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Notes from the lab: Flash Memory Summit 2014

I recently had the opportunity to spend three days in San Jose at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit with Arun Taneja and Jeff Byrne. After attending far too many briefings and seminars with outstanding thinkers who work for state-of-the-art companies I thought I would compile the four most interesting takeaways I got from the conference. Big note: I avoided mentioning any companies by name as I was under strict NDA but as these companies reveal products and features we will be reporting on them.

  • Spinners are dead, long live flash!

Computing was never destined for anything other than silicon. Period. Full Stop. In the past we have had to compromise on using silicon for storage by using punch cards, tapes or spinning glass platters. Every vendor that I met with at the summit felt that 2013 was the year of flash and it is now mature enough to be considered mainstream and, going forward flash would be the storage of choice for the datacenter. Just as spinning disks replaced tape and punch cards, spinning disks will be transited out of the datacenter and replaced by flash. I heard some great stories about very large companies converting to “all-flash datacenters”.

  • AHCI and SATA are dead, long live NVMe!

AHCI is a standard that specifies the operation of SATA interfaces and it was designed for spinning disks, and as such it is not an ideal interface for flash. Enter a new interface that was designed for flash; NVMe. It runs on a PCI Express bus and can deliver latency and bandwidth that support flash, not spinning disks.

  • Disruptive technology is coming soon to a computer near you.

Although I am under NDA not to discuss any specifics I did get a glimpse of the future and the future is flash. Expect some big announcements in Q3 and Q4 of this year. This disruptive technology will not just affect big enterprises but will span the gamut from desktops to the largest compute installations.

  • Big storage is dead, long live big storage!

The most interesting conversations I had at the summit were around  “all-flash arrays”, NVMe flash devices and hyper convergent servers. These innovations were coming from small, agile companies. Big storage companies seem to be dragging their feet on implementing these new technologies, it may be that they are hedging their bets and waiting to see who the winners are and then either scoop them up or implement a “me-too” technology into their legacy product line. But by that time it may be too late. Data General, DEC, Wang, NeXT; the IT landscape is littered with the decaying carcasses of IT companies that lacked the vision and/or the ability to embrace leading edge technology. Innovation is a harsh mistress and big storage needs to take a stand, make bold moves and show leadership by embracing these new technologies or they will end up being a footnote as a company that once was a leader in the high-tech space.

  • Premiered: 08/11/14
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Flash Memory Summit Virtualization Storage Flash SSD


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