Author: Gil Russell

Participation in the multidecadal development of Silicon Valley illuminates a talent as a raconteur of things tech.

Thin Client rides again

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Larry Ellison rode the “thin client” architecture back in the mid 1990s. Called the diskless desktop among various other names it amounted to a “smart terminal”. It was a tad premature.

Given another two decades the arrival of the Cloud as a “connected” computational facility for not so capable smartphones has belatedly arrived. And with that arrival Oracle is now in the mode of beefing up their “Cloud” capabilities with the announcement of its purchase of NetSuite Inc. for $9.3 billion. Oracle has been lagging the competition in cloud-based services, and is essentially buying market share according to several analysts based in San Francisco.

Oracle is a company caught between extending the viability of its installed hardware based system-software hegemony and the emerging Open Systems that most Cloud vendors are engaging. Their investment in the purchase of Sun Microsystems has not been primary to the company’s earnings potential. There was a time when Intel was non-persona grata at Oracle – that began to change two years ago.

The deal has been rumored for months, because the relationship between Oracle and NetSuite goes back decades. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has been a NetSuite investor since he co-founded the company with Evan Goldberg in 1998. Ellison and his family own about 45.4 percent of NetSuite’s common stock, according to a recent company filing. Zach Nelson, NetSuite’s CEO, ran Oracle’s marketing operations in the 1990s.

As Ellison and his family are part owners of Net Suite, a group of independent Oracle directors (excluding Ellison) helped evaluate and negotiate the deal with NetSuite. For NetSuite, approving the deal will mean getting clearance that sidesteps the large stockholder. The company said a majority of shares not owned by Ellison and his family; or by directors and executive officers; must vote in favor of the deal for it to be acquired.

If the deal is not approved there will be more than just a few amazed people to say the very least.

Salesforce Next?

Salesforce’s name has a marker on Oracle’s takeover radar. According to several sources this has reached the level of a personal vendetta with Larry Ellison – and Larry does like to win. So please standby…,

Flash Memory Summit 2016 – Consolidation?

FMS2016_BannerAd_300x250The Flash Memory Summit 16 will be convening at the Santa Clara Convention Center over August 9 -11, 2016. Flash memory is now established as a key technology enabling new designs for many products in the consumer, computer and enterprise markets.

Storage Crossover

The industry is at a critical juncture where the total cost of ownership for flash based SSD’s achieved crossover with hard disk drive equivalents last September as the enterprise storage medium of choice.

The fact that the number of producers is limited has altered the landscape of consumption with some analysts indicating that serious shortages will exist for some time to come. An interesting, but mitigating fact is that most of the analysts are not technical – the ones that we’ve talked to that have a technical bent are not so sanguine about the availability mix. One item that stands in the road to profits is the need for this next generation storage device to not only retain data but do so interactively without losing bits. The unrecoverable bit boogie man is now staring the industry down. The ability to store immense amounts of “ready data” for execution now depends on the technologies ability to reliably retain data.

All Flash Array producers are now entering the “really big data storage array” market – the battle has dropped down to the cost of storage per dollar creating a whole new category of marketing lows. 3D Flash is now so dense that failure modes are now dependent upon being aware of “how and when” the bits were used during the entire lifetime of the device.

Cork, Ireland NVMdurance was the first to understand this phenomenon and is now firmly embedded in their first customer Altera (now Intel). Pure and Nimble Storage are offering their services for their AFAs – seems that leasing AFA memory is a probable in the future of solid state storage. We’re still left reading the indemnification clauses of their contracts.

Poison Pill

Micron Technology filed with the SEC a poison pill last Friday. The buzz is that the company is once again in play. The likely suitor is none other than Intel according to the lead rumor. We will be talking with Micron and Intel at FMS 16 and although they’ll not say anything about what’s going on we’ll at the very least get to look into their pupils while they’re telling us…,

Adesto Technologies Launches IoTs Memory

Adesto-Logo

Sunnyvale, CA – Adesto Technologies is introducing an ultra-low power memory solution with the ability to aid in the design of Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications that can run for years on a single battery.

Adesto also announced that the new 45nm based CBRAM Products will be manufactured by TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Company  (TPSCo), 300mm, Hokuriku, Japan Fab.

There’s much to like with their selection of “Moneta” for the branding name. Moneta is the goddess of memory and money – also prosperity and finances. In fact the English word “Money” derives from this lovely goddess’s name.

