Is an HDD/SSD Price Crossover Coming Soon?

Western Digital's 10TB Ultrastar He HDDThe SSD Guy was recently asked whether HDDs would continue, at least through 2019, to remain preferable to SSDs as cost-effective high-capacity storage.  The answer was “Yes”.

Longtime readers will note that I steadfastly maintain that HDD and SSD gigabyte prices are unlikely to cross for a very long time.  Historically, a gigabyte of NAND flash has cost between ten to twenty times as much as a gigabyte of HDD.  Let’s look at where Objective Analysis expects things to go by 2019.

Our current projections call for NAND price per gigabyte to reach 4.4 cents in 2019.  I would expect for HDD to still be 1/10th to 1/20th of that price.  Most likely 1/10th, since we expect for NAND flash to be in a significant oversupply at that time and will be selling at cost.

If HDD prices continue to hover around $50, then a 2019 HDD price of 0.44 to 0.22 cents per gigabyte (1/10th to 1/20th of the price of NAND flash) would imply an average HDD capacity of 11-23TB.

A couple of weeks ago, on December 2, 2015, Western Digital’s HGST introduced its Continue reading

3D XPoint Memory at the Storage Developer’s Conference

3D XPoint Report GraphicThis Sunday (Sept. 20, 2015) I will be presenting my company’s findings on the 3D XPoint memory that was introduced by Intel and Micron in July.  I will be speaking at the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Developer Conference (SDC) Pre-Conference Primer.  You can click the name  to be taken to the agenda.

This won’t be the only talk about persistent memory technology at the conference.  Prior to my presentation storage consultants Tom Coughlin and Ed Grochowski will give an overview of advances in nonvolatile memories, and following my presentation will be two Intel talks.

Intel will be covering this new technology a lot during the conference.  Of a total of 120 presentations at the conference and pre-conference primer, Intel will be presenting nine, seven of which directly name persistent memory or nonvolatile memory in the title.  Other firms will also be talking about NVM: AgigA, Calypso, HP, Pure Storage, and SMART Modular.  Even Microsoft alludes to it in a couple of its presentation titles.  Persistent memory is a hot issue.

So, the question for readers of The SSD Guy blog is: “Will this do away with SSDs?”

This is a question that was Continue reading

Comparing DWPD to TBW

TBW-DWPDA couple of specifications for SSD endurance are in common use today: Terabytes Written (TBW) and Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD).  Both are different ways to express the same thing.  It seems that one vendor will specify endurance using TBW, while another will specify DWPD.  How do you compare the two?

First, some definitions.  “Terabytes Written” is the total amount of data that can be written into an SSD before it is likely to fail.  “Drive Writes Per Day” tells how many times you can overwrite the entire capacity of the SSD every single day of its usable life without failure during the warranty period.  Since both of these are guaranteed specifications, then your drive is most likely to last a lot longer than the number given by the SSD’s maker.

To convert between the two you must know the disk’s capacity and the warranty period.  If  drive maker gives you TBW but you want to know DWPD you would approach it Continue reading

Who’s #1 in Flash Arrays?

Jay KramerA recent conversation with some fellow analysts revealed a puzzling set of claims.  EMC, at its EMC World conference (May 3-7) claimed to be the leader in flash array shipments.  The very next week, in the same Las Vegas hotel, IBM also claimed leadership in flash.

Who do you believe?

Well a friend of The SSD Guy, marketing consultant Jay Kramer of Network Storage Advisors Inc., tallied up all of the leadership claims he could find and provided this list:

  • EMC is counting XtremIO Arrays as units shipped and according to Gartner Group held the #1 market share position with a 31.1% share, which is over a ten percentage point share lead
  • IBM is counting capacity of PBs shipped with all of their flash storage solutions: The FlashSystem 840, 900, V840, V9000, DS8000, plus the XIV systems, Storwize V7000, IBM Flash DAS, and IBM PCIe Adapters
  • NetApp is the leader if you count total flash systems shipped (NetApp-branded plus privately-branded systems) spanning multiple years as their SANtricity operating system and E-Series platforms have sold over 750,000 units
  • Pure Storage uses its 700% growth to show that it’s the #1 fastest-growing flash storage company
  • Then, if you want to compare any vendor’s total all flash array (AFA) systems sold this past year against hybrid storage arrays, Nimble Storage beats any of the AFA vendors.

Continue reading

SanDisk: SSD at HDD Prices

SSD & HDD Price vs CapacityYesterday SanDisk announced a new low-end family of SSDs that the company said would sell: “at a price point on par with HDDs. (Pricing comparison dependent upon capacity.)”  The sub-headline states: “Z400s SSD Brings New Levels of Affordability to Replace Hard Drives…”

The release provided no actual prices to back up this claim.

So how does this work?  Can you actually now buy a 1TB SSD for cheaper than a 1TB HDD?  Not at all.  Instead you have to look at things a little differently using a concept that I frequently explained five years ago when SSDs were pretty new – that very low capacity SSDs can be cheaper than HDDs.

