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Virident Systems

is now part of HGST

..... image shows Viridentem's logo - click to go to their home page
Virident Systems builds enterprise-class solutions based on Flash and other storage-class memories (SCM).
These disruptive technologies can revolutionize the data center and cloud computing but are currently hampered by significant performance, reliability, and serviceability problems which further compound in large-scale deployment of SSDs. Virident Systems products solve these problems.

Virident Systems was founded by notable Silicon Valley veterans from Google, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, SGI, and Intel.

See also:- Virident Systems - mentions on

Editor's comments:- October 2013 - Virident Systems is now part of HGST. In this column you can see articles related to Virident, and the past history of this company as well as my market analysis and also summaries of interviews I've had with key people in Virident and its partners and competitors.
  • PCIe SSDs - news and market guide to the segment in which Virident was operating.
  • SSD history - shows how the SSD market had progressed from the early days of obscurity, the progression from a mostly RAM to flash based market, mainstream adoption in storage and then onto tiered memory systems and the convergence of memory with processors.
Virident FlashMAX.  - click for more info
Predictable, industry-leading PCIe SSD performance.
Scales across diverse workloads, data sets,
and sustains over time.
Learn more about - Virident FlashMAX

SSD ad from SSD history
Prior to its acquisition by HGST - Virident was a significant advertiser here on in the period from February 2011 until June 2013. Above you can see one of its archived ads from that period.
Who's who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - August 2013

Virident is 1 of more than 50 companies in the PCIe SSD accelerator market, and manufactures fast enterprise PCIe SSDs.

Virident shipped its first PCIe SSDs in June 2010.

Virident entered the Top SSD Companies List in the 2nd quarter of 2011 and in the most recent quarter Q2 2013 - Virident was placed comfortably within the elite top 10 group of SSD companies at #7.

Virident designs its own SSD controllers - which can be classified as Big SSD controller architecture.

The company's products have had good design symmetries with respect to application symmetry and scalability.
Who are Virident's toughest potential competitors?

Let's backtrack a bit to contemplate where all these roads might lead to.

PCIe SSDs are 1 of the 7 main classifications of SSDs needed to satisfy all enterprise SSD use cases.

But - despite superficial appearances that "enterprise PCIe SSDs" is itself a single market segment - there are instead many different segments within the enterprise PCIe SSD market itself.

These originally stemmed from raw technical and IP differences in the design approach of these SSDs. But the PCIe SSD market has been around for long enough now (5+ years) for important new features and nuances to have emerged from the business ecosystems and customer experiences surrounding those original raw products.

I've listed below the vendors who - in my view - present the most serious competitors to Virident in the enterprise PCIe SSD market and the key similarities and differences too:-
  • Fusion-io - Like Virident - Fusion-io's SSDs are scalable to large user installations where many PCIe SSDs are used in one server, also strong software platform. But unlike Virident - Fusion-io doesn't have an onboard offload processor.
  • IBM in the shape of the legacy PCIe SSD product line acquired from Texas Memory Systems - but which is not yet being marketed. Like Virident - the TMS SSD is scalable, and offloads the host CPU. Unlike Virident - the TMS SSD doesn't have a strong software platform. That's one of the things which IBM is working on.
  • Micron - Like Virident - Micron's SSD is scalable, and offloads from the host. Unlike Virident - and as a relative newcomer to the enterprise SSD market - Micron doesn't have a strong software platform. But that hasn't stopped Micron's SSDs being adopted by oems who have their own SSD software - for example EMC.
  • OCZ - Like Virident - OCZ has a strong software platform. Unlike Virident - OCZ's most successful enterprise PCIe SSDs didn't use its own controllers - but those from SandForce - which is now owned by SSD competitor LSI. Although OCZ has other potential suppliers of controllers for PCIe SSDs (including itself) - the lack of clarity about its future controller IP roadmap for PCIe SSDs is a weakness.
  • BiTMICRO (and future 3rd party PCIe SSDs based on its Talino SSD controller). - Like Virident - BiTMICRO has a large architecture controller which offloads from the host. Unlike Virident - BiTMICRO doesn't have anything much to offer in the way of software. But it's possible that future "Talino inside" vendors could pose realistic challenges to slots which are ideal markets for Virident style SSDs.
I haven't included in the above list - LSI - and you may think that deserves an explanation - given LSI's success in grabbing market share in the PCIe SSD market recently. The reason is that (at the time of writing this) LSI's own PCIe SSDs and software have been optimized for what I call entry level deployments in this market - which are optimized for users who mostly only need 1 fast-enough PCIe SSD in their server - rather than apps where every slot has a fast SSD.

