WDC Rearchitects the HDD

Pretty sketch of an HDD with a lightningbolt representing NAND flashWestern Digital today announced a change to the architecture of HDDs that the company showed can increase an HDD’s capacity and performance without changes to the heads, media, or mechanics.   Since the design, called OptiNAND, involves a good bit of NAND flash, The SSD Guy decided that it warranted discussion here.

That, and the fact that the company said Continue reading “WDC Rearchitects the HDD”

New SSDs Dedicated to Chia

Photo of terra cotta Chia Pet bust of Joe BidenPNY sent The SSD Guy an interesting press release about a new SSD designed for use in Chia plotting operations.

For those unfamiliar with Chia, it’s not the silly Chia Pets (like the Joe Biden Bust in this post’s graphic) that use vegetation to replicate hair, but is instead a new cryptocurrency somewhat similar to Bitcoin.  We are told that Chia uses “Proof of Space and Time” models for mining rather than the “Proof of Work” models that Bitcoin employs.  While that means that Bitcoin’s approach is compute intensive, Chia’s takes advantage of unused Continue reading “New SSDs Dedicated to Chia”

Failures Plague SSDs

Pomander from Organic AuthorityOver the past year there has been a rash of SSD failures unmatched by any prior year.  This came to a head a month ago when Apple’s M1 Mac started to show undue SSD wear.  It seems that people trapped at home and working remotely have taken up new habits on their notebook PCs (most of which now use SSDs) and these habits are causing their SSDs to wear out faster than they have in other, more normal years.

The “Work from Home” phenomenon has not only caused Continue reading “Failures Plague SSDs”

Intel Discontinues Optane Consumer SSDs. Is This Important?

Intel Optane Memory M10 Press PhotoOn Friday, January 15, Intel announced the discontinuation of certain of the company’s Optane SSDs for consumers PCs.  Naturally this is making Optane users curious about the future of the entire product line.  Is this a big move?

In a word: “No.”  It’s a relatively small part of overall Optane shipments, and it is probably Continue reading “Intel Discontinues Optane Consumer SSDs. Is This Important?”

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 Continue reading “Micron’s New XPoint SSD Finally Arrives”

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 Continue reading “The Memory/Storage Hierarchy”

Start-Up Fadu Launches New SSD Controller

Fadu, a startup out of Korea, made a big  splash at the Flash Memory Summit to announce its new NVMe SSD controllers that don’t compromise speed to achieve low-power operation.

The company’s products are focused on quality of service (QOS) in enterprise-style 24/7 workloads with the aim of enabling the transition to NVMe in Enterprise and Hyperscale data centers, the fastest-growing segments in the SSD market.  Some readers may recall that Fadu won the 2018 FMS Best-of-Show award in the “Most Innovative Flash Memory Technology” category for an earlier generation of products.

The company’s founding team comes from Samsung and Hynix with a CEO (Jihyo Lee) from Bain Capital.  Lee gave a keynote address at the Flash Memory Summit simply titled: “Enterprise SSD: The Future”

The new SSD controller, Annapurna, is a Continue reading “Start-Up Fadu Launches New SSD Controller”

What is an SSD Trim Command?

TrimmerAlthough the Trim command has been defined for nearly a decade, for some reason I have never written a post to explain it.  It’s time for that to change.

Trim is something that was never required for HDDs, so it was a new command that was defined once SSDs became prevalent.  The command is required because of one of those awkward encumbrances that NAND users must accommodate: Erase before write.

NAND flash bits cannot be altered the same way as an HDD.  In an HDD a bit that’s currently set to a “1” can be re-written to a “0” and vice versa.  Writing a bit either way takes the same amount of time.  In NAND flash a 1 can be written to a zero, but the opposite is not the case.  Instead, the entire block (4-16k bytes) must be erased at once, after which all bits are set to a 1.  Once that has been done then zeros can be written into that block to store data.  An erase is an excruciatingly slow operation, taking up to a half second to perform.  Writes are faster, but they’re still slow.

Let’s say that a program needs to Continue reading “What is an SSD Trim Command?”

Are SSDs Approaching Price Parity with HDDs?

July 2007 HDD vs SSD Price AnalysisA recent Storage Newsletter article argues that SSD prices are approaching HDD prices, and that the gap has narrowed to only a 2.7 times difference.

Upon closer inspection, though, the reader will note that this is only true at lower capacities.  The narrowing price gap at lower capacities has always existed in this market.  The SSD Guy was making that  argument back in 2007!

This post’s graphic shows a chart from the first report ever published by Objective Analysis over a decade ago: The Solid State Disk Market – A Rigorous Look.

The point of this chart was to illustrate that, at low capacities, SSDs are cheaper, while at higher capacities HDDs provide lower-priced storage.

The concept is simple: It’s uneconomical for an Continue reading “Are SSDs Approaching Price Parity with HDDs?”

Storage Visions Conference Coming Oct 22

Once again The SSD Guy will be playing a part in the annual Storage Visions conference which has been moved this year to the Santa Clara Hyatt Hotel adjacent to the Santa Clara Convention Center.  It’s now a 2-day conference (October 22-23) and has an agenda packed with interesting subjects, speakers, and panelists.

Storage Visions’ mission is to bring together the vendors, end users, researchers and visionaries that will meet growing demand for digital storage for the “coming data tsunami.”

I will moderate a panel on an exciting new technology that is currently known by a few different names, including “In-Situ Processing,” “Computational Storage,” and “Intelligent SSDs” (iSSD).  It’s a kind of SSD that uses internal processing to reduce the amount of data traffic between the server and storage.  This helps get past an issue that plagues many applications which spend more time and energy moving data back and forth than they do actually processing that data.

The panel, at 8:15 Monday morning, October 22, is Continue reading “Storage Visions Conference Coming Oct 22”