Violin 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.
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
On 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
Now that we have seen announcements of hybrid drives from Western Digital and Seagate, Toshiba arrives with a formal announcement of the product that was on display at last month’s Flash Memory Summit. Two 2.5″ Toshiba hybrid drives are starting to sample at 750GB and 1TB capacities. Both have 8GB NAND caches, 6Gb/s SATA 3 interfaces, and 5,400RPM spindle speeds. They are both built using 32nm SLC NAND, Toshiba’s “generation before last” technology, preceding the 24nm and 19nm nodes shipping in high volume today.
More importantly, both are 9.5mm in height, a thickness that renders them difficult to incorporate into the 18mm maximum thickness of the smaller Ultrabooks – a notebook form factor that Intel is heavily promoting.
How is this whole market Continue reading
One 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
Nikkei Electronics published an article on May 22 detailing a May 17 briefing by Toshiba president Norio Sasaki. Mr. Sasaki told of the company’s plans to introduce a hybrid HDD (HHDD) in September of this year that is aimed at the Ultrabook market. The article notes that Toshiba is the only company that produces both NAND flash and HDDs, now that Samsung sold its HDD business to Seagate.
The article also says that Toshiba: “aims to become one of the top three companies in the HDD market in terms of market share.” The SSD Guy is forced to wonder at this comment, since there are only three HDD manufacturers in existence today: Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate.
The Seagate Momentus XT, the only Continue reading
DensBits, 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
When 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.
Violin Memory has announced a $50 million mezzanine round that indicates that its latest crop of investors values the company at $800 million. That’s pretty good for a start-up whose product has only been shipping since the end of 2008.
This round includes increases from existing investors Toshiba and Juniper Networks (a Violin user) along with new investors SAP Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and others now joining the pool.
The company has been recruiting a highly-pedigreed staff from companies like Continue reading
On April 3 & 4 Avnet Embedded will host an on-line conference called the SSD Virtual Summit. This free on-demand seminar will feature a keynote by Yours Truly, The SSD Guy, and presentations by leading SSD makers and related firms including Adaptech, Crucial, Dell, HGST, Intel, Kingston, LSI, Micron, OCZ, Rorke Data, Seagate, SMART Storage, STEC, and Toshiba.
Come join in to learn the latest information on SSDs.