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from Cactus Technologies is about thought leadership in the SSD market and was the first publication to recognize and promote the tremendous disruptive growth potential of SSDs.

Since the 1990s our readers have been accelerating the growth of this market and setting its direction and agenda.

Yet despite many revolutionary changes in memory systems design and adoption in the past decade we are still not at the stage where it's possible to predict and plot the next decade as merely an incremental set of refinements of what we've got now.

finding SSD articles

The popular articles list is one way to find articles and ideas on StorageSearch. But "popular" isn't always newest or best for you.

Do you prefer site search? try these:- Baidu / Bing / Google

SSD headaches?

On a particularly bad day after reading a lot of conflicting blogs - you may be inclined to ask yourself:-
  • what do I really know about the SSD market?
  • what are my safe assumptions?
  • in the event of major conflicts of opinion, market data and differences of interpretation - who can I trust?
These ideas are explored in my classic blog - can you trust SSD market data?

If you've never had an SSD concept induced headache then you aren't reading enough.
3D nand fab yield - the nth layer tax?
The past year of memory shortages has highlighted that the manufacturability and yield of next generations 3D nand has been markedly different to the expectations set by past generations.

At some basic level more layers means more time in the fab. But how much longer?

And do memory analysts have to recalibrate their expectations about future memory generational successions?

In the 2D planar world we used to call them "shrinks". But the fattening of the silicon pizzas has not been going so well to plan. I explored these issues in a blog - 3D nand fab yield - the nth layer tax? (July 2017).

SSD news
M.2 SSDs
fastest SSDs
SSD controllers
what's inside SSD pricing?
history of SSD market (so far)
DWPD - examples from all markets
spinning down to hard drive's market retirement
sugaring flash for the enterprise - 2004 to 2017
recently in the SSD news archives
August 2017 New SSD controller company Burlywood emerged from stealth promising support for multi-sourced 3D TLC/QLC flash .
July 2017 Viking shipped 50TB planar MLC 3.5" SAS SSDs.
June 2017 Toshiba began sampling the world's first 64 layer QLC (x4) nand flash memory. The 768Gb chips were the highest density nvms available.
May 2017 Micron enters the rackmount SSD market.

Everspin's MRAM exits emerging status.
April 2017 IP-Maker released NVMe FPGA IP to enable use of enterprise performance SSDs in low wattage "no CPU" embedded systems.

Rambus said it was working with Microsoft on the design of prototype super cooled DRAM systems to explore avenues of improvement in latency and density due to physics effects below -180 C.
March 2017 Excelero - emerged from stealth.

Everspin began sampling an NVMe PCIe SSD based on its ST-MRAM.

Intel began sampling an NVMe PCIe SSD based on Micron's 3DXpoint memory.
February 2017 Tachyum emerged from stealth mode
January 2017 Pure Storage said the "new stack" is becoming the standard thing.

Crossbar announced it was sampling 8Mb ReRAM based on 40nm CMOS friendly technology.
December 2016 Violin sought bankruptcy protection.

4Gb MRAM prototypes unveiled by SK Hynix and Toshiba
November 2016 Silicon Motion announced the "world's first merchant SD 5.1 controller solution."
October 2016 Rambus announced it was exploring the use of Xilinx FPGAs in its Smart Data Acceleration research program.
September 2016 Everspin filed its IPO to expand MRAM
August 2016 Seagate previewed 60TB 3.5" SAS SSD

Nimbus demonstrates 4PB 4U HA AFA at FMS
July 2016 Diablo announced volume availability of its Memory1 128GB DDR4 DIMM
June 2016 Pure said its AFA revenue in Q1 2016 was more than leading HDD array brand
May 2016 efficiently coded memory architecture unveiled in systems by Symbolic IO

Encrip announces tri-state coded DRAM IP which can be used with any standard process
April 2016 Samsung began mass producing the industry's first 10nm class 8Gb DDR4 DRAM chips
March 2016 Cadence and Mellanox demonstrated PCIe 4.0 interoperability at 16Gbps.
February 2016 A Google field study of enterprise PCIe SSDs concluded it wasn't worth paying more for SLC reliability compared to MLC.
January 2016 Quarch said many SSDs fail their first hot plug design validation tests.

1.0" SSDs
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Zsolt Kerekes - (editor linkedin)

animal brands in SSD
The SSD market isn't scared of mice.

