The Micron QLC SSD – No Surprises Here

Progression of SSDsLast Monday, May 21, Micron introduced the industry’s first QLC SSD for enterprise applications.  Micron’s press release is HERE.

Although this is a laudatory feat, the industry has been headed in this direction for a number of years.  In fact, this was the subject of a presentation that I made to the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) during its Winter Symposium in January 2014.

The slide in which I discussed this appears as this post’s graphic.  (Click on it to see a larger rendition.)  This table attempted to illustrate that all SSDs were headed towards TLC (and implicitly QLC) over the long term despite the fact that naysayers persistently argued that this could never happen.  It looks at attitudes over history and considers the fact that things that the industry said could “Never” happen ended up eventually becoming the mainstream technology.

Since I live, eat, and breathe Continue reading

New Approach to Portable Storage

Blood DriveAccording to confidential information disclosed to The SSD Guy, the US military has made several advancements in a novel approach to provide soldiers, sailors, and aviators with portable storage that cannot be lost or stolen.

Consider the difficulty faced by the armed forces: Confidential information is now a part of every enlisted person’s mission, yet that data, if stored on an external HDD, USB flash drive, or flash card, could fall into the hands of an adversary.  How can the military prevent this from happening?

The solution is ingeniously simple.  Iron in any form can be magnetized, and magnetization is the most common of all ways to store data bits: It’s used in tape and hard drives, which, combined, account for more than 90% of all data storage today.

The human body has plenty of iron, traveling though its veins in the blood stream.

The military’s approach is to magnetize the Continue reading

Kaminario Adopts Software-Only Business Model

Jay KramerKaminario recently decided to adopt a “software-centric” business model, rather than sell all-flash arrays as the company has done since its inception.  The company says that this will allow it “to streamline operations, while focusing its resources on continued software innovation,” acknowledging that the change: “represents a strategic business model shift for Kaminario.”

Hardware support for existing and future Kaminario customers will be provided by Tech Data, which Kaminario’s release tells us is the world-leading end-to-end distributor of technology products, services, and solutions.

Jay Kramer of Network Storage Advisors, a friend of The SSD Guy recently provided me with some valuable insights on Kaminario’s restructuring and has allowed me to share them here.  Jay is a recognized technology consultant specializing in the network storage industry.

Here’s what Jay has to say Continue reading

NVDIMM Report Now Available

I am proud to share the release of a new Objective Analysis report detailing the nonvolatile dual inline memory module (NVDIMM) market.  Titled: “Profiting from the NVDIMM Market,” this report explains the What, How, Why, & When of NVDIMMs, and forecasts the market through 2021.

Readers are aware that I have been watching this market for some time, and never really know whether I should post about NVDIMMs in The SSD Guy or in The Memory Guy, since the boundary between memory and storage is bridged by these products.  My solution: publish posts about this report in both blogs!

According to the Objective Analysis NVDIMM market model the NVDIMM market can be expected to reach nearly 12 million units by 2021, representing a 105% average annual growth rate.  The forecast methodology used for this model has provided some of the semiconductor business’ most consistently-accurate forecasts.  The report, which includes this forecast, was the result of thorough research into the technology and the circumstances that led to the introduction of NVDIMMs, NVDIMM vendor and user interviews, and briefings from those standards bodies that are diligently working to provide timely support for this new technology.

This in-depth 80-page analysis explores the Continue reading

WDC: No SSD/HDD Crossover

WDC HDD vs NAND Price per GB 10X GapThose who have been reading posts on The SSD Guy blog for some time have often heard me explain that SSD prices will not fall below HDD prices anytime soon.  Last week Western Digital shared a roadmap that shows that we can expect for there to be a sizeable price gap between the two technologies at least through 2028.

Let me stop for a moment to point out that Western Digital Corp, or WDC, no longer has any reason to take sides in the HDD vs. SSD battle now that the company has acquired SanDisk, a leading SSD maker.  Even before that, WDC’s HGST business has been the market leader in SAS SSDs for a number of years.  WDC doesn’t take sides in arguments about SSDs vs. HDDs.  Instead the company stands ready to sell whichever one the customer finally decides to use.

