Monday, March 2, 2009

Recap: IEEE Consultants’ Network of Silicon Valley February Meeting

The February IEEE-CNSV meeting was again extremely well-attended, with a nearly overflow crowd for the second month in a row. Almost 100 members and guests spent the evening networking and learning. David Flynn, CTO of Fusion-io, gave the keynote, on the topic of NAND flash in the enterprise. Flynn presented an extremely in-depth overview of the technology and the market, and engaged in a lively debate with a number of other storage experts in the audience. My admittedly simpleton mind wasn’t able to follow much of the technical talk, but a few of Flynn’s points stuck with me.
  • We need a new memory tier that follows Moore's Law (silicon) rather than Newton’s Law (spinning disk), which is what NAND flash enables.
  • Compared to DRAM, NAND flash is 1/10th the cost per gigabyte; uses 1/100th the power and generates 1/100th the heat, and has 100x the capacity per module; all while being non-volatile and providing similar bandwidth.
  • The flip side is that the read access of NAND flash has much higher latency—25 microseconds, versus single digit nanoseconds in RAM.
  • Putting flash behind disk handicaps both the numerator and the denominator in the cost-benefit ratio. I found this statement particularly interesting, since we’re seeing more and more netbooks using exactly this architecture.
  • NAND flash will eventually be cheaper than RAM on a per-gigabyte basis. I found SanDisk’s solid state disk announcements at CES this year to be very compelling; I’m hopeful that through the efforts of SanDisk, Fusion-io, and everyone involved in the flash industry, I’ll soon have an affordable yet powerful netbook running multiple operating systems with long enough battery life to get me from SFO-Hong Kong on a single charge. THAT is gonna rock.
Don’t miss the next IEEE-CNSV meeting on 3/17/09, where CNSV member Dr. Jonathan Wells will be speaking on disruptive forces in the cellular industry. Jacky Hood of Foothill College will present “The Engineers' Survival Guide to the Service Economy” at the CNSV meeting in 4/28/09. As always, no RSVP is required, but show up early to network and get a good seat. Also feel free to join the marketing meeting which occurs prior to the general meeting itself. More details on the IEEE-CNSV website.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Coop! Thanks for the good word. I had been planning for a good flash memory/solid state storage talk for awhile, and David Flynn really pulled it off. I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!

    Brian Berg, IEEE-CNSV Director