June 26, 2013

HGST to Deepen SSD Capabilities and Expertise with sTec IP and Engineering Talent 

SAN JOSE and SANTA ANA, Calif., June 24, 2013 – Western Digital® Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC) and sTec, Inc. (NASDAQ: STEC) announced today that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which sTec, Inc., an early innovator in enterprise solid-state drives (SSDs), will be acquired by HGST, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Western Digital. sTec will be acquired for approximately $340 million in cash, which equates to $6.85 per share. This represents approximately $207 million in enterprise value, net of sTec’s cash as of March 31, 2013.

The pending acquisition augments HGST’s existing solid-state storage capabilities, accelerating its ability to expand its participation in the rapidly growing area of enterprise SSDs. HGST remains committed to its highly successful joint development program with Intel® Corp. and will continue to deliver current and future SAS-based SSD products with Intel.

sTec has strong engineering talent and intellectual property that will complement HGST technical expertise and capabilities. HGST will continue to support existing sTec® products and collaborate with its customers to understand their future requirements.

“Solid state storage in the enterprise will play an increasingly strategic role in the future of Western Digital,” said Steve Milligan, president and chief executive officer, Western Digital Corporation. “This acquisition is one more building block in our strategy to capitalize on the dramatic changes within the storage industry by investing in SSDs and other high-growth storage products.”

“This acquisition demonstrates HGST’s ongoing commitment to the rapidly growing enterprise SSD segment, where we already have a successful product line,” said Mike Cordano, president, HGST. “We are excited to welcome such a talented team of professionals to HGST, where their inventive spirit will be embraced and encouraged.”

“At this key point in the evolution of the storage industry, sTec is excited to consummate this transaction. It will be an important next step in proliferating many of the innovative products and technologies that sTec has been known for throughout its 23-year history and provides immediate value for our shareholders and a strong future for our employees and customers,” said Mark Moshayedi, president and chief executive officer, sTec. “This merger will enable our world-class engineering team and IP to continue to make a significant contribution to the high-performance enterprise SSD space that has long been sTec’s focus.”

The board of directors of sTec, on the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of independent directors of the board, has unanimously approved the merger agreement and has resolved to recommend that sTec shareholders approve the transaction at a sTec shareholders meeting to be held to approve the merger agreement and the merger. The directors and executive officers of sTec have entered into separate voting agreements under which they have agreed, subject to certain exceptions, to vote their respective shares in favor of the proposed transaction.

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC has acted as the financial advisor to Western Digital and BofA Merrill Lynch has acted as the financial advisor to sTec in connection with this transaction.

Closing of the acquisition, which is subject to customary conditions, is expected to occur in the third or fourth calendar quarter of 2013.

GPFS Scans 10 Billion Files in 43 Minutes

March 13, 2012

By using a small cluster of ten IBM xSeries servers, IBM’s cluster file system (GPFS), and by placing file system metadata on a new solid-state storage appliance from Violin Memory, IBM Research demonstrated, for the first time, the ability to do policy-guided storage management (daily tasks such as file selection for backup, migration, etc.) for a 10-billion-file environment in 43
minutes. This new record shatters previous record by factor of 37. GPFS also set the previous record in 2007.


Can Fusion-IO Outrun The Tiger? (repost)

January 18, 2012

There is a saying that goes, “you don’t have to be faster than the tiger, you just have to be faster than your slowest friend.” That may be a constructive way of thinking about Fusion-IO (NYSE:FIO) today. There’s no question that this is a high-growth tech stock with a huge multiple and huge expectations, but that has never stopped those tech stocks that can deliver the goods. (For more, seeEarning Forecasts: A Primer.)

Big Data 2.0
In some respects, what Fusion-IO seeks to do is relatively simple. In the same way that solid-state drives (SSD) have offered consumers considerably better performance than hard disk drives, Fusion-IO is trying to bring the advantages of flash/SSD memory to the enterprise data market.

Fusion-IO sells a two-part solution. The hardware consists of products like to ioDrive, a collection of flash cards (ioMemory) containing an array of NAND flash chips and an FPGA. These attach literally to the process server (through PCI Express) and can dramatically increase the throughput rates as a result.

