April Fool’s

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

HDD & SSD Combined Into One

Wafer Scale HDDThe SSD Guy has often explained to readers that the storage industry is caught between two alternatives:  fast and costly, or cheap and slow.  This is the key difference between SSDs and HDDs.  I have recently learned of a new secret government research effort, code named “SiliDisk,” that will provide the best of both worlds by marrying flash memory with the mechanics of an HDD.

The approach is incredibly ingenious, while remaining deceptively simple: All that is required is to replace the disks in an HDD with the wafers used to manufacture NAND flash.  Both are round, so there’s little engineering effort to switch from a magnetic disk to a flash wafer.

The NAND flash on the wafer is almost completely standard.  The only two changes are that the chips aren’t scribed or sawn apart, saving a small sum, but a hole must be etched through the center (which can be seen in the photo below) offsetting this savings.  The HDD mechanisms are unchanged with one exception: While today’s HDDs are largely manufactured using 2.5″ and 3.5″ platters (65mm & 90mm), NAND flash is exclusively produced on 300mm wafers.  This means that Continue reading