I also haven't included Violin Memory in the above list. Why not? Based purely on the raw specifications of its PCIe SSD products Violin's product should be up there with Virident. But this product line is very new for Violin - and while Violin is a proven leader in the rackmount SSD market - it's unclear yet whether the company has what it really takes in the way of marketing resources and knowhow to build a successful PCIe SSD business.

See also:- the survivor's guide to enterprise SSDs

Earlier Who's who in SSD? profile for Virident - December , 2011

Virident shipped its first PCIe SSDs in June 2010.

And you might think that maybe the company could mention "PCIe SSDs" when it comes to rewriting its company profile - instead of that "SCM" vagary - which is their text at the top of this page.

It's not uncommon for tech companies to retain an early version of their company description - written by their founders - as some form of holy writ - for years after it has ceased to have any valid meaning or connection to what they do.

When I spoke recently to Shridar Subramanian - Virident's VP product marketing - the first thing I put to him was - that in some ways in the past year - the company had given me the impression of still being mentally rooted partly back in stealth mode.

I had found it difficult to extract details about the internals of their SSD architecture so I could share them with my readers (although I had made some educated guesses).

"That's all going to change now" he said - because the company had invested a lot more resources into marketing communications and into writing assets for its web site as part of the work leading up to the launch of its new FlashMAX PCIe SSD family.

To lend weight to my argument about the value of communicating more openly about SSD architecture - I made the point that the mouse site's readers are serious minded people and probably included most of the people they would be trying to reach out to as potential customers.

He laughed and said - "I've been reading StorageSearch. myself to learn about the SSD market for many years - even from the time before I joined Virident. So tell me what you want to know. And I'll get you the information."

And he was as good as his word - following through with a technical briefing and tons of follow up material some of which I'm still digesting and which will appear in other places on this site.

But before going into any of that - a completely unexpected twist for me was some background which helps to explain the vague wording in the company's own version of its profile - and which also helps to explain why some parts of their design are the way they are today.

He said the first product which Virident designed was a non volatile module for servers which fitted into regular RAM DIMMs but used NOR flash managed by their own design of controller.

I said I was aware that NOR flash had mostly been used in mobile phones but hadn't been adopted in computer SSDs - which all used NAND.

He said the advantages of NOR compared to NAND at that time were simpler random access and much faster read latency (about 5x).

The disadvantage of NOR was slower erase-write.

Despite that, however, Virident had designed a memory management system which overcame most of the write limitations of the NOR - and had very good application performance.

But when the Credit Crunch hit the world economy in 2008 - one of the casualties was the NOR chip line from Spansion which Virident had designed into their product. So the company went back to the drawing board to start again. This time to design a PCIe SSD - and using the popular SSD market choice of NAND flash.

"But because we had already solved the problems of slow write performance in the NOR technology our architecture was giving even better comparative results with NAND."

Shridar said Virident's goal at the outset was to design a low server footprint enterprise flash SSD which would give sustained and predictable performance over the full spectrum of variable loads that occur in storage apps - and wouldn't drop off a performance cliff when dealing with small vs large blocks, queue depths, capacity utilization etc.

Here are some of the features:-
  • small form factor - 1/2 length, 1/2 height
  • skinny RAM flash cache (tiny amount of on-board RAM) and only 1GB approx of server RAM used to support 1TB of flash
  • big architecture - the card's controller can keep 256 flash memory chips active at the same time - doing R/W garbage collection etc.
  • legacy architecture - the product has been designed to operate comfortably with software that's already out there and doesn't need to be tweaked or rewritten to work optimally with their product.
  • non blocking R/W - due to wide (many parallel data lanes) flash-aware RAID architecture - to help maintain steady performance.
From my perspective editing - one of the fundamental differences I see in PCIe SSD companies - even when they market similar sounding products - is explained by the background and leanings of the founders and designers.

