Tag: Micron

Excelero gets closer to Micron

dc34c48293d48b194affb44168216351Micron has written a cheque investing in Excelero, the software supplier for its SolidScale all-flash NVME array.

SolidScale has been around since May and is a serious bit of kit with NVME SSDS and an NVMe over Fabrics class access latency, adding one percent to the access latency of a direct-attached NVMe SSD.

It uses Excelero’s NVMesh server SAN software. SolidScale can function as a shared external array block target, made up from from clustered server nodes, or as a virtual SAN in a hyper-converged style configuration.

The investment is a few million, although no one is saying officially how much.

Excelero was founded in 2014 and has had a single £20 million funding round in 2015.

The investment moves Micron closer access to Excelero’s software development, and a better ability to tune its SSD controller software to optimise SSD performance characteristics of the software.

It might help Excelero software to make better use of QLC (4 bits/cell) flash drives.

IBM intros nextgen flash storage

IBM logoBig Blue said that it today introduced two flash enterprise storage products that give high performance and better reliability.

The products, called IBM Flash System storage come in two types, the V9000 and the 900.

The first of these allows enterprises to consolidate existing storage systems under a single management domain.

The 900 gives high performance, enterprise reliability and can be deployed in two hours, compared to days for conventional products.

IBM said it is committed developing flash based storage products to enterprises and industries of whatever size.

In April 2013, IBM invested a billion dollars in flash storage research, as well as making partnerships and product development.

It’s the larger amount of data that makes enterprises move to flash systems, according to Jamie Thomas, general manager of storage at IB.

The systems use Micron semiconductors but IBM has hand tweaked the flash memory chips to deliver what it claims is a better sort of flash storage.


US spooks hide in hard drives

spyIf you own hard-drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba all your data could have been seen by US spooks.

According to Kaspersky Lab, the US National Security Agency figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, IBM, Micron and Samsung.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The Russian outfit did not name the US as the country behind the software, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, which was a NSA-led effort.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the spy agency valued these espionage programmes as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, a move that could help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001

The announcement could lead to a backlash against Western technology, in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most technology suppliers to provide copies of their software code for inspection.

Kaspersky said the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

The information was news to Western Digital, Seagate and Micron who said it was the first they had heard of it. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment and IBM just ignored hacks requests.

Mobile memory sales soared

Semiconductor wafer: Wikimedia CommonsShipments of DRAM aimed at the mobile market rose 27.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, amounting to a value of over $3.6 billion.

That’s according to market intelligence company DRAM Exchange, which observed that mobile DRAM now accounts for 40 percent of all shipments of this memory type.

Increased shipments of smartphones account for the lion’s share of mobile memory sales, and DRAM Exchange said in its report that sales look strong in the first quarter of this year – traditionally one of the weaker quarters in the memory market.

The report said that the industry is waiting for the release of the next generation LPDDR4 – right now only Qualcomm supports this memory type. It is expecting some high end smartphones to ship in the second quarter of this year.

As far as manufacturers are concerned, Samsung remains the leader, followed by SK Hynix and Micron. These last two are the main suppliers for Apple iPhone 6s.

Samsung say a small drop in revenues of 5.2 percent, but Micron says its revenues soar by 27.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

DRAM market shows unseasonal growth

nand-chipsSales of DRAM rose by 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter, bucking the usual pattern in the memory market.
DRAM Exchange, which tracks the memory market said manufacturers of devices migrated fast to 20 and 25 nanometre production, and the additional output meant quarterly revenues worldwide amounted to $13 billion.
The firm said that Samsung has shown the most profit from making DRAM, with typical operating margins of 47 percent.
SK Hynix also makes healthy margins of 42  percent, while American DRAM maker Micron managed to turn in margins of 29.5 percent.
Although Micron is still manufacturing using 30 nanometre technology, it raised production of DRAM for servers, which is the most lucrative application.
Samsung started volume production on 20 nanometre in the fourth quarter and the yield rate and output of chips made at 25 nanometre has increased.
Micron has begun sampling on the 20 nanometre process but plans to migrate so fast that there will be 80,000 wafer starts a month by the end of this year.


