Western Digital aims to boost NVMe SSD share with this one cunning virtualization trick

Western Digital today introduced its ME200 memory extension NVMe SSD. This uses a hypervisor to implement a software memory management unit which adds SSD capacity into the host server’s memory address space.

The outcome is server DRAM bulked up with virtualized NAND – cheaper than Intel Optane, WD claims.

The Register explores the technology in more detail here. In this companion piece we outline the market realities that WD faces.

If WD is right and there is a large memory extension market then it is the sole supplier and should reap the benefit. But it has a mountain to climb.

For starters the company lags far behind NVMe SSD market leaders Samsung and Intel. TrendFocus, a data storage analyst firm, estimates 5.5 per cent capacity ship share in H12018 for WD in PCIe/NVMe enterprise SSDs versus 48 per cent for Samsung and 30 per cent for Intel.

This is problematic at a time when NVMe SSD shipped capacity as a proportion of all enterprise SSD shipped capacity is shooting up.

According to IDC, PCIe SSD unit shipments will grow at 54 per cent  compound annual growth rate through 2022. Much of this is at the expense of SAS and SATA interface SSD, which see unit shipments decline over that period – spectacularly in the case of SATA.

NVMe (PCIe) SSD capacity shipments jumped more 220 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2018, according to TrendFocus. Total shipments in Q2’18 accounted for 43 per cent of total enterprise SSD capacity versus 20 per cent a year ago.

TrendFocus estimates that NVMe SSDs accounted for 25 per cent of WD’s total enterprise SSD capacity shipped in that half compared to 50 per cent for Samsung and 60 per cent for Intel.

WD loves ScaleMP

WD has not named its software partner for the software MMU functionality, but Storage Newsletter has figured out that the provider is ScaleMP and its MemoryONE product.

Here is ScaleMP’s description of a MemoryONE demo at SuperComputing 18:

” MemoryONE demonstrations will show how clients can leverage SDM (Software-Defined Memory) to use high-end NVMe SSDs as system memory for transparently replacing or expanding DRAM for memory-intensive applications. This innovative memory solution targets cloud, HPC, and enterprise clients in need of larger system memory, allowing more data to be analyzed in real time, leading to greater insights and faster decision making.”

A perfect match for WD’s ME200 drive.