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The Futurum Group Report on Flash Memory Summit

The Futurum Group Report on Flash Memory Summit

The News: During the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara from August 8 to 10, The Futurum Group team met with a number of companies for discussion on their recent announcements, plans, and overall business activity.

The Futurum Group Report on Flash Memory Summit

Analyst Take: Analysts from The Futurum Group (TFG) attended the Flash Memory Summit in August 2023, moderated and spoke at sessions, and met with a number of vendors and organizations for more information. Here is a synopsis of the briefings during the event.

Micron

Micron has recently announced Micron 6500, a 30TB TLC NAND device for the enterprise where Micron targets increased performance over the prior model with improved power utilization. The latest 232 NAND technology is used in the 6500.

TFG discussed issues of TB/ per watt and how Micron is trying to overcome what could be misleading understanding with the value of work being done (performance). There are a number of issues that must be considered for devices that are used for AI training with regards to performance, which would be one of the uses for the 6500.

Phison

Phison is primarily an SSD controller company that makes SSDs for other vendors. The current offerings are consumer class devices, but Phison is expanding into enterprise devices. Current devices are PCIe Gen5 attached. For its enterprise device initiative, Phison is looking to work with major storage vendors to become another source for them. The company expects its next generation of PCIe Gen5 devices that will be shipping soon will give it a price-performance advantage over competing devices. Phison has $2 billion in revenue with 3,700 employees. The company is located in Taiwan.

Marvell

One initiative within Marvell is to create system-level proof points for its SSD controllers. The company’s focus is on being first with products that will be used for major trends. The need to be a leader (at the front of the market) was emphasized. To do this, Marvell wants to understand transitions that are occurring. Important areas discussed:

  • SSD controllers – Marvell’s number 1 business.
  • Moving from consumer to cloud and not competing in enterprise – with a belief that “legacy” vendors are serving that market.
  • Marvell also provides data accelerators – a small but growing business. Company representatives see potential in accelerators for security.

Hitachi Vantara

Hitachi has made some recent organizational changes with a renewed focus on IT infrastructure (storage), There are three primary areas for Vantara:

  • Digital solutions, primarily driven by its consulting offerings.
  • Lumada – Pentaho and other software.
  • Digital Infrastructure (storage).

Digital Infrastructure

  • The SVOS software (the embedded software in the VSP storage system) is renamed as Virtual Storage Software (VSS) and will be offered on hardware as software-defined storage. (Note that the SVOS software had hardware specific handling of the internal switching and the custom interface cards that made it very unique. The changes in this software have been made over the last 2 or 3 years.)
  • VSS will be block storage only.
  • There will still be mainframe support in VSS.
  • Hitachi Vantara plans to add file and object support into VSS.
  • The VSP, which has several models now (5000, 5500, E) will be rebranded with new offerings for block, file, and object (when they are available) on the same platform.
  • At some point after the announcement for the new offerings are introduced, Hitachi Vantara will deliver a Data Orchestration Engine and a Cloud Management Platform. There were no details on what these will be.

Viking Enterprise

Viking Enterprise has a new server, the VSS3040, that is targeted at analytics with three A100 GPUs and eight 16 TB SSDs. The company is OEMing this now and will add to its channel. Customers can run TensorFlow on this system for AI.

Hammerspace

With new funding and the addition of key individuals, Hammerspace is expanding its opportunities with its Data Orchestration capabilities with addition use cases. Orchestrating data with intelligence for global access control and data location optimization will have appeal for different markets including use of private data in the AI/ML initiatives. The expansion will build on current successes, which were discussed but are not public at this point.

Quantum

Quantum is continuing with the rollout of the Myriad NAS system, which is currently in early access. The company will be demonstrating a system at IBC in Amsterdam and will continue with Myriad in a briefing center, bringing in European customers.

Myriad is expected to be generally available before end of year. There are a number of early support customers now, with one at a therapeutics research center who will be a reference in the future. A packaged solution with Myriad and ActiveScale object storage for areas where there is new data with a defined probability of access curve will be highly valuable.

