Flash space outfit Pure Storage says it has growth plans thanks to a new product set that it says reflects that the market is mature.
The vendor used its second customer and partner event, Pure Accelerate 2017, to highlight concepts like deep learning, data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how they are driving customers’ data requirements.
VP EMEA, Pure Storage James Petter said that the message has changed and matured, particularly around his outfit’s data platform.
“We don’t want to be a storage company; we’re a data company, we’re an innovation company.”
The vendor has released a new NVMe array, FlashArray//X, its FlashBlade storage platform, plus 25 new software features during Accelerate.
Other announcements included a new AI engine offering predictive intelligence, Meta, as well as enhancements to its flash array FlashBlade – now with 75-blades so it is faster to process big data and “unlock iterative real-time analytics, advanced AI and machine learning (ML), and rich simulation for data of any size”.
This will be good news to its UK partners who have been finding it difficult to position FlashBlade because it has been flogged as an object storage platform, even if it is costlier.
It is not clear yet if customer demand for AI, ML and other areas that demand high-performance storage is there yet.
Figures out from IDC show a strong demand for Flash Drives in the first part of the year.
Customers are embracing the technology, and the result was a doubling of sales compared to last year.
An IDC analysis of what happened in Q1 would have made great reading for storage vendors that have backed flash with sales growing by 100 percent year-on-year in EMEA.
That contrasted with a 34.5 percent drop in the traditional hard disk drive market as a number of factors took their toll on the demand for that tech.
IDC research manager, European Storage and Datacenter Research, Silvia Cosso said that Brexit uncertainty, unfavourable exchange rates, major vendors’ internal reorganisations, and increased component costs for SSD have weighed down on EMEA performance once again, making 1Q17 the ninth quarter of uninterrupted decline for the region.
“However, as enterprises progress in their digital transformation paths, sales of all-flash array systems, standalone or converged, see no crisis in sight, doubling their sales compared to the same period a year ago and reaching a quarter of total sales,” he added.
That growth of flash could not happen unless it became a genuine option for the SME community and technology that is now a strong channel play.
IDC Europe research manager Archana Venkatraman the accelerated growth in all-flash arrays this quarter shows that flash storage has entered not just large enterprise data centres but even medium-sized and small businesses in Western Europe.
“With flash storage solutions evolving to support mixed workload consolidation and offer rich data services, many more businesses are exploring the use of flash for their primary storage needs,” Venkatraman said.
Dell remains the market leader in the external disk storage systems market in EMEA, but it suffered a 21 percent drop in growth in the first quarter. It’s rival NetApp had a better start to the year with a 9.2 percent climb, and IBM was also enjoying demand with a 16.2 percent growth year-on-year.
Flash advertising is starting to go the way of the dodo (pictured).
Amazon has decided to stop accepting Adobe Flash ads starting next month. The move affects not just the company’s website, but its whole advertising platform.
While one supplier, however big, giving up on a platform is not significant it is a wider sign that the buggy platform is dying and the industry is moving to HTML5.
Google began automatically converting Flash ads to HTML5 in February. At the start of 2015, YouTube ditched Flash for HTML5 video by default and last month, Twitch announced plans to do the same.
Amazon’s decision is primarily driven by browser makers stopping what Flash can do. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox and Chrome have limited the plugin.
Writing on its bog a spokesAmazon said:
“Beginning September 1, 2015, Amazon no longer accepts Flash ads on Amazon.com, AAP, and various IAB standard placements across owned and operated domains. This is driven by recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome, and existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, that limits Flash content displayed on web pages. This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance.”
In June, Google’s Chrome beta channel began automatically pausing less important Flash content to boost performance and battery life. The feature is enabled by default in Chrome beta for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Google expects to flip the switch for the Chrome stable channel in… you guessed it, September.
For most of the world the death of Flash is a good thing. However in some ways Adobe own management decisions killed the software off early.
In November 2011 the company could not be bothered researching improvements for Flash Player on mobile devices. In fact it is surprising that after that Flash is still around and pretty important.
HP’s storage marketer Craig Nunes has said that the cost of flash storage to fall below that of spinning-disk storage within the next couple of years and widescale adoption is starting to rise.
Nunes said that if you can get the affordability right on flash, if you can drive it down and cross over spinning disk, people will buy it.
