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Storage news - May 22 - 31, 2011

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Demartek publishes free 86 page iSCSI guide

Editor:- May 31, 2011 - Demartek has published an iSCSI Deployment Guide (86 pages pdf) aimed at users in Windows environments.

The company says - "This guide is intended to be used as a reference and is divided into sections including iSCSI marketplace data, iSCSI technology areas, and specific vendor products in the area of network adapters and storage targets. There are screen shots and information from actual deployments of these products."See also:- iSCSI SSDs

SSD market waves blog

Editor:- May 31, 2011 - a new SSD blog by Woody Hutsell discusses application acceleration - particularly in the Oracle market.

Woody says "As I have argued before, the use of flash hard drives in enterprise arrays is really about accelerating infrastructures more than about accelerating a specific application."

WD's acquisition of Hitachi GST on track for Q4

Editor:- May 30, 2011 - Western Digital today announced its proposed acquisition of Hitachi GST is progressing through EU anti competition review processes and is anticipated to close in the 4th quarter of 2011.

TMS optimizes SSD architecture to cope with flash plane failure

Editor:- May 26, 2011 - a new slant on SSD reliability architectures is revealed today by Texas Memory Systems who explained how their patented Variable Stripe RAID technology is used in their recently launched PCIe SSD card - the RamSan-70.

TMS does a 1 month burn-in of flash memory prior to shipment. (One of the reasons cited for its use of SLC rather than MLC BTW.) Through its QA processes the company has acquired real-world failure data for several generations of flash memory and used this to model and characterize the failure modes which occur in high IOPs SSDs.

Most enterprise SSDs use a simple type of classic RAID which groups flash media into "stripes" containing equal numbers of chips. RAID technology can reconstruct data from a failed Flash chip. Typically, when a chip or part of a chip fails, the RAID algorithm uses a spare chip as a virtual replacement for the broken chip. But once the SSD is out of spare chips, it needs to be replaced.

VSR technology allows the number of chips to vary among stripes, so bad chips can simply be bypassed using a smaller stripe size. Additionally, VSR provides greater stripe size granularity, so a stripe could exclude a small part of a chip rather than having to exclude an entire chip if only part of it failed - "plane error". With VSR technology, TMS says its SSD products will continue operating longer in the installed base.

Dan Scheel, President of Texas Memory Systems explained why their technology increases reliability.

"...Consider a hypothetical SSD made up of 25 individual flash chips. If a plane failure occurs that disables 1/8 of one chip, a traditional RAID system would remove a full 4% of the raw Flash capacity. TMS VSR technology bypasses the failure and only reduces the raw flash capacity by 0.5%, an 8x improvement. TMS tests show that plane failures are the 2nd most common kind of flash device failures, so it is very important to be able to handle them without wasting working flash."

Editor's comments:- by wasting less capacity than simpler RAID solutions - more usable capacity remains available for traditional bad block management. This extra capacity comes from the over provisioning budget which figure varies according to each SSD design (as discussed in my recent flash iceberg syndrome article) but is 30% for TMS.

IO Turbine goes into beta

Editor:- May 24, 2011 - IO Turbine today announced that its flash SSD supporting acceleration software for VMware environments is now available for beta testing .

IO Turbine says that its Accelio product learns what is most important to cache and transparently offloads IOPS from primary storage to flash, delivering performance directly to designated virtual machines.

Editor's comments:- I probed into the company's claim that its Accelio (ASAP software) works with "all" types of flash SSD - because it seemed to me that it might work well with some interfaces and not very effectively with others - depending on the pattern of its R/W activity. This is the reply I got from a company spokesperson.

"Thanks for your question Zsolt. You are correct in that a PCIe device will be faster than a SAS/SATA device and that is a function of the device, not Accelio. Accelio will work the same regardless. Accelio is Flash and SSD agnostic and will work with any of these devices. The value of Accelio is that is can utilize any of these devices within the host to accelerate virtualized applications without sacrificing the ability to vMotion to another host if desired. The performance delta, and hence the value proposition, for Accelio is based on solid state devices in the host versus spindles over the network. Lastly, if for some reason the Flash/SSD device were to become slower than the primary, we will send the I/O directly to the primary storage."

share price indicators rank Fusion-io above STEC

Editor:- May 24, 2011 - speculation about the current market value of Fusion-io has been satisfied by reports today that the pricing of the company's IPO projects a value around $1 billion.

That's also 3x the price recently paid to acquire Pliant Technology.

...Later:- within a month of going public Fusion-io's market cap got close to $2.5 billion!

today's storage news

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Power, Speed and Strength Metaphors in SSD brands
Does what marketers call their SSDs impact who SSD buyers will call?

This article - the 5th in a series about Branding Strategies in the SSD Market - surveys how vendors have played with awesome and mundane words to make their SSDs sound better - with examples from across the whole spectrum of the SSD market - the good, the bad and you know how this goes - because a Clint Eastward movie made 45 years ago is still better known than any SSD today.
accelerating the SSD marketer - click to read article And that's the challenge which wannabe T-Rexes in the SSD market have to meet. the article
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Significant news stories in past 12 months
SanDisk gets serious about enterprise SSDs - May 2011

Samsung exits shrinking HDD market - April 2011

Kaminario carves out new market for RAM SSDs - March 2011

Micron quarantines errors in flash - December 2010

Fusion-io demos 1 million IOPS SSD card - November 2010

OCZ can make 140K SSDs / month - October 2010

SanDisk "SSDs cheaper than HDDs in some DVRs" - September 2010

Samsung and Seagate to codevelop SSD controllers - August 2010

Anobit aims at SandForce SSD slots - June 2010
popular SSD articles on

SSD Myths - "write endurance" - In theory the problems are now well understood - but solving them presents a challenge for each new chip generation.

SSDs replacing HDDs? - That's a gross simplification.

the Top 20 SSD companies - updated quarterly.

the Fastest SSDs - in each form factor. Speed is still the #1 reason for buying SSDs.

the SSD Buyers Guide - summarizes key SSD market developments in the past quarter and has a top level directory of SSD content.

PCIe SSDs - news and market commentary. We've reported on PCIe SSDs since the first products shipped in 2007.

is eMLC the true successor to SLC in enterprise flash SSD?- which so called "enterprise MLC" tastes the sweetest?

Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?

the SSD Reliability Papers - links and abstracts of articles related to the subject of SSD reliability and data integrity.

the problem with Write IOPS in flash SSDs - this classic article helps you understand why all flash SSD benchmarks incorrectly suggest you're going to get much higher performance than you will actually see in your apps.

Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design - looks into the detailed techniques to achieve data reliability.
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