Intel announces 3D NAND-Flash

IMFT Sign - Lehi

Rob Crooke, VP & GM of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Solutions Group was last up in the company’s day long Investor Meeting today in Santa Clara.

Though last, he had the most newsworthy announcement about the company’s future memory intentions.

Intel announced it is back in the memory business – 3D NAND-Flash that is (mass production in-house is conditional though).

Crookes’ revelation ends any rumination on Intel-Micron Flash Technologies 3D Flash development – it also includes SK Hynix when the device goes into production 2Q 2015. Evidently those who have been nice have early sample devices according to sources.

The specifics:

  • 4G hole array 32 layers deep | (216 x 216)(Array) x 25(Layers) x 2(MLC) = 256 Gbits
  • 1TB in 2 mm package
  • SSDs: 10TB and up planned
  • Production 2H 2015 – IMFT (Lehi, Utah facility mentioned) & SK Hynix
  • Intel can also produce internally
  • Replacement of HDD with SSD in all PC and Mobile devices

Crooke allowed that the devices will not use Intel’s cutting edge 14nm technology but a slightly relaxed geometry  – Micron is on record at 16nm geometries for 3D NAND. The openly known fact that prevaricating about Flash Geometries may hold sway – a hefty dose of caveat emptor is recommended.

The announcement coincides with reports that Intel and Micron are involved in a project with EMC2-DSSD – an effort to produce the first NAND-Flash In-Memory Database appliance.  The proffered memory type may be a custom type expressly tailored for the application and may be produced in-house by Intel – more on this as roll-out time nears.

Micron a $50 stock – maybe more…,

Micron_Lehi_UtahBarron’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 releases super dense SSD

mircon ssdMicron 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.


UK turns into throwaway society

kettleA survey shows that 65 percent of Brits believe that it’s better to plump for new products rather than make do or upgrade existing ones.

Crucial, which has an axe to grind because it supplies memory upgrades, said it surveyed 2,000 people in the UK.

People want to replace old lamps for new whether they’re mobile phones, kettles, computers, microwaves, televisions and toasters.

One in five folk said they were expecting to spend between £100 and £300 replacing existing items in the next month.

A third – actually 34 percent – said if stuff broke down they’d rather replace them than try and fix them.

Roddy Mclean, from Crucial, said that people replaced products at the slightest sign of them slowing down. And here’s the axe grinding: “Lots of people are mssing a trick, as products such as home computers and laptops can easily be upgraded by their owners.”

Apparently one in five people surveyed are likely to trade in their computers for a new lamp rather than upgrading them. Over 90 percent of the people said their computer runs slowly or has difficulty booting.

Windows?  The survey didn’t ask that question.

Semiconductor market to grow three percent

silicon-waferThe worldwide semiconductor market is expected to grow 3 percent this year. The market has been seeing sequential growth for several consecutive quarters and most vendors believe they will end the year on a positive note, just barely.

“It has been a tough few years for the semiconductor industry. While we haven’t seen a dramatic decline in overall revenues since the 2008/2009 period the market has been pretty stagnant since 2010,” comments Peter Cooney, practice director. “We will see some growth in 2013 as the wider economic environment improves but major market growth is not expected until later in 2014, early 2015.”

The year will be remembered for several major mergers and acquisitions rather than record growth. Fujitsu and Panasonic semicon divisions are merging and Micron has scooped up Elpida. Intel has strengthened its portfolio with the ST-Ericsson GPU unit merger, while Broadcom bought Renesas Mobile’s LTE assets.

ABI Research noted that consolidation in the industry should come as no surprise, as chipmakers are forced to deal with far stiffer competition and lower margins.

“Margins are falling and the competitive environment is tough—especially in the mobile device market—this is driving vendors to re-evaluate their overall strategy and pull out of some of their once major markets. We have seen a number of major vendors exit the mobile device market – Freescale, TI, STMicroelectronics, and Renesas and we expect there are more to come,” said Cooney.


Zycko prepares for Flash flood

flash_gordon (1)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.