Are they coming at it from a background in semiconductor technology, CPU design, software or storage architecture?

It looks like Virident views itself as being a dependable enterprise storage company.

Its products haven't been adjusted to shine in any particular hand picked industry benchmarks. They are intended to work steadily and reliably without fuss or surprises coping year after year with any of the demands which users' changing needs may throw at them.

We''ll be reading a lot more about how that positioning stacks up in the months to come. In the meantime... if you want to read more - you might want to take a look at my past mentions of Virident - here on and the company's own white papers etc on Virident's web site.

I currently talk to more than 300 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere - which are all profiled here on the mouse site.

I learn about new SSD companies every day, including many in stealth mode. If you're interested in the growing big picture of the SSD market canvass - StorageSearch will help you along the way. Many SSD company CEOs read our site too - and say they value our thought leading SSD content - even when we say something that's not always comfortable to hear. I hope you'll find it it useful too.

earler editor's comments:- November 2011

Virident's positioning is that it aims to provide consistent enterprise performance (relative to the variables of block size, how full the SSD is etc) rather than a product which has speed spikes which vary across dimensions and time. (Attacking the weaknesses in older models from Fusion-io.)

Virident isn't unique in having spike free flash SSD performance - Violin's SSDs have always had it, Texas Memory Systems's RamSan-70 delivers it too.

Achieving balanced spike-free acceleration in flash SSDs is done at the design stage from an optimal mix of big vs small architecture, skinny vs fat cache, ratio of over-provisioning, optimizing the RAID for flash (for performance and reliability), using fast controllers and integration with SSD virtualization software.

But performance smoothness and enterprise features come at a price. Virident's new MLC PCIe SSDs cost 4x as much per terabyte as "workstation" grade PCIe SSDs from OCZ - for example (based on prices in November 2011.)

If you're looking at products from Virident you may also think about products from these other companies:- Fusion-io, Texas Memory Systems, STEC, OCZ and LSI
Virident mentions in recent SSD market history

In June 2010 - Virident Systems announced the immediate availability of its tachIOn - a fast PCIe SSD using SLC flash - with 800MB/s sustained R/W throughput, 200K sustained random IOPS (320K peak) and capacity options of 200 / 300 / 400GB.

Aimed at the enterprise acceleration market - the tachIOn's data intergity features include end to end error correction. Endurance is quoted as 24 years at 5TB writes / day.

In September 2009 - disclosed that search volume for PCIe form factor SSDs had surpassed that for 2.5" SSDs for the 1st time something I called - "A tsunami warning event for SSD vendors addressing the enterprise server acceleration market."

In August 2010 - Virident Systems announced the signing of a reseller agreement with Appro for Virident's tachIOn drive.

In November 2010 - Virident Systems announced that it has closed a new round of funding led by Sequoia Capital.

In December 2010 - An article on discussed the write performance of a Virident tachIOn card which was measured at various percentages full. The author - Vadim Tkachenko - says "Virident's card maintains very good throughput level in close to full capacity mode, and that means you do not need to worry ( or worry less) about space reservation or formatting card with less space."

In April 2011 - Virident Systems announced that working with SGI they demonstrated 1 million IOPS performance in a 1U server rack using just 2 of its tachIOn PCIe SSDs at a system list price of less than $.05 per IOPS.

In June 2011 - Virident Systems announced that it has been chosen as a winner of the Red Herring Top 100.

"I am pleased to see the industry recognize the advances in our storage technology and understand the market opportunity that Virident has," said Vijay Karamcheti, co-founder and CTO, who gave the winning presentation at the Red Herring Top 100 ceremony. "We have an excellent team here, we are backed by top investors, and we continue to get positive feedback from both customers and OEMs. It is going to be a great year for us."

Also Virident Systems was one of several compatible companies named in FlashSoft's launch of its auto tiering SSD software.

In August 2011 - Virident's Director of Systems Engineering - Shirish Jamthe presented a paper at the Flash Memory Summit called - a Close Look at PCIe SSDs (pdf) which gives you some idea of their thinking.

