Top 3 trends in flash storage

IoT installations, edge computing and connected cars are driving demand for flexible and capable storage solutions.

Internet of things, wireless communication network, abstract image visual.

Image: iStockphoto

Orion Market Reports predicts that the global market size for universal flash storage is expected to grow at an annual rate 18% over the next six years. The analysis firm describes a boom in demand for general-purpose flash storage due to the increased interest in IoT devices and artificial intelligence projects. The report notes particularly high growth in the areas of high-speed data transfer technologies, wearable electronics and devices that improve performance and reduce latency. 

SEE: Flash storage: A guide for IT pros (TechRepublic)

Here's a look at three of the forces driving this increase in demand for flash storage.

Focus on enterprise success

Mordor Intelligence predicts that the overall growth in data combined with the move to the cloud will drive increased demand for flash storage. The market report credits advantages in power consumption, performance, scalability and ease of management as the reason for the increased adoption rate of flash storage.   

To support this transition, CRN recommends that storage companies focus on getting the job done for customers, as opposed to debating the merits of one platform over another. In a list of eight storage trends to watch for 2021, CRN recommends focusing on business requirements from storage, not the technical details.

These business needs reach well beyond the IT team and corporate data centers. As several speakers noted during Western Digital's Flash Perspective event this week, video game developers and engineers working on connected cars need reliable storage solutions. Western Digital hosted the virtual event to share product announcements and explain the company's flash strategy. CEO David Goeckeler and President of Technology and Strategy Siva Sivaram spoke in addition to other company leaders and customers.

SEE: Hardware inventory policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Geoff Keighley, chief executive officer of The Game Awards, said that flash specifically has become really important to access the new video games.

"What we've found is you need that speed if you really want to step into these rich worlds that the games are building," he said during a session at the Flash event. "For the size and scope of these games, we're going to need more storage than ever before."

Matt Munn, vice president and managing director of automotive OEM at Garmin, said in another session that flash storage is increasingly important for his work.

"You're seeing cars with multiple screens, and high resolution movies and gaming applications are quickly becoming the norm so that's going to increase the need for flash storage in addition to autonomous vehicles applications will create more relevance in the application of high performance flash storage," he said. "It's a big area for us to work together and develop specific automotive OEM applications."

Storage at the edge

Data management is a top priority for any company implementing an edge computing solution. These solutions need compute power and storage options at the edge to reduce latency. IDC predicts that data generated from IoT devices will hit 73 zetabytes by 2025, and much of this will exist at the edge. 

In a guide to data storage for edge computing, Horizon Technology predicts that solid state drive and emerging storage-class memory technologies will be the primary choice for managing data-intensive workloads at the edge. Another benefit of data storage at the edge is that data collected by IoT devices at the edge can be processed locally before being sent to a central location. This means data collected on the edge doesn't have to be sent to a corporate data center as it is generated which could overwhelm the bandwidth and service levels that are likely to be available over public internet or even private networks.

SEE: The new SMB stack (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Zoned storage

Another storage solution that can help with the dramatic increase in data is zoned storage. This  is a class of devices that allow host and storage devices to cooperate to gain higher storage capacity, increased throughput and lower latencies. Zoned storage also allows cloud service providers and enterprise data centers to build more efficient and scalable data storage tiers, according to a post on The New Stack by Swapna Yasarapu. Yasarapu writes that zone block management allows both host and storage applications to place data intelligently at scale to take full advantage of the highest available storage capacities.

The effort is open source with standards-based tools, libraries, resources and technical documentation at ZonedStorage.io

At its Flash Perspective event this week, Western Digital announced a new zoned storage partnership. The Percona for ZNS news described a new partnership to support open source transactional databases. Percona will provide enterprise-class software support, performance -tuning and consulting services for the use of Percona Server for MySWL with Western Digital ZNS SSDs. According to Western Digital, a MySQL Server running on a ZN540 ZNS SSD with MyRocks can perform up to three times more transactions per second compared to using a conventional SSD with InnoDB in write-heavy MySQL use cases. 

Western Digital announced several new products this week at the event. Rob Soderbery, executive vice president and general manager of the flash business, said in recorded remarks that the four new products cover all of the company's customer segments from consumers to professionals to data centers to cars. 

"It's a testimony to the depth and breadth of the portfolio and our strategy of impacting the market," he said. "It's about how we deliver products and enable these segments and customers."

A new embedded flash platform for Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 3.1 provides the speed, reliability and feature versatility that customers count on to build small, thin and lightweight solutions for new applications in mobile, automotive, IoT, AR/VR, drones and other emerging segments. 

The company also announced three new SSDs for its WD_Black product line. The storage solutions are for gamers to upgrade PCs and consoles. The new products include:

  • WD_BLACK SN750 SE NVMe SSD
  • WD_BLACK D30 Game Drive SSD
  • WD_BLACK D30 Game Drive SSD for Xbox 

The company's new SanDisk Professional brand is designed for content creators ranging from photographers to movie makers to business users. The new line has 16 modular workflow solutions including a rugged CRexpress card, a PRO-READER series, a four-bay reader docking station and a 4TB G-Drive ArmorLock Encrypted NVMe SSD. 

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