TORONTO — A startup that has come out of stealth mode sees opportunities for technology that puts computational tasks closer to where data resides while also seeing a role for triple-level cell (TLC) NAND in the enterprise as “cold storage.”
NxGn Data recently came out at the Flash Memory Summit after a year in operation. In an interview with EE Times, James Fife, VP of business development, said the Irvine, Calif.-based company’s design center set up in Taiwan in December has 30 employees, with 40 on staff in total. He said the company sees itself as a solid-state drive (SSD) company first but also has its own controller in the works. “We feel an SSD player in the enterprise space needs to provide its own controller.”
Fife says NxGn Data is targeting hyperscale computing customers (the Googles and Amazons of the world) with a low-power controller that has a small footprint -- the M.2 form factor -- while also being able to address high-capacity storage, as much as 64 TBytes.
In some uses cases, Fife says, the company will employ lower-cost TLC NAND, particularly for what has been dubbed cold storage of data, and that the company’s variable code rate LDPC-based error-correcting code (ECC) memory can address endurance concerns. However, he believes, multi-level cell (MLC) is still the best option for hyperscale applications.
Social networking giant Facebook has been vocal about wanting a low-cost flash technology, saying at last year’s Flash Summit that a relatively low-endurance, poor-performance chip would better serve its need to store some 350 million new photos a day. Not long after, Jim Handy, principal analyst at Objective Analysis, concluded that Facebook would have to settle for a hierarchy of DRAM-flash-HDD for the foreseeable future. TLC might be cheaper and viable for cold storage, but not as cheap as Facebook would like, he said.
From left, NxGnData execs Richard Mataya, Co-Founder and SVP; Nader Salessi, Founder and CEO; Vladimir Alves, Co-Founder and CTO; James Fife, VP of Business Development
(Source: EE Times/Rick Merritt)
But TLC could make its way into the enterprise soon, as it is following a similar path to MLC's, as Handy said in a recent interview regarding Silicon Motion’s new controller for TLC NAND in client devices.
With regard to NxGn Data’s technology, Handy told EE Times that the company is “biting into an awful lot.” He said LPDC is very hard to implement workably because it’s very esoteric and involves mass processing; some vendors do it well and others struggle with it. The other challenging technology NxGn Data is implementing, according to Handy, is DSP, which involves signal processing and filters. For SSD makers, it involves understanding the environment around every individual bit, and “that’s complicated.”
He says the company does have a good pedigree in terms of the team it has assembled, with three founders who have collective experience with Western Digital, STEC, and Memtech.