But mice aren't the only animals you can find in SSD brands.

There are many other examples of animal brands in SSD as you can see in this collected article.

And before the SSD market became the most important factor in the storage market there were also many animals to be found in other types of storage too.
.. is published by ACSL founded in 1991.

© 1992 to 2017 all rights reserved.

Editor's note:- I currently talk to more than 600 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere.

Most of these SSD companies (but by no means all) are profiled here on the mouse site.

I still learn about new SSD companies every week, 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.

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sauce for the SSD box gander

Nimbus enters SAS SSD controller market

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - August 10, 2017
sauce for the SSD box ganderIf you were to look at a web archived version of the list of SAS SSD makers here on you'd see that Nimbus Data Systems has been included in that list ever since 2010. That having been the result of a conversation I had with Nimbus's CEO and founder Thomas Isakovich in which he told me they made their own SSDs for use in their arrays.

As I remember it Tom's thinking was that they wanted the SAS SSDs to be well behaved fault-tolerant array citizens.

I must admit I had been wondering recently if I should edit the list on that page and prune it down from a list of historic SAS SSDs makers to a reduced list of current manufacturers - removing thereby in a few mouse clicks the placeholdings for such past illustrious names as Pliant, OCZ and of course Nimbus.

Storage history shows that such lists - like those of hard drive makers, or tape drive makers, or optical drive makers have a lifecycle which rapidly grows into double digits in the formative years of those markets and then in the twilight years shrinks down to maybe the last 2 or 3 companies who service such customers as still need those products. But it doesn't end there.

In circumstances where the cost of keeping old systems running is still worthwhile - as in the military market - there can even be an afterlife (upto many decades later) of software and plug compatible emulation drives which employ entirely different technologies.

Indeed many business articles and books have been written on the subject of analyzing the different profitability and competitive landscapes of technology market life cycles. Some companies - like startups - shine at the beginning - whereas other companies - prefer being at the tail end of such markets.

click to see directory of SAS SSD companies
Coming back to SAS SSDs...

So the announcement this week that Nimbus (otherwise better known for its multipetabyte capable rackmount SSD systems) was - in effect - entering the SAS SSD market as a 3.5" drive reference design supplier was not such a big surprise to me.

My first impression on seeing the headline was - this makes sense as a business plan for the same reasons that drive makers have entered the AFA business - because every kind of technology in the SSD market is now closely affected by other markets which were once thought to be segmentally distanced. (That was the big SSD market lesson of 2016.)

More interesting for me was the "aha! moment"- when it became clear that it was indeed Nimbus whose SSD controllers were at the heart of 2 recent (similar sounding but competing) high capacity SAS SSD product launches in recent weeks from Viking and SMART Modular.

Among other things Nimbus's announcement says...
  • Inside an ExaDrive-powered SSD, multiple ultra-low power ASICs exclusively handle error correction, while an intelligent flash processor provides wear-leveling and capacity management in software.
  • ExaDrive's software-defined architecture will enable SSDs as large as 500 TB by the year 2020.
  • 40 million nearline/high-capacity HDDs are shipped per year using the 3.5" form factor... ExaDrive-powered SSDs offer 5x the capacity of nearline HDDs in the same size and power budget.
  • ExaDrive supports up to 10 years of write endurance.
Nimbus has compiled an informationally interesting pdf - which describes its positiong compared to the 4 best known incumbent competitors in this market.

Editor's comments:- I'll be talking to Tom Isakovich, CEO Nimbus soon and will let you know what more I learn about this interesting fork in the company's business plan.

In the meantime I speculate thus:-

If the company plans to continue its ambitions in the SSD petabyte box business then offering the ExaDrive IP to other drive makers (as it has done) will provide greater shipment volume of its ASICs and software - which could reduce its own costs and improve Nimbus's competitiveness in the box market.

Another way of looking at it is that we've already seen other controller makers entering the SSD box market - for example InnoDisk with its AccelStor. And for reasons discussed in my classic enterprise consolidation article - we've already seen most of the flash memory makers (with the exception of Toshiba) - entering the SSD box market too.

So you might say what's sauce for the chip goose is sauce for the box gander.
sauce for the SSD box gander
The picture above is a close up of a painting which I call Lucky and the Chickens which was painted for me by Ken Turner in about 1998. I wrote about these feathery characters in storage news in 2007 - Lucky Goose and Attila the Hen.