Flash is a far better alternative because it is faster and has better service levels and HP’s efforts to improve the cost-efficiency of its arrays are paying off.
The maker of expensive printer ink has shipped more flash capacity over the last few quarters than it has 15,000 RPM disks. These disks have historically been the medium of choice for mission-critical applications requiring fast storage. Now HP wants Flash to outsell its 10,000 RPM business and this could become a reality in a year.
An average enterprise should have the ability to deploy flash for more workloads without having to cut corners elsewhere.
Nunes said HP is also working on ways to make flash more scalable. The company’s flagship all-flash array, the 3PAR StoreServ 7450, offers 480 terabytes of raw storage capacity that can accommodate nearly 1.4 petabytes of data thanks to built-in optimization software.
Nunes said that HP’s 3PAR operating system also includes functionality that avoids the performance degradation all-flash arrays tend to suffer past a certain capacity threshold.
HP recently introduced a new add-on for its 3PAR arrays called Personas that make it possible for admins to change how information is exposed to applications with a few straightforward commands.
Personas evolved from virtualization technology with the kind of functionality and management features that users expect when managing servers. “Personas is not an emulation layer, it is not a management UI over a totally different architecture,” he said. “It’s the same thing that served up your VMware environments and KVM environments except it’s now serves up” blocks and files.
Barron’s claims that DRAM demand and a lack of producers will drive Micron’s share price to over $50 in their October 6th issue. They cite business PC replacement and Big Data as the market drivers behind the price climb and the fact that there are only three major producers remaining.
The simple deduction is that the DRAM market will be capacity limited for the foreseeable future. Of course this doesn’t factor in splits between Flash and DRAM demand confusing the production mix – end result is a higher price for both.
An interesting nuance to Barron’s forecast for Micron is the introduction of a next generation non-volatile memory that reduces the price of storing very large database images.
Glimpses of HP’s version in “The Machine” using Memristor based memory is scheduled for launch in 2018 – implying that the first production devices will need to be extant by early next year. HP’s record on the Memristor Project has missed each and every promised milestone so the success expectation probability is low.
Tell Tales Out of School
An intriguing story making the underground rounds in the Valley concerns the existence of an extremely secretive program involving a new, high speed, non-volatile memory coupled with DRAM. No it’s not the Diablo Technologies, Inc. Memory Channel Storage (MCS) – though somewhat similar it couples extremely dense non-volatile storage with low-latency parallel caching loads of high-speed low-power DRAM main storage.
The membership is limited to an exclusive set of players on both the supplier and user sides.
This is in step with a major effort to move from SATA serial interface non-volatile memory (SSD) to a high performance parallel interface. The discussion centers on whether the transition will include NAND-Flash or will begin a fresh start with the next generation replacement.
The idea has begun to percolate through the JEDEC Standards Committee. Sources predict that this will be accelerated through the standards process by an influential member group at JEDEC.
Killer Elite Application
What is the application – the one that motivates the factory to produce massive amounts of these devices. My contact looked me straight in the eye with that “you idiot look” and exclaimed, “Everything”. That’s when I got it…,
Micron announced a new SSD that uses its densest process and has an onboard chip that can program the memory to act as high performance SLC or high-capacity MLC flash.
Dubbed the M600 SSD, the drive uses Micron’s new 16 nanometer (nm) lithography with 128Gb NAND density.
Thanks to the greater density, the company could drop the cost per gigabyte to as little as 45 cents. The fact you can program the flash also reduces power use and improves write performance as much as 2.8 times over models without the feature.
Jon Tanguy, Micron’s senior technical marketing engineer said the M600 flash drive draws less than two milliwatts of power in sleep mode and averages 150mW during active use.
It has a sequential read rate of 560 MBps and can write at 510MBps. Its random read rate is up to 100,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) and it can write at 88,000 IOPS.
The SSD is based on an eight-channel Marvell controller that comes with government-grade hardware encryption using the 256-bit AES protocol.
Micron is selling the drive to manufacturers of corporate notebooks and ultra-thin netbooks, workstations and desktop PCs.
It comes in three form factors, a 2.5-in. SSD, an mSATA card and an M.2 memory stick. The mSATA and M.2 form factors come in capacities of 128GB for $80, 256GB for $140 and 512GB for $260. The 2.5-in. SSD comes in all those capacities and an additional 1TB version which will set you back $450.
