Last week's Flash Memory Summit did not disappoint. As one of the early sponsors of the conference, it was awe-inspiring to stand in the middle of the exhibit hall and see how the show has grown, in both number of booths and attendees. It really hit home for me - The Summit is all grown up, and so is the flash industry. It was also good confirmation on our decision to launch our newest eMMC product, FlashFXe at the show. The release of our new test data showing its effect on IOPS (5-21X!) and up to 40% power savings definitely caught attention at the show, along with our splashy new banners.
Some of the other highlights of the show were: The SK Hynix Keynote speech was full of interesting tidbits, such as the endurance differential between SLC NAND vs. MLC NAND, at just under 50,000 and just under 3,000 program/erase cycles respectively. The difference is of course increasing as die sizes shrink. LPDC seems to be the heir apparent to BCH so far as error correcting algorithms go. At least one company presented a new "lattice" ECC scheme which is better than either of those (patent pending). There was a general feeling, expressed in at least a few of the 11 (eleven!) keynotes, that SSDs have not grown in market share as much as was anticipated. We were amazed at the number of people still doing CF cards. In the mobile applications session, it was good to see confirmation of market trends we've been hearing about all year:
- Demand for Notebooks/Netbooks has leveled off, while tablets, ultrabooks, and ultraportables are growing fast
- The X86 and ARM architectures are overlapping, especially in tablets
- The hottest design attributes for mobile phones are performance, form factor, power consumption and security
- eMMC is running into performance limitations when it comes to smartphones
- UFS is the future for mobile devices, due to lower active and standby power.
The Consumer applications session was full of good information, focused primarily on optimizing the user experience:
- Windows RT delay will push out eMMC adoption
- The failure rate of SSDs is multiplied by high capacity applications
- SATA-SSD do not need power failure protection
- Data compression in SATA drives can help balance the endurance issues for small write applications. However, Media files cannot be compressed, and are therefore best stored in hard drives
- Bandwidth cost is becoming an important design factor, as it is having increased impact on user costs.