be the Flavor of the 2011 SSD Market? |
|Editor:- December 20, 2010 -
if you'd like to see a preview of SSD news in 2011 - I've started my -
List of 11
SSD market predictions for 2011 - in the
SSD Buyers Guide.
years these SSD market predictions have accurately anticipated the tone
of market twists and shifts.
How about other types of storage? If
you're new to the storage market - or just want to review what's been happening
in recent weeks and months - a good starting point is
- which includes archived news going back 10 years - with the main news story
for each week being the link to that week's news. And the history page goes back
much further than that - including milestones from my 20 years of publishing
storage buyers guides.
| why does
Lone Star SSD pioneer |
still favor Single Level Cell?
|Editor:- December 16, 2010 - I
recently interviewed Jamon Bowen,
Director of Sales Engineering for Texas Memory Systems
and asked him about the use of SSDs in financial applications like banks and
I started by saying that among enterprise SSD
makers - TMS now seems like one of the few companies which doesn't include
MLC in their server SSD product line.
Leading the MLC enterprise tide
- Fusion-io has
been pushing its MLC based
PCIe SSDs into server apps since
and since 2009
been offering its SSD oem partners (now numbering over 20 companies) an
technology which manages
to a degree which enables
IOPS SSDs using MLC - to last for 5 years. And more recently - in September
2010 - a year after shipping its first enterprise SLC only SAS SSDs -
reacted to market demand and started offering customers MLC variants.
I asked Jamon Bowen - what's going on? What's TMS policy about MLC SSDs?
said I was right in thinking that the company doesn't ship any MLC SSDs. Its
market is at the high end of the SSD performance range. As a company - he said
TMS has evaluated and used more types of memory technology than anyone else in
the market. And they have also evaluated consumer grade MLC.
mentioned several related reasons for not using MLC right now in their SSD
He said current consumer grade MLC nand flash has endurance
on the order of 3,000 write cycles. Although it would be possible for TMS to
design an ASIC controller with heavy use of over provisioning and parallelism
(which would cut down the average latency and extend SSD life) the cost of doing
this - at the high end of the performance spectrum (and in the
legacy SSD market
where the flash management is transparently offloaded from the host) - would
nibble away at the native cost advantages of the cheaper MLC. He said the end
result would be a rackmount MLC SSD that was only 50% cheaper than using SLC.
And another problem would be that the company's burn-in process (done for QA as
part of manufacturing) would use up 10% of the endurance life before the SSD
even reached the customer.
Bowen said that new types of so called "enterprise
MLC flash" - which use enhanced cell programming circuitry in the chip
design - might shift the balance of the viability equation. He said that
customers would not see consumer grade MLC based SSDs from TMS in the next
couple of years. On the other hand he said that TMS is interested in eMLC and
its engineering team can move quickly to bring products to the market.
I said I was surprised by
how popular -
articles about flash endurance - had become with the readers of
StorageSearch.com - considering that readers have to get engaged with
complexities to follow the arguments.
Jamon Bowen said if users were
fixated too much on wear out - they might not realize that other factors
in SSD design could contribute just as much or more to SSD failure.
the subject of SSD
technology education - in a follow up email Jamon Bowen suggested - "It
might be a worthwhile endeavor to start educating the reader base on the
difference between eMLC and MLC as I expect that across the market vendors will
be highlighting eMLC vs MLC in a similar way that SLC and MLC are compared
||In another part of this
interview I learned some surprising things about the state of the RAM SSD market
- including the fact that in some applications they are cheaper than flash. ...click to read the article|
|Fusion-io discusses MLC
SSDs in banks|
|Editor:- December 7, 2010 -
today announced that it has been
working closely with Credit
Suisse to integrate ioMemory SSDs with its
Execution Services trading platform to improve its data access performance,
maximizing the effectiveness of its low latency trading platform architectures.
