PCIe SSD

IBM to Invest $1B in Flash Promotion

The following is excerpted from an Objective Analysis Brief e-mailed to our clients on 15 April, 2013:

Comparison of 3-Year Operating Costs: Flash vs HDD (Wikibon)On April 11 IBM kicked off “The IBM Flash Ahead Initiative”, committing to spend more than $1 billion for flash systems and software R&D and to open twelve IBM Flash Centers of Competency around the world staffed with flash experts armed with flash systems to help clients test drive flash in their own situations.

This follows from IBM’s August 2012 agreement to acquire privately-held Texas Memory Systems (TMS), a very low profile manufacturer of high-performance flash-based memory arrays and PCIe SSDs. TMS is the world’s oldest SSD maker, founded in 1976, to manufacture RAM-based replicas of HDDs. About four years ago TMS used its Continue reading

Violin Bets on Both Sides

Where do SSDs FitViolin Memory today made some important announcements.  The company has introduced a new line of one-hop PCIe SSDs, and Toshiba will be carrying these as its own products.  This creates a tighter link between the two companies: Toshiba is already an investor in Violin, and Toshiba Japan already sells Violin’s memory arrays in Japan.

The new PCIe SSDs are based on Violin’s high-performance NAND management technology, and Violin claims that they offer a higher performance/price point that is available from any other PCIe SSD vendor. This is a key point because PCIe SSD performance varies across a very broad range.

But why does The SSD Guy say that Violin’s betting on both sides?  Ever since discrete SSDs started to find their way into the data center there has been a heated debate: Do SSDs belong on the server side of the network or as shared storage?  In a virtualized configuration all storage is shared to allow a task to easily move from one server to the next.  In an HDD-based system this makes a lot of sense, since an HDD’s latency is significantly larger than that of the network.  With SSDs that equation changes – the SSD’s latency is significantly lower than that of the network.  The network dramatically reduces the performance of the SSD, so it makes more sense to move that part of the storage into the server, but this breaks the “Shared Storage” model.

This post’s graphic comes from a slide that I have shown repeatedly explaining that it’s wrong to take sides in this argument.  Eventually solid state storage will find its way into both sides of the network.  In the server it serves as an alternative to large DRAMs, and if it is managed as memory and not as storage, then there will never be any data consistency problems.  Of course, most caching solutions also help in this regard, allowing server-side flash to be managed as persistent storage.  On the other side of the network flash as shared storage also makes a lot of sense since it accelerates access to shared storage, which is the basis for all virtualized systems.

Violin has taken this argument to heart, betting on flash adoption on both sides of the network, and is the first flash storage array start-up to do so.  It will now only be a matter of time before others fall in line.

Objective Analysis covers the enterprise SSD market very closely, issuing reports like our well-regarded annual update covering the enterprise SSD market: The Enterprise SSD: Technologies & Markets.  We also perform custom consulting in this area.  Clients who wish to engage with us are welcome to drop The SSD Guy a line.