In November 2011 - Virident Systems announced it has completed a $21 million Series C funding bringing its total equity funding to $50 million. The company also launched its first MLC based PCIe SSD - the FlashMAX MLC - with 1.4TB RAID protected (7+1) capacity and 1.4 Million IOPS with 20 microseconds latency. (1TB MSRP $13,000)

In August 2012 - Virident Systems announced it will ship a new generation of fast PCIe SSDs in September. FlashMAX II (pdf) has upto 2.2TB usable RAID protected MLC capacity, 103K random R/W IOPS (4kB 70:30 mix), and 1.1 million random read IOPS (512B), and <80µS random read latency (4kB) in a ½ length, low profile form factor.

In January 2013 - Seagate made a strategic equity investment in Virident as part of a new collaboration agreement which includes remarketing Virident's PCIe SSDs and working together to design new SSDs for the enterprise market. Virident Systems also announced that its FlashMAX II family had achieved VMware Ready status.

In October 2013 - HGST completed the acquisition of Virident which ha been announced in September 2013 for approximately $685 million in cash.
"Virident's FlashMAX is the fastest PCIe SSD we've tested when caching with our software... faster than Fusio-io."
Duncan McCallum, CEO of VeloBit talking to the editor of in May 2012.
SSD ad - click for more info
Virident speeds up telco billing queries
Editor:- June 19, 2012 - That legacy versus new dynasty thing as a way of viewing different SSD companies - is illustrated in a quote from a customer of Virident Systems - mentioned in a press release today.

"We needed to eliminate the disk-drive bottleneck without changing the architecture of the billing system or the customer-care interface," said David Fruin, VP of engineering at Vail Systems - a conferencing technology services provider - which processes more than 48 million billing records a day on Microsoft SQL Server.

Vail Systems improved their response times by an order of magnitude and more than doubled their ability to handle more customers by using Virident's FlashMAX PCIe SSDs to accelerate their systems "without requiring any other changes".

Editor's comments:- "SSDs accelerate telco system" stories are as old as the hills.

But what's interesting about this example from Virident is it shows that PCIe SSDs can do useful work in high availability environments which are usually regarded as the exclusive domain of SAN based SSDs.
SSD silos article Those PCIe OR rackmount SSD use case distinctions aren't as rigid as some people think.
the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs?
Are you trying to shortlist flash SSD accelerators according to comparative benchmark tests?

If so the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help to take some of the pressure off you. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
the 3 fastest  PCIe SSDs  - click to read article But in this case you'd be wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) the article
Virident and NEC publish new Oracle IOPS benchmark
Editor:- February 14, 2012 - Virident Systems recently published some benchmark results related to the Oracle application accelerator market.

The system was a single Intel Xeon family based (8x 10-core CPU) NEC Express5800/A1080a "GX" server - which had 8x 1.4TB FlashMAX PCIe SSDs installed - (11TB total) . The integrated solution delivered 1.2 million random IOPS and a bandwidth of 9.4 GB/s in real-world Oracle 8k block-size workloads.

Brian Garrett, VP at ESG Lab - the company which did the testing for NEC and Virident said - Our evaluations of (the products in this system) have revealed that they can eliminate the performance issues common to real-world workloads and deliver extremely high levels of sustained and predictable performance for mixed-application workloads. Virident has addressed the challenges associated with many first-generation PCIe flash devices with the multi-dimensional performance capabilities of its FlashMAX SCM. Most notably, the Virident solution delivers extremely high levels of performance for reads, writes, and a mix of reads and writes.

Editor's comments:- the PCIe SSD market has become the incubator and market proving ground for nearly all the major new advances in high performance SSD architecture and associated memory management. And from time to time all the leading vendors publish new benchmarks to demonstrate just what you can achieve with their products. Although I've warned before about placing too much reliance on any single set of benchmark results - it's interesting to see who is doing how many IOPS with whom and in what context.
flash wars in enterprise SSDs
When flash SSDs started to be used as enterprise server accelerators in 2004 - competing RAM SSD makers said flash wasn't reliable enough.

