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strategic bifurcations in SSD market history
Editor:- October 29, 2018 - there's a new article on

Strategic Bifurcations in SSD Market History.

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directoryIt's about 4 ways to split the long messy timeline of SSD history into "before and after" to help the understanding of now. the article

Editor's comments:- maybe you've got your own ideas about what these strategic splits should have been. And maybe you would have thought of a better title too. This may be my last major article about SSDs - so I packed in as much as I could.
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DRAMeXchange says - supercycle of DRAM price hikes is over
Editor:- October 9, 2018 - DRAMeXchange today reported how it's interpreting memory pricing and supply trends.

Re DRAM - DRAMeXchange says:-
  • DRAM products have begun to see a weak price trend, showing only a 1~2% QoQ hike in contract prices for 3Q18 due to the continued oversupply, despite the coming of holiday sales season. DRAMeXchange expects the quotations of DRAM products to decline by 5% or more QoQ in 4Q18, terminating the super cycle of price growth for 9 consecutive quarters.
  • DRAM manufacturers all expect a high possibility of oversupply in 2019. Therefore, they have tried to postpone or slowdown the capital expenditure and capacity expansion.
  • For 2019, DRAMeXchange expects the annual bit output to increase by nearly 22%.
re nand flash - DRAMeXchange says:-
  • nand flash experienced a price drop of around 10% in 3Q18 and expects a steeper drop of 10~15% in the fourth quarter, considering the impacts of trade war. Contract prices of 3D TLC NAND Flash chips in the channel market may even drop by more than 15% in 4Q18.
  • The nand flash market is influenced by the sluggish demand for consumer electronics, while demand for the more profitable Enterprise SSD from servers and data centers remains stable. However, the competition among Enterprise SSD suppliers will become increasingly fierce; hence the prices of Enterprise SSD are very likely to continue decreasing in 2019.
  • On the supply side, nand flash suppliers have raised their output forecasts as they have expanded their production capacity and improved the yield rates of their 64/72-layer 3D NAND production.
See also:- storage market research directory
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
a simple guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles

SSD news headlines in past 12 months or so
November 2017 - IntelliProp demonstrated a memory controller for the emerging Gen-Z memory fabric.

December 2017 - Diablo Technologies - which had been the first company to ship predominantly flash memory based SSDs and memory accelerators compatible with DRAM DDR3/4 bus slots - ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy.

January 2018 - Foremay announced the availability its new "Immortal" brand of radiation hardened SSDs for the military and aerospace markets.

February 2018 - The Gen-Z Consortium announced that the Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 was publicly available.

March 2018 - Nimbus announced it was sampling 3.5" 100TB SAS SSDs with unlimited DWPD.

April 2018 - STT announced a breakthrough design improvement to MRAM. STT's Precessional Spin Current (PSC) structure lengthened retention time by a factor of over 10,000.

May 2018 - Micron began sampling the industry's first SSD built on quad-level cell (QLC) NAND technology.

June 2018 - GridGain began beta sampling its in-memory cache as a cloud service.

July 2018 - Intel and Micron agreed to a parting of the ways on future 3DXPoint development.

Upto that point Micron had seen minimal revenue from 3DXPoint whereas the potential of developing a software ecosystem centered around this technology had strategic lock-in attractions for Intel regardless of near term memory sales. Zsolt Kerekes - founding editor of suggested "the memoryfication of processors and the flattening of latency by SSD infrastructure means that traditional complex multi level cache server processors are wasteful... and that due to trends in memory accelerators for the memory defined software market... memory and processor companies (like Intel and Micron) will in future have more reasons to become competitors rather than collaborators in strategic designs in the cloud."

August 2018 - Marvell began sampling the first NVMe-oF SSD Converter Controller. aimed at a EBOF (Ethernet Bunch of Flash) applications.

September 2018 - SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) entered the computational storage market.

more SSD history

If you could go back in time and take with you a factory full of modern memory chips and SSDs (along with backwards compatible adapters) what real impact would that have?
are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?


storage history
SSD history ..
SSD SoCs controllers
SSD controllers ..
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industrial SSDs ..
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies ..


SSD news - October 2018 / SSD history / more pages like this
re Micron's "soft-announcement" of a DRAM replacement SCM

Editor:- October 30, 2018 - A new article - the Divorce - Micron and Intel See Different Futures - by William Tidwell - who is a regular memory market commentator on - discusses among other things:- the need for in-memory processing and signs that Micron is working on a new SCM memory architecture.

Re the interdependency of memory and processor architecture Tidwell says - "...memory in today's system architecture is locked in a fatal embrace with the CPU. It is stranded."