Adesto went public last October on the NASDAQ Exchange with the call letters IOTS, a straight forward play on the companies intentions. Long thought a takeover target by many analysts the company seems to have convinced acquisition suitors that they are much better off by leaving Adesto an independent entity – this gives the company the ability to adapt their Resistive Conductive-Bridging Random Access Memory (CBRAM) to a multiplicity of special design requirements for the rapidly expanding IoTs segment. Adesto, in effect, has been able to dodge the takeover bullet by being much more useful by remaining small while offering their products through multiple avenues from discrete devices through BEOL SoCs.

Adesto, having completed their developmental stage, is now transitioning to the commercialization and expansion phase of their technology. Several analysts expect that the company will continue to capture a significant portion of the non-volatile memory outside of the commodity data storage market and enjoy profitable royalty licensing from a number of other markets.

The newly introduced memory is entering “…, a hardware landscape (that) is changing quickly,” according to Narbeh Derhacobian, chief executive officer of Adesto. “Off the-shelf memory products were appropriate for the smartphone and PC markets, but they cannot satisfy the requirements of a new world of connected things. Unless we can dramatically reduce power consumption, the cost of changing batteries will prevent the IoT from becoming a reality. At Adesto, we are focused on this emerging market, and Moneta demonstrates our ability to execute and deliver next-generation products to meet its requirements.”

Adesto is a case book example of a company that has been “tinkering away” with a technology that the greater market paid little attention to. Gaining traction has been a continuing mantra of Adesto’s management. Along the way they gathered a number of “Black Swan Outliers” helping them to steer their way to, and carve out an unoccupied niche in the ultra-low power, non-volatile memory for the Internet-of-Things market – a market that is now enjoying a sudden and near explosive growth rate. Let us all remember that there is no such thing as an “easy” technology.

Analysis: the Western Digital SanDisk buy

WD-LogoThe semiconductor industry’s rapid consolidation proceeded apace as Western Digital agreed to buy SanDisk today for $19 Billion. SanDisk had been shopping itself to potential buyers which also include Micron Technology Inc. The offer values SanDisk [SNDK} at $86.50 a share, a 15% premium on Tuesday’s market close. SanDisk shares rose 5.7% to $79.50 prior to market open – the same shares were trading under $60 a share before rumors spread concerning the firms potential sale.

Western Digital shares dropped 2.5% to $73 in premarket trading having lost nearly a third of their value so far this year. Ironically, both companies reported better-than-expected results for their latest quarters this morning.

The acquisition comes just three weeks after China’s Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. agreed to pay $3.78 billion for a 15% stake in Western Digital, the latest U.S. tech company scrambling for politically connected (capital source) Chinese partners.

Under the deal Western Digital said it would pay $85.10 a share in cash and 0.0176 shares in stock for each share of SanDisk if the Tsinghua investment closes first. If that deal hasn’t closed or has been canceled, it will pay $67.50 in cash and 0.2387 shares.

SanDisk has missed their earnings estimates for the last three quarters and according to downgrades by market analysts appears to be suffering from poor execution on a number of fronts:

  • Loss of Apple’s SSD business
  • A too optimistic Enterprise strategy – missing 2TB SATA drive solution
  • Poor integration of the Fusion I/O acquisition
  • 3D NAND migration uncertainty – late entry position
  • High margin retail business is slowing
  • SanDisk must renegotiate licensing revenue with Samsung (Aug-16, now 40% EPS)
  • Poor inventory management
  • SanDisk granted 5 U.S. patents last year

Steve Milligan Western Digital CEO will become chief executive of the combined company, located at Western Digital’s base in Irvine, Calif. SanDisk’s CEO Sanjay Mehrotra is expected to join the Western Digital board after the deal closes.

Western Digital expects the deal to add to earnings within 12 months of closing, and will achieve annual synergies of $500 million within 18 months.

TechEye Take

These are tough times in the memory sector. Company’s like SanDisk have been facing increasing price pressures over the last six months that have limited their ability to establish a better than break-even proposition going forward. SanDisk expanded into areas that it was ill equipped to manage ending in their distressed selloff to WD.

Western Digital has been in the process of designing a proprietary non-volatile memory and recently picked up technical people from the failed Contour Semiconductor. SanDisk has lost new product design momentum relying on (from what we can tell) their partner Toshiba to perform the heavy lifting.

Toshiba is having their own set of issues with accounting problems; resignation of the CEO and several board members; and are building a new fab making one wonder why in the world would anyone invest in this mess? Evidently WD has seen a way through. Toshiba seems to be absent from this conversation…., ?

