Flash Memory Summit has come of age with a conference agenda that has technical depth and an exhibit hall with professional quality booths and demos. This year SSD and PCI-e memory card solutions ruled, and Micron demonstrated a PCI-e memory card that had 128 individual Enhanced ClearNAND devices on it, 16 chips on each of 8 DIMMs. It totaled up to 2 terabytes of flash. It was very cool to see this kind of application demonstrated, and it reaffirmed our decision to support ClearNAND. In addition to demonstrating ClearNAND support in our booth, we debuted new file system technology to mitigate write amplification. There were a lot of tough questions asked, but the most common reaction was, "Really, you're doing that many IOPs with small (4kb) random writes? How are you doing it?" We saw several references to write amplification in presentations and on the show floor, so clearly this is an issue the industry is actively wrestling with. One of our senior software engineers at the show was particularly impressed by what he termed the "unbelievable performance" of some of the flash hardware being demonstrated (well over a hundred thousand IOPs), including the aforementioned PCI-e ClearNAND solutions. He said, "In some of the panel discussions, they were talking about IOPS in the millions! With the individual flash memory cells getting slower as lithography shrinks, there is only one way this is being achieved: pipelining and parallelism." This year we hosted the Software panel, or so-called Lunatic Fringe. It was surprisingly well attended for a show focused on hardware, and it ran the gamut from Flash Memory on Linux to Databases to a file system for SD cards. For next year, I'd like to see a push towards an Embedded portion of the show, because there was plenty of interest in our embedded software solutions. Finally, I was excited to see some of the Enterprise level solutions mirror what Datalight is doing at the embedded scale. Tier 1 caching, which is using a few SSDs to speed up the slower hard drives? That matches our Paired Storage performance enhancement. Treating Flash differently than a Hard Drive? We've been doing that since the beginning, and it's only getting better in this next release.
Posted by: Thom Denholm