And as part of a multi-page analysis and detailed speculative look ahead as to what Micron will do with the fabs it gets from buying out Intel's stake in the joint IMFT venture - Tidwell says - "Under promise, over deliver - is the right strategy for Micron in the wake of Intel's 3DXPoint misadventures. I believe this is what they are doing and that gives investors reason to hope that the New Memory will be commercialized in FY '21." the article

See also:- what's RAM really?

what's Metadata-as-a-Service got to with SSDs?

Editor:- October 24, 2018 - There's a small number of new companies which attract my attention because of the impact which one or more their founders has had on the SSD market in the past.

news image - SSD and a  hammer So although it's not strictly speaking an SSD company - and I'm counting down the weeks to my retirement in 2019 - and trying not to start too many new strands of content which I can't complete tidily - I was very interested to see these stories about a new company called Hammerspace which provides a sequel to the question of what happened next to one of the esteemed co-founders of Fusion-io and Primary Data - that person being David Flynn who has probably done more work on figuring out and managing the intricacies of data and the latency and repurposing cost-benefits of legacy and new dynasty architectures scrambled in the archeological mix of big data infrastructuer than anyone else on the planet. Here are the links. See also:- SSDs in the cloud, re SSD everywhere software, memory defined software

Violin acquires X-IO Storage

Editor:- October 16, 2018 - Violin Systems today announced it has signed a letter of intent with X-IO Technologies to acquire X-IO Storage, the division of X-IO Technologies that developed the Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) flash and hybrid storage array product lines. Financial terms were not disclosed.

See also:- acquisitions in the SSD market
hybrid storage arrays and flash caches - timeline 2010 to 2017

$100 million AI investment fund launched by Micron

Editor:- October 10, 2018 - Micron announced that it will invest up to $100 million in startups with a strong focus on AI and machine learning through its strategic investments entity, Micron Ventures.

And in a related announcement, the Micron Foundation launched a $1 million grant for universities and non-profit organizations to conduct research on AI.

See also:- VCs in SSDs
memory defined software
what's the value of infinitely faster RAM?
controllernomics - joins the memory latency to do list
after AFAs - what's the next box? - cloud adapted memory systems

Kaminario reports on the success of its switch to software business model - and an investment from Western Digital

Editor:- October 9, 2018 - Kaminario (which had been a thought leading rackmount SSD company but which announced in January 2018 it was no longer supplying hardware systems directly itself) today announced that it grew its topline software business more than 55% during the first 9 months of 2018, relative to the same time period in 2017.

In addition, Kaminario said it has been operating with positive cash flow for the quarter ending Sept. 30. Kaminario also announced that it received a strategic investment from Western Digital Capital, the strategic investment fund of Western Digital Corp.

Editor's comments:- Kaminario's change of business model was in line with the market adjustment trends I had predicted in my 2015 article - drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market along with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas. Its software can now be viewed as a fault tolerant platform for SSDs supplied by Western Digital.

This was a pragmatic affinity after a long journey in flash which may have had some original germ of a root in a conversation I had with Kaminario's CEO in March 2011 - when Kaminario (which had emerged from stealth as a RAM SSD company) was looking for a flash partner. Kaminario - which had always regarded its software as being the unique branding ingredient in the IP mix of its systems - grew closer over many years of relationships with a succession of leading enterprise SSD companies which were later serially acquired and absorbed within WD.

Silicon Motion ships > 750 million NAND controllers / year

Editor:- October 5, 2018 - Silicon Motion says "We ship over 750 million NAND controllers annually and have shipped over 5 billion NAND controllers in the last 10 years, more than any other company in the world."

They might have been saying that for some while but I only noticed it today when looking in the footnotes of their Q3 2018 preliminary press release which warned that "revenue is expected to be within the lower half of the original guidance range of $136.0 million to $142.9 million that the company issued on August 1, 2018." (Maybe that's what happens if markets adjust to a smaller supply of more expensive than anticipated memory chips - we'll have to wait to see Si Motion's analysis on October 30, 2018.)

Editor's comments:- the shipment numbers for controllers show how large the SSD market has become.

new website for Xccela Consortium - developing new local bus for embedded memoryfication chips

Editor:- October 4, 2018 - A new website to support a new storage ORG was announced today. The Xccela Consortium (at now has 12 member companies working to promote the Xccela Bus as an open-standard digital interconnect and data communications bus suitable for volatile and nonvolatile memories as well as other types of ICs.

From the technology page..."In its first iteration, the Xccela Bus is a high-speed, high-performance Octal SPI bus that uses 8 data lines for command and data transfer. It is fully compliant with the JEDEC xSPI standard. The bus is synchronous and supports both single-data rate (SDR) operation, where one byte of data is transferred every clock cycle, and dual-data rate (DDR) operation in which two bytes of data are transferred every clock cycle. The Xccela Bus supports clock frequencies up to 200MHz and data transfer rates up to 400MB/sec (3.2Gbps).

bold claims are back from the newly confident sounding Violin

Editor:- October 3, 2018 - Violin made a huge splash with the readers of 11 years ago when they entered the the Top 10 SSD OEMs list - 2007 Q3 soon after exiting stealth mode.