Samsung cuts 10 percent of staff

Looking-for-a-JobKorea’s Economic Daily reported Tuesday that Samsung Electronics Company is preparing to thin staff at their Suwon, South Korea Headquarters by 10 percent. The company reportedly employed 98,999 as of June 30 making the reduction in staff at 10,000 people in round numbers. The layoffs will target human resource, public relations and finance departments – additional expense reductions will continue on into 2016.

Samsung has suffered serious setbacks in its effort to attain market supremacy with their new high-end Galaxy smartphones to the tune of $40 billion in the company’s market value over the last five months. Samsung’s share of global smartphone shipments fell by more than three percent in Q2 and is no longer the top seller in China, the world’s biggest market for mobile phones.

TechEye Take

Samsung has been bleeding on all fronts except the semiconductor division’s memory products. The glut of unsold TV’s backing up in warehouses and now “unmovable” smartphones adding to the woes has forced the company into cutting “non-essential” employees from headquarters staff. The coming Christmas season is expected to give some relief though market conditions in China, Samsung’s biggest market, continue to deteriorate.

Apples annual product announcements tomorrow in San Francisco will most likely add to the company’s list of worries.

Viking Technology and Sony in ReRAM memory mashup

Viking-+-Sony-LogoViking Technology, a Sanmina Company, announced that it  is  collaborating with Sony Corporation to bring ReRAM Storage Class Memory to the NVDIMM market.

“Viking has a strong legacy developing Non-Volatile DIMM (NVDIMM) products over several generations from DDR2 to DDR4,” said Hamid Shokrgozar, President, Viking Technology. “This partnership with Sony solidifies a long term roadmap for our NVDIMM products by utilizing next generation ReRAM Storage Class Memory from Sony. This product roadmap is also very important for our customers, who are deploying this key technology in their next generation computing and storage products. It also sets the stage for future Persistent Memory module solutions not only for Viking but for the enterprise storage and server markets.”

According to the company’s announcement, “The collaboration between the companies launches a significant advance in Storage Class Memory system product development, designed specifically for enterprise computing customers. Sony ReRAM Storage Class Memory delivers performance and endurance that greatly exceeds NAND flash, while simultaneously providing the data non-volatility and module memory capacity desired for persistent applications”.

“We are excited and looking forward to the co-development with Viking Technology on the next generation of NVDIMM products,” said Terushi Shimizu, Senior Vice President and Deputy President of Device Solutions Business Group, Sony Corporation. “At this stage in ReRAM development, we are looking ahead to the implementation of this technology accelerating real-world cloud datacenter applications such as In-Memory Databases and Real Time Analytics. This will prove to be an exciting new chapter in the decade long development of our ReRAM memory technology.”

Non-Volatile DIMMs, often termed NVDIMMs, are designed to deliver high performance, endurance and reliability to next generation servers that are NVDIMM enabled. Traditionally, enterprise applications could not depend on main memory (DRAM) alone because it is volatile (loss of data upon power failure). Therefore, batteries, Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS’s) and techniques such as check-pointing have been used to ensure data durability, but at the cost of performance. NVDIMMs now enable server and storage arrays to utilize persistent memory that delivers both the highest performance and 100 percent data integrity.

The Coming out of ReRAM; a Resistive Memory Family Member

The real eye opener is the strange bedfellows that are making a sudden appearance in what can only be called the “Resistive Memory Rush”. Most in the analyst community expected such a forward thinking announcement to be coming from companies like Samsung, Toshiba and SK Hynix. That it came from Viking and Sony only makes sense if you’ve been immersed in the ruminations of the resistive universe for the last 15 years.

In discussions with Viking over the past several years I’ve asked about how they expected to position the company with the coming advent of In-Memory Database computing – this is their answer.

Of all the companies that have gone from memory modules to SSDs Viking is to date the only company to make the tie-up with a semiconductor supplier of resistive memory with the potential IMDB marketplace. Viking has set their strategy on supplying the IMDB marketplace with what might be called “Storage Class DIMMs” that support legacy DRAM with DDR4 stacked DRAMs coupled with Persistent Storage provided by Sony ReRAMs.

TechEye Take

This announcement, in no small way, adds further credence to the validation of resistive RAM as a key element in systems that will be announced in the next several days and should quiet the naysaying into obscurity.

