSDs to get the set of characteristics which matter to them. And at the same time they can be more confident about the long term reliability of what they're getting too.

PS - I did ask Gary - as I have asked nearly everyone this year - what's Virtium doing on the subject of adaptive R/W DSP?

He said Virtium doesn't have this technology in-house - but if and when it becomes needed - the company will most liekly buy in or license the appropriate IP.

They see their strongest core IP as being specialists in temperature characterization and reliability. Adapting to the adaptive flash R/W paradigm - if that becomes the market standard - will be no different than the many other MLC variation realities which they plan to contend with.
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Virtium's new VP of sales
Editor:- October 30, 2013 - Virtium today announced that Michael Nilsson has joined the company as senior VP of sales.

Editor's comments:- as you can see from Mike Nilsson's profile page - he knows the SSD industry better than most - having been VP of sales at Stec.

And before that he also spent 6 years in another well known memory company - Fujitsu Microelectronics - which nowadays operates at the fringes of SSD technology with its FRAM (Ferroelectric Random Access Memory).
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Virtium offers offer faster range of extended temperature SSDs
Editor:- August 7, 2013 - Virtium today introduced a new line of faster 1.8" and 2.5" rugged SATA SSDs (80, 160 and 300GB capacities) for applications in in-flight entertainment, PoS terminals, gaming equipment and mobile monitoring systems.

The DecaStor line - which is rated for approximately 65% full disk write / day for 10 years - is available with AES encryption, secure erase, data protection in the event of an unexpected power interruption and extended temperature screening. DecaStor supports sequential R/W speeds of 410/375 MB/s respectively, with read IOPS of 47,000 and 2,500 write IOPS.
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Virtium offers 64GB SLC TuffDrive CF
for "Godfather" slots in industrial products
Editor:- July 11, 2013 - According to Gary Drossel, VP of product strategy at Virtium - "There has been a misperception in the industry that, because other suppliers have exited the market either through EOL or industry consolidation, CompactFlash (which has been the Godfather of embedded form factors (pdf) for more than 10 years - ed) is no longer viable as an SSD technology in the industrial SSD market. That is absolutely not the case."

Supporting the view that as long as there's enough demand for legacy form factors someone will supply it - Virtium recently announced a new generation of high density industrial SSDs (upto 64GB SLC) in its TuffDrive CF range which meet MIL-810 standards for shock and vibration.
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Virtium ships 512GB industrial Slim SATA SSDs
Editor:- January 30, 2013 - Virtium today announced it's shipping true industrial 512GB SSDs in the Slim SATA (MO-297) form factor - which is just 15% of the physical volume of a standard 2.5" drive.

Editor's comments:- it's interesting what you can do with numbers - and I admit I hadn't thought of that 15% volume comparison thing even though I've been writing about tiny (and not so tiny) SSDs for a while.

But seriously the comparison breaks down if you need more capacity - because if you need 2TB (say) then 4x MO-297 is 60% of a 2.5" drive which reduces the strength of the argument.

On the other hand - the common applications for these smaller embedded drives - networking and ATCA blade systems - according to Gary Drossel at Virtium - don't need such big storage capacities (yet).
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"Once we know the use case were trying to solve, we can figure out the best and least expensive way to build the right SSD..."
Gary Drossel, VP of product strategy at Virtium, in his blog - What's the "embedded" difference in an embedded SSD? - October 2012
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"A new word has been creeping into nearly every email and conversation I've been having about SSDs recently - and that is - Efficiency. It's is a very powerful differentiator in technology and I think it will also be very important in influencing business success."
SSD efficiency - editor's blog on StorageSearch.com (October 2012)
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Virtium creates a new framework for industrial SSDs
Editor:- October 25, 2012 - Virtium today announced new models in its StorFly range of industrial temperature rated embedded SATA MLC SSDs and the company also outlined a new 4 part categorization scheme for matching embedded SSDs to user cases and needs. These are - in order of R/W performance - as follows.
  • "write seldom, read many" apps - such as digital signage and automotive infotainment - is the role for StorFly CE.
  • optimized for higher reliability applications such as networking appliances or industrial computing - is the role for StorFly RE.
  • optimized to replace SLC SSDs economically in industrial automation or central office switches - is the role for StorFly XE (25GB per day for 10 years)
  • high R/W performance industrial SSD (500GB writes / day for 10 years) - is the role for StorFly PE
A key factor for systems designers is that Virtium offers all these different grades of guaranteed R/W lifetime performance in each of the popular form factors within the StorFly range (2.5", 1.8", Slim SATA (MO-297) and CFast).

That means designers who need industrial temperature range operation in embedded systems can choose an applications optimized SSD which is efficiently and economically matched to their knowable needs instead of having to overspecify a general purpose SSD.

I think it's very useful to have conceptual labels and apps related contexts around which to discuss different types of SSDs - what they do, and their positioning within the market.

We already have loose definitions within the SSD industry such as client / enterprise to differentiate controllers within SATA SSDs for example.

And I've proposed a complete set of top level applications architectures related silos which apply to the enterprise SSD market.

It's not a totally new idea for SSD vendors to propose apps related SSD categories within a market. In the enterprise space - STEC has proposed write targets and SMART has identified a spectrum of distinctly different use cases for SAS SSDs but I think that what Virtium is doing now goes a step beyond anything I've seen before in the industrial SSD market.

The business advantage for Virtium in creating a useful model which segments different types of industrial SSDs by apps usage is that when you create a model which customers find useful - then people start seeing things your way. And competing solutions don't make as much sense - when viewed through this lens if they don't seem to have a recognizable fit within the conceptual framework.

When I discussed this earlier this week with Virtium's VP of product strategy - Gary Drossel - he said he's already started writing a blog about these concepts and will expand these ideas in future posts.

I also asked whether UBER and sudden power loss data integriry protection was also differentiated across these categories. His answer was too long and detailed to include here - but I will write up the interesting bits in special interest articles later.

If you read my September write up of an earlier conversation we had (which is in Virtium's profile page) you'll get a picture of Gary's views on:- steering an industrial SSD roadmap in a memory market where other markets are setting the agenda, and also some mission statements about SSD design efficiency.
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