17 June 2014

Brawn Over Brain

Well, as you know, another shoe dropped with SanDisk inhaling Fusion-io. What does it all mean, Mr. Natural? More than just "shit", it would seem.

In the early days of SSD, which is only a couple of years ago, it was common wisdom that the intellectual property embedded in the controller was the differentiating factor (The Brain). Those manufacturers who were smarter would prevail. Not so much, here at the end of the Yellow Brick Road. Turns out, how to use NAND as persistent storage (in SATA/SAS protocol) isn't all that arcane. Turns out, there isn't much difference among controllers, skipping the likes of JMicron, of course.

Depending on how you count, there's between two and five NAND producers (overlapping JVs and such; and IBM may have to for internal use of Texas Memory). The Brawn. The likes of Fusion-io and Violin and the boutique set are in a bind: as node size as shrunk, inherent performance has degraded, but unit cost of a bit has too. SSD performance is near, if not arrived at, Close Enough For Government Work. They're all hostage to the fab holders. Who appear to be picking them off one by one. Once we arrive at directly attached flash persistent storage, and the smart guys are getting close, SSD style controller IP is valueless.

The Fusion-io price, right now, is way below IPO. If you bought at very bottom (a few pennies under $8 at the beginning of the month), you did OK, but nothing to retire on (unless you already had enough and put it in Fusion-io). Otherwise, not. One might wonder why Nimble is valued at $1.98 billion as I type?

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