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SAS SSDs - market guide and history

reporting on the Serial Attached SCSI compatible SSD market since it began.

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -

SSD news
top SSD companies
2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs
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after AFAs - what's the next box?
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Surviving SSD sudden power loss
DWPD - examples from the market
SSD endurance myths and legends
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90% of enterprise SSD companies will disappear
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Adaptive R/W flash care management & DSP ECC in SSDs
Toshiba's forced memory business sale - timeline of news coverage
SAS SSD news
Nimbus samples 100TB SAS SSDs

Editor:- March 19, 2018 - Nimbus Data Systems has made another significant advance in the development of multipetabyte energy-efficient solid state storage racks with the announcement today that it's sampling 100TB 3.5 SAS SSDs with unlimited DWPD.

The ExaDrive DC100 has balanced performance 100K IOPS R/W and up to 500 MBps throughput and consumes 0.1 watts/TB - which Nimbus says is 85% lower than competing drives used in similar array applications - such as the Micron's 7.68TB 5100 SATA SSD.

Nimbus says the use cases are:-
  • Data centers and cloud infrastructure (scale, efficiency)
  • Scale-out systems (object and file storage)
  • Edge computing (IoT, embedded applications)
General availability is expected to be summer 2018.

See also:- this way to the petabyte SSD (2010)

Viking offers mid life kicker to SAS SSD array market

Editor:- July 11, 2017 - Viking today announced it is shipping the industry's highest capacity 3.5" SAS SSD.

The dual port UHC-Silo SSD series has 50TB planar MLC capacity, endurance rating of 1 DWPD for 5 years, idle power consumption under 10W and active power usage of only 16W.

Editors' comments:- with 6Gps SAS rather than 12, and relatively low DWPD this is aimed at the capacity and power optimized part of the rackmount SSD market.

In 2012 I speculated that SAS would become the new SATA for array SSDs once the 2.5" PCIe SSD market reached a competitive critical mass - because quite frankly SAS can't compete on latency. Whereas there is a huge ecosystem which is comfortable with managing arrays of dual port SAS drives. So as long as the drives are big enough in capacity terms - there will be an appetite for them.

Looking at the datasheet - at first glance - an apparent weakness of the new UHC-Silo SSDs is the lack of any mention of power fail protection. But the best place to engineer such protection for enterprise storage can be at the rack level. So in that respect saving space and cost at the drive level can be regarded as a prudent customization.

Looking at the capacity claim in Viking's press release...

"There is no higher capacity SSD solution available today than the UHC-Silo SSD" said Hamid Shokrgozar, President, Viking Technology."...

Seagate demonstrated 60TB SAS SSD prototypes last August but if Viking really is shipping 50TB now that suggests that those wanting to extend the market life of SAS arrays and related software can look in new directions.

24 Gb/s SAS and other interesting milestones in Demartek's new interface comparison guide

Editor:- July 7, 2017 - Demartek has published a new version of its Storage Networking Interface Comparison Guide which includes timelines, speed ratings and roadmaps for the most popular interfaces used in storage system. Among other things the SAS section notes that "the first 24 Gb/s SAS plugfest is expected to occur in 2H 2017."

the HDD software exorcism - a blog from Pure Storage

Editor:- April 12, 2017 - In various articles in the past I have written about the potential upside for utilization and performance in enterprise SSD systems which would be enabled by new architecture introduced withing new software. Among these was my (2013) blog - which looked at utilization and performance multipliers from the "SSD software event horizon"

I was reminded of those by seeing a blog from Pure Storage - DirectFlash – Enabling Software and Flash to Speak which sets the scene for many of the SSD software improvements we have seen in recent years like this...

"...your AFA likely has a little secret it doesn't like to admit – there's still a lot of disk inside! Smart array software is forced to talk to flash by speaking disk protocols like SCSI over disk interfaces like SAS and SATA and when it finally talks to the flash it has to pretend the flash is a hard drive and circumnavigate layers of complex software inside the SSD. Why?!!?!"

Pure says that their DirectFlash architecture was born from the ambition of avoiding such torture. the article

after AFAs? - the next box

Editor:- January 24, 2017 - Throughout the history of the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached storage in the same data processing environment.

after AFAs - click to read rhe articleA new blog on - cloud adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be true.

Like many of you - I've been thinking a lot about the evolution of memory technologies and data architectures in the past year. I wasn't sure when would be the best time to share my thoughts about this one. But the timing seems right now. the article

WDC samples its fastest ever SAS SSDs

Editor:- December 6, 2016 - Western Digital today announced it is sampling faster new models in its range of enterprise SSDs. WDC says that these are the fastest SAS SSDs which they have offered to date.

Toshiba is a key SSD supplier for NetApp FIPS certified products

Editor:- October 25, 2016 - Toshiba today announced that its PX04S 12Gbit/s SAS SSDs, which are FIPS 140-2 Level 2 certified, are shipping in NetApp's hybrid FAS and E-Series systems.

Seagate previews 60TB 3.5" SAS SSD

Editor:- August 9, 2016 - Seagate today said it 's demonstrating prototypes of a 60TB 3.5" SAS SSD which will be available next year.

FIPS makes for health compliant SAS SSDs

Editor:- July 28, 2016 - A new blog by Micron - discusses FIPS 140-2 validation in its range of SAS SSDs.

storage security articles and news
SSD security
The blog's author - Anne Haggar, Product Marketing Leader, Micron says (among other things)...

"We are finding that U.S. federal agencies aren't the only organizations that are interested in the extra security these drives provide. Companies in health care and financial services who face stiff fines for non-compliance and huge risks if they have a data breach are adding FIPS 140-2 compliance to their requirements." the article

Trendfocus  reports SSD market Q1 2016 shipments SAS SSD shipments grew 6.7% Q-Q

Editor:- May 18, 2016 - TrendFocus today announced publication of its Q1 2016 nand/SSD quarterly market report. TrendFocus says the enterprise SSD market saw Q-Q growth in all segments. See also:- SSD news, storage market research

RunCore is now V&G

SSD names article
branding strategies
in the SSD market
Editor:- April 2, 2016 - Last year the branding picture for RunCore was confusing because they were using different brand names for the company in different geographical regions - with upto 3 names being used concurrently on different web sites.

