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SSD news - October 1-11, 2012

this month - 3 of the Top 10 SSD Companies - STEC, OCZ and Virident - changed their CEOs
2012 SSD market will be $7.5 billion - says iSuppli

Editor:- October 11, 2012 - iSuppli today announced its projections indicate that the SSD industry will finish 2012 with $7.5 billion in revenue and 41 million units in shipments.

That revenue target is being reached 2 years sooner than iSuppli had projected in an earlier report released in March 2011.

Oracle users evenly split between server and SAN when it comes to SSD speedup

Editor:- October 11, 2012 - Among other findings in a survey of 400 attendees (pdf) which was run by Kaminario at the recent Oracle OpenWorld event - it was found that among the 30% of those who had already used flash SSD acceleration - the use of internal (server based) and external (SAN rack based) SSDs was split nearly evenly - 48% and 52% respectively.

See also:- where are we now with SSD software?, relative SSD capacities in the server and SAN

SSDs and boats and planes

Editor:- October 11, 2012 - a recent blog by Pure Storage asks - what's the risk of over promising and under delivering with hybrid storage arrays?

When this blog talks about hybrids the meaning - in this context - is flash and HDD hybrid boxes - not flash and PCM or some other combination of faster and slower SSDs.

Among other things - the article says " imagine if you showed up to board your international flight, and they put you on a ship instead?" the article

See also:- SSD ASAPs news (hybrid arrays. auto-tiering, caching etc.)

Smart's MLC SAS SSD beats SLC rivals - says

Editor:- October 10, 2012 - The performance of some leading SAS SSDs were compared in a recent report published yesterday in which compared the latest adaptive R/W technology based MLC drives from Smart Storage with older SLC SAS SSDs from SanDisk, HGST and Toshiba.

The review said Smart's Optimus was the performance leader in nearly all tests, although there was one serious blip and performance outage which looks to me like it may require a firmware fix.

A serious flaw in this review was, however, the absence of any modern MLC products from STEC*.

Despite that the performance comparisons of these 6Gbps drives does convincingly demonstrate that overall enterprise SSD design is more important than raw memory type (one of the tenets in the enterprise SSD survivor's guide).

How important is this review? Anyone who's already shipping boxes populated with merchant market SAS SSDs will already be aware of the potential suppliers - but it might give them another reason to look at Smart to prune their costs. But when it comes to performance? - I'm not so sure it's useful - as 12Gbps SAS SSDs have already having been demonstrated by several vendors in prototype form earlier this year and that's the direction oems will be looking at for ultimate SAS performance in the future... Apart from those who are thinking about switching to 2.5" PCIe SSDs.

* A month later - did publish a review of STEC's MLC SAS SSD - the s840. In this comparison Smart beats STEC on peak performance - but STEC's performance is more consistent. However, STEC's SSD doesn't fit into the same low profile space.

OCZ delays filing quarterly results

Editor:- October 10, 2012 - OCZ is in the news again for reasons unrelated to the cleverness of its SSD technology.

The company today announced a delay to its SEC filing while it reviews factors described as contributing to "a significant net loss for Q2'13" due in significant part to the negative impact of customer incentive programs. In a conference call earlier today investors asked questions about inventory, status of bank lines of credit and the company's CEO search process.

Unsurprisingly - OCZ said that to address future profitability it will rationalize its product line which today is aimed at too many diverse markets and will focus more at the high end of the client SSD market and the enterprise SSD market.

Clarifying its earlier statements about flash supply problems OCZ said that some of its flash parts were single sourced - and its own internal demand forecasts had turned out to be too low. There wasn't enough slack and flexibility in this supply chain to meet the shortfall. But OCZ had learned its lesson and would improve its planning, logistics and supply dependencies.

the Top SSD Companies in Q3 2012

Editor:- October 5, 2012 - today published the 22nd quarterly edition of the Top SSD Companies List which lists the top SSD companies based on search volume in the 3rd quarter of 2012.

The fastest climber rose a staggering 14 places. Who was it? And why? And who are the most important companies in the SSD market today? the article

New to me - Ramaxel

Editor:- October 4, 2012 - every week I learn about new SSD companies.

This varies from interesting companies who are (and want to stay) in stealth mode, others who have launched products but are in accidental stealth mode - because they don't have anything interesting to say or don't know how to communicate with the SSD market.

But there's another category too - of interesting companies which are new to me - but already well known to many other people. This just goes to show how big the market is. Because just when you think you know where all the surprises will come from you realize you don't.

In the category of - new to me - and why didn't I come across them before? - is a company called Ramaxel Technology - which among other things has products in the PCIe SSD market.

Ramaxel aren't making any big annoucements right now - but they're worth watching out for and have the potential to get their SSD business much better known to more people (and mice) too.

the next big SSD idea

Editor:- October 3, 2012 - Efficiency - is the theme of my new blog on the home page of

Skyera recruits heavyweight business development talent

Editor:- October 2, 2012 - This isn't LinkedIn - so you won't see a news posting every time an SSD company recruits someone. But there are some exceptions.

Skyera today announced they've recruited someone to lead their corporate and business development.

This is a subject I discussed with the company's CEO in August. Didn't sound like a difficult job to me.

But I guess it is harder than you might think at first to create a process for filtering through the flood of inquiries you get when you say you're going to change the world of enterprise SSD and cherry pick those who can pay as well as play.

in the SSD software golf challenge who's got a similar handicap to Fusion-io?