The downside is the lack of numbers. Intel/Micron hasn’t provided any except comparison numbers but none that could be plugged into an Excel spreadsheet. Stay tuned…,

Flash memory summit 2015 thanks us for the memories

FMS15The tenth annual Flash Memory Summit 2015 opens tomorrow at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. This year’s gathering promises to not only overflow on attendance (up 33% from last year) but also on discovery of Intel/Micron’s recent announcement of 3D XPoint non-volatile memory.

Micron will be holding a special, invitation only, session on the terrace at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara on Wednesday the 12th from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. From what we’ve been able to uncover it appears that the next two weeks are going to be some of the most intense weeks in the company’s history. On Friday the 14th Micron will be convening their Summer Analyst Conference at San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel beginning at the crisp hour of 8:00 AM. The company had to squeeze in their Summer Analyst Conference before more breaking news fulminating from Intel’s Developer Forum 2015 being held the following week at San Francisco’s Moscone Center West. Intel/Micron plan to further expose the world to a number of new ground breaking developments resulting from the two companies continued technology partnership – Intel Micron Flash Technology (IMFT).

There’s also this persistent rumor that an important tech company has rented the Buena Vista Center for the Performing Arts for a major announcement. Who it is and what they plan to announce has become the sport of speculators. Some are leaning toward Apple while others are laying odds on Microsoft. Will this rumor live up to anything valid? Stay tuned.

3D XPoint (3D Crosspoint Memory)

Intel/Micron’s announcement two weeks ago caused a major stir even though the event has been on Micron’s technology roadmap for the last several years. Both Samsung and SK Hynix were taken aback when they learned that the product will be in production in the fourth quarter of this year. They didn’t expect production of Storage Class Memory (SCM) also known as Persistent Memory (especially if you work the Intel side of the equation) to begin until 2017 at the earliest.

3D XPoint memory is 1,000 times faster, has 1,000 times more endurance than NAND and is 10 times denser than DRAM. It is the first new class of non-volatile memory to enter the market in 25 years. This is upsetting a goodly amount of status quo.

3D XPoint technology, though clearly indicated on Micron’s corporate roadmap, remained a well-kept secret by Intel/Micron. For those that follow such things this was illustrated by the fact that neither company participated in any of the usual technology forums reporting on the subject. Adding to the mystery, researchers associated with IMEC, the foremost semiconductor research center in Europe suddenly shifted investigations over to ReRAM and RRAM beginning in February of this Year. Collectively these events are seen as signatory markers indicating an undisclosed agreement among researchers that the technology path has now become perfectly clear.

Intel/Micron also stated that they have no plan to license the technology. The two companies will build more factories if the demand merits it. The news that they weren’t planning to play the commodity game with their new technology produced some pretty interesting reactions. The Korean producers, who have been literally caught with their pants down, are in a mad scramble to recover. This is not to say a company like Samsung doesn’t have the ability to cover this, it’s just that Intel/Micron may have just gotten lucky – they repeated that the technology concerns a “bulk change of the material” which has the entire research community outside of Intel/Micron spiked in conversation over it. One interesting tidbit is that Micron has been filing patent wrappers referring to the memory element as a “Programmable Conductive RAM”, which confused many as phase-change which it isn’t.

Confused yet? Don’t worry – everybody else is too.

Intel, on their 3D Xpoint page makes the following statements;

“This new class of non-volatile memory is a revolutionary technology that allows for quick access to enormous data sets and enables entirely new applications.”

And

 “For example, retailers may use 3D XPoint technology to more quickly identify fraud detection patterns in financial transactions; healthcare researchers could process and analyze larger data sets in real time, accelerating complex tasks such as genetic analysis and disease tracking”.

Both indicate the new memory is directed toward In-Memory Database applications expanding the memory capacity of Xeon class servers to ~64 Terabytes of accessible memory shared between DDR4 DRAM and 3D XPoint. According to one source “these statements make it clear that Intel’s intentions are solving the “Big Data” problem in the “In-Memory Database server segment with the new technology. All that’s left is for the hardware to roll out along with glowing endorsements from the usual list of suspects”.

TechEye Take

The Intel/Micron 3D XPoint announcement was somewhat rushed indicating that all the right things fell in place just in time to enable the two companies to pre-announce prior to the Flash Memory Summit and the Intel Developer Forum.

That the technology happens to fit nicely into the IMDB solution set is not happenstance – this is the result of a long and arduous planning process coupled with what appears to have been a long period of research and development to obtain a ‘Goldilocks” formulaic – just right to enable the 3D XPoint technology.