The situation has now clarified with the announcement that the definitive name from April 1 is V&G (which in English you can think of as "Vision and Goal" and in Chinese is Wei Gu.

V&G is in effect the new name for RunCore. The company's leadership is the same as before - the CEO is Jack Wu who founded RunCore in 2007. And the company says the SSD product lines are 100% technically identical - apart from the change in branding.

Among other things V&G's enterprise product lines include a 2.5" SAS SSD product - the E2000 series

news looks inside Seagate's SAS SSDs

Editor:- December 4, 2015 - A new review of industry leading 2.5" SAS SSDs starring the multi-role 1200.2 family from Seagate (also available as the S600DC from Micron) looks inside the cases and commenting on performance says that the latency of these SSDs for their SQL server benchmark is positioned "right in the middle of the pack" (between HGST and Toshiba). the article

you can pick almost any DWPD you like in a SAS SSD - says Toshiba

Editor:- August 3, 2015 - Toshiba reaffirmed its commitment to the SAS SSD market with the launch of 4 new models optimized for a spread of different DWPD profiles from 1 to 25 to economically fit a wide range of application slots.

...Later:- August 31, 2015 - a review of Toshiba's 12Gb/s SAS SSDs - PX04S was published in Tom's IT Pro - which notes among other things that "users can adjust overprovisioning via a SAS mode page to tailor endurance metrics to reflect the needs of their respective environments."

SAS SSD market shipments beefed up by DWPD-lite models
SAS SSD growth
Editor:- June 2, 2015 - Commenting on the SAS SSD market - Don Jeanette, VP - TrendFocus says in his new blog - SAS SSDs continue to show strength in an ever increasing competitive market - "SAS SSDs are not getting squeezed out by the incursion of SATA on the low end and PCIe on the high end as many have thought would happen."

Don explains that SAS SSD makers have populated their product lines with value models which have much lower DWPD ratings than the headline performers - which can go some way towards cost competing with SATA SSDs while at the same time validating the higher prices of 25 DWPD etc models. the article

Editor's comments:- Rackmount SSD users don't have to compromise reliability when they choose SATA SSDs in their value engineered arrays.

In a conversation with Andy Lee, Marketing Director - EchoStreams (a whitebox storage company) - in January 2015 - I learned that one of the design elements in their 20 bay 1U and 48 bay 2U systems - for their customers who want to build high density flash arrays using COTS SSDs - is that EchoStreams have deployed interposers on their drive bays which allow COTS SATA SSDs to be used in the same way as dual ported SAS but at lower system

new FlashSoft caching bundle for SanDisk's SAS SSDs

Editor:- April 2, 2015 - products evolved from the Optimus SAS SSD product line - which SanDisk acquired from SMART Storage - are part of a new FlashSoft caching software bundle which was announced recently.

Seagate and Micron collaborate on SAS SSDs

Editor:- February 12, 2015 - Micron and Seagate today announced a strategic multi year agreement which among other things will secure for Seagate a supply of nand flash for the SAS SSD market while also providing for Micron a framework of SSD controller IP and designs with which it can populate gaps in its own enterprise SSD range.

Editor's comments:- Although modern adaptive DSP controller IP can work with any type of flash - there are applications in cloud and storage arrays in which simpler controller designs - which integrate user based code (to leverage awareness of the state of the whole array) can provide cheaper systems. Such SSDs can be made even more reliable - when they can leverage knowledge about a particular trusted source of flash.

For example in April 2012 - SMART Storage (now part of SanDisk) revealed it had figured out a way to get 5x more endurance from consumer grade flash when using old-style non-adaptive SandForce controllers. The technique preconditioned R/W timing parameters in the flash memory using intelligence gained from experience with the company's (different) adaptive controllers.

Seagate's toughest competitors in the SAS SSD market have been SanDisk, Toshiba, HGST and even Samsung - so from that perspective - there are reasons for preferring to source flash from and trust in Micron.

Micron hasn't dipped into the enterprise SSD acquisition pool to the same depth as some other big hostages of the SSD market. I think this was partly because Micron didn't want to be seen as competing with its "natural" historic systems customers. But that had left Micron with an enterprise SSD product line lacking any central theme or controller roadmap.

In that respect - Micron's new collaboration with Seagate - will ensure a prescence for Micron's flash in large scale arrays and systems in very cost competitive and difficult to customize environments - in which Micron's own SSD IP would never have been regarded as a serious alternative.

StorageIOblog looks at Seagate's 12Gbs SAS SSD

Editor:- November 4, 2014 - StorageIOblog today published a lab review of Seagate's 1200 12Gbs SAS SSD which includes TPC-B (write intensive) benchmarks for a single drive with simulated workloads without using caching products.

The 2nd part of this article - enumerates the performance benefits of using the same Seagate 1200 SSD as a read cache for an array of SAS hard drives.

See also:- SSD caching appliances, testing SSDs

Samsung ships 10nm SAS SSDs

Editor:- August 8, 2014 - Samsung today announced it is producing SAS SSDs with 10nm nand flash. The SM1623 has R/W IOPS upto 120K/26K respectively. But DWPD isn't that great - Samsung says it's about 1 (which is retrictive).

Editor's comments:- When it comes to COTS storage arrays (just a bunch of SSDs with some RAID) SAS is the new SATA. While SATAe and MVMe (2.5" PCIe SSDs and M.2 PCIe SSDs) will be the new SAS.

This is a significant milestone in the 10 year history of enterprise flash - and portends lower pricing for entry level SSD storage arrays.

But it's not at simple as 10nm based arrays always being cheaper for all apps.

The ability to do more writes and work faster (with more expensive memory and software) creates its own competitive efficiencies.

So it's more likely that in the next few years we'll see 10nm being used as one of several memory geometries in different roles - even inside the same boxes. Just as we're seeing multiple generations of flash in enterprise and embedded markets today.