There is also a software component, with the Virtual Storage Layer (VSL) software arguably the most important part. This is host driver software that manages the interface between the ioDrive and the operating system. Fusion-IO also has the directCache product that allows Fusion-IO’s products to work in virtualized systems like those created byVMware (NYSE:VMW).

Why Bother?
So why is Fusion-IO doing this? Don’t EMC (NYSE:EMC), NetAppliance (Nasdaq:NTAP) and International Business Machine (NYSE:IBM) already handle the storage needs for Big Data? Yes and no. There are certainly ample virtues to the approach used by EMC (and the others), particularly when it concerns large amounts of data.

The problem, though, is that these aren’t always especially fast systems – there’s something of a “request and go fetch” aspect to it. What Fusion-IO offers is a solution that is much faster (and ultimately cheaper) when speed is of the essence. It’s not yet economical to create an entirely flash-based storage network, but it can make sense for smaller pieces of time-sensitive data.

Early Days
It’s not fair to say that Fusion-IO is a solution in search of a market, but it is fair to say that this is a small early-stage opportunity. Some analysts believe that this will be a $5 billion addressable market in 2015 – by way of comparison, EMC has logged over $19 billion in revenue in its past twelve months. That said, don’t confuse “small today” with “small forever.” Just as hard drives replaced tape-based drives years ago, SSD is going to continue to grow as the costs come down.

Competitors and Buyers
Fusion-IO has a head-start on the competition, but that won’t last very long. First, there is a risk that the VSL software becomes a commoditized product over the next couple of years. More to the point, companies like EMC, NetApp, STEC (Nasdaq:STEC) and LSI (NYSE:LSI) have this market opportunity in their sights. EMC’s Project Lightning should ship in 2012 and while not so much is known about the hardware component, EMC does already have very good storage management software.

Looking more broadly, a host of other companies could potentially get into this market. Chip companies like Marvel Technology (Nasdaq:MRVL), SanDisk (Nasdaq:SNDK), Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) and Samsung arguably have the hardware wherewithal, but need to find a way to implement the software side – something that could get easier if VSL does become a commodity.

There’s also a good chance that Fusion-IO goes into the buyout rumor mill. OEM partners IBM and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) could certainly use this company to enliven the growth prospects of their storage businesses, while EMC has never been shy about pulling out its wallet to cover gaps in its own technology.

The Bottom Line
There’s no point in talking about valuation on a stock like Fusion-IO; sell side analysts will assign grotesque multiples to sales or earnings three years hence, but the reality is that it’s nearly impossible to model growth stories like this correctly. Trading at about nine times trailing sales, Fusion-IO is already in the neighborhood of pure software plays like VMware and ahead of other growth hardware names like F5 Network (Nasdaq:FFIV) or Mellanox (Nasdaq:MLNX).

None of this means that the stock can’t work – the reality of growth tech investing is that multiples seldom stand in the way of further appreciation if the growth is there. It’s a consummate case of “buy high and hope to sell higher.” So long as investors understand the risks that go with that sort of investing, and the inevitability of some “hiccups” along the way that lead to occasional sharppullbacks, it isn’t such a bad aggressive play. (For additional reading, check out 5 Must-Have Metrics For Value Investors.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

At the time of writing, Stephen D. Simpson did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.


Read more: http://stocks.investopedia.com/stock-analysis/2012/Can-Fusion-IO-Outrun-The-Tiger-FIO-EMC-IBM-VMW0117.aspx#ixzz1jqpYngsv

Fusion-io ioDrive2: FIRST LOOK for THE REGISTER

October 4, 2011

Fusion-io deploys PCIe flash toaster

Self-healing powers claimed if you play the magic card

By Chris MellorGet more from this author

Posted in Storage, 4th October 2011 10:13 GMT

Free whitepaper – Fluid data architecture pays off for CMA

Fusion-io has refreshed the whole of its ioDrive product range with smaller flash chip dies and new controller firmware to produce high performance, longer lasting flash using less silicon.

CEO David Flynn said the current ioDrive technology was introduced four years ago and Fusion was now “introducing something that will toast it. This thing is a beast”.

