The Most Important Advancements in Flash Storage in 2016

Storage has become one of the most critical considerations for manufacturers of digital devices and the infrastructure that supports them, as most consumers, and virtually all businesses, are keeping their video, images and documents.  This is not a surprising trend, as libraries of video, picture and data files are important not only to everyday consumers, but are a necessary part of doing business for companies large and small.  The real surprise is that storage device makers like Samsung have been able to leapfrog customer expectations with extremely small, amazingly fast, exceptionally dense and highly efficient solutions.  In fact, 2016 has been a watershed year for advancements in all of these areas, thanks mainly to advances in flash technology.

Flash-based storage has been improving in every way, and these improvements have been occurring at a pace that has been simply phenomenal. Let’s look at the most pivotal changes in flash storage over the past year:

NVMe SSD on a Chip (BGA SSD)

  • Previously, there was a trade-off between SSD performance and compactness for mobile computing devices. A new extremely small SSD (the size of a postage stamp) is bringing the performance and capacity of a desktop PC to tablets and convertible PCs.
  • The NVMe BGA (ball grid array) SSD delivers sequential read speeds of up to 1,500 MB/second, and about 3x the performance of a full size 2.5” SATA SSD (which has a maximum transfer rate less than 600 MB/sec). This performance allows ultra-portable devices to outperform most recent high-end PCs.

High Capacity 2.5” Enterprise SSDs

  • In 2016, SSDs took the high capacity crown away from HDDs with 15.3TB SSDs, and in 2017, many enterprise storage administrators will be taking advantage of this capability as well as our newly developed 32TB SSD.
  • High capacity storage devices require less rack space which translates into lower co-location costs. Reclaiming data center real estate for other business needs extends the life of many data centers that were thought to no longer have sufficient storage capacity in their current building configurations.

All Flash Arrays (AFAs) Replace Hybrid Arrays

  • During the past year, there has been overwhelming customer demand for all flash arrays (AFAs). Popular hybrid arrays have been relying on complex caching and tiering systems, while cost-efficient AFAs eliminate this complexity yet offer predictable high performance for virtually any enterprise data need.
  • AFA-enabled data reduction (including some vendor-guaranteed reductions of 3:1 or more) is significantly reducing acquisition costs.
  • AFAs have no moving parts, greatly improving their round-the-clock availability, resistance to failure and predictability of performance.  A typical 10TB HDD RAID has to rebuild degrading performance for days on end, while AFAs do not degrade.

Universal Flash Storage Expanding Mobile Reach

  • UFS performance has increased sharply in 2016: now 50-300 percent faster than the most widely used eMMCs (eMMC 5.1)
  • The market is now witnessing much greater acceptance of high density UFS (128/256GB) thanks in large part to the rollout of higher end smartphones. UFS adoption has grown beyond flagship smartphones to include high-end cameras and augmented reality/virtual reality systems. Next year, we will see UFS move to mainstream smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, and even 2-in-1s.

As you can see, the storage industry has made enormous strides in 2016.  In fact, the thirst for consumer electronics is being fueled in large part because of the support that the storage industry has been providing, with Samsung Semiconductor well in the lead.  All of these advances are dependent upon superb manufacturing (including 4th generation V-NAND manufacturing capabilities) and relentless pursuit of the best that technology has to offer.  Watch as we push the boundaries of what can be done faster than would be reasonably expected.  And, let us know if you agree with our choices for the most important flash storage advances in 2016.

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