End Markets

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

SanDisk: We’ll Upgrade Your PCs For You!

SanDisk Tech Assisted Refresh (STAR)In a move that The SSD Guy wishes he had thought of for himself, SanDisk has begun to help corporations upgrade their fleets of notebook PCs by replacing their HDDs with SSDs.

SanDisk calls this program STAR for: “SanDisk Tech-Assisted Refresh”.  According to the press release: “Through the STAR program, SanDisk relieves IT departments of having to manage all aspects of upgrading corporate laptops such as, endpoint inventory analysis, employee service scheduling, system upgrades, data migration, daily progress reporting, post-upgrade analysis and support.”

SanDisk points out that PCs slow down with disk utilization and software updates, lowering users’ productivity.  Often faster storage can solve that problem.

This is not an altogether new Continue reading

Why Aren’t SSDs Popular in New PCs?

Fry's Electronics PC adFor the past decade I have been asked when SSDs will overtake HDDs in the PC market- when will more PCs ship with an SSD than with an HDD?

My usual reply is: “Never!”  I then go on to explain that two factors work against this ever happening.  The first is the fact that SSD prices are unlikely to ever match HDD price per gigabyte, which is the subject of a few posts on The SSD Guy, the most recent appearing HERE.  The second reason is that most PC buyers find SSDs unappealing when they are shopping for a new PC because of the price difference between an SSD and an HDD of the same capacity.

There are six Continue reading

Making Data Destruction ABSOLUTE!

SecureDrives' photo of fractured NAND flash chipsA very unusual press release crossed my desk last week.  London-based SecureDrives has introduced a 2.5″ self-encrypting SSD that takes security one very large step further by physically destroying the flash chips within the SSD by remote command.

The flash chips are actually fractured, as is shown in the accompanying photo, which SecureDrives sent me to illustrate.  Click the thumbnail to enlarge.

SecureDrives calls its product the SDSRDD which is short for Secure Drive SSD, Remote Data Destruction.

My first concern was that the product used some sort of explosive.  The company put me at ease by explaining that the fracture process uses a rapidly propagating shock wave via a patented technology.  They said that the fracturing process creates no safety issues at all.

The destruction command is initiated through a GSM receiver internal to the SSD.  When destruction is required (i.e. the drive is lost or stolen) the SSD’s rightful owner sends a user-defined message or phrase to the drive from any phone in the world.  The drive flips the encryption key and then fractures the NAND flash and security processor.  The drive then returns a confirmation message to the phone.  The destruction process is executed in milliseconds.

Readers may recall a post that I published two years ago about an external SSD from Runcore that over-writes the data in the SSD via a GSM command.  The Runcore product uses over-writing, which can take minutes to perform, rather than a self-encrypted drive which is effectively erased in a few milliseconds.  The Runcore product also differes because it does not physically damage the flash, and, as an external drive, it cannot be incorporated into a notebook PC’s housing as can the SecureDrives product.

It seems that secure SSDs are getting increasingly sophisticated over time.  I eagerly await hearing about the next imaginative step designers will take to make their SSDs more secure.

New Study Forecasts Huge Enterprise SSD Growth

Enterprise SSD Revenues will Cycle with NAND Flash PricesObjective Analysis has published a new study, Enterprise SSDs: Technologies & Markets.

This study breaks the market into 23 application types, and provides an explanation of each along with forecasts by major application category.

Virtualized systems will drive the greatest 5-year average unit shipment growth, at 85%, although the data center will retain its leadership in enterprise SSD consumption.  Overall enterprise SSD unit shipments will grow at an annual average of 32% through 2018.

Since SSD prices are cost-based, with roughly 80% of the cost coming from flash chips, NAND flash price swings will cause Continue reading

IBM Launches Flash DIMMs

IBM's eXFlash DIMMOn Thursday IBM announced its X6 product family, the sixth generation of the company’s successful EXA server architecture.  A smaller byline of the introduction was the company’s new eXFlash memory-channel storage or eXFlash DIMM which is offered as one of many flash options available to X6 users.

Close followers of The SSD Guy already know that I am a serious advocate of putting flash onto the memory bus.  Why slow the technology down by Continue reading

How Many IOPS Do You Really Need?

From Report: "How Many IOPS Do You Really Need?"

IT professionals find it difficult to determine which SSD or flash array to buy or even whether they can get the speed they need from standard HDDs.  There is an extraordinarily wide rage of IOPS (from hundreds to millions), latencies, and capacities, and this can be confusing.  A new Objective Analysis report: How Many IOPS Do You Really Need provides, through a survey of IT managers and other end users, an understanding of the performance needs of various applications including IOPS, latency, and capacity.

This report answers questions that have never previously Continue reading

For the Lack of a Fab…

SanDisk-Toshiba Yokkaichi Plant from WD 2007 IDEMA PresentationOne popular argument to explain why SSDs have not displaced the HDDs in all PCs is that there isn’t enough NAND flash production capacity to support this business and there never can be.

This argument has been posed as long ago as 2007 by WD CEO John Coyne at an IDEMA conference (the source of this post’s graphic), SanDisk’s Eli Harari at the Flash Memory Summit in 2008, and Seagate‘s CEO Steve Luczo in a Forbes interview as recently as last April.  These are captains of the industry.  Their arguments make people stand up and take notice.

It’s a really flawed argument.

It goes like this: Continue reading

The “Real” SSD Guy

Two "SSD Guys" - Jim Handy and Les Tokar (The Original)Not long after I started writing this blog I heard from Les Tokar, who runs The SSD Review.  It seems that Les had been calling himslef “The SSD Guy” for quite a while before I started to use that name for myself.

Les was more than kind about my using the name as well, all he asked was for me to clarify that this blog and his are unrelated, which is spelled out with the disclaimer to the right of this post.

I later met Tokar himself as we both attended Tom Coughlin’s Storage Visions conference last January.  That’s where his lovely wife Karen snapped the photo of the two of us on this blog post.

I find The SSD Review to be a font of useful information.  If you haven’t read it, please give it a look.

As for Les Tokar, I offer a tip of the hat to a real gentleman and fellow blogger.

SSDs and Fast Erase

Block Diagram of a Typical SSDThe SSD Guy has run across some confusion lately about fast erase on SSDs.  It’s time to clear this up.

SSDs can undergo a very fast erase, and have had that capability for a number of years.  After ruggedness this is probably the key reason the military is so enamored with SSDs.

Let’s say that you were out to capture a major terrorism kingpin and your helicopter crashed.  How would you assure that the Continue reading