Editor's comments:- trading banks using SSDs isn't new. So my initial
inclination was to ignore this news story. But I'm glad I didn't - because I
learned a lot when I spoke to Fusion-io's CEO
David Flynn yesterday.
asked David Flynn - what's your feedback from banks and financial customers
about the issue of MLC versus SLC (SSDs) in their critical financial apps. Is
it something which they say they have concerns about?
answers surprised me and I hope you find them interesting too.
MLC vs SLC
concerns in Fusion-io's financial customer base...
that their customers don't raise this as a concern. Over 80% of the SSDs
that Fusion-io has sold in the last couple of years have been MLC rather than
SLC - and he thinks that they probably have a bigger base of enterprise MLC SSDs
which has been operating longer in customer sites (upto 3 years) than any other
David Flynn said that while MLC poses technical challenges
Fusion-io's flash management architecture (some of which I have
before) provides high data integrity. For example - their SSDs don't lose
any data even if entire flash chips fail. That in itself isn't unique - but
something new to me was learning that their SSDs do data healing (just
like some of the high end RAM
He said that - in additional to real-time data integrity
checks - their SSDs do a weekly background read, verify, fix and rewrite
of the entire flash array to prevent
(Data can get corrupted in seldom used flash blocks due to charge leakage as
well as disturb errors
due to other write activities in the same chip. The data healing process ensures
that users don't have to over rely on the long term data retention
characteristics of the raw flash.)
I asked David Flynn what his view
was about data
recovery of flash SSDs. He confirmed my guess that most enterprise
customers don't need it - because they're doing backups. He also said he
didn't recall any cases where their own SSDs had suffered from
While on this subject we talked about the advantage
of SSD accelerated backup.
He said that a general problem for high work load customers using just hard
disk storage was that they couldn't extract data in real-time to do backups
because their user application performance would suffer.
||David Flynn said that a
beneficial side effect for many customers who used their SSDs was that they
could do backups about 6x faster and for many customers it was viable
to do backups while their servers were at peak user loads. |
|what's inside the SSD?
StorageSearch.com readers want to know even more!
|Editor:- December 6, 2010 -
listed the top 20 SSD articles (viewed by readers in November) on the
market research page.|
of the classic SSD
endurance article grew 48% year on year - making it the #1 most
popular article for the 1st time - and dislodging the previous encumbant
SSD Buyers Guide.
Reader interest in the nuances of technologies inside SSDs is
indicated by the upward creep of the
SSD controller page in
|SSD Data Recovery
Concepts & Methodologies|
|It's hard enough understanding the design
of any single SSD. And there are so
many different designs
in the market. |
Have you ever wondered what it looks like at the
other end of the SSD supply chain - when a user has a damaged SSD which
contains priceless data with no usable backup?
|SSDs - computer tonic
|The risk of flash SSD wear-out due to ineffective
endurance control is like that of influenza. |
Just because you've
already had it before - or been innoculated against the previous strain doesn't
mean you are invulnerable to what may happen in the next flash / flu
||A good way to think about
SSDs is like vitamin supplements or medicine for computers.
|Fast Purge SSDs when
|The need for fast and
secure data erase - in which vital parts of a flash SSD or its data are
destroyed in seconds - has always been a requirement in military projects.
|| Although many industrial
SSD vendors offer products with extended "rugged" operating
environment capabilities - and even
notebooks SSDs come
with encryption - it's the availability of fast data purge which
differentiates "truly secure" SSDs which can be deployed in
|this way to the Petabyte
|In 2016 there will be
just 3 types of
SSD in the datacenter.|
of them doesn't exist yet - the bulk storage SSD.
