- editor mentions on StorageSearch.com,
Who's who in SSD? - Virtium
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.
article below for more details.
|Virtium asks - can you
really afford to waste money on "general purpose" rather than "environmentally
optimized" industrial SSDs?|
|Editor:- September 12, 2012 - Virtium today
new line of SSDs for the
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
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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
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).
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.
- 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.
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.
- I did ask Gary - as I have asked nearly everyone this year - what's Virtium
doing on the subject of
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
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
|Virtium ships 512GB
industrial Slim SATA SSDs|
|Editor:- January 30, 2013 - Virtium today
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
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
not so tiny) SSDs for a
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).
|"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) |
creates a new framework for industrial SSDs|
|Editor:- October 25, 2012 - Virtium today
new models in its
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
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).
- high R/W performance industrial SSD (500GB writes / day for 10 years) -
is the role for StorFly PE
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.
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
SATA SSDs for example.
And I've proposed a complete
set of top level
applications architectures related silos which apply to the enterprise
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
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
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.