| leading the way to the
new storage frontier||...|
the Top SSD Companies
what's the state of DWPD?
sudden power loss
Where are we
heading with memory systems and software?
|It's not worth paying more
for SLC reliability in PCIe SSDs says Google field study|
|editor:- February 26, 2016, 2016 - A 6 year
study of PCIe SSDs
used by Google (spanning millions of drive days and chips from 4 different flash
vendors) concluded that SLC drives were not more reliable than MLC.
An important conclusion re RAS is the importance of being able to map
out bad chips within the SSD architecture. This is because somewhere between
2% to 7% of enterprise PCIe SSDs (depending on where they were used) developed
at least bad chip during the first 4 years in the field - which without such
remapping would necessitate replacing the failed SSD.
The source is -
Reliability in Production: the Expected and the Unexpected (pdf) - by Bianca
Schroeder University of Toronto, Raghav Lagisetty and
Arif Merchant, Google.
This is just one of a set of
which was presented February 22 - 25 , 2016 at the
14th USENIX Conference on
File and Storage Technologies.
Editor's comments:- For more
like this see the news
archive - June 2015 which had a story about a large scale study of PCIe
SSD failures within Facebook.
tool estimates data shelf life in cooked SSDs|
|Editor:- February 22, 2016 - Nowadays when I
roast a chicken (as I did last night) I like to check the meat temperature
with a probe before doing the gravy etc. I didn't always do this. For many
years I relied on visual clues and dead reckoning based on the weight of the
bird and my oven temperature and experience. |
The thing which changed
this for me was cooking a turkey a few years ago in my mother's kitchen when
things seemed to be going really slowly and I deduced her oven was operating
at about 20 degrees C (36 F) below the temperature shown on the dial. (In all
other respects it worked OK.) We got our meal eventually but that made me
realize that my own oven could one day develop a fault and if I just went by the
elapsed time and number on the dial I could one day start plating up raw
The difference between expectations and reality is the main
reason that for over 10 years
companies have been providing software tools which enable designers to
predict how long their SSDs will last leveraging the SMART logs in the SSDs.
Early versions of such tools (such as SiSMART - launched in
Jan 2006) were
focused on R/W activity and flash endurance.
A recent advance in
thinking about using such capturable internal parameters came in
this month from Virtium.
Their new software tool - vtView - adds temperature-based SSD usage
information to the traditional R/W endurance mix which they combine with
other data to estimate power-off data retention - which they say is an industry
The new software operates with most of the company's
current range of
industrial grade USB, SATA and PCIe SSDs and runs on a
range of OS's including several flavors of Linux.
If your SSD
spends most of its life in the powered up state you ask - why's data retention
paper (pdf) from Virtium (which I mentioned in news in
linking retention (in days) with
DWPD and temperature) I
saw this interesting observation...
Virtium said - "Many oems are
concerned with initial or early stage power-off data retention. This is because
they may configure and test their systems at their manufacturing facility and
then it could sit for months on the shelf prior to being deployed. They are
concerned that firmware, OS and other configuration data could be lost before
the system is deployed."
Anyway it's another part of the
mix in which systems designers can now replace guesswork with scientifically
|Editor:- February 18, 2016 - my inbox this
morning included a press release from Schneider Electric (not a name
anyone would associate with the SSD market) - but a nagging voice in my head
said - it might be worth opening. |
Sure enough a quick check on google
confirmed my guess. Isn't that the name of the company which acquired a
company I worked at a long time ago? (In 1980 I had an actual phy (non
in the programmable controller design group at a company called Square D.)
in the 1970s and early 80s industrial controller companies were at the
forefront of figuring out ways to design reliable digital systems using whatever
fancy new chips the semiconductor market was happy to toss at the world. (That
was before the chip companies got seduced by the PC market - after which they
cared even less about industrial applications.)
From what I can
remember of those days (and wavering the warranty on my mushy organic
carbon memory ECC) there seemed to be many examples of devices and circuit
design techniques which worked perfectly OK in a computer - but which would
die a swift death in a harsh industrial environment. And unlike the military
market (which had similar environmental constraints) industrial equipment
designers had to make things work within much smaller budgets.
- back to the present.