RAM SSDs had been used for server speedups since 1976 - and in 2004 they owned the enterprise market. (Before 2004 - flash SSDs weren't fast enough and had mostly been used as rugged storage in the military and industrial markets - and in space constrained civilian products such as smartphones.)

By 2007 it was clear that the endurance of SLC flash was more than good enough to survive in high IOPS server caches. And in the ensuing years the debate about enterprise flash SSDs shifted to MLC - because when systems integrators put early cheap consumer grade SSDs into arrays - guess what happened? They burned out within a few months - exactly as predicted.

Since 2009 new controller technologies and the combined market experience of enterprise MLC pioneers like Fusion-io and SandForce have demonstrated that with the right management - MLC can survive in most (but still not all) fast SSDs.

Now as we head into 1X nanometer flash generations new technical challenges are arising and MLC SSD makers disagree about which is the best way to implement enterprise MLC SSDs.

Which type of so called "enterprise MLC" is best? Can you believe the contradictory marketing claims? Can you even understand the arguments? (Probably not.)

And that's why marketing is going to play a bigger part in the next round of enterprise SSD wars as SSD companies wave their wands and reveal more about the magic inside their SSD engines to audiences who don't really understand half of what they're being told.
click to read article Unlike the Cola Wars - you can't take the risk of a bad enterprise MLC SSD taste test. the article

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WD acquires Virident
Editor:- September 9, 2013 - it was announced today that Virident Systems will be acquired by WD's enterprise SSD subsidiary - HGST for approximately $685 million in cash.

Editor's comments:- Virident is a Top 10 SSD company with its own big architecture SSD controller technology, and a market proven symmetrically scalable enterprise PCIe SSD compatible product line.

The signs that Virident was behaving like a company which might be imminently acquired (by someone) started to become clear 2 months ago. However, if anyone had put bets on who that likely acquirer would be - the most probable name which would have come up in such conversations would have been Seagate.

Following on the heels of an enterprise SSD marketwide acquisition binge in recent months - this latest move suggests that HGST will be appearing in rather more enterprise SSD shortlists than before.

It also confirms - if you had any doubts about it - that the main reason for WD wanting to acquire Stec recently - had little or nothing to do with Stec's weak PCIe SSD product line.
LinkedIn uses Virident SSDs
Editor:- August 28, 2013 - Virident Systems today announced that LinkedIn is a customer of its PCIe SSDs.

Editor's comments:- In the early days of the SSD market it was usual for SSD companies and their customers to be secretive about their relationships - especially when users were getting spectacular commercial results from using SSD acceleration.

Typically users would tell me - they didn't want their competitors knowing how they had achieved what they were doing using SSDs.

And in those days vendors were mostly secretive about the identity of their customers too - because they had invested high costs in educating users about SSDs and having done that didn't want their known competitors knocking on SSD-friendly doors.

Now everyone has heard about SSDs (as near as makes any difference) - and the SSD education problem for vendors has shifted to being - that potential customers learned about SSDs from someone else. - So that means SSD vendors have to adapt their sales message to fitting into the SSD schema and market frameworks which customers already have in their heads - rather than assuming they will be regarded as the font of all SSD wisdom.

And another thing which changed in the market in recent years - as more SSD companies aspired to IPOs, VC investments or being acquired - is that vendors love to talk about their customers - and what they're doing - even if it's just the same old "new SSD was better / faster/ cheaper than my old vintage RAID" story.

Several years ago Texas Memory Systems used to circumvent some of their customer reticence by hinting - if you use any of the big internet shopping sites you were probably using their SSDs.

This narrative trend was continued to another level later by Fusion-io who used to say - if you use the internet at all - then some of your data may be passing through their ioDrives.

It would be relatively easy to construct a list of the top internet sites and then attach brand names of the SSDs they had been known (or suspected) of using in their server infrastructure. But why bother? A randomly generated list - picked from the Top SSD Companies Lists - might be nearly as accurate. It's impossible to do anything worthwhile efficiently with vast amounts of data in a timely fashion without using SSDs.
Virident names SAS SSD veteran as new VP Engineering
Editor:- July 9, 2013 - Virident Systems today announced the appointment of a new VP of Engineering - Mark Delsman - who had formerly held similar positions in both SanDisk and Pliant.

