Enmotus Blog

The Evolution Of Storage

Posted by Jim O'Reilly on Nov 29, 2016 4:09:29 PM
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The storage industry continues to evolve rapidly, which is both exciting and challenging. I intend this blog to look at the hot news in the industry, as well as taking a view of trends and occasionally long-term directions.

This promises to be an interesting effort. There are plenty of innovations to describe, while retakes on older ideas crop up quite often. I hope you will find the subject as fascinating as I do.



1.It’s clear that the high performance enterprise hard drive is a dying breed. SSDs and all-flash arrays have undercut demand. With improved wear life, flash-based products meet the stringent needs of the datacenter plus, they are cooler, quieter and smaller and of course they are much faster.

Relevant news on this includes:

  1. Seagate has just release another generation of 15K RPM HDDs, but the real news is they have terminated any future development. Expect WD to follow along within the year with 10K RPM drives.
  2. A shortage of flash die is occurring right now, due to increasing demand coupled with a changeover at the foundries to higher capacity 3D NAND devices.
  3. EMC has announced that they are realigning their tiering philosophy to just two tiers. One is flash-based primary storage, while the other is bulk secondary storage, with initially SATA HDD but clearly expecting a migration to SSD in the near future. It’s worth noting that there is a debate about whether secondary storage really belongs in the cloud, given the success of companies like Panzura.
  4. The SSD vendors have announced bulk storage drives for 2017 delivery. Samsung and Toshiba have roadmapped 100 TB 2.5 inch SSDs, which leaves Seagate’s proposed 16TB HAMR drive in the dust. Economics do favor HDDs today, but the cost of appliances required to hold a petabyte of HDDs compared with the box for 10 of these SSDs offsets most of the difference…and 3dNAND will drive SSD prices down in 2017.
  5. There’s been much talk of Intel’s Optane (formerly X-Point) technology. This will come in both NVDIMM and SSD formats. Intel has a spate of tough news, though. Performance is way lower than the original boasts, due to faults in the controller chip design, as well as process issues with the X-Point storage media. We in fact can expect:
  6. The performance will be around 4x flash performance, which is certainly noteworthy, but:
  7. The price of the product will be nearer DRAM prices due to the complexities of the production process and yield issues.
  8. Furthermore, a second generation of controllers is promised that will create a speed up. These will arrive around mid-2017. In the meantime, OEM system makers are testing Gen 1 products, but don’t expect a mainstream release of these, with the 2nd gen products being just around the corner.

About the author

Jim O’Reilly is a well-respected consultant and commentator on the IT industry. He regularly writes for top-tier publishing sites. Jim is also an experienced CEO with a track record that includes leading the development of SCSI and built the industry’s first SCSI chip, now in the Smithsonian. Jim’s profile is at 


Topics: All Flash Array, 3D Xpoint, SSD, Intel Optane, Data Center