say farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs
this is not your Grandfather's industrial SSD marketby
- June 13, 2017
blog began this morning as an update about - where we are with
industrial M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs - but it grew into something else.|
industrial M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs etc
One of the new emerging
markets for industrial temperature SSDs in 2017 is high performance NVMe PCIe
SSDs in the
M.2 form factor.
can judge the newness and size of this market by the fact that when I researched
the availability of production products in this category earlier this year I
was only able to confirm 2 manufacturers with products:- Foremay and Virtium.
the other industrial M.2 SSDs I found at that time were good old SATA.
I expressed my surprise about this in a news story in
March 2017. The
headline if you look it up was - M.2 PCIe SSDs for secure rugged applications?
- you may have been less surprised - because (apart from the applications need)
you would rightly say that the other side of NVMe PCIe adoption is the
availability of suitable industrial grade host resident
controllers and server
When you have enterprise grade throughput and IOPS
aren't you also straying into the kind of power guzzling territory which is
anathema to most industrial equipment designs? More power, more heat, less
reliability - you know the score...
Well that circle was squared
neatly in a news story in
April 2017 -
which I tagged with this headline - now Cinderella industrial systems with "no-CPU"
budgets and light wattage footprints can go to the NVMe speed-dating ball.
story was that about a new FPGA controller IP for industrial PCIe
applications - from IP-Maker
who claimed it could deliver enterprise performance while obviating the need
for a watts guzzling processor. (Or sometimes any processor at all.)
just as interestingly the briefing notes in the news pack described some of the
new applications which the new technology will help to make more feasible.
know from experience that "applications notes" from controller and
processor companies are often founded on wishful thinking rather than hard
reality. And I expect that - given the imagination of systems designers - we may
find that the biggest roles for industrial NVMe PCIe M.2 SSDs may be something
The wishful thinking effect is also part of the
fuel and inspiration for companies in the
storage market research
business. If you want numerical guesstimates for SSD shipments (to confirm
or inform your own guesses) before you embark on your next SSD project that's
a good place to look.
other changes coming
looking at strands of upcoming change in the industrial SSD market - the
embracing of high speed products is just one dimension. Other degrees of
freedom I expect to report more about in news stories include:-
- the ability to support ultra low power (no battery) rugged computing
Let me begin by asserting that FPGA-style rich
functionality IP libraries for customer printable graphene nvms and SSDs
are still many years in the future...
You don't have to take my word
You can judge progress for yourself by seeing where that
technology is now (2017) -
compared to the state of the art 7 years ago in this
(2010) paper -
The pace of that productization clock looks similar to the timeline
14 years of news stories
that "MRAM will soon replace flash." But as we have seen in
this year - some of those former "forever emerging" new nvms have
emerged. They have emerging new business development sales channels.
the good news is we don't have to wait for graphene SSDs as there are already
other silicon compatible persistent memory technologies which could
enable ultra low power distributed industrial intelligence much sooner.
the past 10 years this applications area has been an alphabet soup of non
volatile memories in search of applications to love them. This month -
June 2017 - Crossbar published a
deck which outlined such scenarios for its ReRAM.
- the use of much larger memories in IoT leveraging architecture and IP
from phones and the cloud.
This has been a long time in coming.
And isn't here yet.
I included this as a
for 2016. And 2 quarters later Marvell's FLC
technology looked like an early match in that development stream. That was 1 of
only 4 path lighting SSD technologies which I picked for a
mention at the end of 2016 which I had encountered across all SSD
application markets - not just industrial.
Don't expect too much too
soon in tiered industrial memory, however. Even the better funded tiered
memory market for the enterprise has been slower to ship products than
expected due to a proliferation of competing solutions arising from the
SCM DIMM wars
market pulling in
directions and centered around multiple memory types.
Some of the
contenders in the enterprise nvm market may not even be suitable for industrial
temperature operation yet (for example Micron's 3DX) whereas
other nvms with high temperature remanence and possibly even good radiation
resistance (such as Everspin's
MRAM) haven't got the density (Gb per chip) to provide a complete solution
and need to be supplemented by a tier of flash.
One thing I can say for sure about the future of
the industrial SSD market is that the industrial rugged world is everywhere -
and as the world moves to being able to value data wherever it may originate or
be needed - and as new memory technologies evolve and get proven from the
high stakes enterprise casinos - we're going to see big revolutions coming
in the traditionally staid and conservative industrial data systems market.
- discarding the conventional industrial market wisdom and exclusive
reliance on the "solo SSD".
Industrial SSDs have
traditionally been used as solo devices. This saves space and power but places
great dependence on the reliability of each single SSDs. And you know what that
does to the price.
enterprise learned decades ago that incorporating
array concepts for self
repair and reliability enables systems reliability to be created from
architecture and management and doesn't depend critically on the
reliability - or
cost - of any single drive.
