Jim Handy

How Many Optane SSDs has Intel Sold?

Cartoon of a detective looking through a magnifying glassIf you’re an industry analyst like The SSD Guy you find that useful data can come from unexpected places.  When Intel announced the sale of its NAND flash business to SK hynix this month the company also provided useful information about Optane SSD sales.  You have to know a little bit about Intel’s organizational structure to understand.  Let me explain.

The SSD part of Intel’s Optane business has been assigned to the company’s Non-volatile Solutions Group – NSG.  The balance of NSG’s revenues come from NAND flash SSDs and a tiny bit of non-SSD NAND flash sales, both of which have been sold to SK hynix.  The Optane DIMM part of the business (officially: “The Optane DC Persistent Memory Module”) belongs to DCG, the Data Center Group.  Since Optane DIMMs only work with that organization’s data center processors, the “2nd-Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor” and later, then it makes sense for the DIMMs to be assigned to DCG.

Intel did not sell the Optane part of NSG’s business to SK hynix.

Intel’s quarterly earnings statements spell out Continue reading

Emerging Memory Market to Hit $36 Billion by 2030

The SSD Guy is pleased to announce the release of a new report co-authored by Objective Analysis and Coughlin Associates named: Emerging Memories Find Their Direction.  In this report we show that emerging memories, MRAM, ReRAM, 3D XPoint, and other technologies are well on their way to reach $36 billion of combined revenues by 2030.

These changes will revolutionize the way that software handles storage, converting from a “storage vs. memory” world to a “storage plus memory” world.  The report provides invaluable guidance to companies that use any sort of memory who could be left behind if caught unaware of the current transition from existing products to emerging memories.

Chip users will be impacted since high-speed nonvolatile emerging memories will change the architectures that system designers are already working on in ways that will improve power consumption and system responsiveness.  These new memories will drive fundamental changes to the way the market uses and profits from technology to provide a significant competitive advantage to early adopters.

Today’s entrenched memories, from DRAM main memory right up to processor caches, will be Continue reading

What’s Software-Enabled Flash?

abstract eye-catching imageThere have been numerous changes to SSDs since they moved into the mainstream 15 years ago, with controllers providing increasing, then decreasing endurance levels, and offering greater, then lesser levels of autonomy.  What has been missing is any ability for the system to determine the level of performance that the SSD provides.

Recently Kioxia, the company formerly known as Toshiba Memory, announced a new initiative called “Software-Enabled Flash”, that aims to provide a consistent interface between software and SSDs that allows the software to choose the level of involvement it wants to have in the SSD’s behavior.

First, let’s talk a little bit about the problem.  NAND flash memory requires significant management.  The whole concept of NAND flash is that it’s OK for it to be phenomenally difficult to work with as long as it’s the cheapest memory available.  Here’s a list of a few of the reasons Continue reading

High Availability in an m.2 Format

Photo of finger pusing on hinge in center of m.2 HA SSDThe m.2 SSD format has become wildly successful in the data center for use as a boot drive and even in SSD arrays.  The m.2 format supports either the SATA or the NVMe interface,  Something that has been missing, however, is a version of this format for high-availability (HA) systems.  These are mission-critical systems that cannot fail, no matter what.

Until today HA systems had to use the SAS interface which supports two independent ports, or the new dual-port NVMe SSDs that come in either a 2.5″ U.2 or the AIC format.  Both of these offer redundant ports but, unfortunately, both U.2 and AIC SSDs are considerably larger than the m.2 format.

Despite its small size m.2 has so far not been considered as a candidate for dual-port SSDs.  This is because the m.2 format uses a card edge connection it must be inserted by sliding the narrow end of the card into the socket.  A dual-port version needs to have connectors at both narrow ends, making it impossible to plug the SSD into a pair of board-mounted sockets.

Today a revolutionary new company called Kowabunga Data is introducing its ingenious solution to the problem.  Yes, it is indeed an Continue reading

New Book Explains Persistent Memory Programming

Cover picture of Intel's Persistent Memory bookAt January’s SNIA Persistent Memory Summit Intel was promoting a book titled: Programming Persistent Memory.  This book, aimed at programmers, explains how to develop applications programs that take advantage of persistent memory (PM) to avoid slower persists to SSDs, and also shows how to use Intel’s Optane DIMMs to increase a system’s main memory size.

On the software side the book explains how to design and optimize data structures for persistent memory, and it details persistent memory Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for C, C++, JavaScript, and other languages.  It also provides a trove of information on the open source Persistent Memory Development Kit (PMDK) libraries and tools.  The book shows numerous source code samples and examples that you can run on your own systems, and provides diagrams that help explain the various structures and processes embodied by the software.  It also explains how PM applications are Continue reading

Does Persistent Memory Improve Performance? Ask Oracle!