SanDisk enables smoother datacenter architectures with 4TB SAS SSDs

Editor:- April 30, 2014 - SanDisk today announced it is sampling 2 major additions to its range of SAS SSDs.
  • A new 4TB model (2.5") - called the Optimus MAX - rated at 1-3 DWPD - which is the industry's first 4TB 2.5" SAS SSD.
  • A new range of 12Gbps SAS SSDs - called the Lightning Gen. II. Available with a spread of R/W optimized characteristics the high end model (Lightning Ultra Gen. II) has R/W speeds upto 1GB/sand / 600MB/s respectively, upto 800GB capacity and is rated at 25DWPD for 5 years.
Editor's comments:- 2007 was the first year in which you could buy a SATA SSD with exactly the same storage capacity as the highest capacity hard drive. That capacity milestone was at the 1TB level.

But it was only for exceptional embedded projects in which you would choose to make such a substitution 7 years ago - not only because of the price of flash SSDs - but more significantly because - if you were going to spend that much money on flash - there was a much better user value argument to be had for most enterprise applications - by buying a faster SSD with a PCIe interface instead.

In recent years - we've seen the capacity of 2.5" SSDs creeping upto and reaching 2TB - but there hasn't been much of a general market appetite for this type of product before now.

So the majority of enterprises still use hard drive arrays for low cost capacity - even when these have flash acceleration taking place in the apps servers or it SAN facing caches.

The imminent availability of 4TB 19nm nand flash SSDs as affordable components in enterprise arrays will enable data architects to design much simpler and cleaner systems - with less dependence on so many intermediate caching levels.

That compaction of runaway distributed caches will result in more consistent performance and the simplification of data integrity and hot recovery schemes when (inevitably) hardware modules fail.

As to the 12Gbps Lightnings? - That's a catch up exercise.

SAS SSDs were main reason for SanDisk's enterprise SSD revenue

Editor:- April 16, 2014 - SanDisk today announced $1.5 billion revenue for the quarter ended March 30.

In a related statement - Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO stated "...Combined client and enterprise SSD sales accounted for ($423 million) 28% of our first quarter revenue, with enterprise SSD revenue more than doubling on a year-over-year basis. Our expanded SAS SSD portfolio has enabled us to further strengthen our market position, and it has been the primary contributor to our enterprise SSD revenue growth."

what's a good DWPD for a SAS SSD?

Editor:- April 7, 2014 - SAS SSDs - get honorable mentions in a new article here on - what's the state of DWPD? - which gives a snapshot of the endurance figures being quoted in industry leading enterprise SSDs. the article

Samsung 2.5 inch PCIe SSD image ... Our new 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD is 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs - says Samsung

SSD news - March 25, 2014

SAS SSDs - the stellar performers in the 2013 enterprise market

Editor:- March 20, 2014 - I asked Gregory Wong, President, Forward Insights if he could enumerate for readers what he meant by his tantalizing comment that - "within the enterprise segment, SAS SSDs stood out as the stellar performer" - which is something he said in a recent email promoting another new SSD market report.

I'm empathetic to the business pressures of those in the storage market research business - and keenly aware of the thin line which divides - on the one hand - saying too little - so that potential buyers find it hard to assess if a new report will be money well spent - and, on the other hand - saying too much - and worst of all - revealing the exact things which report buyers would happily pay to know.

That's because in 1992 when I started publishing the outputs of my own enterprise market research - I did it the hard way - as carefully formatted market reports which cost money. Luckily there was a much easier business for me - as I learned in 1996 when I went over to the dark side of a web advertising driven business model - in which content and ideas were tossed into the eco-sphere of http and it was much easier as I could save time by linking to raw content - instead of having to make it look pretty.

So what I actually said to Greg - re his SAS SSD "stellar performer" comparison was this...

"Without giving too much away... would you be prepared to illustrate that statement with a comparison or number?"

Well Greg gets a lot of email - and so do I - and sometimes they just disappear deep down the screen. But between the two of us this one has resurfaced.

So I can convey to you Gregory Wong's assessment that in 2013 - the SSD market grew 38% on unit basis and 28% on revenue basis. The corresponding growth rates for SAS SSDs were 134% and 69% respectively."

This is just one tiny snippet of data from one of his many detailed reports about the SSD market. So - if you need to more details about the plot - and have the money to buy the book - that's a useful data cavern to rummage around in.

See also:- what changed in SSD year 2013?, SSD market analysts

OCZ relaunches as a Toshiba Group company

Editor:- January 21, 2014 - Toshiba today announced some details of how OCZ Storage Solutions (which was based on the recently acquired assets of OCZ Technology Group) will operate within the Toshiba Group of Companies.

The new OCZ Storage Solutions, under the continuing direction of CEO Ralph Schmitt - will leverage Toshiba's cutting-edge NAND and combine it with the company's proprietary controllers, firmware and software to provide both client and enterprise customers with innovative and cost-effective SSD solutions.

OCZ Storage Solutions will continue to maintain its established worldwide sales channels. Its headquarters will remain in San Jose, California, with strategic design centers located in Irvine (California), Tel Aviv (Israel), and Abingdon (UK).

"The acquisition of OCZ further expands our solid-state storage capabilities and represents Toshiba's commitment to this high-growth area," said Seiichi Mori, VP of Toshiba's Semiconductor and Storage Company. "Our goal is to offer a leading edge portfolio of solid state solutions to address the storage challenges faced by both client and enterprise customers, and the acquisition of OCZ is an ideal addition to our team in realizing this strategy."

The acquisition provides Toshiba with OCZ's enterprise and client SSD businesses and enables the established OCZ brand to continue in full force with a current product portfolio that includes SATA and PCIe consumer drives for high-performance and mainstream applications, and SATA, SAS and PCIe enterprise drives supported by virtualization, cache and acceleration software.

Editor's comments:- The new OCZ - starts out in a strong competitive position - as it not only inherits a well established enterprise SSD business (which I discussed in an article in November 2013) - but it sheds many of the disadvantages which limited the revenue scalability of the old OCZ entity in the year leading up to its bankruptcy.

