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Flash Memory Summit 2013 - Motti Beck, the Director of Enterprise Market Development at Mellanox Technologies Inc stopped by the booth to discuss the latest advancements in network technology. Advancements are needed to provide a high level of performance in flash-driven environments, and Mellanox has developed a range of products to address performance challenges.
Motti explained that both Infiniband and Ethernet have a place in the datacenter, spurring Mellanox to develop networking products that address both interfaces.
The ability to support both Infiniband and Ethernet over the same fabric provides a "one-wire" solution to address multiple needs, simplifying wiring and deployment.
Flash Memory Summit 2013 - IP-Maker's Jerome Gaysse stopped by the booth to discuss their solutions for NVMe flash drives.
IP-Maker provides IP for storage applications, with a full set of IPs, low-level software, development environments, training and support and design services.
IP-Maker already has several customers in the bay area, continuing their expansion into the NVMe space.
LSI announced at the 2013 Flash Memory Summit that they have enabled support for Toshiba's second generation 19nm NAND. This new compatibility extends to not only the upcoming LSI SandForce controller, but also the current SF-2000 controllers.
The current SF-2000 flash controller family have a long track record in the industry, and this enhanced compatibility will allow for continued use in the market.
LSI SandForce's continues to lead the market as the first to deliver compatibility with Toshiba's A19nm NAND.
The introduction of newer, smaller flash geometries will require sophisticated error correction ability to maximize endurance of the NAND. As NAND matures, it almost seems counter-intuitive that we will lose endurance as NAND shrinks, but economics have a hand in the smaller NAND geometries. In order to provide a more economical and accessible product through shrinks, endurance suffers as a trade-off.
One of LSI's core competencies has always been strong ECC techniques, which originated with their extensive hard drive controller experience. The addition of these new LSI SHIELD error correction technologies shows a sign of some of the mutual benefits from the LSI/SandForce acquisition.
Enabling advanced Low-Density Parity Check (LDPC) allows LSI SandForce to create a stable solution that will mesh well with not only lower endurance MLC and TLC, but will also wring extra endurance out of current generation NAND as well. This is accomplished through a variety of techniques, including an adaptive method of adjusting the level of ECC during the life of the SSD.
At the Flash Memory Summit 2013, LSI SandForce gave us a teaser of one of the new features that will be featured on the next generation of SandForce flash storage processors.
One of the most exciting new developments is the ability to reclaim some of the extra capacity provided from LSI SandForce's DuraWrite engine. With their compression engine, LSI SandForce's flash storage processors actually write less data down to the NAND than what was sent from the host. In current products this delivers excellent increases in both endurance and performance, with the controller effectively utilizing the extra space as bonus overprovisioning.
LSI SandForce has decided to hand some of that excess capacity back to the customer by allowing users to use this 'hidden' extra spare area on the SSD. The new DuraWrite Virtual Capacity (DVC) feature dynamically adjusts the amount of extra capacity available to the user determined by the amount of data compression.
In some enterprise applications, this can result in a tremendous amount of extra capacity. Some workloads, particularly OLTP and databases, are inherently compressible. This high level of compressibility can equate to triple the normal capacity of the SSD. Amazingly this very same technology is being offered proactively to existing LSI SandForce SSDs as well.
Seagate announced today that the Enterprise Turbo SSHD, a drive which has been in use with IBM in their Series X servers for over a year. This SSHD has 32GB of flash onboard that allows the SSHD's, in capacities up to 600GB, to produce twice the IOPS performance from its 10,000 RPM's than a 15,000 RPM HDD. The SSHD provides up to 900 IOPS in random performance and comes with a standard five year warranty.
The massive speed increases are due to the tiered caching at the I/O level, accelerating 'hot data' via the flash layer inside the SSHD. This boost in performance will provide gains in performance with fewer devices, lowering the overall TCO of the storage solution. The Enterprise Turbo SSHD will provide radical acceleration in mission-critical applications such as big data analytics, virtual desktop infrastructure, and database and transaction processing. Key features of the SSHD include:
- Fastest Enterprise Hard Drive- boasts ultra-fast speed with up to 3X the increase in random performance over standard 15K-RPM drives.
