Have you ever noticed that it is difficult to get good information about how flash works? The vendors know but they’ve never been terribly forthcoming.
For example, how does flash wear out? When most things break you lose their contents. But once flash stops working your data is still there. Huh?
And the fact that flash is a wearing medium spooks many people. How should we think about flash? Can we live with a wearing medium?
Or write amplification? How does that work? What can be done to reduce it?
That’s why it was a pleasure to sit down with Rob Ober of LSI. Rob is an LSI Fellow and system architect with deep technical knowledge of flash and how it interacts with systems and applications.
Rob holds dozens of patents and is articulate and open. Plus he’s a very nice guy.
I distilled down what I learned and some of Rob’s key points into a StorageMojo video white paper that LSI commissioned. If you are curious about flash, how it works, how it fails and how it can be turned into an enterprise class storage medium, you’ll find the video informative.
At least I did my level best to make it so, including video from Wilson Canyon, one of my favorite local hikes. Here’s the video:
The StorageMojo take
As a thought experiment I sometimes wonder about how storage would be different if IBM had invented flash back in 1956 instead of the RAMAC disk drive. What it reads were fast and free while writes were expensive?
That’s essentially the problem we’re trying to solve today. Except today we have an installed base of a couple billion disk drives and decades of driver, OS and application development all predicated on disk performance.
We’re still in the early days of flash integration, even though forward-leaning architects have been working on it for 6 years or more. Thanks to flash – and cloud – storage has never been more vibrant or exciting.
Courteous comments welcome, of course. Feel free to ask about anything in the video that wasn’t clear or didn’t go deep enough. Your questions help me understand what you find valuable.