Special Report on Flash Memory Summit 2015

From our correspondent in Santa Clara, CA
By François Alexandre COLOMBANI on 2015.08.24

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Flash Memory Summit (FMS) 2015, organized by Conference ConCepts Inc., started just ten years ago with only 450 registered attendees and 16 booths. During the years, the event went growing, almost doubling each year the number of attendees and exhibitors but in 2009. This time, on August 16-18, figures were 5,700 attendees and 122 exhibitors in Santa Clara, CA.

Flash Memory Summit 2015

But some big names in the flash storage industry were not at this year's show including EMC, HDS, IBM, Intel and Pure Storage

Most important advances in technology this year have been:

  • 48-layer 3D NAND, more condensed, faster and more affordable,
  • 16TB SSDs (Novachips and Samsung),
  • NVDIMMs SSDs with a massive increase in IO/s up to 3,000,000 IO/s and bandwidth up to 55GB/s, and
  • Software improving performance of flash subsystems for more efficient use.

Our list of some of the biggest announcement showcased by exhibitors:

Released the first flash memory to replace DRAM, the Memory1, compliant to DDR4 specifications and in DDR4 DIMM form factor. This memory is available with 256GB per module, which means you are able to have 4TB of memory in a 2-socket system. If you compare it to the actual DRAM modules, the biggest capacity available is 64GB and they are very expensive. Since flash is cheaper than DRAM, the 256GB Memory1 will be available at the same price as actual 16GB DRAM. This Memory1, compatible will actual and older server systems, will need a BIOS update and the installation of Memory1 software to do the job.

Is working in a PCM-based project in collaboration with Mellanox to add storage capacity remotely through Ethernet or IB, and making it efficient with RDMA (remote direct memory access) without modifying the BIOS.

Released the 3par StoreServ 7450 all-flash storage array. The company claims this product costs the same price as an HDD array. It features thin de-dupe and thin clones software for better CPU, storage usage and efficiency. It can deliver 900,000 IO/s at less then 0.7ms. It provides an import support to migrate from some EMC and HP products. It uses Intel Xeon and the new 4TB SAS SSD from SanDisk with 5 years of warranty.

Presented their ServerDOM, a 6Gb SATA SSD with a tiny size of 20.2x30.7x6.6mm. It connects directly to the SATA port without the need of cable connector. This drive was built for server's OS boot purpose, being compatible with all OS. It has storage capacities of 2GB to 64GB with up to 480MB/s and up to 240MB/s of sequential read and write, respectively. You can choose thee different types of flash chips for the product: SLC, iSLC and MLC.

Released the all-flash K2 v5.5 system, built on the company's Scale-Out Performance and Resilience Architecture with upgrade in performance and power consumption, at under $1.00 per gigabyte, which is half the price of the older version v5 that was introduced in May 2014.

Announced their EP2 NVMe PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 M.2 series SSD to replace the oldest EP1 series that used PCIe Gen 2.0 connection. These new SSDs are available from 120GB up to 1.9TB, have power loss protection and deliver sequential R/W of up to 2,200MB/s and 1,300MB/s, and random 4K of 250,000 IO/s read and 25,000 IO/s write, respectively.

Was demoing their NS570 series NVMe SSD in a PCIe card form factor, with 16TB in Full-Height-Half-Length using the HyperLink NAND technology. It's the largest capacity SSD built today with sequential R/W of 1,5GB/s.

Already working on new 48-layer 3D NAND products, released:

  • The CloudSpeed line SSD, the CloudSpeed ultra Gen.II, delivering up to 530MB/s sequential read and 460MB/s in sequential write, and up to 76,000 IO/s and 32,000 IO/s in random 4K read and write, respectively.
  • The new lines of Lightning 12Gb SAS SSD drives, that will be shipping this month. They can deliver up to 199,000 IO/s read and 115,000 IO/s write in random 4K reads, with sequential R/W bandwidth of up to 980MB/s and 740MB/s, respectively.
  • A flash caching software in collaboration with Dell, that improves server utilization, increases drives workload performance, and also enabling data protection in cache read and write.

Thanks to the high density of their new 3D 256Gbit V-NAND Flash, it announced a new line of products:

  • A 12Gb SAS SSDs in a 2,5-inch form factor, the PM1633, that will be available at the end of this year or the beginning of next one, in capacities of 4TB, 8TB and 16TB, making this later the highest capacity SAS SSD in the world. It delivers sequential reads and writes of 1,100MB/s and 1,000MB/s, and random 4K reads and writes of 180,000 and 15,000, respectively. It's possible to build a 2U chassis up to 768TB by putting 48 drives of 16TB and delivering up to 2,000,000 IO/s.
  • The SM953 NVMe SSD in a 2,5-inch form factor and the PM953 in M.2 form factor. They are available at capacities of up to 1.92TB, delivering sequential read and write of up to 1,100MB/s and 870MB/s, and random 4K read and write of up to 240,000 and 19,000 IO/s, respectively.
  • Another NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD in a 2,5" form factor, the PM1725 is delivering massive 750,000 and 120,000 IO/s of random R/W with impressive bandwidth of 6,000MB/s and 2,200MB/s of sequential R/W, respectively.
  • Demoed in collaboration with Stack Velocity, the new NVMe flash scale-out system, using Mellanox 40GbE connections and 24 PM953 SSDs mentioned before. The system delivers 425,000 IO/s in one node and 1,200,000 IO/s in 3 nodes. It also offer 5,000,000 IO/s via FIO, 2,300,000  with iSER and 1,300,000 IO/s with SMB3.
  • Showcased a big data reference system with 8 NVMe XS1715 SSDs, delivering up to 3,300,000 IO/s in random 4k read and 20GB/s of sequential read with iSER.

Announced a new line of enterprise SSDs:

  • The Nytro XP6500 flash accelerator, a PCIe 3.0 x8, with 4GB of DRAM, delivers up to 4,000MB/s sequential read and up to 2,200MB/s of sequential write, with random 4K IO/s of up to 300,000 in read and 100,000 in write, to be available at 1.5TB and 4TB.
  • Two NVMe SSD drives, the Nytro XF1440 and the Nytro XM1440. The XF1440 will be available in a 2.5-inch drive form factor with the 8639.U connector that makes the drive hot swappable, and the XM1440 in M.2 form factor. These drives deliver up to 2,700MB/s sequential read and 1,200MB/s of sequential write, and up to 200,000 IO/s and 34,000 IO/s of random 4K R/W, respectively. These products will be available next October.
  • The SAS 1200.2 drive which was designed in collaboration with Micron, with capacities of up to 4TB, sequential read up to 1,800MB/s and write of up to 800MB/s, random 4K read IO/s of up to 190,000 and write of up to 35,000 IO/s. It's for enterprise grade data protection with availability in January 2016.

Presented their new line of SSD controllers:

  • Available for commercial and industrial use, the SM2256 is a 6Gb SATA controller that supports 3D NAND as well as TLC and MCL NAND, has NANDXtrend ECC code technology, with sequential read of 540MB/s, sequential write of 480MB/s, and random IO/s of up to 90,000.
  • The SM2246EN is a 6Gb SATA controller supporting the latest generation of MLC, TLC and SLC NAND in high-speed toggle, ONFI or Async mode. It's compliant with AES-128/256 and TCG encryption. The sequential write and read as well as the the random IO/s are the same recorded by the SM2256 controller. It consumes an average power of 60mW. It is also available for commercial and industrial use.
  • The Ferri-eMMC is made for mobile and industrial applications, supporting MLC NANDs up to 32GB.

Demoed with Calypso Systems, the performance of NVDIMM-N x4-module is able to deliver up to 3,000,000 IO/s and 2,000,000 IO/s in random 4K read and write, and sequential reads and writes of 55,111MB/s and 35,453MB/s, respectively, maintaining very low latency. This is a massive increase in performance compared to enterprise NVMe and PCIe SSDs solutions. The only downside at the moment is the low capacity in this type of form factors compared to actual SSDs in other form factors.

Presented their new line of enterprise and client SSDs that will be available at the end of the year.

For enterprises:

  • The SAS SSD PX04S Series with 4K random IO/s of up to 270,000, a warranty of 5 years and power loss protection. The drive consumes 9W and can be boosted for better performance at 12W. It is built on an A19nm MLC NAND technology with 500GB to 4TB capacity.
  • The NVMe SSD PX04P Series, in a form factor of a 2.5-inch, have customizable power consumption of 25W, 18W and 12W, maintaining 4K random reads at 682,000 IO/s in each configuration, with capacity of up to 3.84TB.

For clients:

  • The PCIe XG3 Series available in M.2 and 2,5" form factors, support six power states, with random read of up to 2,400MB/s and write up to 1,500MB/s, and capacity culminating at 1TB.
  • The PCIe BG1 series, the smallest M.2 form factor SSD yet, with a surface of 16x20mm with capacities of up to 256GB, is aimed mostly at thin mobile or portable devices.


During the Californian show, there was also a lot of other new products by companies including AccelStor, BitMICRO, Mangstor, Memblaze, PMC, Radian Memory, Shannon System, Smart Modular Technologies and Viking Technology with new NVMe SSDs and SAS SSDs in 2,5-inch, M.2 and PCIe card form factors, integrating the hot swappable 8639 connector, and new software to make all these new and older technologies working together in a more efficient way.

Note that Intel and Micron announced last July the impressive 3D XPoint Non-Volatile Memory, more condensed and faster than 3D NAND. It will certainly bring some new improvements at FMS next year.