Special Report on Flash Memory Summit 2016: Year of 3D

5,900 visitors, 115 booths
By Jean Jacques Maleval on 2016.08.15

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Flash Memory Summit (FMS), produced by Conference ConCepts, is now the largest public show on storage in the world, even if it's only dedicated to SSDs and non-volatile memories, after all the other ones on storage collapse.

The event was dedicated to the trends, innovations and influencers driving the adoption of flash memory in storage applications, as well as in smartphones, tablets, and mobile and embedded systems.

The event happens on August 9-11, 2016 in Santa Clara, CA and was the eleventh one. It took several years to really succeed. The first one in 2006 attracts only 16 exhibitors and 675 visitors, the latest one 115 and 5,900 respectively, with a pause in 2009 (see table below). There was a huge number of technical conferences with generally many attendees and essentially from vendors and analysts.

It's worth going there as you can get the latest technological advancements not only on SSDs but also on components (accelerators, cables, cards, controllers, HBAs, interfaces, NICs, testers, switches, etc.), software and data recovery. There was also some demonstrations of all-flash subsystems (Accelstor, HPE, Huawei, Kaminario, Mangstor, Nimbus Data, One Stop Systems, Super Micro Computer, Toshiba, etc.). Dell, IBM and Pure Storage were the three big names not participating with a booth.

FMS is essentially engineering oriented. On the booths, you could meet excellent engineers able to explain you deeply the technology but generally unable to give you marketing information like availability or prices of the products. We met about no end users. Note also a few number of journalists. was apparently the only one from the European press with two German colleagues, the other coming from USA. We met one from Japan.  

The organizers want to evolve. FMS sales Alan Land said: "Over the last eleven years, FMS has evolved from a bleeding edge technical education conference to a full-blown non-volatile memory and storage trade show. About 40% of 2016 attendance was composed of marketing and execs. In addition to sending their engineers and product marketing staff for technical education at our event, they came to conduct business in the exhibit hall and at various sub-events."

There were three key subjects in Santa Clara:

  • 3D NAND: It's the year of 3D NAND with products based on this technology arriving in 2016 and beyond with more and more layers. 3D NAND chips were used on the highest capacity SSDs never seen: 60TB on 3.5-inch unit from Seagate and 32TB in 15mm 2.5-inch form factor by Samsung
  • PCIe NVMe: PCIe NVMe is not really new but was demonstrated with several enhancements all over the show. It's going to kill SATA, SAS and maybe FC for much faster connection for SSDs. There was an interesting demo by the NVME Solutions Lab by 24 companies.
  • Tight NAND supply:  with probably an impact on prices

Next FMS is scheduled on August 8-10, 2017 as usual  in Santa Clara, CA.

FMS figures Y/Y

Year Total registration Y/Y Growth Sponsors/
2006 675 NA 16
2007 1,046 55% 26
2008 1,297 24% 32
2009 1,319 2% 38
2010 1,976 50% 66
2011 2,268 15% 70
2012 3,437 52% 79
2013 4,599 34% 102
2014 4,954 8% 108
2015 5,259 6% 110
2016 ≈5,900 12% 115