By June 2011- Violin Memory (as it was then called) was confidently talking about being on its way to building a billion dollar company in this once simple market (when fastest was a prime value proposition and SAN had been a good enough business plan (FC SAN customers had money) until SSD accelerators from Fusion-io sweet talked their way into server slots with PCIe in 2007/8) and even after that there were plenty of market opportunities for rackmount enterprise flash but it was not the same simple market it had once been.

The enterprise SSD market was a business I knew well and its strategic nature and size attracted huge numbers of competitors offering more software bundling options, latency bands and confusing price points than any single technology platform or company could realistically master.

As Violin progressed to IPO in August 2013 its earlier arguably plausible leadership advantages had already eroded and it was clear that wanting it all wasn't the same as getting it. This was a market which was moving towards a more customer rather than technology dictated model where it was better to be excellent at one thing than above average at too many. In the 3 years after its IPO Violin slid towards the cliffs of being acquired or bankrupt - the latter case occurring in December 2016.

So after all the words I had already written about those bubble years of rackmount SSDs I've been cautious about writing overmuch about the new Violin Systems too-soon.

But I have noted more caution and more measured tones of outlook on their web site - even when I haven't written about them here.

This week I saw that Violin's old confidence is back - in a press release about its new boxes with NVMe over 32Gb FC - and the headline - the fastest enterprise storage in the world just got faster!

That just made me smile.

It's good to see such confidence emanating from this direction once more.

And another reason I smiled was because in 2002 I was running ads for a company called Texas Memory Systems to promote - "the World's Fastest Storage" - which at that time was the RamSan-210 .
click for more info

When Violin rev 1.0 emerged in 2007 and for the next several years afterwards they and TMS were the 2 companies which dominated the fastest SAN compatible rackmount flash SSD segment.

The competitive swot blurred later when TMS entered the PCIe SSD market (which Violin wasn't engaged in early enough to leave a mark) and the 2 companies were less often head to head when Violin defocused from a latency-centric offering and began bundling software as a feature into its boxes. (TMS had long made a virtue out of its non server rooted silicon rich memory array controller architecture - and even when it was later acquired by IBM - in October 2012. - its RamSan boxes grew accretions of limpet-like surrounding software boxes as there was no natural roosting perch for the software to do anything inside the original boxes.)

Going back to Violin rev 2.0 and "the fastest enterprise storage in the world"...

From today's perspective it's not clear to me that you could get a concensus of expert opinion as to what constitutes "fastest enterprise storage" and what shape, interfaces and capabilities and applications value it should have. But I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still hard currency in SSD marketing.

See also:- after AFAs - what next?
what's the value of infinitely faster memory systems?

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Megabyte went through his Michelangelo  phase - click to enlarge 1998 SSD news image on StorageSearch

Megabyte went through his
Michelangelo phase.


the fastest SSDs I like the idea that "fastest" claims are still
hard currency in
SSD marketing

commenting on Violin Systems - October 3, 2018

Octobers of yore in SSD market history
  • October 1998 - was launched. This soon after encompassed the entire storage market from storage cables and chips to tape libraries. Among the launch directories was the first regularly updated guide to the SSD market.
  • October 2000 - Viking siad it would ship the industry's highest capacity CompactFlash cards to resellers nationwide. The 256MB components were for digital cameras, MP3 players, portable computers and PDAs.
  • October 2002 - Platypus Technology named customers and announced lower pricing for its fast (50,000 IOPS) QikDATA M-series redundant solid-state storage accelerators. The PCI bus 8GB model cost approximately $12,500.
  • October 2003 - Memtech said its Wolverine 2.5" military SSD (8GB 12.5mm high) was available with 8 years warranty.
  • October 2008 - IMEC started research on Resistive RAM (RRAM) cells as a potential candidate to replace conventional flash memory.
  • October - 2009 - Seagate - which had previously been hostile and dismissive about the importance of the SSD market - disclosed it was sampling its 1st SSD product to major oems.
  • October 2010 - OCZ said its manufacturing capacity was increasing to 140,000 SSDs / month.
  • October 2011 - Viking began shipping an 8GB DDR3 NVDIMM - which provided 8GB RAM backed up to SLC flash. The memory power was held up by an external 25F supercap pack during backup to flash.
  • October 2012 - OCZ released a version of its VXL caching software which provided fault tolerant support for arrays of PCIe SSDs.
  • October 2013 - McObject showed how resilient its in-memory database could be when working with NVDIMMs. Among other things this included rebooting a server while it was running intensive transactions.

Controllernomics - is that even a real word? Memoryfication? PIM, NVMeoF, pSLC etc
dipping into the waters of SSD jargon