Permalink and a longer version of this home page blog.

WoBlog not

whatever happened to ULLtraDIMM?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - August 1, 2017
As I recall it was 1980 when I first heard my boss use the disparaging remark "WOM" by which he meant "write only memory".

You might get the impression that some blogs are like that too. But even though we have all seen many examples of woblogs (wo being pronounced woe but maybe that's a value judgement).

ulltradimm image from the news archive on StorageSearch.comWoblogs undeniably exist - because we can see they have been written - but there is serious doubt that they were ever intended to be read by sentient humans. Instead woblogs - as the name suggests - are write only and the true audience is search engine robots and the marketing person who signs off the SEO blogging for hire and web advertising budget.

On this site my inclination - which is tempered by far too much time writing about an originally small but now big-bang-like expanding universe of such elementary memory particles which have been coalescing into planets which you can now buy and dataform - is to write not only about what's happening now, and soon and maybe a long time in the future - but also to reflect back at how things have turned out in the past.

A big event in the "soon to be happening" category is the Flash Memory Summit. (I'll say more about that later.)

But in the looking back and reflecting category... I was prompted this morning - after reading a blog by Jim Handy - who due to my past habit of making such lists I include in my list of rare breed of recommended SSD analysts - to ask whatever did really happen to ULLtraDIMM?

Is this a tale of woe? Or does the story have a happy ending? We spent a lot of time reading about that phase of SCM DIMM wars so it's good to form some kind of opinion about how it ended before things get more complicated. the article
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say farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs

this is not your Grandfather's industrial SSD market

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - June 13, 2017
say farewell to boringly predictable industrial SSDsThis blog began this morning as an update about - where we are with industrial M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs - but it grew into something else.

re industrial M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs etc

One of the new emerging markets for industrial temperature SSDs in 2017 is high performance NVMe PCIe SSDs in the M.2 form factor.

You can judge the newness and size of this market by the fact that when I researched the availability of production products in this category earlier this year I was only able to confirm 2 manufacturers with products:- Foremay and Virtium.

All the other industrial M.2 SSDs I found at that time were good old SATA.

I expressed my surprise about this in a news story in March 2017. The headline if you look it up was - M.2 PCIe SSDs for secure rugged applications?

Now - you may have been less surprised - because (apart from the applications need) you would rightly say that the other side of NVMe PCIe adoption is the availability of suitable industrial grade host resident controllers and server motherboards.

When you have enterprise grade throughput and IOPS aren't you also straying into the kind of power guzzling territory which is anathema to most industrial equipment designs? More power, more heat, less reliability - you know the score...

Well that circle was squared neatly in a news story in April 2017 - which I tagged with this headline - now Cinderella industrial systems with "no-CPU" budgets and light wattage footprints can go to the NVMe speed-dating ball.

The story was that about a new FPGA controller IP for industrial PCIe applications - from IP-Maker who claimed it could deliver enterprise performance while obviating the need for a watts guzzling processor. (Or sometimes any processor at all.)

And... just as interestingly the briefing notes in the news pack described some of the new applications which the new technology will help to make more feasible.

We know from experience that "applications notes" from controller and processor companies are often founded on wishful thinking rather than hard reality. And I expect that - given the imagination of systems designers - we may find that the biggest roles for industrial NVMe PCIe M.2 SSDs may be something entirely different.

The wishful thinking effect is also part of the fuel and inspiration for companies in the storage market research business. If you want numerical guesstimates for SSD shipments (to confirm or inform your own guesses) before you embark on your next SSD project that's a good place to look.

other changes coming

When looking at strands of upcoming change in the industrial SSD market - the embracing of high speed products is just one dimension. Other degrees of freedom I expect to report more about in news stories include:-
  • the use of much larger memories in IoT leveraging architecture and IP from phones and the cloud.

    This has been a long time in coming. And isn't here yet.

    I included this as a prediction for 2016. And 2 quarters later Marvell's FLC technology looked like an early match in that development stream. That was 1 of only 4 path lighting SSD technologies which I picked for a special mention at the end of 2016 which I had encountered across all SSD application markets - not just industrial.