Immediate advantages which the new OCZ will benefit from include:-
  • less constrained future access to flash memory for its SSDs

    The old OCZ suffered from allocation and cost issues related to its perceived riskiness as a flash customer.
  • strengthening of the brand.

    OCZ's brand was already very strong in the SSD market. But for some customers in enterprise and embedded markets - there would always be an element of doubt about the long term roadmaps due to instabilities in the SSD market. Now as part of the long established Toshiba group of companies - many users will be happy to temporarily set such concerns aside - and focus more on the individual merits of particular products and their technical suitability .
  • access to more flash and SSD IP.

    While every acquisition in the SSD market is different - early indications are that OCZ could become a launch pad for integrating and expanding some of Toshiba's legacy SSD assets into bigger markets - especially in the enterprise segments.

Toshiba ships 30 DWPD SAS SSDs

Editor:- October 28, 2013 - Toshiba today announced immediate availability of a new 2.5" 12Gbps SAS SSD product line - the PX02SS (pdf) (upto 800GB) - which is rated at 30 DWPD (diskful write per day for 5 years).

Editor's comments:- in the associated press release - Toshiba's product marketing manager for this business unit - Don Jeanette says "Toshiba's unique integrated SSD design and manufacturing capability ensures that key components of the SSD, including NAND flash, are designed by Toshiba."

But I'm wondering if these products - which use 24nm eMLC also get a little help from the flash management IP developed by DensBits too?

The way that DensBits delivers its memory modem technology (a variant of adaptive R/W DSP technology) to licensees like Toshiba is to provide an algorithm suite to SSD oems which they integrate in their own controllers and architecture. I've asked the question and will let you know if I get confirmation either way.

30 DWPD is an impressive endurance rating.

If you need higher - 50 DWPD is available from the Optimus Ultra+ product line - designed ny SMART - which is now available from SanDisk - although this Optimus model is currently 6Gbps rather than 12.

Samsung's SAS SSD VMware certified

Editor:- October 2, 2013 - Samsung today announced that its SM1625 (pdf) - dual port SAS SSD - has been certified for use with VMware Virtual SAN.

SAS SSDs are expected to enjoy significant growth and represents the largest enterprise SSD revenue opportunity in 2015-2017 - says HGST

Editor:- August 20, 2013 - The headline above was one of the messages in a paper presented by Ulrich Hansen Sr. Director, SSD Product Marketing, HGST - at the Flash Memory Summit- in which he also gave aggregated forecasts for various types of enterprise SSD - from which the image below is extracted.

Click on the image below to see the full text and the other half of the image which shows revenue forecasts too.
HGST paper  re enterprise SSD market - click for  pdf

See also:- SSD market analysts, the Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs

SanDisk acquires SMART Storage Systems

Editor:- July 2, 2013 - SanDisk - today announced a definitive agreement to acquire SMART Storage Systems for approximately $307 million. SMART's revenue in the quarter ended May 31, 2013 - was $25 million.

The transaction is expected to close in August at which time pproximately 250 employees of SMART will join SanDisk.

"This acquisition enables SanDisk to address a $1.6 billion market opportunity in enterprise SATA products, and complements our strong enterprise SAS product portfolio. With this combination, SanDisk will have products qualified with 6 of the top 7 storage OEMs worldwide" said Sumit Sadana, executive VP & chief strategy officer of SanDisk.

Stec to be acquired by WD

Editor:- June 24, 2013 - WD today announced it has agreed to buy Stec for approximately $340 million. Stec will be acquired by WD's subsidiary HGST.

OCZ's SAS SSDs in InfiniBand benchmark configuration

Editor:- June 12, 2013 - Mellanox today announced details of a benchmark demonstration it did this week showing its FDR 56Gb/s InfiniBand running on Windows Server 2012 in a system which uses OCZ's Talos 2R SSDs (2.5" SAS SSDs) working with LSI's Fast Path I/O acceleration software and RAID controllers - getting over 10GB/s throughput to a remote file system while consuming under 5% of CPU overhead.

SMART samples 2TB $3,999 SAS SSD

Editor:- April 30, 2013 - SMART Storage Systems today announced it is sampling a new 2.5" SAS SSD with 2TB capacity (oem price under $4,000).

Using 19nm MLC - the 100K/45K R/W IOPS - Optimus Eco - is rated at 10 drive writes per day endurance.

Kaminario drops PCIe and turns to SAS to get costs down in new HA rackmount

Editor:- April 18, 2013 - "You don't have to be an investment bank like JP Morgan to afford our style of fast, scalable high availability SSD systems any more" - was the key message I got talking to Phil Williams, VP Business Development at Kaminario earlier this week when discussing with me aspects of the company's newest series of FC SAN compatible SSD arrays - the K2 v4 (6TB usable per U at a cost of $10K to $15K per TB) which was launched yesterday.

Phil was referring to the expectation that their products - which in the first generation were entirely RAM based SSDs - and then moved onto RAM / flash hybrids and then mostly pure flash (the flash components being implemented in the previous generation of K2's by Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs - a relationship direction which I suggested in a much earlier briefing conversation with Kaminario's CEO few years ago BTW ) - had acquired a reputation of being out of reach pricewise - and not just in a class of their own for resilience and scalability.

One of the ways that Kaminario has pulled off the affordability trick is to drop PCIe SSDs as the internal flash components and use instead SAS SSDs.

I've said before that in the enterprise arrays space - "SAS is the new SATA" - because there are so many companies which have moved into this segment that there's stiff competition. Unlike the PCIe SSD market -which is mostly sold on high performance - the SAS market includes a number of vendors who have been using adaptive R/W ECC to enable them to use cheap flash to build reliable fast-enough SSDs

Because Kaminario still has a lot of RAM cache in its server based architecture - it doesn't need the raw endurance and performance of FIO's ioMemory to deliver multi-gigabyte throughput at the rack level. And another factor is that Fusion-io itself is on course to become a significant supplier of rackmount SSDs (although not aimed at the same kind of customers.)

Kaminario didn't want to say which SAS product they're using. They might say later. But it doesn't really matter.