Intel captures a solid Tier1 order book for their high margin devices and both companies will be providing XPoint memory enabled DIMMs to fill up those 64 Terabyte servers. This is what their competition is really upset over, the loss of technological face in full view of the customer.

Of course there is much, much more but that’s the top of the headlines list – and the line-up of shows begins this week at the Flash Memory Summit.

Intel-Micron announce 3D XPoint SCM technology

What-is-3D-XPointIntel and Micron announced their jointly developed 3D XPoint technology at an analyst meeting today in Santa Clara, California.

Rob Crooke, Senior VP & GM of the Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Solutions Group, Intel Corporation and Mark Durcan, CEO Micron Technology took the stage to present the jointly developed 3D XPoint memory technology. The 300 mm wafer shown in the presentation was produced at Micron’s Lehi, Utah fab. The new devices are debuting as 128Gb, 2 Layer, Byte Addressable devices that use “bulk material property change” process – availability is limited to what’s “in (joint) production facility today” though 2016 was stated by Durcan.

The 3D XPoint technology is 1,000 times faster than Flash, 1,000 times the duration of Flash and 10 times the density of DRAM.

The new technology has been widely circulating as “Persistent Memory” and “Storage Class Memory” until now and has been widely speculated upon. One interesting quote, “no other competitors have the technology” indicates that Intel-Micron has scooped their competition in the cloud access storage marketplace.


3D XPoint Innovations

Cross Point Array Structure
Perpendicular conductors connect 128 billion densely packed memory cells. Each memory cell stores a single bit of data. This compact structure results in high performance and high density.

Stackable
The initial technology stores 128Gb per die across two stacked memory layers. Future generations of this technology can increase the number of memory layers and/or use traditional lithographic pitch scaling to increase die capacity.

Selector
Memory cells are accessed and written or read by varying the amount of voltage sent to each selector. This eliminates the need for transistors, increasing capacity and reducing cost.

Fast Switching Cell
With a small cell size, fast switching selector, low-latency cross point array, and fast write algorithm, the cell is able to switch states faster than any existing nonvolatile memory technologies today.

Fast Switching Cell
With a small cell size, fast switching selector, low-latency cross point array, and fast write algorithm, the cell is able to switch states faster than any existing nonvolatile memory technologies today.

Byte Addressable Data
3D Xpoint technology allows data to be directly addressed at the byte level. Access to DRAM and 3D Xpoint memory uses the same addressing model greatly simplifying the CPU interface to data and enables Near Data Processing within an In-Memory Database system.

TechEye Take

This announcement was evidently rushed in order to beat the pre Flash Memory Summit press announcements next week – and they “blew the socks off the competition” according to one analyst source. Over 100 engineers have been involved in these well camouflaged developments which indicate the companies have spent in the billions of dollars on this program. Oh, and 3D Xpoint use Micron’s planar process indicating that the technology is near term to production. There is no mention made of TSV stacking but from all indications this technology will enter the market as stacked devices. From what we can ascertain this technology is in “rollout” – we expect production volumes ramping much sooner than might usually be expected. 

The “bulk material property change” provides no indication about process details. Connecting the memory elements with their bit-lines remains unclear – whether it’s a diode switching element or an Ovonic Switch remains to be revealed. In fact all the good questions remain unanswered – more fodder for later.

Chinese bid $23B for Micron

Tsinghua-Micron-BuyoutANALYSIS | Tsinghua Unified Ltd. has made a $23 Billion Dollar bid to acquire Boise, Idaho based Micron Technology Inc. If the deal goes through it will be the single biggest Chinese takeover of a US company – and the last remaining US supplier of DRAM memory.

Tsinghua is willing to bid $21 Dollars a share in a letter of intention presented to Micron according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. “While Micron does not comment on rumors or speculation, we can confirm that we have not received an offer,” spokesman Dan Francisco said.

Low Ball Offer
The offer is 3.9 times Micron’s estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation for the year ending August, compared with the median 14 times EBITDA for 81 semiconductor deals over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For transactions valued above $10 billion, the median is 25 times EBITDA.