The ioDrives are PCIe-connected cards in half-length format and use NAND chips that are either single-level cell (SLC) or 2-bit multi-level cell (MLC) and require a 29nm to 20nm process (2Xnm). We think this is Samsung NAND using a 27nm process. There’s a half-height ioDrive and a full-height ioDrive Duo to choose from.

The 2Xnm NAND is inherently slower than 3Xnm dies, but Fusion says its controller technology, including its firmware, more than compensates for this.

Flynn says Fusion can use the cheapest commodity 2Xnm dies and give it performance and endurance such that second-generation ioDrives out-perform first-generation products. There’s no need, he says, to use enterprise-grade MLC (eMLC).

ioDrive 2

There is a new card design with the flash mounted on up to three daughter cards attached to the base card.

The ioDrive 2 comes in SLC form with capacities of 400GB and 600GB. It can deliver 450,000 write IOPS working with 512-byte data blocks and 350,000 read IOPS. These are whopping great increases, 3.3 times faster for the write IOPS number, over the original ioDrive SLC model which did 135,000 write IOPS and 140,000 read IOPS. It delivered sequential data at 750-770MB/sec whereas the next-gen product does it at 1.5GB/sec, around two times faster.

There is an MLC version of the ioDrive 2 which comes in 365GB, 785GB and 1.2TB capacity points.

The SLC version of the larger format ioDrive 2 Duo has a 1.2TB capacity point and the MLC version 2.4TB.

ioDrive 2 DuoioDrive 2 Duo

How fast?

The SLC version of the ioDrive 2 Duo can deliver 900,000 write IOPS and 700,000 read IOPS, at 3GB/sec. The first-generation product did 262,000 and 261,000 respectively, at 1.5GB/sec reading and 1.1GB/sec writing speeds.

Flash product suppliers generally quote IOPS numbers using 4KB data blacks whereas Fusion typically uses 512B blocks. A 4KB block size aligns with flash’s 4KB page size but 512B blocks require a read, modify, write process. This is not necessary with Fusion-io’s products, according to Flynn.

We have one set of 4KB block IOPS numbers from Fusion: the 1.2TB, SLC ioDrive 2 Duo does 503,000 read IOPS with 4KB blocks and 664,000 write IOPS.

Flynn emphasises that the performance comes at low queue depth. Typically, he says, performance is quoted by suppliers with a high queue depth so that the parallelism in a product’s controllers can really get the data moving. But real world experience is lower queue depths, because flash responds so quickly. Here Fusion’s products speed along while competing ones, typically comprised of, he says, RAID controllers, SandForce controllers, and flash dies, start limping.

He also asserts that Fusion’s products perform very well with mixed read/write workloads, whereas other products show a bathtub effect: high numbers for pure reads and writes but much lower ones for mixed workloads.

A Fusion spokesperson said: “The cards are only now going through performance tuning. In addition, we expect Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors to have a major beneficial impact since our design is built to leverage system processor improvements.”

Better availability

Flynn said that MLC flash products makes up about 80 per cent of Fusion’s business. It actually started shipping 2Xnm-class dies some months ago on the ioDrive Octal product, a custom product generally sold direct to large customers; where 3Xnm devices could hold 5.12TB of data, 2Xnm-class kit now stores up to 10TB.

It self-heals to the point where it covers for subsequent failures ad infinitum. We don’t believe that customers should have to service anything.

The first-generation product had N+1 redundancy at the chip level. Flynn said that the next-gen product is self-healing. Its Adaptive FlashBack technology provides full chip level fault tolerance, which enables an ioDrive to repair itself after a single chip or a multi chip failure without interrupting business continuity. The repair process takes about an hour: “It self-heals to the point where it covers for subsequent failures ad infinitum. We don’t believe that customers should have to service anything.”

This idea that customers should not have to replace modules reminds us of XIO’s Hyper ISE, that sealed canister of drives with a 5-year warranty against customers ever needing an engineer to poke around inside it and replace failed components.

Flynn said Fusion-io has added endurance extending technologies to the ioDrive 2 products. There are no published endurance numbers, though we expect, given Fusion’s OEM customers, that endurance is good. Flynn said that the endurance has increased with the ioDrive 2 products.

