Enterprise SSDs

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

IBM Launches All-New FlashSystem Family and Peace of Mind

IBM FlashSystem V9000 and V900This is an excerpt of an article that was originally posted in the 2/25/15 edition of the Pund-IT Weekly Review

IBM has unveiled its new IBM FlashSystem V9000, an all-new offering that supports scale-up and scale-out flash growth models.  The FlashSystem V9000 is an upgrade to the company’s FlashSystem V840 product.  IBM also introduced the new IBM FlashSystem 900, the follow-on generation to the IBM FlashSystem 840.  A full complement of software services (including snapshots and replication) is bundled with the product.

Over 4,000 IBM FlashSystems have shipped since the brand was introduced two years ago causing the company’s bit shipments to outpace the combined shipments of the second and third-ranked flash array providers.

The IBM FlashSystem V9000 comes in a 6U package that incorporates twelve IBM MicroLatency modules that provide 57TB of RAID 5 usable capacity, which then blooms to 285TB with IBM Real-time Compression. The proprietary modules provide more consistent performance than SSD-based systems – the system is as fast when it is 90% full as it is when only 10% of its total capacity is in use.

IBM tells us that the FlashSystem V9000 is not simply a virtualized node built up from a number of IBM FlashSystem 900 systems, but is a single, integrated system purpose-built to address the needs and focus of cloud, analytics, mobile/social and security. It supports seamless concurrent capacity increases up to its 2.2 petabyte upper limit when real-time compression is used.

IBM’s FlashSystem V9000 is currently available and carries a 7-year warranty as well as an optional 5-year “TCO” lease that IBM has priced to be cheaper than the high-performance disk arrays it has been designed to replace.  This is intended to bring peace of mind to skittish would-be flash users.

The SSD Guy has always admired TMS products, and they appear to be getting even better under IBM’s care.  Both systems should provide a pretty important boost to IBM’s competitive positioning.

What’s In My SSD? SLC, MLC, or TLC?

SLC, MLC, or TLC?Someone recently asked The SSD Guy if there is a way to determine whether an SSD is SLC, MLC, eMLC or TLC.

I found it a little odd to be asked this, since most vendors tell what kind of flash they use in an SSD’s specifications, especially if it’s SLC.

Not finding it there then the next thing I would look at is the price.  Raw SLC NAND flash now sells for about 6-10 times as much as its MLC counterpart, so an SSD with a price of around $1/GB is likely to be MLC and one that sells for around $10/GB is probably SLC.

TLC SSDs are really rare.  There is the Continue reading

Video: A Brief History of SSDs

Pogo Linux Video: A Brief History of SSDsErik Logan of Pogo Linux sent me a link to an amusing & informative video he and his company put together called A Brief History of SSDs.  In the video Erik (pictured) tells of Pogo Linux’ experience with SSDs.

The company has a lot of hands-on SSD experience: Pogo Linux ships servers and storage and has ramped SSD shipments (as a percent of all drives) from single digits three years ago to the point where SSDs now account for 31% of all drives they ship.  Erik shared with me that: “Sorting through the Continue reading

Big New HDDs Indefinitely Postpone SSD/HDD Price Crossover

HGST's 10TB Shingled HDDEarlier this month Western Digital’s HGST division invited The SSD Guy to a launch of a number of products.  On the HDD side there were:

  • 6TB air HDD, HGST’s last air-filled enterprise HDD
  • 8TB helium HDD, an incremental upgrade of last year’s 6TB helium HDD
  • 10TB shingled helium HDD (pictured)

I view these as very solid evidence that HDD costs will continue to stay an order of magnitude cheaper than SSD costs, thwarting the price-per-gigabyte crossover that others have been predicting for years.

In fact, since my last post on the price crossover in 2011, very little has changed.

It’s safe to assume that the HDD industry will Continue reading

How Big Can an SSD Get?

SSD circuit board - courtesey of Intel Corp.Someone recently asked The SSD Guy to guess what would be the largest amount of flash that could be fit into an SSD’s case.  This sounded like a fun problem, so I did a “Back-of-the-Envelope” estimate to try and figure it out.

First of all, I would judge by this post’s picture that you could get no more than 20 chip packages (4 x 5) on one side of a PC board for a 2.5″ SSD.  That’s probably an optimistic estimate.

If you ignore the controller that would allow you to squeeze 40 packages onto a single circuit board.

Certain high-capacity SSDs use a “Butterfly” design to fit three circuit boards into a single 2.5″ HDD housing.  With three 40-package circuit boards you could fit 120 chip packages into the 2.5″ HDD housing.

Today’s densest flash chip stores 128 gigabits or 16 gigabytes.  Samsung and SanDisk can stack 16 of these chips within a single package, making a 16 x 16 gigabyte or 256 gigabyte package.  SanDisk just announced a 512 gigabyte SD Card that doubles Continue reading

New Report Posts Results of IT Manager IOPS Survey

From Report: "How Many IOPS Do You Really Need?"Tom Coughlin and I have just released a new report that helps shed a lot of light on a pretty challenging subject: We asked nearly 200 IT managers to tell us how much storage performance their systems require.  They provided candid replies about their IOPS, latency, and capacity needs for a number of leading applications.

The results of this survey are compiled in a 80-page report titled How Many IOPS do you Really Need?  This one-of-a-kind report provides responses for all of Continue reading

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

OCZ: Bankruptcy Certain, Outcome in Question

OCZ Corporate HeadquartersOn Wednesday OCZ announced that its bank accounts had been seized by one of its creditors and that the company would file for bankruptcy, but it did not commit on which of two courses of action it would take:

  • To file for bankruptcy and sell itself as an ongoing business to Toshiba
  • To file for bankruptcy and liquidate

If the company is sold to Toshiba the bankruptcy court will require an auction to be held to assure that the price that Toshiba pays is the best price that the company can get.  This means that there is still the possibility of another company actually acquiring OCZ.  Although Seagate was rumored to be interested there are certainly others who are also preparing bids.

OCZ has good technology and a loyal retail customer base, but one year ago Continue reading