SSD Case Studies

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.

 

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

Failure is Not an Option — It’s a Requirement!

I was recently reminded of a presentation made by GoDaddy way back in the 2013 Flash Memory Summit in which I first heard the statement: “Failure is not an option — it is a requirement!”  That’s certainly something that got my attention!  It just sounded wrong.

In fact, this expression was used to describe a very pragmatic approach the company’s storage team had devised to determine the exact maximum load that could be supported by any piece of its storage system.

This is key, since, at the time, GoDaddy claimed to be the world’s largest web hosting service with 11 million users, 54 million domains registered, over 5 million hosting accounts, with a 99.9% uptime guarantee (although the internal goal was 99.999% – five nines!)

The presenters outlined four stages of how validation processes had Continue reading

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

SSDs Need Controllers with More, NO! Less Power

More Power-Less PowerThe Storage Developer Conference in September gave a rare glimpse into two very different directions that SSD architectures are pursuing.  While some of the conference’s presentations touted SSDs with increasing processing power (Eideticom, NGD, Samsung, and ScaleFlux) other presentations advocated moving processing power out of the SSD and into the host server (Alibaba, CNEX, and Western Digital).

Why would either of these make sense?

A standard SSD has a very high internal bandwidth that encounters a bottleneck as data is forced through a narrower interface.  It’s easy to see that an SSD with 20+ NAND chips, each with an 8-bit interface, could access all 160 bits simultaneously.  Since there’s already a processor inside the  SSD, why not open it to external programming so that it can perform certain tasks within the SSD itself and harness all of that bandwidth?

Example tasks would include Continue reading

Podcast: Flash Memory Summit

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

This interview is their 70th 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 42-minute compendium of the sights and goings-on at last August’s Flash Memory Summit along with a number of side trips into the world of SSDs and memory chips.  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 we Continue reading

WDC: No SSD/HDD Crossover

WDC HDD vs NAND Price per GB 10X GapThose who have been reading posts on The SSD Guy blog for some time have often heard me explain that SSD prices will not fall below HDD prices anytime soon.  Last week Western Digital shared a roadmap that shows that we can expect for there to be a sizeable price gap between the two technologies at least through 2028.

Let me stop for a moment to point out that Western Digital Corp, or WDC, no longer has any reason to take sides in the HDD vs. SSD battle now that the company has acquired SanDisk, a leading SSD maker.  Even before that, WDC’s HGST business has been the market leader in SAS SSDs for a number of years.  WDC doesn’t take sides in arguments about SSDs vs. HDDs.  Instead the company stands ready to sell whichever one the customer finally decides to use.

This post’s graphic comes from a chart that WDC used on October 11 when introducing its new MAMR head technology, which the company expects to propel HDD capacities up, and HDD price per terabyte down, for a number of years.  To create this chart WDC’s HDD team joined forces with the SanDisk flash team to project both HDD and NAND price per terabyte for the next 11 years.  The most important conclusion is that Continue reading