Fusion’s competition

There are several competitors who have been waiting for this Fusion refresh: Micron, OCZ, STEC, TMS and Virident are the main ones. They use a 4KB block size for their IOPS numbers.

All we can compare are raw numbers, and hope the numbers are divergent enough to indicate meaningful relationships, even though it’s an apples and oranges comparison, apart from the 4KB numbers for the ioDrive 2 Duo SLC product.

Micron’s rocket-like P320h, a 3Xnm SLC product, does 750,000 read IOPS and 341,00 write IOPS, with 3GB/sec read and 2GB/sec write bandwidths. The read IOPS are significantly higher that the 503,000 of Fusion’s ioDrive 2 Duo SLC but significantly slower than the Fusion product’s 4KB write IOPS. With 512B blocks, the Fusion product is almost twice as fast on write IOPS though, while being a mere 50,000 IOPS slower on reads and overall faster on bandwidth. The medal goes to Fusion overall then.

ioDrive OctalFusion-io’s ioDrive Octal

OCZ’s VeloDrive PCIe numbers are simply incomprehensible: for example, read IOPS are expressed in MB/sec for hardware RAID, while software RAID speed is quoted for compressible and incompressible data. We give up. Give the dratted thing a test drive alongside the Fusion product to make a comparison in your own shop.

“This thing is a beast”

STEC’s Kronos BiTurbo PCIe SSA holds up to 3.9TB of MLC and, in SLC form, does 440,000 read IOPS, 400,000 write IOPS and boasts a 4GB/sec bandwidth. The Kronos Turbo on its own does 220,000 read IOPS, 200,000 write IOPS and shifts 2GB/sec. Fusion has that one whipped it seems, apart from the bandwidth number.

TMS’ RamSan-70, based on 3Xnm Toshiba SLC NAND, does 330,000 read IOPS, 600,000 in burst mode, and 400,000 write IOPS to heave 2GB/sec. On the raw number basis Fusion has it beat as well. We note that a CSCS analysis had this TMS product way-outperform a first-generation ioDrive product from Fusion though.

Virident’s SLC TachION delivers a claimed (see CSCS analysis above) 300,000 IOPS with a mixed read/write workload and a peak 1.4GB/sec bandwidth. Fusion appears to have it whipped too.

The verdict

The verdict is pretty clear. On headline raw numbers Fusion-io’s ioDrive 2 products generally leave the competition in the dust, except for Micron, but the P320h is let down by poor write IOPS numbers.

Of course all these PCIe cards won’t compete in a uniform PCIe market; it being split up into various sectors each with their own workload and price/performance characteristics.

Fusion is hoping that, with its wide spread of capacity points and performance levels, it can compete in as many of these sectors as possible, while focussing on mainstream pure enterprise business and not the flash web businesses. Its mainstream enterprise customers buy kit from Dell, HP and IBM and look for that level of reliability, performance, value and support.

Our first reaction is that, with this launch, Fusion-io has, in El Reg’s opinion, cemented its position as the PCIe flash card leader.

All the products will ship in November. Prices start from $5,950. ®


June 10, 2011

(repost from bobdark @ seeking alpha)

Regarding your comment:

“And yes, it’s true that FIO has sold 12,000 server cards in the last two years, at $3,000 per card. And it’s true that Dell (DELL), IBM (IBM) and HP (HPQ) ship nine million servers per year, but that’s a different business”

Dell and HP both provide the Fusion-io cards as options for most of their server offerings. I think you are underestimating the revenue that this will generate as companies increasingly will opt for the built-in cards.

Its tempting to think that all IPOs are overpriced like Linked-In and don’t have a future, but before making a call on this, it is important to investigate the technology involved with this and the direction for data storage and what Fusion-io will be able to do in terms of research and moving ahead of the competition with this cash injection. There is an awful lot of potential here when considering the inevitable replacement of millions of platter-based storage in Enterprise data centers as the Infiniband and ISCSI networking along with the energy costs will make traditional storage obsolete in the same way that LCDs made monitors obsolete – the price/performance/space curve for flash is moving faster than mechanical disk storage.

