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Sun calls for SSD companies to unite on standards

Sun's lead flash technologist said the SSD industry needs a standards organization to progress ahead

Players in the solid-state drive industry need to unite and establish an umbrella organization that establishes standards that define the technology, like its performance, a Sun Microsystems executive said on Monday.

The SSD industry, while in its infancy, has organizations establishing separate standards around SSD metrics, and there is not enough work being done to standardize them, said Michael Cornwell, lead technologist for flash memory at Sun.

“We don’t see a focus among suppliers and vendors like ourselves because everyone looks at their implementation [individually] rather than as an industry implementation,” Cornwell said.

A standards organization could help users measure SSDs and their applications, like the performance of SSDs in comparison to hard drives, Cornwell said. SSDs have attracted criticism for being expensive while providing less storage compared to hard drives.

Price-per-gigabyte could continue to be a relative issue when comparing SSDs to hard drives, but SSDs are more about performance than price, Cornwell said. SSDs don’t have the capacity of hard-disk drives, but they perform better in certain environments. SSDs could be more relevant for data centres, for example, where they are comparatively faster and more power efficient than hard drives.

“The traditional storage market is completely focused on ‘well, what’s the cost-per gigabyte?’ We look at ‘what’s the cost for meeting your performance metric’ and design systems around that architecture rather than capacity,” Cornwell said.

The SSD industry could use an organization like IDEMA (International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association), an organization that sets standards and guidelines for disk development, Cornwell said. IDEMA establishes industry standards and provides guidance on technology to vendors including heads and media in disk drives.