This post’s graphic comes from a chart that WDC used on October 11 when introducing its new MAMR head technology, which the company expects to propel HDD capacities up, and HDD price per terabyte down, for a number of years.  To create this chart WDC’s HDD team joined forces with the SanDisk flash team to project both HDD and NAND price per terabyte for the next 11 years.  The most important conclusion is that Continue reading

Comparing SSDs to Tomatoes

TomatoA few years ago The SSD Guy posted an analogy that Intel’s Jim Pappas uses to illustrate the latency differences between DRAM, an SSD, and an HDD.  If we look at DRAM latency to be a single heartbeat, then what happens when we scale that timing up to represent SSDs and HDDs?  How many heartbeats would it take to access either one, and what could you do in that time?

I still think it’s a pretty interesting way to make all these latency differences easier to understand.

Just recently I learned of a Rich Report video of a 2015 presentation in which Micron’s Ryan Baxter uses a different and equally interesting analogy based on tomatoes.

Tomatoes aren’t the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about SSDs, but this video may change my way of thinking!

The tomato slide, 9:30 into the presentation, is Continue reading

Getting the Most from Data Center SSDs

2017-09-19 Calypso Real World Workload TestMy friend and associate Eden Kim of Calypso Systems has published a new white paper on real workloads for SSDs.

This is the company that has helped the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to develop performance tests for SSDs that get past the issues that plague SSD users: Yes, it does well when it’s new, but how will an SSD perform after a year or two of service?

Calypso has recently published a new White Paper entitled: Datacenter Server Real World Workloads.  This document analyzes real-life datacenter server workloads and performance to provide important insight into how an SSD might perform in actual environments rather than in synthesized workloads.  It compares data center class SSDs against SAS HDDs to take a lot of the guessing out of issues about IOPS requirements, endurance needs, and so forth by comparing the measured activity over 24 hours of a 2,000-outlet retail chain web portal running SQL.

The tests in the paper represent a Continue reading

An NVDIMM Primer (Part 2 of 2)

AgigA RamCardTwoThis post is the second of a two-part SSD Guy series outlining the nonvolatile DIMM or NVDIMM.  The first part explained what an NVDIMM is and how they are named.  This second part describes the software used to support NVDIMMs (BIOS, operating system, and processor instructions) and discusses issues of security.

Software Changes

Today’s standard software boots a computer under the assumption that the memory at boot-up contains random bits — this needed to be changed to support NVDIMMs.  The most fundamental of these changes was to the BIOS (Basic I/O Subsystem), the code that “wakes up” the computer.

The BIOS is responsible for detecting all of the computer’s hardware and installing the appropriate drivers, after which it loads the bootstrap program from the mass storage device into the DRAM main memory.  When an NVDIMM is used the BIOS must Continue reading

NGD’s New “In-Situ Processing” SSD

NGD In Situ graphicStart-up NGD Systems (formerly NxGenData) has just announced the availability of an SSD with in situ processing – that is, the SSD can actually process data rather than simply store it.  The new “Catalina 2” SSD is said to have the ability to run advanced applications directly on the drive.

NGD tells us that the SSD, which comes in both U.2 and AIC (PCIe add-in card) formats, is currently available for purchase.

If your memory is long enough you may recall that The SSD Guy wrote a post four years ago about something like this.  At the 2013 Flash Memory Summit Micron Technology delivered a keynote detailing a research project in which they reprogrammed SSDs so that each SSD in a system could perform basic database management functions.

Although Micron demonstrated significant advantages of using of this approach, nobody, not even Micron, has followed through with a product until now.

NGD briefed me and explained that the data explosion expected with the Internet of Things will not Continue reading

An NVDIMM Primer (Part 1 of 2)

NVDIMMs are gaining interest lately, so The SSD Guy thought it might be worthwhile to explain both what they are and how NVDIMM nomenclature works.

As I was writing it I noticed that the post got pretty long, so I have split it into two parts.  The first part explains what an NVDIMM is and defines the names for today’s three kinds of NVDIMM.  The second part tells about software changes used to support NVDIMMs in BIOS, operating systems, and even processor instruction sets.  It also discusses the problem of security.

In case the name is unfamiliar, NVDIMM stands for “Nonvolatile Dual-Inline Memory Module.”  Standard computer memory – DRAM – is inserted into the system in the DIMM form factor, but DRAM loses its data when power is removed.  The NVDIMM is nonvolatile, or persistent, so its data remains intact despite a loss of power.  This takes some effort and always costs more for reasons that will be explained shortly.

Although might seem a little odd to discuss memory in a forum devoted to SSDs, which are clearly storage, the NVDIMM is a storage device, so it rightly Continue reading