This post’s graph plots this out.  It’s a chart of HDD and SSD prices over a range of capacities.  It’s on a log-log scale, but it works well on a standard linear chart as well.  Note that prices are for 2010, and prices have come down significantly for both SSDs and HDDs since then.  This means that the numbers on the X and Y axes need adjustment to bring them to today’s levels, but the shape of the curves would remain the same.

The red line represents SSD costs over the range of capacities, and the black line represents HDDs.  Although HDDs are cheaper than SSDs  Continue reading

MLC vs. eMLC – What’s the Difference?

eMLCFrom time to time IT managers ask The SSD Guy if there’s an easy way to compare SSDs made with MLC flash against those made using eMLC flash.  Most folks understand that eMLC flash is a less costly alternative to SLC flash, both of which provide longer wear than standard MLC flash, but not everyone realizes that eMLC’s superior endurance comes at the cost of slower write speed.  By writing to the flash more gently the technology can be made to last considerably longer.

So how do you compare the two?  OCZ introduced MLC and eMLC versions of the same SSD this week, and this provides a beautiful opportunity to explore the difference.

As you would expect, the read parameters are all identical.  This stands to reason, since Continue reading

OCZ Comes Roaring Back with NVMe SSD Debut

The OCZ Z-Drive 6000It’s really something to see a company recover from a big challenge, and signs of that happened this week with OCZ’s introduction of a new NVMe-based PCIe SSD they call the Z-Drive 6000 series.

This replacement for the company’s Z-Drive 4000 series is a complete redesign with an obsession for performance.  OCZ tells me that they moved from a 2-hop design to a 1-hop by using the PMC Princeton PCIe SSD controller, and have passed the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Labs’ compliance tests to NVMe 1.1B compliance.

But how does it perform?  Well the 1-hop design helps reduce latency (which is just starting to overshadow IOPS in users’ minds) and the latency of this SSD is significantly lower than competing NVMe SSDs: between 25-30μs, figures that OCZ tells me are very consistent, a big plus for enterprise applications.  As for IOPS, the device can perform under a 70/30 Read/Write load at 330K.

The 6000 series is provided in both standard MLC and eMLC for those who want the security of eMLC and are willing to sacrifice a little performance to sleep better at night.

This product is a good fit for the market needs, and shows how devoted OCZ and its parent Toshiba are to providing high performance in the SSD marketplace.

 

Baidu Goes Beyond SSDs

Baidu's SDF: Software-Defined FlashI have to admit that it’s embarrassing when The SSD Guy misses something important in the world of flash storage, but I only recently learned of a paper that Baidu, China’s leading search engine, presented at the ASPLOS conference a year ago.  The paper details how Baidu changed the way they use flash to gain significant benefits over their original SSD-based systems.

After having deployed 300,000 standard SSDs over the preceding seven years, Baidu engineers looked for ways to achieve higher performance and more efficient use of the flash they were buying.  Their approach was to strip the SSD of all functions that could be better performed by the host server, and to reconfigure the application software and operating system to make the best of flash’s idiosyncrasies.

You can only  do this if you have control of both the system hardware and software.

The result was SDF, or “Software-Defined Flash”, a card that Continue reading

The Impact of SSDs on Coffee Prices

Coffee 5-year Prices (BarChart.com)A friend who trades in commodities has been having a difficult time lately.  He placed a sizeable bet on coffee futures back in 2011, only to see prices slide from a $314 peak to today’s $151 prices.

So why would this appear in the pages of The SSD Guy blog?

In a nutshell, coffee demand is falling thanks to increased use of SSDs.  It’s not that people were giving their computers coffee to speed them up, nor were managers ladling coffee into their employees to get more out of them when the real problem was slow PC performance.  Instead it’s about boot-up time.

For the past few decades the average worker comes into the office, turns on the PC, then goes to the coffee room to get the morning’s first cup of brew while the PC slowly finds its way to full operation.  While in the coffee room that worker may encounter workmates, and delve into a heady conversation about last night’s TV programs, or a sporting event, or even politics.  This might turn that one-cup coffee-room visit into a 2-cup session.

Now that savvy bosses are Continue reading

SanDisk Rolls Out InfiniFlash

One of SanDisk's InfiniFlash BoardsThe following post is an excerpt of an article Objective Analysis submitted to the Pund-IT Weekly Review for 11 March, 2015.

With a webcast in the style of the big system makers like EMC and Oracle, SanDisk announced its InfiniFlash flash appliance.  InfiniFlash is a box that crams a whopping 500 terabytes into only 3U of rack space.

How big is 500 terabytes?  It’s more bytes than SanDisk’s entire flash output for 2001.

SanDisk boasts that InfiniFlash is a “category-defining product”, and pointed to the fact that IDC, who provided support for the roll-out, created a new “Big Data Flash” storage product category for this device.

The system boasts performance of one million random-read IOPS, which is impressive, but doesn’t give much indication of how it performs in standard enterprise dataflow, which is generally assumed to consist of a 70/30 split of reads and writes.  (I should mention here that Objective Analysis published a survey of users’ IOPS and latency needs which can be purchased on our website.)

Price is a major focus for this product.  SanDisk says that it will sell systems bundled with software at less than Continue reading

Contact

Jim Handy
Objective Analysis
SSD Market Research
+1 (408) 356-2549
Jim.Handy (at) Objective-Analysis.com

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