Woodhouse on flash storage

Mitch Bradley wmb at laptop.org
Tue Oct 6 06:43:29 EDT 2009

Martin Langhoff wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 11:27 AM, Mitch Bradley <wmb at laptop.org> wrote:
>> To solve a hard problem to the level where you can ship the result
>> requires money
> Not particularly controversial with me at least. The community is made
> of many interests, and the commercial interests are a significant
> part. Big tent and all of that.
> The corollary here I guess is that there isn't significant money in
> the advantage that an "open stack" FTL would provide, at least now.

Not only is there insufficient money, there is negative economic 
incentive for the open FTL, given that you have to go out of your way to 
try and (probably not) find a suitable raw-NAND controller.  You have no 
cost-effective deployment platform.

> I wonder whether the Flash vendors that fail to "win" in the FTL
> driven market you (convincingly) describe will open up a bit, offering
> a lower cost raw-access device, one that will only be usable with a
> passable wearlevelling-smart FS.

The raw-access device will not be cheaper, because any possible (small) 
savings in silicon area will be overwhelmed by the lower-volume factor.  
The managed-NAND  solution will "lock in".

The losing controller vendors will either get their act together for 
this or the next chip generation, or get out of that business.

> Yes, but other buyers are testing (and bargaining with vendors) each
> on their own. Granted, if you are smarter buying your Flash device,
> you have a market advantage.

A distinction must be made between system vendors and jellybean-storage 
vendors.  The system vendors (e.g. netbook brands) will move quickly to 
the good parts, because there are only a few factories that make all the 
different brands.  Word and successful recipes get around fast in that 

At the jellybean level it will take a bit longer, but once the 
controller vendors get the recipe down, the jellybean storage market 
will pick up the good controllers.  There are only a few controller 
vendors, and market pressure from the system level is forcing them all 
to get their act together.  Once you get your firmware right, you ship 
the good version to everybody going forward.

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