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Contour Semiconductor 2015 Predictions: What's Next for Solid-State Storage


Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2015.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Saul Zales, CEO, Contour Semiconductor

What’s next for solid-state storage

‘Tis the season for industry watchers to ask those of us on the innovation side what the coming year will bring. We've certainly offered predictions and educated guesses about the state of solid-state storage on this blog, but it now behooves us to make a few bolder statements, and a few disclaimers. (Your mileage may vary. Some restrictions apply. Void where prohibited.)

Solid state storage technology has been proven and accepted. This seems obvious, but it becomes more important into 2015 because solid state will put continued pressure on the market space for high-performance traditional hard drives.

Those vendors that purchase mass quantities of hard drives, like EMC, NetApp, HP, Dell and IBM understand memory is the most important component. Supply is short, and not likely to improve in the foreseeable future. NAND manufacturers are presently constrained, and memory component prices are liable to go up in 2015. Many system suppliers will continue to face challenges associated with a short list of memory suppliers..

Let's think about how that affects other ends of the landscape. Major end users like Amazon Web Services, Yahoo, or Facebook are very concerned about getting performance that is appropriate for their business needs. They're buying a lot of components - and a lot of solid-state storage. The current memory supply situation is unlikely to resolve for several years.

Emerging flash-based storage vendors, which tend to be more flexible and spry when it comes to pricing and configurations, are making inroads into the big players' sales. We'll have to see if this can continue if they're obliged to compete for the static NAND supply.

At Contour, our Diode Transistor Memory (DTM) is scoring between NAND and DRAM in terms of performance, so we're in a good space for these storage applications, and a good position when NAND prices increase.

Looking ever more forward, the growing pains caused by NAND's limited production could be fully realized. This couldn't come at a worse time. The Internet of Things will expand. It's not unrealistic to expect this category to grow to hundreds of millions of devices in the next few years. That's hundreds of millions more devices that all require memory. Many of these devices will need NAND for local storage (though some won't - again, your mileage may vary, and we mean that literally: automotive microcontrollers also need memory).

For example, the wicked popular Nest home automation devices use NAND, so they could be challenged to keep up with demand. Micron has said that the standard memory in smartphones available in China is growing from 8 GB to 32 GB - a 4x increase and a 4x challenge. Anybody producing anything with standalone memory (and we expect to see a lot of that at CES) will be challenged.

Where's all that memory for mobile and IOT applications going to come from? This is another segment where DTM comes to the rescue. As a phase-change based technology, it's not only fast; its endurance and reliability is much better. (You can read why here.)

Perhaps the better question is not "where" but "who:" who will be supplying all that memory? We are hopeful that it will be Contour Semiconductor's development partners who take advantage of the opportunity to supplant NAND with memory technology that is superior in performance, endurance and retention. (Some assembly required. Participating locations only. Any similarity to actual storage technologies, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)


About the Author

Saul Zales has 30 years of experience in all management aspects of the semiconductor industry, including engineering, high volume manufacturing relationships, marketing, business management, equity investments and licensing. Saul previously served as executive vice president of corporate business development at Fusion-IO, Inc. and was vice president and general manager of corporate development at Numonyx B.V. prior to that company's acquisition by Micron. Saul was also at Intel Corporation for twenty-four years, last serving as director of its flash memory business, where he guided the company's flash technology joint ventures, joint development programs and technology licensing. Saul has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Published Monday, January 05, 2015 12:40 PM by David Marshall
@VMblog - (Author's Link) - February 10, 2015 6:55 AM

Once again, how great is it to be a part of the virtualization and cloud industries? 2014 was another banner year, and we witnessed a number of fantastic technologies take shape and skyrocket. And I, along with many industry experts and executives, media

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