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

Understanding Storage Delays

Jim PappasJim Pappas of Intel, a fellow member of SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association) shared a really intuitive way to understand storage delays at the last Storage Developer Conference (SDC).  It’s very simple.  First consider these two facts:

  • The difference between the speed of system memory and that of a hard disk drive (HDD) is roughly 6 orders of magnitude, or 1 million times
  • SSDs split the gap.  An SSD is about 1,000 times faster than an HDD, and is about 1,000 times slower than system memory.  Memory access times are measured in nanoseconds (ns), SSDs in microseconds (µs) and HDDs in milliseconds (ms)

The problem with understanding this (ns, µs, ms) is that Continue reading

Intel Intros Fast Datacenter SATA SSD

IOPS Over Time - Competing SSD vs. Intel DC S3700Today Intel announced a new SATA III SSD, the DC S3700 Series.  The new product is fast, supporting 75,000 random 4K read IOPS and 36,000 random 4K write IOPS.  Average read latency is 45microseconds (µs) with writes averaging 65µs.  Sustained sequential reads are 500 megabytes/sec with sustained sequential writes at 460.  The read performance of this SSD, although a SATA device, is twice that of Intel’s 710 PCIe SSD announced in April, and writes are a full 15 times faster.  Intel calls this performance: “Scary fast!”

Intel says this device is its best Continue reading

19nm & 20nm SSDs Arrive!

Toshiba 19nm vs. IMFT 20nm NAND Processes (Courtesey Techinsights and Toshiba)SSD-watchers have expressed some concern over the last few years that  SSDs cannot be manufactured using advanced NAND flash process geometries.  This is because these parts have lower endurance and a larger number of bit errors than NAND made using less-advanced processes – the tighter the process, the shorter the flash’s life, and the more errors it will have.

Fortunately these concerns seem to be Continue reading

Apple’s Fusion Drive – An SSD Cache for the Macintosh

Apple's Chart of Fusion Drive Performance for the new Mac MiniOn October 23 along with the highly-anticipated announcement of the iPad 4, Apple rolled out new Macintosh computers that for the first time in an Apple product pairs an SSD with a conventional HDD to get the best combination of capacity, speed, and price.  The company calls this its Fusion Drive, not to be confused with Fusion-io’s highly-regarded products.

The SSD Guy did not attend the announcement, and there is little on the Apple website.  I contacted Apple, and they don’t have very much detail to share at this time.  This is important to note, since Continue reading

How Controllers Maximize SSD Life – Better Wear Leveling

Tempus FugitIn this post we will explore how the right wear leveling algorithm  can help a controller maximize the life of an SSD.

Wear leveling is a fact of life with NAND flash – blocks start to suffer bit failures after a certain number of erase/write cycles (usually specified from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands) and it is only natural that software will attempt to over-write some blocks more than others.  In order to prevent this from causing failures, all of today’s SSD, USB flash drive, and flash card controllers incorporate some sort of wear leveling.

This is a simple re-mapping of the contents of the flash chips.  A more graphical explanation is Continue reading

Seagate Updates Hybrid Drive

Intel/Seagate Demo of RST System Using a Hybrid HDDAt the Intel Developer Forum Intel showed Seagate‘s updated Momentus XT Hybrid Solid State Drive in operation.  The new drive is only 7mm thick, significantly thinner than the 9.5mm Momentus XT that the company has been shipping for the past 2 years.

This is significant because the 13mm target thickness of the Ultrabook platform is extremely difficult to achieve using a 9.5mm drive, yet the performance specification of the Ultrabook requires the use of NAND flash, either in the form of a full-blown SSD, an HDD with an additional cache SSD, or a hybrid drive.  Of the three choices, Continue reading

PC Caching Software is Not All the Same

NVELO Dataplex Benchmarks Consistently Outperform Intel iSRTThe folks at NVELO recently provided The SSD Guy with some benchmark data comparing their Dataplex software’s performance against the Intel iSRT caching software that is becoming prevalent among Ultrabooks.

For those unaware of these two technologies, they are both caching software that automatically maintains “Hot” data within a low-capacity SSD while leaving “Cold” data on the system HDD. The end result is that the PC performs as if it boasts a large SSD when, in truth, it uses Continue reading

DensBits Debuts with eMMC Controller

DensBits Promises Higher Performance While Reducing CostDensBits, a flash memory controller company, has just introduced its new DB3610 “Memory Modem” eMMC controller for 3-bit or TLC flash.  The controller is the first to use DensBits’ new technology which the company claims can coax better reliability out of 3-bit flash than most controllers can out of 2-bit MLC, to provide important cost savings to OEMs.

Read and write performance is also said to be nearly on a par with 2-bit MLC.

DensBits’ Memory Modem is a blend of Continue reading

The SSD Pricing Maven

Andy Higgenbotham of Price G2When I have a question about SSD retail pricing I know exactly who to consult.  Andy Higgenbotham (pictured here) and his Price G2 service track HDD and SSD retail pricing and publish data to a very high degree of resolution.

Price G2 data has been used in another post in the blog: When Will SSD Prices Drop Below HDD Prices?

This company publishes weekly reports of pricing from all major HDD and SSD manufacturers (Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, Samsung, Intel, Micron, and the like) with information on market trends like this for the week of April 23:

Flat to increasing pricing continues throughout 2012. Only on the 512GB have we seen sustained price drops from Q1 and through Q2. The 512GB capacity currently sells for $1.05/GB in week 17.

Amid recent rumors of steep SSD price declines this service has served to disprove any notion that the SSD market is undergoing fundamental change.  The SSD Guy highly recommends Price G2 for anyone whose business relies on timely and thorough HDD and SSD price tracking.