    Don't expect too much too soon in tiered industrial memory, however. Even the better funded tiered memory market for the enterprise has been slower to ship products than expected due to a proliferation of competing solutions arising from the SCM DIMM wars market pulling in different directions and centered around multiple memory types.

    Some of the contenders in the enterprise nvm market may not even be suitable for industrial temperature operation yet (for example Micron's 3DX) whereas other nvms with high temperature remanence and possibly even good radiation resistance (such as Everspin's MRAM) haven't got the density (Gb per chip) to provide a complete solution and need to be supplemented by a tier of flash.
  • discarding the conventional industrial market wisdom and exclusive reliance on the "solo SSD".

    Industrial SSDs have traditionally been used as solo devices. This saves space and power but places great dependence on the reliability of each single SSDs. And you know what that does to the price.

    The enterprise learned decades ago that incorporating array concepts for self repair and reliability enables systems reliability to be created from architecture and management and doesn't depend critically on the reliability - or cost - of any single drive.

    But hey - they've got big racks and big power supplies and engineers (or robots) who hang around day 24x7 sipping coffee (or electricity) itching to plug in new upgrades and replace faulty modules.

    That's in contrast to the typical industrial market when space and budgets are tight.

    For the industrial market I think the array direction is a story which will unfold and change the industry during the next 10 years.

    It's easier to see how this would work at the high wattage and high data processed value end:- simply as the evolution of the mobile datacenter.

    But at the low wattage end - in cars and IoT feeds - it will require the integration of processors and persistent memory at the SoC level and entirely new product architectures.

    It may be that the array level industrial SSD will always have to be a custom device rather than a standard COTS product - because weighting the internal design factors in software repairable industrial drive arrays will be very applications dependent and a slippery moving target compared to the stark simplicity that if everything depends on a single solo industrial SSD then it had better be good.
One thing I can say for sure about the future of the industrial SSD market is that the industrial rugged world is everywhere - and as the world moves to being able to value data wherever it may originate or be needed - and as new memory technologies evolve and get proven from the high stakes enterprise casinos - we're going to see big revolutions coming in the traditionally staid and conservative industrial data systems market.

This will not be your grandfather's industrial SSD market.

And with SSDs everywhere it's likely that its importance in financial terms will grow too.

the Top SSD Companies - new edition

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - May 24, 2017

the top SSD oems The Top SSD Companies in Q1 2017 - was published recently by

This is the 40th quarterly edition in this market defining series.

Key factors in the background of the SSD market in this period were:-
  • The memory market was still in a boom cycle.
  • Toshiba's memory business was on the auction block.
  • From a technology viewpoint the SSD market was in preparation for the next big disruption of "big memory everywhere" and the the future memoryfication of the enterprise. the article
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Hmm... it looks like you're seriously interested in SSDs. So please bookmark this page and come back again soon.

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With so many things going on in the SSD and memoryfication markets the best of show award winners category at the annual Flash Memory Summit has - in past years - provided a useful way to filter interesting developments. And this year is no exception.
SSD news
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You can feel the Post Modernist Era of SSD in the air everywhere.

Momentum has been building during the past 4 years with signals coming from the appearance of memory channel SSDs, talk of in-situ SSD processing, and much practical rethinking about RAM architecture.

And as I indicated in an earlier article - All Flash Arrays - what next? (January 2017) - I think the next foreseeable staging point will be that storage becomes less relevant as a product and will instead become a supported legacy emulation concept within persistent memory systems.

What does that mean for CPUs?
optimizing CPUs for use with SSDs in the Post Modernist Era of SSD and Memory Systems
Is more always better?
The ups and downs of capacitor hold up in 2.5" military flash SSDs
The semiconductor memory business has wavered between under supply and over supply since the 1970s.
an SSD view of past, present and future boom bust cycles in the memory market
controllernomics - is that even a real word?
When storage was slower and memories were smaller and the software assumptions were much older and processors were more deferentially looked up to - all the controller designs in the data food chain looked good in comparison to the other devices surrounding them. But now a factor which I call "controllernomics" is the most important science which sets the limits to the quality of datasystems latency seen at the server motherboard level no matter how good the raw memory cell R/W times.

controllernomics benchmarks in flash tiered as RAM

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For me - the SSD companies which made me sit up and take notice because of the promise of better prospects for the SSD market implied by something new they did in 2016 were these...
4 shining companies which made me stop and think

Data recovery from DRAM?
I thought everyone knew that

I said to a leading NVDIMM company... This may be a stupid question but... have you thought of supporting a RAMdisk emulation in your new "flash tiered as RAM" solution?
what could we learn?

the dividing line between storage and memory is more fluid than ever before
where are we heading with memory intensive systems?