Editor:- October 2, 2012 - last week I was asked by a reader (who didn't want to be named here) if I could suggest any companies which have SSD software as powerful and far reaching as that of Fusion-io.

I thought it would be much too simplistic to answer with a list of names taken out of context - so instead I said there are several different levels at which you can view and analyze this:-
  • down in the flash
  • above the flash array
  • communicating intelligence between the API and raw flash level
  • working between different storage systems and software components (caching, tiering, virtualization, data protection etc)
  • working in different markets - enterprise and consumer.

    Why consumer? - you ask - I thought we were talking about Fusion-io?

    As I mentioned a few years ago Fusion-io's software is applicable to notebooks. It's simply a commercial decision not to pursue that avenue in the current unprofitable state of the consumer market. But in the long term it's one of the reasons that the company is rated as being so valuable - because its technology can span solid state storage from the level of Ultrabooks (with PCIe inside) upto supercomputers.
After using a lot more words in my email than I've used here - the end result was a reply to my reader with a list of companies which you wouldn't be too surprised to see if you looked at the list of top enterprise SSD companies and correlated that with who's acquired or developed their own software. The list ran something like this:-
  • FlashSoft (acquired by SanDisk) - have the makings of a serious industry platform.
  • GridIron - probably has the most sophisticated SSD ASAP software in the industry. (In my email I said - shame it's tied to their hardware - an SSD HDD hybrid box. But this week - that has changed. See the notes below for more about this.)
  • SANRAD (acquired by OCZ) is also a contender.
Interacting between the hardware layers to optimize the system within enterprise racks and arrays - the ability to hop in with intelligence gained from another level to tweak performance and reliability - is a genuine efficiency asset.
  • Virident - have several layers of intelligence in their PCIe SSD software. They don't like to talk too much about the details. But it's one of the things which makes their offering stronger than many others.
  • Nimbus - started out using a standard SSD controller in their 2.5" SAS arrays - but have added some firmware level access points which they leverage from higher levels to manage fault tolerance and performance.
  • Skyera - is probably the hottest example of this. They dive in at many levels to increase efficiency of the way they use flash.
And in the consumer software space I suggested:-
  • EasyCo - the very first enterprise SSD software company which was bumped aside by the SandForce inside technology wave - has found a new market opening selling their endurance and performance enhancing software to makers of cheap flash storage for phones and consumer devices. It's no longer world beating IP - but it has its uses. (And maybe attractive for future patent trolls.)
The only real surprise in the list above to regular readers - might be GridIron - which because they haven't been a true pure SSD company (their main product is hybrid SSD and HDD boxes) don't get so many mentions on these SSD pages.

Anyway - I was reminded about the above email exchange when I saw GridIron's press release in my email this morning regarding their TurboCharger GT-1500 Data Accelerator Appliance - a 2U 12TB SSD ASAP - which can accelerate upto 120TB of back end storage.

In one way this can be regarded as an extrapolation of Dataram's XcelaSAN - which was launched 3 years ago. But the difference is in the detail and sophistication of the hotspot algorithms - which GridIron describe as "multi-zone behavior profiling (pdf)"

GridIron have a new (to me) marketing tagline - "Tier 0 Performance at Tier 2 Pricing" - I don't like SSD tiers myself - I prefer the idea of enterprise SSD application silos. But GridIron's summary of what they do is better than most.

Going back to the original question at the start of today's posting.

Do I know any vendors whose SSD software can match or beat Fusion-io?

Overall - the answer is - No. But in many important areas the answer is - Yes.

In my ramblings today (remember this started out as a much longer rambling email) you can see that the SSD software market is alive, healthy and just as competitive as the flash hardware business. Apologies to all the other companies I could have named but left out. You'll get your turn later.

IBM completes acquisition of TMS

Editor:- October 1, 2012 - IBM today announced it has completed its acquisition of Texas Memory Systems.

"Flash technology is a game changer for our clients and IBM is committed to delivering industry-leading Flash-optimized capabilities as a cornerstone of our Smarter Storage strategy," said Brian Truskowski, General Manager, IBM System Storage and Networking. "The TMS solutions extend our broad portfolio of Flash-optimized storage arrays and flash optimization software, providing our clients unmatched value."

Kaminario does that 20GB/s SPC thing

Editor:- October 1, 2012 - Kaminario today announced a new industry-leading SPC 1 benchmark performance in a single cabinet 60TB usable MLC-based fault tolerant K2 storage system - which costs just under $0.5 million (including 3 years maintenance).

Kaminario also said that in a forthcoming report Taneja Group will validate that this K2 configuration can deliver more than 2 million IOPS and 20GB/s throughput with under 1 mS latency.

Editor's comments:- funding these public benchmarks is expensive. Kaminario - which last week announced additional investments by Mitsui - has received almost $70 million in funding.

Segmenting the Fastest SSDs List

Editor:- October 1, 2012 - When I started publishing a regularly updated list of the Fastest SSDs list here on over 5 years ago - the format was designed for a much simpler market than we have today.

One of the weaknesses - which has been pointed out to me by many readers is that the rackmount SSD section - which only used to show a single product in each U-size - was domiunated by RAM SSDs - whereas what most people actually buy is flash SSDs. I've changed the format of this article to segment it by market silo - and I've increased the number of companies shown to at least 3 - to give readers a broader starting point.

I haven't forgotten the much more important Top SSD Companies List either. The new edition - based on the quarter ended September 30 - will be published later this week.
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