Western Digital And Samsung Launch Zoned Storage Initiative And LTO Capacity Shipments Higher In 2021

Western Digital And Samsung Launch Zoned Storage Initiative And LTO Capacity Shipments Higher In 2021

This article covers a couple of recent announcements by Samsung, Western Digital and the LTO provider companies. Samsung and Western Digital announce a collaboration on Zoned Storage and the LTO provider companies announce LTO annual capacity and tape unit shipments, including 2021.

Samsung and Western Digital published a blog discussing their partnership to usher in the standardization of next-generation data placement, processing and fabrics storage technologies (D2PF), including Zone Storage. The blog says that, “The two companies believe the adoption of next-generation storage standards is the most effective way to ensure that hardware and software can be effectively combined within the system stack to maximize performance and functionality while reducing costs. In bringing this vision to fruition, Samsung and Western Digital are encouraging a wide-ranging industry collaboration among storage stakeholders. Through collaboration, the companies can help assure customers that storage ecosystem vendors support the new technology standards and system architectures for efficiently handling today’s data workloads as well as tomorrow’s.”

Zoned Storage is comprised of two technologies: Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) in hard disk drives (HDDs) and Zoned Namespaces (ZNS) in solid state drives (SSDs). Zoned Namespaces SSDs divide their address space into distinct zones, streamlining the drive architecture by equipping the host with the ability to place data in the appropriate zone (which may differ in, e.g. their endurance). The figure below shows a ZNS SSD compared to a conventional SSD.

The two companies point out that, “Zoned Storage has unconventional data-writing rules. Zones can be written sequentially starting from the beginning of a zone, and the data within a zone cannot be arbitrarily overwritten. Therefore, it is highly important that the industry aligns around the host software stack that enables storage systems to optimally leverage the power of Zoned Storage. This host-device model alignment is a crucial theme of the overall initiative. Samsung, Western Digital and other ecosystem partners are committed to contributing required software components that will enable Zoned Storage to thrive via the open-source community.”

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As part of an effort to enable open and scalable data center architectures, the two companies founded the Zoned Storage Technical Work Group, which SNIA approved in December 2021, and are working with the Linux Foundation to set up a similar project workgroup. Within these industry organizations, Samsung and Western Digital will help to define high-level models and frameworks for any innovative Zoned Storage technology. The blog says that ZNS is the first of numerous D2PF collaborations designed to pave the way for innovative new data centers and cloud services.

Now on to the latest on magnetic tape. The LTO magnetic tape Program Technology Provider Companies released an updated tape media shipment report, detailing annual shipments through the fourth quarter of 2021. As shown in the figure below 148EB compressed (2.5:1 compression) were shipped in 2021. This was 40% higher than the shipments in 2020. Although there has been fluctuation in annual capacity shipments since 2017, the 2021 shipments seem to continue the growth trend from 2011 through 2017.

The figure below shows the LTO annual unit shipments over the same period of time as the capacity shipment chart. 2021 saw an uptick in unit shipments compared to 2020 but there is a general downward shipment trend since 2011. The shipped capacity growth in 2021 reflects increased sales of higher capacity tape cartridges in 2021 as well as some increase in unit shipments. Magnetic tape remains the lowest cost storage media and is mostly used for data archiving.

Western Digital and Samsung partner on D2PF that includes zoned storage, processing and fabric storage technologies to create an industry initiative to enable open and scalable data center architectures. LTO tape capacity shipments increase 40% in 2021 compared to 2020 mostly driven by sales of higher capacity tape cartridges.

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