18th Party Congress Decisions
China, at the nations last “Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress,” in November 2013 made the decision to widen the push to build the nation’s internal sourcing of semiconductors – the planning phase according to sources ended earlier this year in March. China has not been able to develop semiconductor memory technology fast enough to supply their own internal demands let alone export demands and would have to acquire the technology through acquisitions. A Hong Kong source added “that Tsinghua realized that a “decision of opportunity” had evolved after Micron reported a 39% drop in profit for the third fiscal quarter ended June 4. The subsequent fall of Micron’s stock price into the $17 Dollar range provided the necessary enticement for the $21 Dollar per share offer price”. The same source added, “Tsinghua has not lined up any source financing prior to launching the offer”.

CFIUS Approval Requirement
Any subsequent deal will face close scrutiny by U.S. Government officials in Washington. Unquestionably, a review by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States would be convened consisting of a panel of representatives from more than a dozen departments and agencies across the U.S. government.

According to the WSJ, “CFIUS, as the group is known, is charged with determining whether any foreign acquisitions or investments pose a security threat. But the process for determining whether a transaction is subject to CIFIUS review isn’t clear-cut. In many cases, firms involved with a transaction that might raise security concerns are expected to notify the committee, which is chaired by the Treasury Department, and that kicks off a review. However, in some cases, when a transaction isn’t referred to the government by the companies involved, government officials can choose to launch an inquiry of their own.

If CFIUS decides a deal poses a security threat, the transaction can be blocked. In other cases, the prospect of a negative CFIUS ruling has caused companies to drop a transaction on their own.”

Linkages
Tsinghua Unigroup is the investment arm of Tsinghua University, which counts the country’s President Xi Jinping and former President Hu Jintao among its alumni.

Beijing-based Tsinghua Unigroup already has links to major U.S. companies. It acquired a controlling stake in Hewlett-Packard Co.’s China networking equipment unit in May. Intel Corp. announced last year it would buy a 20% stake in Tsinghua Unigroup for $1.5 billion.

Tsinghua Unigroup, which was founded in 1988 by China’s elite Tsinghua University, became China’s largest chip design firm in 2013 after acquiring two of the country’s largest mobile-chip firms, Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics.

TechEye Take
It is well known that China has been shopping for memory. The story line was that they were gathering up the likes of ISSI which still requires pending CFIUS approval.

If China wanted to get the U.S. Government’s attention they now have it. CFIUS is very concerned about maintaining necessary national defense assets from foreign control and ownership. The almost humorous part of this situation is that CFIUS is even more opaque than the Communist Party is in Beijing.

Conversations with several analysts indicate that the offered bid is far from being acceptable – it is almost insultingly low as if they planned to actually pay more following negotiations. The analysts all felt that Micron’s fair market value was well above the $21 offer.

There is general agreement that Micron is nearing an announcement of several near term technologies that will materially affect the share price and that the timing of Tsinghua’s offer prior to these announcements is highly suspect in several regards.

Samsung SSD TRIMs data

Samsung-SSD-ActivatedSamsung may have inadvertently trimmed their sales. A story on StorageServers yesterday suggests that Samsung’s SSDs “could be wiping data” due to the SSD Controller’s improper functioning of the TRIM command.

The TRIM command allows the Operating System to inform a Solid State Drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be erased. The Trim command was introduced soon after SSDs started to become an affordable alternative to traditional hard disks.

Because low-level operation of SSDs differs significantly from hard drives, the typical way in which operating systems handle operations like deletes and formats resulted in unanticipated progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs.
Trimming enables the SSD to handle garbage collection overhead, which would otherwise significantly slow down future write operations.

According to StorageServers, an engineer with Algolia claimed to have discovered the bug in the way in which the drive reallocates blocks of data. Instead of zeroing areas which contain previously deleted data as they are supposed to, the drives appear to be deleting 512 byte blocks in “random locations on the drive” resulting in corruption of large file systems and near total erasure of small files. Hope of recovering the data was reported as “a tedious task” at best.

Samsung SSD models confirmed with the problem are:

  • Samsung MZ7WD480HCGM-00003(SM843TN)
  • Samsung MZ7GE480HMHP-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung MZ7GE240HMGR-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series
  • Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB

Samsung recently issued a firmware update to fix problems with the 840 EVO SSD which exhibited slow read speeds. A new team has been assigned to look into the TRIM data erasure/corruption problem and will be issuing an update shortly.

TechEye Take

Samsung does not like stains like this and will break out the reserves to not only fix the problem but also ensure that it does not re-occur.

We are trying to find out whether any of the affected drives contain any of Samsung’s 3D NAND-Flash devices.  They are not indicated as having any part in the reported problem.

It will be interesting to see whether this will have a positive effect on their competitors ‘share price on Monday’s market open…,