SanDisk

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 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

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

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

SanDisk’s 3-Bit SSD, the Ultra II

SanDisk Ultra II SSDSanDisk has just introduced the Ultra II SSD, an upgrade of the company’s original Ultra drive. The new device is being promoted as a 28 times faster HDD replacement that offers faster boot-up, longer battery life, and shock resistance, in an approach that appears to be a throwback to the early days of SSDs where the point was to sell the technology rather than the product.  Although the press release shows sequential read & write bandwidth numbers of 550 and 500MB/s, neither the press release nor the online product literature even mention IOPS or other measures that are now commonly used to compare one SSD against the other.

SanDisk does tout the fact that this SSD uses Continue reading

White Paper: Matching Flash to the Processor

Moving flash into the memory channel to get fast parallel performance I have just added a new white paper onto the Objective Analysis website: Matching Flash to the Processor – Why Multithreading Needs Parallelized Flash.

This document examines the evolution of today’s CPUs, whose clock frequencies have stopped increasing, but now exploit parallelism to scale performance.  Multiple DRAM channels have also been added to performance computing to add parallelism to the memory channel.

Storage hasn’t kept pace with this move to parallelism and that is limiting today’s systems.

New NAND flash DIMMs recently introduced by Diablo, SanDisk, and IBM, provide a reasonable approach to adding parallel flash to a system on the its fastest bus – the memory channel.  This white paper shows that storage can be scaled to match the processor’s growing performance by adding flash DIMMs to each of the many DRAM buses in a performance server.

The white paper is downloadable for free from the Objective Analysis home page.  Have a look.

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

SanDisk to Acquire SMART Storage

The following is excerpted from an Objective Analysis Alert e-mailed to our clients on 2 July, 2013:

SanDisk to Acquire SMART Storage SystemsSanDisk Corporation announced on 2 July 2013 an agreement to acquire SMART Storage Systems, the SSD arm of SMART Modular Technologies, for $307 million in cash and equity. The transaction is expected to close in August, 2013.

SMART has strong SSD technology that allows the company to ship MLC-based SSDs with endurance specifications superior to those of some SLC SSDs.  The SSD maker had shipments of about $25M in its most recent quarter.

The SMART acquisition will be the fourth 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

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