Everspin's MRAM is
being included in a new generation of
controllers. I find this interesting as it provides a vote of
confidence in the rugged operational integrity of this newly viable memory
13 years of progress on
"MRAM will soon replace flash",
|TrendFocus says all enterprise SSD interface types enjoyed double
digit market growth in Q4 2015|
Editor:- February 22, 2016 - Unit
shipments in the enterprise
PCIe SSD market
increased 20% in Q4 2015 compared to Q3 according to a
report today from TrendFocus.
IT Brand Pulse reports networked storage brand leaders
February 22, 2016 - IT
Brand Pulse recently
of its survey of perceived brand leaders in various categories networked
rotating storage products. ...read
AccelStor's new 2U FT GbE AFA can do 600K iSCSI IOPS
February 17, 2016 - AccelStor
today launched a
2U high end model in its NeoSapphire (rackmount SSD)
(which includes 24 hot-swap SSDs including 2 spares) achieves 600K IOPS for 4KB
random writes with iSCSI
over its 4 port 10GbE connectivity.
- AccelStor says its automatic data reconstruction makes it easy to replace
drives on the fly and without a performance penalty.
ATP spins motoring flash
Editor:- February 15, 2016
- ATP today
said it will
show its automotive
market focused SSD capabilities (pdf) at Embedded World this month in
Nuremberg. Among other things this includes:-
- production level burn-in tests
- waterproof and dustproof
- data retention protection with AutoScan
DRAM revenue declined sequentially in Q4 2015
February 15, 2016 - DRAMeXchange
today listed the top 6 DRAM brands in a
reporting that the global DRAM industry posted approximately $10 billion
revenue in Q4 2015 - about 9% down from the prior quarter.
also:- RAM news,
who does storage market
guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles
Hyperstone samples new industrial USB SSD controller
February 15, 2016 - Hyperstone
is sampling a new USB 3.1 flash memory controller - the
- in a TFBGA-124 package - for
Among other things the
engine can correct up to 96-Bit/1KB. Power management features include
automatic power-down during wait periods for host data or flash memory
operation completion and automatic sleep mode during host inactivity periods.
comments:- As you'd expect from a
USB device it's not
intended for heavy write applications - and although some of the data integrity
features are suggested to be enterprise compatible - the sustained random write
speed for 4KB is 5MB/s (30x slower than the peak sequential write.)
- given the portability of strategic applications and system software between
form factors and the convenience of
DWPD as a way of grouping
SSDs for different roles I asked Hyperstone if they can supply an indicative
range of DWPD for the new USB controller (when used with various classes of
memory and DRAM size). I got this answer from Axel Mehnert VP
Marketing who said this.
"Yes, we can give you such ratings
Hyperstone has a web based lifetime estimation tool which can be accessed by
registered users of our site. There you can play with several settings and
Flash configurations in order to get DWPD data also correlating to several
different access patterns."
Shannon indicates sales of enterprise PCIe SSDs doubled
February 12, 2016 - Apparently Shannon Systems is
seeing high growth in the PCIe
SSD market and has been saying that its sales in this category nearly
doubled in the recent quarter. This was learned in a recent
of its Direct-IO range by Tom's IT Pro.
"We agree on nothing..."
9, 2016 - In a new blog -
Storage Switzerland? - W.
Curtis Preston (who founded Truth
in IT) uses some thought provoking examples from the tv series
West Wing to describe how he resolved anticipated differences and made the
big step of joining the writing team and storage analysts at Storage Switzerland.
Kingston toughens up USB offerings with IronKey
February 8, 2016 - Kingston
it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation.
Tegile trims fat in Europe
Editor:- February 8,
headcount and costs in Europe were disproportionately high compared to
revenue - according to a story in SiliconANGLE
slashes global headcount in pre-IPO cost cutting - which discusses layoffs
by the company to improve its business efficiency.
Implementing XTS-AES for SSDs on Xtensa Processors
February 5, 2016 - "An XTS-AES engine based on the Xtensa processor can
provide performance that rivals most hardware solutions, but retains the ease of
design and flexibility found in software based solutions."
the summary of a paper -
the XTS-AES Standard on Xtensa Processors (pdf) - which is one of several
resources recommended in a new set of the
today on the home page of StorageSearch.com
were suggested by Neil Robinson
who is Product Marketing Director, Tensilica Processor IP, Cadence. ...see the suggested
top storage companies in 2015
editor:- February 5,
recently compiled a list of the
12 Storage Companies in 2015 (ranked by revenue).
This isn't the
same as top SSD companies (by revenue or search volume) but there will be a
degree of convergence between the 2 during the
in January 2001 I launched a series called the The 10 biggest storage companies
- in which I tried to predict 2 years in advance who the top 10 would be (based
That worked surprisingly well - but I EOLed the series
when my primary focus became SSDs.