IBM has announced it will invest $1 billion into flash R&D as well as launching a series of SSD based systems.
Flash will be integrated into all IBM server and storage systems as well as a new flash only storage system.
Not only is flash a “key tipping point”, according to head of IBM software and systems, but eventually data centres will be completely comprised of solid state drives, reports Solid State Technology.
IBM has also announced plans to open 12 centres worldwide which will allow its customers to test flash products in various scenarios. They will be able to test flash performance in various scenarios that require heavy workloads like in stock exchange transactions and credit card processing.
Data Memory Systems has taken the announcements to mean all enterprise Tier 1 storage should be totally flash based, reasoning that the shift toward cloud and big data makes processing data quickly a necessity. Because traditional HDDs have not increased phenomenally in speed over the last years, flash can potentially increase processing speeds by 90 percent for certain tasks, for example in banking and trading where speed is critical.
It is not the end of traditional hard disks yet, as they still offer cost benefits now, but IBM’s decision to invest so much in flash storage shows the direction the industry is headed.
Prices of NAND flash memory are set to continue rising this month and beyond, as a result of strong demand for mobile devices. According to a report from DRAMeXchange, NAND prices are showing signs of rising in the second half of June due to inventory restocking.
NAND contract prices rose two to four percent in the first half of June already, compare to May. DRAMeXchange says OEMs rushed to boost their inventories at lower prices, resulting in a shortage. The surge in demand is likely to push prices even further in the near future, despite the fact prices tend to go down seasonally over the summer, reports Focus Taiwan.
DRAMeXchange pointed out that no major manufacturers, aside from Toshiba, have any immediate plans to boost capacity in the third quarter. It concluded that NAND production between July and September is likely to rise slowly, at less than ten percent from the previous quarter.
However, demand for flash in the third quarter is expected to increase by more than 10 percent from the second quarter, resulting in a significant shortfall. Obviously, tight supply could push up NAND prices toward the end of the year.
Global NAND memory revenue fell seven percent in 2012, on the back of lackluster Ultrabook sales.
Although demand for smartphones remains strong, IHS iSuppli reports that NAND industry revenue fell to $19.7 billion last year, down from $21.2 billion in 2011. IHS expects revenue to rebound this year and reach $22.4 billion. Sales should continue expanding over the next few years.
Apple’s iPhone gobbled up 10.5 percent of all NAND shipments in 2012. An average iPhone shipped with 24.5GB of NAND, which means most consumers still opt for the entry level 16GB model. All other smartphones combined used 10.5 percent.
Although there was plenty of growth in mobile, IHS iSuppli concluded that Ultrabook demand failed to meet expectations. Ultrabooks have had some success penetrating the consumer market, but overall adoption remains underwhelming.
On the whole, NAND production slowed sown in mid 2012 in order to stabilise and reduce inventory. IHS iSuppli now says manufacturers need to tightly manage their supply in the first half of 2013, as the first six months of the year are seasonally a weak period for the industry.
An increasing number of vendors are focusing solely on internal storage and ditching microSD slots in tablets and smartphones. While this trend might be good for NAND demand in the short term, emerging technologies such as cloud storage coupled with 4G could pose a challenge down the road.
The demand for Enterprise class SSDs is going to grow like topsy according to value-added distributor Zycko.
The outfit has just signed a partnership deal with Micron to provide its Client, Enterprise SATA and Enterprise PCIe SSD solutions to channel resellers.
David Galton-Fenzi, Zycko’s group sales director said that as the price of SSD drops and performance increases, the technology will take a leading role in data access and storage.
The SSD enterprise market has grown year-on-year and against this backdrop, Zycko has been looking for a manufacturer who can give it the products for its client list.
Meanwhile Micron wanted a partner to develop the enterprise market for its products. “In that sense the timing and nature of this partnership is perfect. There’s a gap in the market that Micron can fill with its cost-effective SSD solutions, known for their exceptional quality, low-latency and reliability,” said Galton-Fenzi.
The read speeds of the Micron Enterprise PCIe SSD are perfect for the rigorous virtual I/O demands of the current breeds of optimised data centres.
“It’s clear the SSD market is going to quickly grow and Zycko’s reseller network will be well positioned to help their enterprise customers benefit from best-in-class SSD technology,” Galton-Fenzi added.
He said that SSDs were reaching a price tipping point where the technology is becoming part of every major business storage network.