The K2 v4 also demonstrates that the key IP component in Kaminario's box is SSD software. When I suggested that future boxes could equally well discard SAS SSDs if 2.5" PCIe SSDs offered a better set of characteristics - Phil agreed that the company wasn't tied to any particular internal SSD drive form factor or interface.

Kaminario has paid Taneja Group to do some new testing on the performance aspects of simulated hard faults. These will be very useful for customers - and take the uncertainty out of the picture - giving hard numbers for various scenarios.

For example - when running at just under 200K IOPS and 5GB/s throughput - an entire node (controller) was removed to simulate a fault. I/O resumed after 23 seconds and performance dropped by less than 15% for 2 minutes before recovering fully.

Micron enters SAS SSD market

Editor:- February 26, 2013 - Micron today became the 19th company to enter the SAS SSD market.

The company today announced production of its new P410m SSD - a 2.5" SSD with R/W speeds upto 410MB/s and 345MB/s respectively and 50K/30K R/W IOPS for the 400GB model which uses 25nm MLC. Endurance is 10 drive fills per day for 5 years.

Editor's comments:- Micron is currently the only company manufacturing both PCIe and SAS compatible enterprise SSDs in the 2.5" form factor.

STEC launches 2TB SAS SSD

Editor:- January 28, 2013 - One of the oddest linking ideas I've ever seen in an SSD news story appeared today in a press release from STEC which suggests that anyone should care that the company is the first in the market to launch both a 2TB PCIe SSD ($9,425) and a 2TB SAS SSD ($7,995).

This marketing communication undervalues the true achievement of a 2TB SAS drive (assuming it fits in a standard height - unlike a previous model).

Also nearly lost in this mixed up marketing communication is the idea that STEC is offering "Unlimited Writes" on some variations of these products. (Which endurance goal is possible using a variety of different techniques - at the extremes being slower performance, using more expensive flash or RAM caching - I haven't asked which of these applies.)

Toshiba samples encrypted SAS SSD

Editor:- January 6, 2013 - Toshiba says it's sampling a new range of 2.5" SAS MLC SSDs - with self encrypting security features and on board sanitization. The PX02SMQ/U has upto 1.6TB capacity.

OCZ's CEO says "we've got the train back on the track"

Editor:- November 30, 2012 - OCZ's CEO, Ralph Schmitt - said yesterday in an analyst discussion reported by Reuters that the company isn't looking to be acquired and he doesn't think it will have any difficulties getting more cash at a reasonable cost.

Samsung enters dual port SAS SSD market

Editor:- October 31, 2012 - Samsung today announced its belated entry into the serious end of the SAS SSD market with the launch of its 1st dual port SAS SSD - the SM1625 (2Xnm flash) has upto 800GB capacity and upto 101,000 / 23,000 R/W IOPS (when using both ports. It also includes sudden power loss data protection.

Samsung also launched today new models of fast-enough SATA SSDs - the SM843 - with endurance rated at 1064TBW (terabytes written) - which doesn't sound that great to me - but is (according to their own press release) 17x better than what they had before.

"Samsung will aggressively produce its new line-up of SSDs beginning this month to accelerate SSDs' move into not only the server but also the storage marketplace, as we continue to affirm our leadership in the SSD market." said Myungho Kim VP of SSD marketing at Samsung.

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.

BiTMICRO's new TALINO based SAS SSDs in Beta

Editor:- September 12, 2012 - I noticed today that some new pages have appeared on BiTMICRO's website which unveil and outline a range - called maxIO - of enterprise SSDs (SATA, SAS and PCIe) which use the company's new TALINO SSD controller and hint at "100K to 400K IOPS (4KB) performance" - depending on which model you look at. The company is offering beta test samples to suitable people who sign an NDA.

SMART proliferates adaptive DSP IP in SAS SSDs

Editor:- July 5, 2012 - SMART Storage Systems recently announced it's sampling yet another new variant of SAS SSD which uses adaptive flash DSP technology - the Optimus Ultra+ is a 2.5" SSD with 100K/60K R/W IOPS - which can endure 50 full random drive writes per day for a period of 5 years using commercial MLC NAND flash technology. more in SSD news

2.5" PCIe SSDs guide

Editor:- May 21, 2012 - today published a new article introducing the market for 2.5" PCIe SSDs .

Although some aspects of this new market are predictable - if you're already familiar with PCIe SSDs and SAS SSDs - the new SSD delivery package also opens up new possibilities which can sit above and below pre-existing 2.5"SSDs in price as well as performance. And the new 2.5" PCIe SSDs will also introduce and showcase new types of functionality which haven't been been feasible before at the SSD drive level. the article

HGST claims first demonstration of 2x faster SAS SSD

Editor:- May 1, 2012 - HGST today announced successful demonstrations of the industry's first 12Gb/s SAS SSD.

"We have successfully achieved interoperability between our 12Gb/s SAS drive and 12Gb/s SAS HBAs and expanders from both LSI and PMC-Sierra" said Brendan Collins, VP of product marketing, HGST.

Editor's comments:- no great surprises here if you read the SSD performance roadmap published here 4 years ago. The new challenge for SAS SSDs in this speed class - will be cannibalization from hot-swap 2.5" PCIe SSDs like those from Micron.

EMC arrays will have WD SAS SSDs inside

Editor:- March 5, 2012 - Hitachi GST today announced that its 2.5" SAS SLC SSD product - the Ultrastar SSD400S - is now shipping in EMC's VNX iSCSI arrays.

Editor's comments:- after more than a year of waiting - WD obtained all required regulatory approvals for its acquisition of HGST which closed this week.

SMART-inside SAS SSDs - offer credible competitive alternative for tier-1

Editor:- February 22, 2012 - SMART Storage Systems launched the Optimus Ultra (a 1.2TB 2.5" 100K/60K IOPS, 500MB/s R/W SAS SSD) which uses the company's new, in-house developed, high reliability enterprise SSD controller IP - which includes DSP and adaptive programming techniques to deliver industry leading SSD data integrity and upto 25x / day full disk writes for 5 years endurance - while using low cost consumer grade MLC.

STEC prospecting for more enterprise SSD business

Editor:- January 17, 2012 - STEC announced that industry veteran Vaughn Miller has joined the company's Systems and Software Group as VP of Business Development.