But hey - they've got big racks and big
power supplies and engineers (or robots) who hang around day 24x7 sipping
coffee (or electricity) itching to plug in new upgrades and replace faulty
That's in contrast to the typical industrial market when space
and budgets are tight.
For the industrial market I think the array
direction is a story which will unfold and change the industry during the next
It's easier to see how this would work at the high
wattage and high data processed value end:- simply as the evolution of the
But at the low wattage end - in cars and IoT feeds
- it will require the integration of processors and persistent memory at the
SoC level and entirely new product architectures.
It may be that the
array level industrial SSD will always have to be a
rather than a standard COTS product - because weighting the internal design
factors in software repairable industrial drive arrays will be very
applications dependent and a slippery moving target compared to the stark
simplicity that if everything depends on a single solo industrial SSD then it
had better be good.
This will not be your grandfather's industrial SSD market.
with SSDs everywhere it's likely that its importance in financial terms will
you tell me the best way to SSD Street?
there yet? 23 years of SSD guides later...
|Planar SLC flash may one
day acquire the same romantic mythical status in the SSD market that tournaments
did in the early days of gunpowder.
|Old data warriors drinking their murky brews on
days which blur into each other unpunctuated by the wake up calls of work
related deadlines will say to one another... |
Dost thou remember those
days when we used to dress up in shiny armor and charge wildly at each other on
horseback while aiming our pointy lances?
rugged SLC like a
legendary blend of Don Quixote and Geronimo has staunchly defied many siren
calls to surrender (June 28, 2017 )
|"The Internet used to
be a one-way flow of information. Systems were only required to enable websites
to provide information feed to the consumer. Today, with more and more
user-generated content and uploads online, storage methods have also become
|Kevin Wang, VP
Sales - Longsys
in a press release -
(June 5, 2017)|
|"We are at a junction
point where we have to evolve the architecture of the last 20-30 years. We can't
design for a workload so huge and diverse. It's not clear what part of it runs
on any one machine. How do you know what to optimize? Past benchmarks are
|, Distinguished Engineer, Azure Infrastructure - quoted in a blog
by Rambus -
new memory tiers for the data center (February 21, 2017)|
|"At this point we cant
cite any decided-upon designs that will definitely feature NVMe SSDs. However,
we can say many of the Virtium customers we have spoken with about this concept
agree that its no longer a matter of if, but when, NVMe supplants AHCI as the
SSD interface in certain industrial-embedded designs."|
|Virtium (July 16,
2017) in reply to the question - "Can you tell me about any new
industrial equipment or application roles in which the availability of NVMe PCIe
SSDs was the deciding factor for their customer and for the feasibility of the
project?" - which was prompted by their blog -
Taking a Seat at the Industrial-Embedded Table.|
today's prototype kits tell us about IoT's future? |
|Editor:- May 9, 2016 - Companies in the
market have been saying in recent years that IoT is a market which could
provide a business boost for size and power constrained storage technologies.
But when new systems go to market their design origins can be almost
An interesting preview of raw technology
ingredients in the future mix is -
written by Janakiram MSV, Founder
includes prices and capabilities for a range of prototyping boards.
was also interesting for me to see the breadth of
changes in computing based around the convergence of cloud, big data
architecture and IoT. ...read
- what's next?|
| Throughout the
the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user
memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached
storage in the same data processing environment. |
thought provoking blog -
memory systems - asks (among other things) will this always be true?
|You don't have to look at
many different SSD company web sites before you start asking yourself (as you
see similar looking offerings:- consumer, industrial, enterprise, military, 2.5",
mSATA, M.2, PCIe, USB yawn etc) how do these companies differentiate themselves
and make money?|
|some thoughts about SSD
recently in the
||New SSD controller company Burlywood emerged
from stealth promising support for multi-sourced 3D TLC/QLC flash .|
||Viking shipped 50TB
planar MLC 3.5" SAS SSDs.|
began sampling the world's first 64 layer QLC (x4) nand flash memory. The 768Gb
chips were the highest density nvms available.|
||Micron enters the rackmount
MRAM exits emerging status.
||IP-Maker released NVMe
FPGA IP to enable use of enterprise performance SSDs in low wattage "no
CPU" embedded systems.|
Rambus said it was working
with Microsoft on the design of prototype super cooled DRAM systems to
explore avenues of improvement in latency and density due to physics effects
below -180 C.
||Excelero - emerged from
began sampling an NVMe PCIe SSD based on its ST-MRAM.
Intel began sampling an
NVMe PCIe SSD based on Micron's
||Tachyum emerged from
stealth mode |
said the "new stack" is becoming the standard thing.|
Crossbar announced it was
sampling 8Mb ReRAM based on 40nm CMOS friendly technology.