Link_A_Media Acquired by SK Hynix

SK Hynix Semiconductor Acquires Link_A_Media DevicesLink_A_Media, recently graced with a new design win and serious accolades for its new SSD controller, was acquired on June 20 by Korea’s SK Hynix Semiconductor.

According to the Wall Street Journal, SK Hynix paid $248 million for the company.

This is the fourth SSD controller company to be acquired recently:

What’s going on?  Why are Continue reading “Link_A_Media Acquired by SK Hynix”

Link_A_Media’s Roaring SSD Debut

Tom's Hardware Best of Computex 2012 Award for Corsair Neutron Series SSDsIt’s tough to design an SSD controller, and even tougher to make one that can simply compete against the great ones that already ship in volume.  To make a truly better controller would seem to require an astonishing effort.  It appears that a company with a very odd name: Link_A_Media has done just that.

The company’s first commercial design win in Corsair‘s fourth-generation Neutron Series SSDs was announced at COMPUTEX on June 5th.  Corsair’s market focus is high-performance compute hardware aimed at gamers – the company only ships product that can out-perform its competition, and is able to take a higher price thanks to its solid reputation for speed.  Getting a first design win at Corsair is a real feather in Link_A_Media’s cap!

But then, today (June 7), Corsair won two Continue reading “Link_A_Media’s Roaring SSD Debut”

DensBits Debuts with eMMC Controller

DensBits Promises Higher Performance While Reducing CostDensBits, 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 “DensBits Debuts with eMMC Controller”

UCSD – Future SSDs Will Lack Performance

UCSD Chart Showing Write Latency Increases with Increasing SSD Capacity over TimeAt last week’s USENIX conference UCSD researcher Laura Grupp presented a paper that attracted a lot of attention.  The paper, which had a somewhat misleading title: The Bleak Future of NAND Flash Memory predicts that NAND-based SSDs of the future: “may be too slow and unreliable to be competitive against disks of similar cost in enterprise applications.”

Continue reading “UCSD – Future SSDs Will Lack Performance”

Hitachi’s New 2nd Generation SAS SSDs

Hitachi UltraStar SSD400S.BToday Hitachi announced the company’s second generation Ultrastar SSD400S.B family, which Hitachi claims to be the industry’s first 25nm SLC enterprise-class SSD family.

This comes only two days after Intel announced a 25nm MLC SSDIntel‘s highest-performance SSD to date.

The new Hitachi SSDs support a SAS 6Gb/s dual port interface. SLC NAND flash was chosen for its high write performance and endurance.

Maximum sequential read speeds of 536MB/s and a sequential write speed of up to 520MB/s with 57K random read IOPS and 25K random write IOPS help to give ultra-fast access to data.

Continue reading “Hitachi’s New 2nd Generation SAS SSDs”

Fast New Intel SSD: The 520

Intel's 520 Press PictureIntel has announced a new SSD for the Enthusiast/Gamer market.  Intel’s fastest drive to date, this SSD, formerly known as “Cherryville” but now called the 520, is the first Intel SSD to use a SandForce/LSI controller and is made using Intel’s own 25nm flash.

Intel worked with SandForce for  a year and a half to produce an SSD that met Intel’s rigorous standards, and made hundreds of changes to SandForce’s firmware.  Users of SandForce controllers can differentiate their SSDs through the addition of features in the SSD controller’s firmware.  Intel did this by tapping into its expertise in end-to-end data protection (something the company learned when working with Hitachi to introduce that company’s Intel-based enterprise SSDs) while harnessing Intel’s deep understanding of its own NAND flash and of the I/O needs of the PC.

End-to-end data protection is not a trivial feature: Continue reading “Fast New Intel SSD: The 520”

Standards for SSD Endurance

The Grand Canyon - An Extreme Example of WearSSD endurance is an important concern that stands in the way of SSD adoption in a number of data centers.  Since flash is new to the enterprise (and computing systems are a new market for flash) important issues including wear specifications still need to be hammered out.

Until flash SSDs started experiencing adoption in standard computing environments, nobody really anticipated the difficulties that would arise from flash’s inherent wear-out mechanism.  Most flash manufacturers erroneously believed that Continue reading “Standards for SSD Endurance”

SandForce: The Cloud needs Different SSDs

SandForceOn Monday December 13 SandForce introduced SSD controllers designed specifically for cloud computing applications.

You might wonder what is so different about cloud applications that they need an SSD controller of their own.  SandForce makes some interesting points:

  1. Cloud applications need low latency
  2. Cloud computing centers, like client SSDs, need a lot of capacity at a very low price Continue reading “SandForce: The Cloud needs Different SSDs”

SSD Fast Erase

All the NAND chips in an SSD can be erased simultaneouslyAn interesting feature that exists in many SSDs is the ability to quickly erase all the data on the device.  The military is especially interested in this feature because it helps prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

For example, let’s say your helicopter crashed when on a mission to assassinate the leader of a major terrorist organization.  If the HDD or SSD inside the cockpit was recovered by that organization the data might be extracted to help undermine future missions. Continue reading “SSD Fast Erase”

What Happens when SSDs Fail?

What happens at the end of an SSD's life?There’s a lot of “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt” – FUD – circulating about SSDs and their penchant for failure.  NAND flash wears out after a set number of erase/write cycles, a specification known as the flash’s endurance.

While some caution is warranted, a good understanding of how SSDs really behave will help to allay a lot of this concern. Continue reading “What Happens when SSDs Fail?”