Mr. Miller is responsible for developing business opportunities with OEMs and ISVs that focus on enterprise applications.

During the past 16 years, Mr. Miller held various key management positions in business development for Cisco Systems, NeoPath Networks, Acopia Networks (acquired by F5 Networks, Inc.), NetApp and Auspex Systems. Prior to his roles in business development, Mr. Miller served as an engineer for Landmark Graphics (a Halliburton company) and Modcomp.

OCZ samples terabyte dual port 6Gbps 2.5" SAS SSDs
Editor:- November 29, 2011 - OCZ has started sampling dual port 6Gbps SAS SSDs in a smaller form factor - the Talos 2 SAS SSD provides upto 70,000 4K IOPS (75R/25W) and upto 1TB capacity in 2.5" (previously only available from the company in the larger 3.5" size).

To cater for different applications and markets OCZ is offering MLC, eMLC, and SLC NAND flash versions. The new SSDs include protection against sudden power loss and have the option to enable T10-DIF (Data Integrity Field) in addition to the native SandForce SSD data integrity to ensure end to end data integrity.

Editor's comments:- which of these 2 new SAS SSDs will be better for you? - The ZeusIOPS XE (from STEC) or the Talos 2 (from OCZ).

One thing's for sure - you can't just decide from looking at the press releases.

Price is a very important factor too - particularly if your app involves heavy duty caching - you may decide that to get the same reliability you end up comparing an MLC SSD managed by CellCare (the STEC offer) to an eMLC (or even SLC) SSD managed by DuraClass (the OCZ offer).

Or based on your past experience with these suppliers you may apply your own adjustment factor to their price projections and reliability projections.

Or based on who you are - you may not score highly enough to get your hands on early evaluation samples at all.

And that's before you even start looking at what SanDisk might do with their Lightning or what WD might do with the Ultrastar when they get it from Hitachi GST.

One consolation may be that there are less controllers to choose from in the SAS market than when you look at PCIe SSDs.

STEC samples Extreme Endurance SAS MLC SSDs for caching

Editor:- November 29, 2011 - STEC has started sampling a new high endurance MLC SSD - based on its proprietary CellCare technology - the new ZeusIOPS XE (Extreme Endurance) is a 6Gbps SAS SSD family, available in 1.8", 2.5" and 3.5" sizes (300GB or 600GB) and supports at least 30 full capacity writes per day, every day, for 5 years.

Latency is upto 50 microseconds. Sustained R/W throughput is upto 500MB/s and 275MB/s respectively and random IOPS is upto 38,000 8K (70R/30W). STEC says the new SSDs (based on 32nm MLC) are suited for write-intensive applications with the high endurance necessary to support server-side caching, auto-tiering, metadata management and logging, and analytics.

SSD protection technology wins best of show award for SMART

Editor:- August 15, 2011 - SMART today announced that its Guardian technology - which provides enterprise grade data integrity in MLC SSDs - has been chosen by the Flash Memory Summit as a Best of Show award winner for 2011 in the category of Most Innovative Flash Memory Enterprise Business Application.

Editor's comments:- SMART recently launched a new range of 2.5" SAS SSDs which provide upto 1.6TB usable capacity, 100K/50K random IOPS and 500/500MB/s sustained transfer rates - which incoporate the above technologies.

SanDisk samples new SAS SSDs

Editor:- June 20, 2011 - SanDisk has expanded its Lightning range (2.5" and 3.5" SAS skinny flash SSDs) which now offer upto 800GB MLC capacity are being delivered for OEM qualification, and will be available via authorized channel partners in Q3, 2011.

The new Lightning SSDs (recently acquired from Pliant) feature Write Through Logging (WTL) technology which delivers high performance at low queue depths to avoid volatility that would otherwise require battery back-up or supercapacitors for protection. WTL operation is completely transparent to the host and maintains a predictable performance profile across different workloads. This write cache-less design eliminating data loss on power interruptions, delivering consistent performance across a wide range of workloads.

See also:- Power, Speed and Strength Metaphors in SSD brands, Pliant Technology - SSD Bookmarks.

OCZ samples new SAS SSD

Editor:- May 15, 2011 - OCZ is sampling a new 3.5" SAS SSD in its Talos family.

The new product has upto 960GB MLC capacity and upto 60K IOPS.

Seagate's new 2.5" SAS SSDs

Editor:- March 15, 2011 - Seagate announced details of new 2.5" SAS SSDs - marketed under its Pulsar brand - which will ship in the 2nd quarter.

Available capacities are 400GB (SLC) and 800GB (MLC). R/W speeds are upto 360MB/s and 300MB/s respectively. Sustainable random R/W IOPS are 48K and 22K respectively. Endurance is quoted as 35 / 10 full drive writes per day SLC / MLC. Unrecoverable read errors (data integrity) for the SLC model are 1 in 1016 . Seagate also quotes a permissive rate of ambient temperature change for its MLC SSD - which is something else we may be hearing more about in future.

Editor's comments:- one of the problems Seagate has in being a latecomer to the SSD market is that it hasn't yet racked up enough "million customer operating years" to support reliability messages tagged to the new SSD launch. So instead it's using cross over references from its HDD business - as in this statement - "Over 200 man-years of development went into the 2nd-generation Pulsar SSD products, with enterprise reliability verified by a team with over 1,500 collective years of experience in the storage industry."

SSD market history in recent years teaches us that experience in other markets (even within the semiconductor industry) doesn't always guarantee that new SSD designs will be as reliable, trouble free or as fast as their creators anticipate. That's because many new design features in flash SSD architectures get their first reality checks in the market. I expect that if all goes well - next year Seagate's new SSD announcements will start referring back to their SSD market track record. And if all doesn't go well - we're hear about it on these news pages.

IBM uses SAS SSDs from SMART in supercomputer

Editor:- November 22, 2010 - SMART announced that its XceedIOPS SAS 2.5" solid state drive (SSD) will be used in new models of IBM POWER7 supercomputers instead of hard drives.