SNIA

Because of its expansion beyond storage and storage networking, SNIA wants to expand beyond what the name implies as the Storage Networking Industry Association and just be known as SNIA, where that is no longer an acronym. The idea of grouping some of the other industry organizations with the association and launching as a new identity was discussed with TFG analysts.

CXL Consortium

The consortium now has 250 member companies. There are a number of technical groups working with the following direction:

  • No restricted technology.
  • Open specifications – membership reviews in 45 days or less to final specification.
  • Companies agree to license technology under reasonable terms.
  • There is a compliance and interoperability program, and several vendors offer test equipment.
  • There will be forward and backward compatibility without exception.

CXL has absorbed OpenCapi, GenZ, and now CCIX. CXL products are in lab validation now. The next step is to say they are in a production environment, which is expected in 12 months. These will be multi-vendor offerings. CXL representatives expect that one of the cloud vendors will be first to move from lab to production. Server vendors offering CXL as a configuration option is expected 12 to 18 months from now.

IBM

The FlashCore Module (FCM) version 4 will be publicly launched in October (full availability will be after the first of the year). New functional capabilities were disclosed (with detailed explanation) during sessions at FMS. The FCM contains an FPGA with two ARM cores and two RISC-V processor cores. The disclosures in the presentation were that IBM added ransomware anomaly detection in each FCM by monitoring access patterns, entropy, etc. and reporting that information to the FlashSystem controller. The FlashSystem controller now has an inference engine to make decisions on the incoming data about a cyber-attack and take action (shutting down access, alerting, etc.) The information from the devices will be sent to IBM via telemetry using Storage Insights to feed the training for updating the inference engine, which will be downloaded to the FlashSystem periodically.

Infinidat

Infinidat has an upcoming software announcement that will improve the performance of Hybrid Arrays and allow them to be a multi-tier solution. The details will be available at the time of the announcement.

Recent successes for Infinidat were discussed with significant growth experienced over the last two quarters. With the planned announcements, Infinidat should be able to continue the momentum.

ScaleFlux

The ScaleFlux computational storage SSDs are in full production now with a custom ASIC. This is a single-chip solution and gives ScaleFlux a space and power advantage over other solutions. The company compares itself to other solutions that use FPGAs. ScaleFlux has been shipping products primarily into the financial community and Ali Baba, showing value over others with performance and compression effectiveness. This is a single-port device, and the company is currently working on a PCIe Gen5 controller with dual port.

ScaleFlux plans to announce additional functions that will be publicly disclosed at a later date.

Key Takeaways: The Futurum Group Report on Flash Memory Summit

Advances in storage and memory technology continue, evidenced by the new products and technology demonstrations at the Flash Memory Summit.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other insights from The Futurum Group:

IBM Makes a Number of Storage-Focused Announcements

Hammerspace Raises $56.7M in Funding to Unlock Business Opportunities

Quantum Announces Myriad File and Object Storage Designed for High Levels of Performance and Scalability

Author Information

Randy Kerns

Randy draws from over 35 years of experience in helping storage companies design and develop products. As a partner at Evaluator Group and now The Futurum Group, he spends much of his time advising IT end-user clients on architectures and acquisitions.

Previously, Randy was Vice President of Storage and Planning at Sun Microsystems. He also developed disk and tape systems for the mainframe attachment at IBM, StorageTek, and two startup companies. Randy also designed disk systems at Fujitsu and Tandem Computers.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Randy served as the CTO for ProStor, where he brought products to market addressing a long-term archive for Information Technology and the Healthcare and Media/Entertainment markets.

He has also written numerous industry articles and papers as an educator and presenter, and he is the author of two books: Planning a Storage Strategy and Information Archiving – Economics and Compliance. The latter is the first book of its kind to explore information archiving in depth. Randy regularly teaches classes on Information Management technologies in the U.S. and Europe.

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