Some suppliers will quote you higher DWPD even if nothing changes in the BOM.
what's the state of DWPD?

Enterprise DRAM is the same latency now (or worse) than in 2000. The CPU-DRAM-HDD oligopoly optimized DRAM for a different set of assumptions than we have today in the post modern SSD era.
latency loving reasons for fading out DRAM

Why would any sane SSD company in recent years change its business plan from industrial flash controllers to HPC flash arrays?
a winter's tale of SSD market influences

In some ways the SSD market is like that village. It's not so long ago that no one even knew where it was.
Can you tell me the best way to get to SSD Street?

There's a genuine characterization problem for the SCM (storage class memory) industry.
is it realistic to talk about memory IOPS?

Many of the important and sometimes mysterious behavioral aspects of SSDs which predetermine their application limitations and usable market roles can only be understood when you look at how well the designer has dealt with managing the symmetries and asymmetries which are implicit in the underlying technologies which are contained within the SSD.
how fast can your SSD run backwards?

The enterprise SSD story...

why's the plot so complicated?

and was there ever a missed opportunity in the past to simplify it?
the elusive golden age of enterprise SSDs

Can you trust market reports and the handed down wisdom from analysts, bloggers and so-called industry experts?
heck no! - here's why

Why do SSD revenue forecasts by enterprise vendors so often fail to anticipate crashes in demand from their existing customers?
meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

the past (and future) of HDD vs SSD sophistry
How will the hard drive market fare...
in a solid state storage world?

Compared to EMC...

ours is better
can you take these AFA startups seriously?

Now we're seeing new trends in pricing flash arrays which don't even pretend that you can analyze and predict the benefits using technical models.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing

Reliability is an important factor in many applications which use SSDs. But can you trust an SSD brand just because it claims to be reliable in its ads?
the cultivation and nurturing of "reliability"
in a 2.5" embedded SSD brand

A couple of years ago - if you were a big company wanting to get into the SSD market by an acquisition or strategic investment then a budget somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion would have seemed like plenty.
VCs in SSDs and storage

Adaptive dynamic refresh to improve ECC and power consumption, tiered memory latencies and some other ideas.
Are you ready to rethink RAM?

90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
market consolidation - why? how? when?

With hundreds of patents already pending in this topic there's a high probability that the SSD vendor won't give you the details. It's enough to get the general idea.
Adaptive flash R/W and DSP ECC IP in SSDs

SSD Market - Easy Entry Route #1 - Buy a Company which Already Makes SSDs. (And here's a list of who bought whom.)
3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market

"You'd think... someone should know all the answers by now. "
what do enterprise SSD users want?

We can't afford NOT to be in the SSD market...
Hostage to the fortunes of SSD

Why buy SSDs?
6 user value propositions for buying SSDs

"Play it again Sam - as time goes by..."
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs

Why can't SSD's true believers agree upon a single coherent vision for the future of solid state storage?
More than 10 key areas of fundamental disagreement within the SSD industry are discussed in the classic article - the SSD Heresies.

There's one kind of market research report which you won't find listed on the website of any storage market report vendor - and that's a directory of all the other market research companies they compete with!

Here's my list - compiled from over 20 years of past news stories - which includes all categories of market research companies...
who's who in storage market research?

If you spend a lot of your time analyzing the performance characteristics and limitations of flash SSDs - this article will help you to easily predict the characteristics of any new SSDs you encounter - by leveraging the knowledge you already have.
flash SSD performance characteristics and limitations

The memory chip count ceiling around which the SSD controller IP is optimized - predetermines the efficiency of achieving system-wide goals like cost, performance and reliability.
size matters in SSD controller architecture

You'd think that it would be easy to compile a simple list of military SSD companies...
so why did I hesitate so long?

A popular fad in selling flash SSDs is life assurance and health care claims as in - my flash SSD controller care scheme is 100x better (than all the rest).
razzle dazzling flash SSD cell care

These are the "Editor Proven" cheerleaders and editorial meetings fixers of the storage and SSD industry.
who's who in SSD and storage PR?