John Scaramuzzo, General Manager for SMART's Storage Business Unit said - "The selection criteria for SSDs has moved beyond HDD replacement, as innovative designers such as those at IBM use the qualities of enterprise-grade SSDs to significantly enhance their products' performance, data integrity, and reliability."

Hitachi samples STEC / Pliant class enterprise SSDs

Editor:- November 16, 2010 - Hitachi announced it was sampling 3.5" FC SSDs and 2.5" SAS SSDs with upto 400GB SLC capacity and 535MB/s read and 500MB/s write throughput (6Gb/s SAS) 46,000 / 13,000 R/W IOPS.

SandForce shows SSD controller for 6Gbps SAS

Editor:- October 7, 2010 - SandForce today announced availability of its next generation SF-2000 family SSD processors - for oems designing SAS 3 class (6Gbps) enterprise acceleration SSDs.

The SF-2000 supports 500MB/s sequential R/W, 60,000 sustained random IOPS, wire speed encryption, end to end data integrity checks and industrial temperature operation in a skinny flash SSD architecture.

Also new in this controller generation is support for sector sizes additional to 512-bytes e.g., 520, 524, 528, 4K, etc., with Data Integrity Field (DIF) for true enterprise-class SAS drive behavior and performance.

Editor's comments:- one simple way of looking at the SF-2000 would be as an incremental x2 version of what SandForce has done before - which also demonstrates that the glass ceiling for their architecture is much higher than some people might have thought.

In a briefing yesterday I learned a lot more about the new chip and got answers from SandForce to a bunch of technology and marketing questions. I'll post these in more detail in a special article on the SSD controllers page tomorrow.

STEC samples 3.5" RAM SSD

Editor:- September 20, 2010 - STEC today announced it is sampling a new 3.5" dual port SAS compatible RAM SSD - the ZeusRAM SSD - with 8GB capacity and under 23 microseconds average latency and internal flash backup.

Editor's comments:- RAM SSDs don't have the "play it again Sam... as time goes by" syndrome inherent in flash SSDs - because they have genuinely low repeat write latency and can be 10x to 20x faster. In some applications that's a difference worth paying for.

The 1st 3.5" RAM SSD featured on these pages - was the MegaRam-35 (in June 2002) which was a parallel SCSI SSD from Imperial Technology. A year later in 2003 - Curtis marketed a 3.5" fibre-channel RAM SSD - the HyperXCLR - which for many years held the speed records in that form factor. The Curtis unit is still available as too is a similar product from Density Dynamics.

Pliant does U turn in $A$ SSDs

Editor:- September 8, 2010 - Pliant Technology announced it is sampling MLC versions of its 2.5" SAS SSD family with upto 400GB capacity and >10K sustained IOPS.

Editor's comments:- new dynasty SSD maker Fusion-io has successfully demonstrated that there is a healthy market appetite for MLC SSDs in some "enterprise apps". How many is "some"? Enough to make a VC wake up in your powerpoint presentation!

Most new 2.5" SSD makers are taking the opposite route to Pliant in that the majority started with consumer grade (MLC) SSD products with SATA interfaces and are busily reworking their products to add SAS (spelt $A$) so they can charge higher prices.

Pliant - on the other hand - made a conservative choice by launching only SLC SSDs when it started sampling its 1st SSDs 12 months ago. Will Pliant add SATA SSDs to its line up too? - Unlikely it could survive in that fiercely competitive market. But if the company is still around in another 12 months - I wouldn't be surprised to see them extend their range with a PCIe SSD. Because you have to give enterprise customers what they want. Even if the market appears inconsistent about what it wants. If the money is there you have to pay attention.

SMART samples 400GB 2.5" SAS eMLC SSD

Editor:- August 17, 2010 - SMART entered the crowding SAS SSD market with the announcement that it is sampling the XceedIOPS SAS SSD - a 2.5" 400GB eMLC SSD with 26,000 / 20,000 R/W IOPS and 250/230 MB/s sustained throughput.

The new XceedIOPS SAS SSD offers high reliability and data integrity due to extensive error-correction and detection capabilities, multi-level data-path and code protection, data-fail recovery, and data-integrity monitoring. Designed to minimize power surges in SSD arrays the the XceedIOPS SAS SSD supports staggered power-on.

Infortrend joins the STEC inside club

Editor:- July 22, 2010 - Infortrend today announced it will use STEC's ZeusIOPS (SAS SSDs) in its ESVA F60 product line (FC RAID systems).

and Super Talent... brings SAS SSD headcount to 14

Editor:- June 21, 2010 - Super Talent Technology entered the 2.5" SAS SSD market by announcing imminent shipments of its ShuttleCraft brand - which includes SLC and MLC models with capacities upto 240GB .
articles about SAS

Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) Storage
Serial Attached SCSI - is it worth the wait?
Serial Attached SCSI: New Interface, New Storage Rack?
the Benefits of Serial Attached SCSI for External Subsystems
Serial Attached SCSI - Delivering Flexibility to the Data Center
more SSD stuff - from the A to Z SSD guide

1.0" SSDs............ industrial
1.8" SSDs............ MIL
2.5" SSDs............ SAS SSDs
3.5" SSDs............ PCIe SSDs
19" rack SSDs..... notebook SSDs

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Serial Attached SCSI  SSDs
what happened to the other cables?

SAS SSD - market timeline

from the birth of the SAS interface itself in 2001 to the present day
The SAS SSD market today is a significant niche market within the enterprise SSD market - with over 20 SSD companies making their own SAS SSDs. Some of these oems only sell their SAS SSDs for use within their own rackmount storage arrays.

The SAS SSD market was slow to get started compared to other segments in the enterprise SSD market and historically it was overshadowed by 3 related competitors within the SSD market itself - which took away business.
  • fibre-channel SSDs - which started long before SAS SSDs - (the first rackmount FC SAN SSDs shipped in the late 1990s - and 3.5" FC SSDs were shipping more than 5 years before the first SAS SSDs).
  • SATA SSDs - which started just immediately before SAS SSDs and dampened the early years of demand for SAS SSDs
  • PCIe SSDs which started later than the SAS SSD market but creamed off most of the market for what would have been high end SAS SSDs - if PCIe SSDs hadn't existed.