- Industry's First Enterprise SSHD- delivers transparent SSD-like performance to most heavily accessed data.
- Ultimate Capacity- features up to 600GB of capacity- the highest enterprise performance drive available today.
- Affordably Priced- yields 3X the current mission critical HDD random performance at an HDD-comparable price.
- High-Reliability- provides enterprise endurance and reliability
In an expansive investor call yesterday Micron inadvertently revealed a new SSD and controller combo that will sport the NVMe interface during the question and answer session. This is important news, as Micron has previously relied upon third party controllers and a jointly-developed controller with IDT for the P320h. When asked about the possibility of utilizing NVMe in future products, Edward Donner replied:
Absolutely, so NVMe is an interface that we absolutely plan on supporting, in fact that 520 drive that I probably pre announced and I'm sure I'm going to get some interesting e-mail on that, is an NVMe drive; it's a controller like the controller on the P320 the P420 that we've internally developed at Micron. It's a heavy hardware based controller and once again we'll be able to saturate the PCIe 3 interface and differentiate with again a internally developed controller but yes NVMe is critical to us and you'll see product level details in the near future.
The 520 will be able to saturate the PCIe 3.0 interface, and might come in the traditional PCIe SSD HHHL form factor and possibly even a 2.5" drive as we have seen with the P320h. The importance of the development of a Micron controller is significant. The SSD market is beginning to consolidate, and those who own a fab or controller IP enjoy a significant advantage. Having both the NAND and controller will provide Micron with even more of an advantage against their competitors. Naturally, our next question would be whether this new controller will migrate to other products, such as the wildly popular consumer offerings from Crucial (the consumer arm of Micron). Luckily, this question was answered in a roundabout fashion during the Q&A session (emphasis added):
The current NAND shortage, first reported by Chris Ramseyer, continues to punish SSD manufacturers who are reliant upon other companies for their supply of NAND flash. OCZ announced their preliminary first quarter revenue at $50-$55 million compared to the markets estimation of $81 million. This is significantly off-target, and resulted in OCZ shares falling 8.4% in the premarket.
The NAND shortage is just another in a long list of OCZ's woes, but the timing could not be worse for OCZ. OCZ has not released financial results for a full three quarters due to accounting inaccuracies from the previous CEO's team and is in the midst of a restructuring to save the company. The tight NAND market has left OCZ with an estimated $23 million in shippable backlog in Q1. Unfortunately, the NAND flash shortage is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The loss of revenue from the NAND shortage has also hurt OCZ's cash reserves, which fell to $6-$7 million dollars. This has left OCZ strapped for cash and searching for a new source of capital. The previous loans taken by OCZ during the restructuring carried high interest rates, and with the NAND shortage continuing we expect more of the same from whomever loans OCZ the cash to keep in operation.
SanDisk continues their string of SSD-related acquisitions today with the purchase of SMART Storage Systems for $307 Million. This purchase comes after there was tremendous speculation that SanDisk was looking to acquire OCZ over the last several months. SMART Storage Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SMART Worldwide Holdings, is a leading provider of current and next-generation enterprise solid state drive (SSD) products and technology.
SMART Storage Systems makes more sense as an acquisition for SanDisk due to their patent portfolio that includes such revolutionary technologies as the Guardian Technology Suite. SMART also has much deeper penetration into the enterprise market than OCZ, and SanDisk has traditionally focused on enterprise-centric acquisitions in the SSD market. Recent acquisitions of Pliant and FlashSoft have created significant value for SanDisk over the last several years as they increase their presence in the enterprise market.
LSI Corporation announced news of the latest version of the Nytro WarpDrive and the new Nytro MegaRAID software features. LSI Nytro products provide ultra-low latency and high-bandwidth performance required for Big Data applications, hyperscale web and cloud datacenters, financial services, virtual desktops and server workloads. These flash solutions provide significant reductions in TCO through lower power consumption, less floor space and frugal IOPS-to-Watts requirements.
The flash segment has proven to be a big winner for LSI, with the delivery of over 50,000 PCIe flash cards having propelled LSI into the #2 position for the worldwide flash adapter market. The expansion of the Nytro product line includes enhanced hardware capabilities and new Nytro MegaRAID features.