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Industry Events

A Look Back: SNIA Winter Symposium 2012

We recently had the opportunity to attend the insightful SNIA Winter Symposium 2012 hosted by SNIA, an association dedicated to advancing IT technologies, standards, and education programs for all IT professionals. It is always interesting to connect with other people in the industry and discuss strategy and new technologies in a buzzing environment, such as this. For those who could not make it to the SNIA event, here is a summary of a few up and coming trends and technologies that were discussed:

PCIe Solid State Storage: PCIe SSS technology is truly driving the speed at which solid-state drives are known for. These higher speeds are transferring data between the microprocessor and cache at a pace that is unforeseen. It will be interesting to see how online transaction processing and data warehousing will be positively impacted as a result of more efficient storage. As the chair of SNIA, Wayne Adams, said, “It’s all about doing more for less or more in the same foot print,” Check out the presentation here.

PCIe SSD Alternatives: Martin Czekalski from Seagate delivered a presentation on an alternative to PCIe. Although it was clear that Czekalski preferred SAS to PCIe, he had a well-balanced case. The SCSI trade association has coined the term for the mechanical infrastructure, calling it Multifunction Bay. Multifunction Bay uses the same SFF-8639 connector for 12Gb/s SAS. Czekalski advocated for the PCIe SSD alternative in the following points:

  • NVMe has an early lead but is not enterprise hardened.
  • Although SOP is not as developed as NVMe, it has a more robust ecosystem.
  • The low market demand for PCIe SSD products yields high prices.
  • There is a large number of possible permutations for drivers, mechanical configurations, etc.
  • No standard for the device bay exists to define a mechanical enclosure and software stack supporting SCSI over PCIe.

SNIA Test Specification Revisions: It was announced that there will be revisions to the SNIA Performance Test Specifications. I have highlighted a few below.

  • The throughput test will use the two largest block sizes and none of the smaller ones.
  • The throughput numbers are now based on MB/s (base 10).  SNIA is considering changing to base two representation.

Security: Tom Coughlin, of Tom Coughlin and Associates, made a good case for the implementation of encryption, as defined by Trusted Computing Group standards, in most SSD drives, stating that 80% of SSDs shipped in 2013 will have the capability, but perhaps only 25-30% of them will actually use the feature. He further stated it is likely that all SSDs will have encryption capability by 2014. Major factors driving this adoption profile:

  • Little to no performance overhead penalty for encryption.
  • Very little to no cost to include the feature in the ASIC controller.
  • Encryption key is stored in the drive and not the host, therefore, making it more secure and without the need of key management.
  • Erasing Crypto takes only milliseconds by destroying the key.

Overall, it was a great conference! Advancements in the storage industry are progressing faster than ever and we are looking forward to future technological breakthroughs in the world of storage.

Until next time!

-        Esther Spanjer


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