See also:- SAS SSDs
Virident betas remote PCIe SSD sharing
Editor:- February 21, 2013 - Virident Systems recently announced beta availability of a new software suite - called FlashMAX Connect - which enables low latency shared server-side storage and high availability when used with the company's range of PCIe SSDs.

"We're entering the era of 'pervasive flash' in the web and enterprise data centers. However, until today, such a transformation was not possible due to the lack of availability of critical software features," said Mike Gustafson, CEO of Virident. "...The FlashMAX Connect suite is a significant initial step in actualizing the Virident vision - to enable pervasive flash and performance storage on the server side."

Editor's comments:- it's long been known within the SSD industry that these features have been in the pipeline - because they're based on support at the PCIe switch chip level - as described at this video - PCIe in enterprise SSD designs by PLX.
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Seagate invests in Virident's big SSD architecture
Editor:- January 28, 2013 - Seagate today announced it has made a strategic equity investment in Virident as part of a new collaboration agreement which includes remarketing Virident's PCIe SSDs and working together to design new SSDs for the enterprise market.

"Seagate is thrilled to team with Virident, a technology leader in one of the fastest growing markets in enterprise and cloud computing," said Gary Gentry, senior VP and GM, Solid State Drives at Seagate. "Together, we are working to develop the next-generation hardware and software solutions in the PCIe space."

Editor's comments:- it was obvious a year ago that Seagate's earlier marriage of SSD IP convenience with LSI wasn't going to last long or remain monogamous - as LSI and Seagate would be competing for the same oem design slots in the enterprise market and furthermore LSI's small architecture SandForce controller isn't efficient for multi-petabyte scale fast SSD installations. (And in the consumer market LSI didn't have the adaptive controller IP - which is what led to Seagate's stake in DensBits)

Virident - a top 10 SSD company - has a roadmap scalable big architecture enterprise SSD controller and drive family which has been developed in a cleanroom environment - where all the critical IP has been devleoped by the company.

The obvious gap in the Seagate / Virident product line is a 2.5" removable PCIe SSD (to compete with Micron) - and it's a no brainer to see that Seagate's experience with this form factor - coupled with Virident's SSD design skills could quickly result in viable products for this new market - which will replace upto 25% of the projected market for fast SAS drives.
SSD benchmarks and broccoli
Editor:- December 14, 2012 - Virident Systems recently published the results of a survey of 145 enterprise IT professionals regarding their requirements for flash-storage purchases. to see graphical summary (pdf)

Among other things:-50% said they have difficulty finding benchmarking tools to accurately evaluate flash-storage performance.

Of these respondents, 41% find it difficult to recreate close representations of real-world application environments, 39% indicate existing benchmark tools do not accurately represent real-world application workloads, and 20% do not believe benchmark tools exist.

Editor's comments:- 4 years ago I published an article - Can you trust flash SSD specs & benchmarks? - and I've updated it from time to time over the years - so it's become a diary of market responses to this issue of benchmark authority.

I know from my conversations with Virident that their (not so) hidden agenda with performance benchmarks is that their product is benchmark agnostic and maintains good performance and age symmetry across a wide range of workloads you can throw at it. That's why they would like the industry to adopt a set of more revealing benchmarks which they have developed. But you can understand the resistance to that idea. I wrote about the problem that different SSDs look best in different benchmarks in - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list or is it really lists?

I think this problem is going to stay with us for many more years. That's because - even if every SSD vendor agreed that a given benchmark was the most valid today - there are many new technology and architectural features creeping into SSDs which could introduce new weaknesses and vulnerabilities which don't show up on current tests.

And that's before you even introduce apps and software related optimizations. Customers may say - I don't care if this SSD's performance drops off in an application which I don't have - because it's the best in the app I use on most.