A model-by-model timeline of Oracle's Exadata product introductions with key specifications.At last month’s SNIA Persistent Memory Summit Oracle presenter Jia Shi, Sr. Director of Exadata Development, shared some statistics on the Exadata system’s history over the past ten years.  (Click on the graphic to the left to see the timeline.)  The speaker highlighted the fact that the system’s I/O performance has grown from 0.05 million IOPS ten years ago to 16 million IOPS today, a 320X improvement!  Shi said that Exadata was designed to be “the ideal database hardware with smart system software and automated management.”  There’s every reason for her to be proud of her own work with this product!

The most recent iteration of the system, X8M, released last September, takes advantage of Persistent Memory (PM) in the  form of Intel’s new Optane DIMMs (formally called “The Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory module”).  The presenter said she was diligently working on this new approach at this time last year – so diligently, in fact, that she was unable to attend the 2019 Persistent Memory Summit even though she was working on a pioneering implementation of PM technology!

While the timeline in this post’s graphic doesn’t Continue reading

SNIA Webcast: Emerging Memories

This shows the cover slide for the SNIA webcast presentation titled "What a Year it Was and Where We Need To Go in Emerging Memory"On Tuesday, January 14, Tom Coughlin and I were featured in a BrightTalk webinar hosted by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).  A recording of this webinar has been posted so that you can view it at your convenience.

This webinar looks at emerging memories and where they now stand, giving a glance at the ground that has yet to be covered before these new memories gain widespread acceptance as persistent memory in general-purpose computing.

The content of the presentation is excerpted from a 172-page report jointly published by Objective Analysis and Coughlin Associates that covers the gamut of emerging memory technologies, the companies involved (49 of them!), and predicts how the market for these new memories should develop with forecasts for the memories, as well as for the equipment used to manufacture them.  This is the 2019 update of a very well-received report originally published in 2017.

The webinar is a little less than an hour long, and about half of it consists of audience questions which we address in the second half.

You can view and listen to it by clicking HERE.

And, if you’re interested in the report, you can purchase a copy for immediate download from the Objective Analysis website by clicking HERE.

 

Micron’s New XPoint SSD Finally Arrives

Micron X100 3D XPoint SSDAt its October Insight Conference Micron Technology finally revealed its 3D XPoint SSD, dubbed the X100.

While the company didn’t disclose too much about the device, it did brag about its speed, claiming that the X100 is the world’s fastest SSD, running three times faster than the fastest NAND flash SSDs and almost three times the speed of other XPoint SSDs.  The product is said to provide a very impressive 2.5 million IOPS for 4kB random reads at a queue depth of 1 and to support a 9GB/second bandwidth in read, write, and mixed traffic.  (NAND flash SSDs perform much better at reads than at writes due to the underlying NAND chips’ extraordinarily lopsided read and write specifications, among other quirks.)

Just as Intel has done, Micron plans to introduce storage products first, before bringing out a memory module to fit into a DIMM slot.

How did Micron achieve this impressive level of performance?  Well, in addition to Continue reading

The Memory/Storage Hierarchy

Memory/Storage ThumbnailIt recently dawned on me that one of the charts that I most frequently use in my presentations has never been explained in The SSD Guy blog.  This is a serious oversight that I will correct with this post.

The Memory/Storage Hierarchy (also called the Storage/Memory Hierarchy, depending on your perspective) is a very simply way to explain why there are multiple memory and storage types within a system: Why is there a cache memory, or a DRAM, or an HDD?  The simple answer is that you can improve the system’s cost/performance ratio of you break the system down into an appropriate mix of fast & slow, expensive & cheap memory or storage.

To explain this I go way back to the 1960s and review the concept of “Virtual Memory”.  This concept was first commercialized by computer maker Burroughs, although it was first implemented by the University of Manchester in England.  The basic concept was to provide programmers with an extraordinarily large memory in which to run their programs by fooling the program into thinking that the memory was as large as the magnetic disk.

I actually look at it from Continue reading

Podcast: Flash Memory Summit 2019

GreybeardsThose of you who enjoy listening to podcasts may want to hear Ray Lucchesi (Silverton Consulting) and Keith Townsend (The CTO Advisor) interview The SSD Guy for their series “Greybeards on Storage.”

This interview is the series’ 86th episode covering the world of storage.  These guys do a fantastic job of probing this industry with great enthusiasm and insight.

This episode is a 40-minute compendium of the sights and goings-on at the August 2019 Flash Memory Summit along with observations on the industry in general.  It’s not strictly structured, and not strictly serious, but just three industry insiders having a lot of fun sharing their observations.

Some of the broad range of subjects that Continue reading