    And if that wasn't enough - a new threat for SAS SSD slots inside server racks has been emerging in the past year with removable 2.5" PCIe SSDs.
As mentioned above the SAS SSD market was the slowest part of the SSD market to take off - in the post "SSD awareness" era. For many years there were only 1 or 2 vendors in the market - and STEC in particular benefited from its surprising position as being almost a monopoly supplier of SAS SSD drive that worked and passed the oem tick tests. But those days are long gone - and the market dynamics are more complex today with more choices in suppliers and performance.

As the editor of I was actively reporting on - and our readers were actively influencing - the growth of both SSDs and the SAS market.

Here's the timeline from the birth of SAS to the preliminary phases of the SAS SSD market.

the birth of Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) storage

November 2001 - leading vendors announced they would collaborate to set up a working group to develop and co-ordinate a new interface standard which would be called "Serial Attached SCSI". became the 1st publisher to set up a dedicated directory to report on news and developments related to SAS storage.

users say they need SAS SSDs

January 2005 - the SSD buyers survey showed SAS SSDs as the 8th most desirable SSD interface to meet buyers' future needs. (No SAS SSDs were available in the market at that time.)

1st SAS RAM SSD ships to customers

April 2005 - Solid Access Technologies made the first SSD with a SAS interface. It was a rackmount RAM SSD.

1st flash SAS SSD

August 2007 - STEC announced it was designing a 3.5" SAS SSD.

December 2008 - Hitachi and Intel announced they were jointly designing a new range of high IOPS flash SSDs with SAS interfaces - expected to ship in Q1 2010.

SAS SSD market starts to bubble

January 2009 - As the number of oems talking about SAS SSDs headed towards double digits - launched a dedicated directory page for SAS SSDs.

May 2009 - disclosed that searches for SAS SSDs had overtaken searches for FC compatible SSDs.

February 2010 - Gartner estimates cited in the article - the Evolving Enterprise SSD - suggest that the SAS SSD market size may reach approximately 2 million units in 2013.

June 2010 - SAS SSD oems list on reaches 14 companies with announcement by Super Talent Technology.

August 2010 - SMART started sampling the XceedIOPS SAS SSD - a 2.5" 400GB eMLC SSD with 26,000 / 20,000 R/W IOPS and 250/230 MB/s sustained throughput.

October 2010 - SandForce announced availability of its SF-2000 family SSD processors - for oems designing SAS 3 class (6Gbps) enterprise acceleration SSDs.

March 2011 - Seagate announced details of new 2.5" SAS SSDs - marketed under its Pulsar brand due to ship in the 2nd quarter.

May 2011 - SanDisk acquired Pliant Technology for approximately $327 million.

1st 12Gb/s SAS SSD demo

May 2012 - HGST announced successful demonstrations of the industry's first 12Gb/s SAS SSD.
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SAS SSD manufacturers - past and present

from SSD market history
BiTMICRO, Foremay, HGST, Huawei,
InnoDisk, Micron, Nimbus, OCZ, Pliant Technology,
Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate, SMART , Solid Access, Soligen, Stec,
Super Talent, Toshiba, Unigen, V&G, Viking, Waitan, Western Digital

If you'd like to see more SSD history articles try these:-
other guides
SAS SSD market size - as interpreted by Micron
Editor:- September 3, 2015 - If you're interested in the possible size and direction of the SAS SSD market - here's some data supplied to me today by Micron.

This was in response to some questions I asked yesterday about a growth figure "59%" which they had quoted in a press release (in August) about their first new SAS SSDs developed as part of their collaboration agreement with Seagate.
SAS SSD market - a view based on Micron's marketing assessments of various data sources revised in August 2015
Metric 2015 2019 CAGR
Revenue ($M) 1,973 3,730 17%
Gigabytes (M ) 1,828 11,700 59%
Units (M) 2.4 5.1 21%
Memory companies like Micron create, suck in and analyze thousands of analyst hours of raw and structured statistics about components and drives. And although - just as for anyone else - the fine details of such projections and interpretations can turn out to be wrong - it's nevertheless very helpful to understand some of the publicly viewable raw data which drives the thinking behind related product plans.

dwpd in ssds

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how fast can your SSD run backwards?
SSDs are complex devices and there's a lot of mysterious behavior which isn't fully revealed by benchmarks, datasheets and whitepapers.

Underlying all the important aspects of SSD behavior are asymmetries which arise from the intrinsic technologies and architecture inside the SSD.
SSD symmetries article Which symmetries are most important in an SSD?

That depends on your application. to read the article

Today - if you're in a big company in a traditional market - and hoping to do something equally big in the SSD market - then $1 billion may not be enough - but $5 billion may be too much.
VCs & SSDs

If you think you already know SAS because you know SATA and traditional SCSI then think again.
Serial Attached SCSI - Delivering Flexibility to the Data Center (2004)

How will 2.5" PCIe SSDs impact the business of SAS SSD makers?
2.5" PCIe SSDs

Although 3.5 inch form factor SSDs are a niche market today- historically this form factor revealed a lot about the different types of application for high performance storage drives in legacy servers.

In the 3.5" package we used to find hard disks, hybrid drives, flash based SSDs and even RAM SSDs competing for slots, often with exactly the same interfaces.
the 3.5" SSD guide

$/TBW sounds initially like a plausible SSD cost evaluation metric - but it breaks down at the boundary analysis where it hits RAM SSDs - at which point it can give you the wrong answer.

There are many other misleading metrics like this in the SSD cost evaluation literature. And you'd be surprised how many of them originate from leading SSD companies.
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?

Going back to where I started with FITs at the SSD component level versus fault tolerance at the SSD system level. I realized this was due to the different perspective of looking at an SSD as an electronic component compared to an SSD as a data systems device.
FITs, reliability and abstraction levels in SSDs

"Bottlenecks in the pure SSD datacenter will be much more serious than in the HDD world - because responding slowly will be equivalent to transaction failure."
will SSDs end my bottlenecks? - and cure all my server problems?

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