It will replace the
last remaining strongholds of
hard drives in the
datacenter due to its unique combination of characteristics, low running costs
and operational advantages.
||The new model of the
datacenter - how we get from here to there - and the technical problems which
will need to be solved - are just some of the ideas explored in this
|the Problem with
Write IOPS |
the "play it again Sam" syndrome
|Editor:- Flash SSD "random
write IOPS" are now similar to "read IOPS" in many of the
fastest SSDs. |
why are they such a poor predictor of application performance?
why are users still buying
RAM SSDs which cost
9x more than SLC? - even when the IOPS specs look similar.
||This article tells you
why the specs got faster - but the applications didn't. And why competing SSDs
with apparently identical benchmark results can perform completely
|There are many traditional storage
subjects like tape, optical, backup software, USB, FireWire etc which have
been pushed off our home page in the past year by increased SSD content. |
can still access these directories and articles using the search box above or by
going to our alternative
(1990s style) very graphical home page below.
10th anniversary theme...
New Dimensions Drive Digital
Jan 4 - 5, 2011 Riviera Convention Center, Las
|Top 20 SSD companies
- (quarterly edition)
|Editor:- Which companies do
you absolutely have to include in your thinking if you've got any new
projects involving SSDs?|
And which SSD companies are most likely
With hundreds of manufacturers already in the SSD
market - and hundreds
more soon to enter
- you have to know where you should prioritize your valuable time and
For more than 3 years
StorageSearch.com has published the
quarterly list of the Top 10 SSD companies - which has accurately predicted the
ebbs and flows of existing vendors and has been sensitive enough to recognize
the industry's new rising stars from the background noise of the
SSD bubble's hype.
editor or analyst
pick lists - this is based on the scientific method of tracking and analyzing
the search volume of the most important people who will decide the future of
the SSD market - the millions of people - who like you have been reading our SSD
Each edition of the list includes a list of the top companies
and a review an analysis of key SSD market milestones in that quarter. By
comparing successive listings you can also see - who is on the way up and who is
on the way down.
The listings have been recently expanded to include
the top 20 SSD companies.
||This gives you better
visibility of companies are hot on the heels of the leaders in top market
management in flash SSDs|
|This is an introduction to the thinking behind
one of the many vital functions inside a flash
media defect quality in new flash memory chips has grown steadily worse in the
past 10 years as geometries have shrunk.
||This article enumerates
the scale of the problem and explains how intrinsically dodgy flash memory
is transformed into dependable flash SSDs which you can entrust with your data.
|Are MLC SSDs Safe
in Enterprise Apps?|
| This is a follow up article to the
SSD Myths and
Legends which in
demolished the myth that flash memory wear-out (a comfort blanket beloved
RAM SSD makers at the
time) precluded the use of
SLC flash in heavy
Are MLC SSDs Safe? - has also become a classic
and very popular article. It looks at the risks posed by MLC Nand Flash SSDs
which - having hatched from their breeeding ground as
chip modules in
cellphones - have morphed and crept into
hard disk form
(where you aren't exactly aiming for a 99.999% uptime quality data
experience) MLC SSDs can be a good thing from the
cost point of view.
But in the datacenter?
First published in
article has been extensively updated in 2010 - to answer common reader
questions - and because the risks from newer MLC flash are even greater than
they were when the article originally appeared.
It starts down a
familiar lane but includes many technology twists. You'll realize that patching
the hole in the bottom of the leaking data bucket isn't much good - if the whole
bucket can tip over and splash your data beyond
ECC limits due
to factors which no SSD
controller guarantees to protect you from. That's because there's a lot
more to MLC data integrity risk than endurance!
|| Knowing what these risks are can help you
decide if your enterprise app is inside or outside the vulnerable to data
|SSD Pricing -
where does all the money go?|
|SSDs are among the most
expensive computer hardware products you will ever buy and comprehending the
factors which determine SSD costs is often a confusing and irritating
|| ...which is not made any
easier when market prices for apparently identical capacity SSDs can vary more
than 100x to 1!
Why is that? ...read the article to
|SSDs? - the overall
StorageSearch.com was the
world's 1st publication to provide continuous editorial coverage and analysis
of SSDs (in 1998) and in the years which have followed we've led the market
through many interesting and confusing times.|
||What's the big market
picture of the impact of SSDs? - and how big will the SSD market grow in the
next several years... This is all you need to know. ...click to read the