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Solid State Drives (SSDs) – What’s inside?

Moore’s Law, the advancement of semiconductor process technology, along with computer architecture evolution have raised computing to unprecedented levels for individuals, institutions and corporations. How do we feed these hungry compute beasts with enough data to keep them satisfied as well as feed our own insatiable appetites for data and content? Storage technologies using NAND Flash hold the key.

We’ll talk about the limitations of HDDs and the value proposition of SSDs. We will then walk through the basics of NAND Flash, discussing the physical structures and the concepts behind SLC (Single Level Cells) and MLC (Multi-Level Cells). We’ll look at SSDs from a systems perspective and the major technological building blocks that compose an SSD (ASIC controllers, FW, DRAM) and how these things work together to mitigate some of the effects/errors inherent in solid state storage. Finally, we’ll discuss some of the emerging trends in storage and how SSD’s are shaping these trends.

About the Speaker

Since graduating from Arizona State University in 1984, Steve Smiley has worked at Intel Corporation, holding various engineering positions from Product/Test Engineering, VLSI chip design and Software Developer. Since 1997 Steve has managed Software/Firmware engineering teams for a variety of Intel business units; delivering production firmware, drivers and software building blocks in support of Intel products. Recently Steve has held positions delivering Audio, Video and Security-based FW and drivers for Intel SOCs (System On Chip). Currently, Steve is the Director of DataCenter Software Engineering for Intel’s Nonvolatile Solutions Group where his teams deliver SSD firmware, NVMe Drivers and other host-based SW components in support of storage usage models.