LAS VEGAS — Memory architectures, SSDs, and flash technology were well represented at this year’s Storage Visions conference, including the show’s awards that highlighted visionary companies and products.
Among the award winners was Samsung, which nabbed the Professional Storage Company award for its introduction of 3D Vertical NAND Flash Technology. The company announced in August it had begun mass production of a 128 Gbit/s NAND flash memory that is integrated in multiple layers. The memory is based on a charge-trap cell rather than the conventional floating gate non-volatile cell used in 2D NAND flash. It also garnered the Home Consumer Storage award for its 840 EVO SSD, just as the company announced new security features to the self-encrypting drive to support professional security software employed by enterprise organizations.
SanDisk also straddled the enterprise and consumer spaces with two awards. Its Connect Wireless Media Drive, which was showcased at CES as well, comes in the form of a thumb drive and took home the Mobile Consumer Storage award, while its collaboration with Diablo Technologies on the ULLtraDIMM won the Enabling Professional Storage Technology award. Diablo’s Memory Channel Storage (MCS) architecture connects NAND flash directly to the CPU through a server's memory bus -- persistent memory is essentially attached to the host processors of a server or storage array. This configuration allows for linear scalability in performance at extremely low latencies for high-demand enterprise applications.
One of themes this year was storage for entertainment-related content. Dell won the award for Professional Media and Entertainment Systems for its Compellent Storage System. Dell acquired Compellent and its Storage Center storage area network (SAN) system in 2011. It combines several virtualized storage-management applications with hardware, including interfaces for SSDs.
Also along the media and entertainment vein was recognition for Violin Memory’s Maestro Memory Appliance. Its use by High Moon Studios won the Visionary End User Award for High Performance Storage Application. High Moon Studios creates high-performance games, and it used the appliance to create a 100,000 IOPS storage system in its SAN fabric to accelerate performance and reduce software build times by nine times.
Speaking of software, LC Technology International received The Enabling Consumer Storage Technology award for its Solid State Doctor and SSD Utility Suite. The suite includes performance enhancement, optimization, cloning capability, data security, and firmware management tools for SSDs.
In addition to recognizing products and companies with awards, Storage Visions 2014 also served as a backdrop for the launch of the Solid State Storage Initiative’s SSD Features Rating project, the goal of which is to better understand what users expect of their SSDs. The first phase of the project is a survey, and although results to date were announced at the show, the SSSI is still seeking more input.
Also on hand at Storage Visions was The Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO), the consortium that oversees serial ATA, highlighting the widespread availability of SATA M.2 products and accompanying infrastructure. M.2 is a small form-factor card, typically an SSD with a SATA interface, suitable for ultra-thin notebooks and tablets and connector that supports applications such as WiFi, WWAN, USB, PCIe, and SATA.
SATA M.2 is described in the recently announced SATA v3.2 specification that was ratified in August 2013. It includes SATA Express, a new specification that enables the coexistence of SATA and PCIe storage devices, as well as enhancements in power management, new SATA form-factors, and optimizations for solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs).
Of course, one can’t talk storage today without mentioning cloud, and among the speakers was CloudSigma CEO Robert Jenkins, discussing the opportunities and challenges for consumer and enterprise cloud storage. The public cloud IaaS provider announced the addition of new snapshot management technology to its SSD storage offering. Another session discussed bringing non-volatile memory to future storage architectures.
Now in its 13th year, Storage Visions has positioned itself as a companion show to CES, addressing facets of storage ranging from consumer electronics and media and entertainment to enterprise storage suppliers and customers, storage device manufacturers, and storage system builders.