It always comes back to better SSD user education - and the ability to pick out the points which are salient to your situation and ignore stuff which may be more important to someone else. Even if it's good for you - not everyone likes broccoli.
Virident's PCIe SSDs VMware Ready
Editor:- January 14, 2013 - Virident Systems today announced that its FlashMAX II family has achieved VMware Ready status.
Virident ships FlashMAX II
Editor:- November 28, 2012 -Virident Systems today announced the general availability and shipping of its previously unveiled FlashMAX II - (fast enterprise PCIe SSDs) which support Linux, Windows, and VMware ESXi and VDI environments. Pricing starts at $6,000.
former BlueArc CEO, leaves HDS to steer Virident
Editor:- September 20, 2012 - Confidence about the prospects for flash in the enterprise, and a firm conviction that Virident is a key player which will make a difference to the enterprise SSD market - set the tone of the conversation I had on Monday with the company's new CEO Mike Gustafson who was a few days into his new job and briefing me on Virident's announcement yesterday about his new appointment and the company's $26 million in Series D Funding. ...more in SSD news
"PCIe SSDs have already established a firm place in the market. But with industry co-operation and emerging new standards - they could also find a new role as storage class memory."
Flash Drives: Block Storage or Memory? (pdf) - by Tony Roug, Director Solution Architecture - Virident Systems - (August 2012) - presentation at the Flash Memory Summit
FlashMAX is FlashSoft compatible
Editor:- August 27, 2012 - Virident's PCIe SSDs are supported by SanDisk's FlashSoft auto-caching software - it was announced today.

The companies say this collaboration includes sales, joint testing and validation programs, and support and services assistance.
Virident's new FlashMAX II
Editor:- August 9, 2012 - Virident Systems recently announced it will ship a new generation of fast PCIe SSDs in September.

FlashMAX II (pdf) has upto 2.2TB usable RAID protected MLC capacity, 103K random R/W IOPS (4kB 70:30 mix), and 1.1 million random read IOPS (512B), and <80S random read latency (4kB) in a length, low profile form factor.

Editor's comments:- I spoke to Shiva Shankar at Virident about the new product and the PCIe SSD market.

Virident sees this type of SSD as heading towards a distinctly different storage tier - and that's the direction of their software focus - even though in the present market the products have been designed so they can drop in and work with legacy storage software and VMs with minimum fuss.

From the design and marketing positioning point of view Virident has always placed great emphasis on application type symmetry and scalability symmetry. Shiva told me their performance scales linearly. That means if you have 8 PCIe slots and install upto 8 of the new FlashMAX modules - the available application performance will be Nx what you would predict from the single module results.

Virident also say that their performance doesn't degrade significantly over the lifetime of the product. They call this "Infrastructure Predictability" - and say it's on the order of 1%.

In contrast - the performance drop off in some competing enterprise flash SSDs can be more like 20% to 30%. (This is a vulnerability in some flash SSD designs which has also been mentioned by STEC - as an argument in favor of their CellCare technology.

I asked Shiva if Virident uses adaptive DSP ECC techniques in its SSDs - and (as I expected) he said "no" (because it's a technique which has been deployed mostly to improve the cost of fast-enough enterprise SSDs (and components) - whereas Virident is in the fast end of the market spectrum.

Virident specifically says that its new product is 2x as fast as a well known competitor. I've heard many such claims before.

See also:- the 3 fastest flash PCIe SSDs
"Virident's SSDs demonstrate the value of reducing technology implicit biases in SSD design symmetries."
...from:- the Top 10 SSD Companies - in 2012 Q1
"...what flash SSD users get most confused about is the fact that most SSDs on the market show markedly different behavior depending on whether or not the device is filled to capacity and what background activities are ongoing..."
Vijay Karamcheti, CTO, Virident ...from his white paper:- Delivering High Sustained Performance with Enterprise Class Reliability (pdf)

"The 1st generation of NAND Flash-based SSDs were typically advertised as delivering extremely high read and write bandwidths, particularly compared to disk subsystems. However, what most users experience is lower than advertised bandwidth on the smaller block sizes that typically motivate use of SSDs.

"On such block sizes, not only is the peak performance lower, but perhaps more disconcerting to most users is the fact that performance varies with usage patterns, - over time, and with mixed read-write requests of the form typically encountered in I/O intensive applications.

"...Over the last few years, the user community has grown increasingly aware of these performance variations and the need for different benchmarking methodologies, both of which have led to the current skeptical view of the benefits such devices can bring to real-world application workloads." more (pdf) (looks at the root causes and explains how Virident designed an SSD architecture which doesn't have the same problems)