This is a guest post from Mike Montemorra, who is a technology guru with long and successful career in computer industry. Mike keeps an eye on the latest developments in computer and storage technology and publishes his observations weekly. Below is his brief summary of what was important in the past week.
What did we learn last week?
For those of you in the US, you are enjoying the loss of an hour in the mornning but gaining an ‘extra’ hour in the evening which will come in handy this summer! After this weeks’ ‘bomb cyclone’ snowstorm, I for one, cannot wait for warmer weather to finally take hold…
Toshiba’s (relatively) mature 9D helium filled nearline HDD makes their 16TB MG-08 offering compelling. It also smooths their path to 18TB using MAMR and TDMR (dual readers on a single track) as the capacity leap does not require a corresponding mechanical redesign. For more on their overall corporate roadmap, here’s their technology presentation from Nov 22 2018.
This week, the Open Compute Project held their annual global summit (OCP 2019). They focused on how to advance ‘open’ data center designs from a speed, security and performance perspective. There were a lot of good talks, but nothing overly groundbreaking that I could find. These guys have a lot going on… Here is a link to some of the talks.
Here’s an interesting discussion by Mark Webb (MKW Ventures) on memory cycling vs its associated specifications. For those of us in the memory biz, it is clear that there is a strong relationship between write and read latency and the associated system error rate. Mark elaborates specifically on how this works for NAND flash and why a single ‘memory cycle spec’ is sufficient to specify system performance…
Here we go! eMRAM is now in volume production at Samsung’s contract fab using their 28nm (28FD-SOI) process. Intel is ‘ready’ with their 22nm FINFET process (22FFL). It’s going to be interesting to watch Samsung, Intel and Global Foundries battle it out for these first eMRAM products. What these products enable and how they perform could point us to the next big things in IoT, edge and compute.
I suppose we expected to see this happen: While there is a slowdown in fab capex in CY19, it should rebound to record spending in CY20. Most likely all this new equipment will fill those fabs being built right now!
A war for next generation data interconnects seems to be brewing. We already have NVMe over fabrics and Gen Z is coming along, but now, a consortium called CXL (Compute Express Link) has released their inagural specification. These guys are in their infancy and are actively looking for more members, so I am not sure where this is going to lead. We all know that ensuring robust/lowest latency data transfers between servers is of growing concern as these consortiums have recognized. At some point, I expect there will (should) be consolidation of the best designs to avoid too much industry churn.
This is the kind of deja-vu that quantum physicists have been hoping to prove possible.. the ability to ‘reset’ time, in violation of the second law of thermodynamics. Here’s a summary overview for those of you not interested in the full scientific paper: If these measurements are accurate and repeatable, they represent the first documented quantum time reversal. Cool! This may be a real enabler for next gen quantum computer error rates. Look for a lot more on this breakthrough experiment.
I was surprised to learn of an emerging helium shortage, but I suppose it will not interrupt the HDD supply chain in any significant way, but it has and will continue to increment costs. It is, however, interrupting the flow of party balloons!
In looking for more info on the helium shortage, I came across this representation of the relative scarcity of elements. It is interesting to see that materials commonly used in the data storage industry including Ta, Cr, Pt and Co are all listed as being ‘threatened’ from a supply perspective.
In an interesting development in manufacturing, British scientists have found a way to weld glasses to various metals. Once this is perfected, it will open the door to vastly simplified manufacturing processes and newer, more sleek product designs. This may also open the door to ‘clear cover’ sealed HDD’s (again)…
Here’s an interesting use for bendable screen technology… the bendable smart phone watch which Samsung recently patented! I suppose this would not be good for the weekend mechanic, but it would be useful for the weekend hiker or bicyclist!