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Flash Memory Summit 2014 - One of the most interesting conversations we had at the Flash Memory Summit came from Dr. Simon Sze directly after he won a lifetime achievement award for co-inventing the floating gate back in 1967. Interestingly enough the very first floating gate was deployed in the original Nintendo game system.
According to our rough calculations there are over 1 pentillion floating gates in use in the world today. Or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 floating gates, for those keeping exact track. Dr. Simon Sze has an interesting story, and continues to teach in a university to this day.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - Scott Shadley stopped by our booth to discuss Micron's latest products at the Flash Memory Summit. Micron's ability to create their own NAND provides them a huge advantage over many non-fab competitors. The consumer SSD market is extremely competitive of late, and Crucial (Micron's consumer arm) leads the pack with some of the lowest price points available. Another key advantage is the use of their 16nm NAND. This allows them to retain a pricing advantage (The MX100 is a perfect example), and its solid performance also keeps Micron's SSDs among the best in price v performance metrics.
Moving to the enterprise side, Micron is very competitive in the value segment and high-end PCIe SSDs. The M500DC sports impressive performance at an equally impressive price point for the 2.5" segment. The P420m fills the role of an affordable PCIe SSD with chart-topping performance, and for those in need of the ultra-high-end, the Micron P320h still holds the overall crown. It doesn't get better than durable SLC NAND paired with speed fast enough to saturate the PCIe 2.0 bus with random data. If we had an SSD Hall of Fame, the P320h would be the first drive in the door.
Of course Micron isn't resting on their laurels. They are releasing their NVMe PCIe and 2.5" SSDs early next year. Much of the secret sauce that provides Micron's chart topping performance with the existing PCIe SSDs is likely due to NVMe knowledge; they are one of the founding members of the NVMe consortium. Micron helped define expectations for high-performance PCIe SSDs, which leads to some excitement to see what Micron brings with their new NVMe SSDs.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - ADATA has a long history in the consumer space with their SSD and RAM offerings. The desktop SSD market is becoming more challenging for manufacturers as large fab-enabled companies are becoming extremely competitive on price. The desktop market is also relatively stagnant, while the datacenter SSD market continues to experience solid growth.
ADATA is changing with the times to address new market segments. Their newest venture is expansion into the enterprise space, where they are designing new SSD products to address datacenter applications. ADATA is currently utilizing AHCI protocol SSDs in the M.2 form factor, and moving forward with NVMe designs. ADATA is also working on 2.5" SSDs with the SFF-8639 connector. This allows the drive to be used as either a PCIe or a SATA connection.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - Andy Mills from Enmotus demonstrated their Storage MicroVirtualization and MicroTiering data storage solution for us in the Viking Technology booth. The software collaboration with Viking Technology and their ArxCis-NV product allows for a more diverse application of NVDIMM technology. We also engaged in a deeper conversation with Enmotus on FuzeDrive's capabilities here.
The FuzeDrive software takes a new approach to combining the speed of flash with the capacity of HDDs. Users can install any SSD of their choice, be it m.2, PCIe, SATA, or SAS, and use it to accelerate the underlying HDD storage. Thee Enmotus software intelligently analyzes the data patterns and decides which data to promote to the flash storage. The software works at the block level, so users can still leverage RAID configurations to provide HA capabilities.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - The list of software caching solutions is expanding rapidly as manufacturers, and software vendors, try to make their way into this expansive market. Deploying flash is great, but deploying it in a manner that accelerates existing infrastructure is even better. Very few will totally replace spinning disk in their datacenter deployments, so marrying the capacity of HDD with the performance of SSDs is the current go-to solution.
Cachebox wades into this large market with a new method of caching. The CacheAdvance software uses an ASM (Application Specific Module) that analyzes what is important to the application and provides seamless acceleration based upon application-centric performance profiles. The system has predefined knowledge of existing popular programs, but also adjusts to the specific environment.
One of the advantages of application-centric caching is that it doesn't accelerate any unwanted processes or applications, such as backup operations. This maximizes the capacity of the underlying flash solution. Users can use any block-level device for caching, so there is hardware independence from specific vendors and the system is also interface agnostic. PCIe, SAS, SATA, NVDIMMS, and UltraDIMMS can all play equally. Any block-level device is fair game. One particularly exciting aspect of the flexible design is that it will also allow for future storage technologies as well.
Another strength is that CacheAdvance is totally transparent to the application, minimizing disruption in the existing environment. The system is flash-friendly and uses techniques, such as taking random data and writing it sequentially to flash, to minimize flash wear and increase longevity.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - LiteOn isn't accustomed to the SSD limelight even though they have been in the OEM SSD business since 2008. In many ways they should receive more recognition in the SSD market. LiteOn is known for their ODD (Optical Disk Drive) offerings, such as CD and DVD players. However, they are also the brains behind the Plextor SSD brand, which gives them quite a bit of experience in the retail space with Plextor, and on the OEM side as LiteOn.