Interesting from today's
perspective that in 2001 Dell
wasn't regarded as a serious storage company - and including them in my list
stirred the enterprise pot.
never fear 15nm TLC is here
with consumer facing DWPD
Editor:- February 3, 2016 - TLC was originally intended as
a consumer SSD technology (not that you'd realize this from reading about all
the enterprise arrays which have assimilated it).
OCZ recently announced
availability of a 15nm TLC based consumer range of 2.5" SATA SSDs - the
One of the interesting things about how the marketing of consumer
SSDs has evolved is that these new SSDs come with
DWPD guidance ratings
which are 0.25 DWPD.
Be aware, however, when comparing DWPD ratings
for consumer, enterprise and industrial SSDs that the warranty periods for these
different classes of drives - are different.
The Trion 150
warranty is 3 years -
which is typical for client SSDs - rather than 5 years (as for enterprise
related marketing messages have come a long way in the past 12 years or so.
2014 IBM said (in
effect) "You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems."
That was my summary of an IBM blog at the time.
Nowadays OCZ says this
about their Trion SSDs...
"Never Fear, OCZ Endurance is Here."
one way I've got to admire the reckless implied simplicity of OCZ's endurance
message. But I also groan in anticipation of how other vendors will retaliate
with similar endurance messages of their own.
I think OCZ's "never
fear" tagline may have been around since last summer (for the earlier
Trion 100 - which OCZ says "quickly became a top seller for us")
but as I don't visit consumer SSD pages any more than I have to (even
my own) I didn't
see it until today.
in the SSD Market,
razzle dazzling SSD care
|What happened before?
|Xitore decloaks into SSD
DIMM wars market|
|Editor:- February 1, 2016 - Another new name
coming into in the SSD
DIMM wars saga
is Xitore which
exited stealth mode today with an announcement about their
NVM-X technology - which
promises "sub-2 microsecond latency" and 25GB/s bandwidth.|
comments:- Xitore's web site currently has almost no information about its
product details beyond the headline claims.
The company, founded in
and whose management team includes experience in SSD companies related to
enterprise acceleration (including
Netlist), says it's
looking for first-round funding.
In outline Xitore's technology mix
sounds similar to Diablo
- but with these apparent differences:-
- shipping sampling status - Diablo has been shipping and sampling products,
whereas Xitore doesn't say anything about that yet
have to wait for more details to emerge.
- form factor for end product - Diablo's form factor ambitions start and end
in DIMMs. Xitore's web site implies that it is aiming to provide storage in a
box - which sounds like an SDS box in which the RAM tiering is the key element
but not the whole solution. (Maybe the flash is implemented by COTS SSDs.)
|Avalanche Tech completes
$23 million funding round |
| Editor:- February 2, 2016 - Avalanche Technology
it has completed a $23 million funding round which will enable the companys
transition from R&D to commercialization and production of patent-backed
discrete and embedded non-volatile memory products based on STT-MRAM. |
comments:- Avalanche has raised more than $80 million of funding since being
founded in 2006 (see
past years Avalanche has made some immoderate claims about the future storage
market potential for its technology - which in my view were not sufficiently
tempered by adequate competitive market knowledge of the complex
SSD and DIMM
wars ecosystem in which it finds itself today.
showcase product has been a
NVRAM based on STT-MRAM Technology. Key features are:- 50nS, no wait
writes, low standby current, 1 Trillion R/W cycles endurance, > 10 years data
retention: @ 85C.
Avalanche has recently positioned its AvRAM as
occupying a memory role for SoC designs which combines several desirable
aspects of SRAM and traditional nvm in a
|worst case response times
in DRAM arrays|
| Editor:- Do you know what the worst-case
real-time response of your electonic system is? |
One of the
interesting trends in the computer market in the past 20 years is that although
general purpose enterprise servers have got better in terms of throughput - most
of them are now worse when it comes to latency.
It's easy to blame
the processor designers and the storage systems and those well known problems
SSD accelerator market
grow to the level where things like
PCIe SSDs and
hybrid DIMMs have
become part of the standard server toolset. But what about the memory?
memory based on DRAM isn't as good as it used to be. The details are documented
in a set of papers in my blog -
loving reasons for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory slider mix.