LiteOn is expanding into the datacenter with a new line of enterprise SSDs that are tailored for enterprise applications. They are developing both 2.5" and M.2 form factor SSDs with enterprise-centric features. LiteOn is currently working on a 1TB M.2 SSD with power loss protection that was being demo'd in their booth at the show. The SSD features a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface and blistering sequential speeds of 600 MB/s read and 520MB/s write. Jeffrey Chang, the Technical Product Manager at LiteOn, stopped by the booth to talk about the latest enterprise SSDs from LiteOn.
The N9S will serve the 2.5" market with capacities up to 2TB, and are also available in the small 1.8" form factor. LiteOn is initially using AHCI for their new M.2 SSDs, with NVMe solutions coming next year.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - The SSD market has been consolidating at a dizzying pace over the last year. Large storage vendors have completed a flurry of acquisitions to acquire high-value IP, such as controller technology and software solutions. One of the hottest stories this year was the sale of Fusion-io to SanDisk for $1.1 billion. Fusion-io was one of the first flash innovators, and were the catalyst that sparked the move to PCIe SSDs in the datacenter. The fusion of the two companies (pun intended) brings several advantages for both companies. Fusion-io brings established hardware and software expertise, and SanDisk brings direct access to flash.
Lee Caswell, the former VP of all-flash appliances at Fusion-io, has assumed the position of VP of Marketing in the IO Memory Solutions division at SanDisk. John Scaramuzzo is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Enterprise Storage Solutions division at SanDisk. In their first joint interview they share insight on the future path of SanDisk and their vision of the all-flash datacenter.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - It's always fun to catch up with DriveSavers, simply because of the interesting stories from the latest data recovery projects they are working on. We were lucky enough to take a tour of the DriveSavers labs in April, and we recently crossed paths with Chris Bross again at the Flash Memory Summit.
Chris detailed the recovery of some of Gene Roddenberry's (the creator of Star Trek) lost files, which were stored on 200 x 5.25" floppy disks. These very old disks held a number of files, which are not yet released, and there will be a public disclosure of the content in the future. This highlights some of the varied storage technologies that DriveSavers encounters every day. While staying up to date with helium and SMR HDDs, they also have to continue to extract data from old devices as well.
Chris also discusses the need for data recovery services for the datacenter, and a word of caution for those using cloud data storage. For instance, when Hurricane Sandy struck five datacenters were literally underwater, so users are cautioned to always keep multiple copies of their data. Of course, if you should lose data DriveSavers will be there to help recover it.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - NVDIMM was a hot topic at the Flash Memory Summit, and Viking Technology is leading the way in the NVDIMM space with their ArxCis-NV solution. NVDIMM allows the use of DRAM memory as a persistent memory. In the event of a power loss the NVDIMM flushes data from the DRAM down to NAND that is embedded on the device. This allows users to leverage the ultra-fast speed of DDR3 (and DDR4 in future versions) as a block storage device, yet still recover from any power loss event with the data intact.
Users can also leverage the ArxCis-NV as a memory space with their software applications. One of the advantages of using an NVDIMM from Viking is that it can be integrated into industry standard x86 servers via the DDR sockets. The ArxCis-NV is a DDR3 240-pin JEDEX pin compatible ECC registered DIMM with an integrated SSD for data backup. The speed of the device far outstrips any 12Gb/s or 6GB/s products, even when they are aggregated behind a RAID controller or HBA.
The ArxCix-NV can be used for the most bleeding-edge applications, such as a write cache or buffer, and also boosting metadata performance.
Flash Memory Summit 2014 - Avago Technologies recently acquired LSI and their SandForce division, and then scooped up PLX Technology as well. The merger with Avago isn't complete yet, so we couldn't discuss the details of the acquisition with Larry Chisvin, the VP of Strategic Initiatives at PLX Technology. PLX Technology is a right in the middle of the datacenter evolution with the advent of NVMe, and also the need for a new interface for converged server architectures. NVMe is currently a new interface that is still developing to offer multipath and fail-over features which will lean heavily on PCIe switches.
We visited PLX's office and took a tour through the ExpressFabric architecture, which can replace or augment networking infrastructure in the datacenter. The advent of hyperscale and cloud computing has spurred a re-imagination of datacenter architecture. Disruptive technologies and Open Compute initiatives are challenging the old way of thinking and delivering designs purpose-built for optimum efficiency. The emergence of software-defined datacenters (SDDC) and software-designed storage (SDS) requires new designs that allow total control of resource allocation. Using ExpressFabric's PCIe connections as a rack-level interconnect allows for new exciting datacenter designs that will pool server resources in separate chassis for optimum performance.