Unlike Linked-In and many of the “tech” IPOs, Fusion-IO is a hard-core technology company based on sophisticated engineering rather than just an Internet store front with clever marketing. This means that the bulk of retail investors probably don’t understand the implications of the technology as it is not simple to understand the differentiation of Fusion-IO from the other SSD vendors who are mostly encumbered by a much slower bus architecture (i.e. SATA III at 6 Gbps (0.75 GBps) vs PCIE-at up to 16 GBps for an Octal card (over 20 times faster). It’s a good thing in that it keeps the IPO from being a bubble due to lack of interest, although it does mean it may take some time before it really takes off.

The most successful IPOs are not necessarily the most well-known when launched, just the most innovative and the most profitable over the long-haul. The focus of Fusion-io to this point has not been on profitability but on gaining market share and building a reputation. I speak from experience as a database developer that they have established a reputation for amazing performance with very large databases enabling real-time simulation and data-analysis applications with a few cards that simply are not possible with hundreds of mechanical disks.

No doubt in mind that they will be extremely profitable and more large customers will come. I suspect that Google may be looking at Fusion-IO as they utilize a distributed database architecture using thousands of servers like MySpace and Facebook. Fusion-IO is also developing technology to leverage the higher speed PCIE SSD across Infiniband which will support high-availability network storage for large database servers and virtualization data centers in the Cloud.

Fusion-IO has established a very good reputation and is the leader in PCIE-SSD, with the capital from the IPO, they have a good chance of staying one step ahead of the competition and their partnership with the hardware and storage vendors also gives them an edge.


June 8, 2011

from SEEKING ALPHA (repost)

Backed by venture firms NEA and Lightspeed, Fusion-io (FIO) markets a next generation storage memory platform that boosts data access speeds. The company plans to raise $209 million in its IPO by offering 12.3 million shares at a proposed price range of $16 and $18; it had originally filed to offer shares at $13 to $15 before boosting the price range by 21% in a sign of strong deal demand.

At the midpoint of the upwardly revised range, Fusion-io would be valued at $1.7 billion. Fusion-io plans to price today (Wednesday) after the market close and list on the NYSE on Thursday under the ticker symbol FIO. Goldman, Sachs & Co., Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan are the lead underwriters on the deal, which is one of three deals scheduled to price on this week’s US IPO calendar.


Fusion-io seeks to address what it refers to as the “data supply problem,” or low levels of server utilization caused by the widening gap between processing and storage performance. It markets a data decentralization platform that helps enterprises improve processing capabilities by relocating “active” data from centralized storage to servers, thereby improving processing capabilities by up to 10x and significantly reducing costs. Its platform, which bundles proprietary hardware and software, has been shipped to over 1,500 end users since inception, including companies such as Facebook and Apple (AAPL), as well as OEMs like Dell (DELL), HP (HPQ) and IBM (IBM).


Fusion-io booked $126 million in the nine months ended March 30, 2011, quadrupling the $25 million generated in the year-ago period. Facebook accounted for 47% of revenue, while its ten largest customers accounted for 91%. The company turned profitable with $7 million in EBITDA but remained cash flow negative (-$2 million) due to increasing levels of inventory. It expects to drive further growth by adding software capabilities, deepening customer relationships, growing its sales force and expanding internationally (18%).


Fusion-io has experienced rapid growth throughout its relatively short operating history, highlighting the value of its first-to-market data storage platform. That said, it carries execution risk as a small company with an accumulated deficit of $70 million. Furthermore, most of its business is derived from large-scale data storage installation projects rather than repeat purchases, resulting in highly volatile financial results, which is magnified by its high degree of customer concentration. For example, Fusion-io expects revenue to fall sequentially in the FY4Q11 following large orders by Facebook in the 3Q. Lastly, it competes with traditional storage/software vendors, as well as various privately held companies that are developing similar technology.


With a unique product and massive addressable market opportunity, Fusion-io should spark investor interest, especially in the wake of acquisitions of fast-growing storage and networking companies such as Compellent, Isilon, Netezza and 3PAR. Fusion-io may also benefit from its connection with Facebook amidst ongoing buzz in the social media space following Groupon’s (GRPNrecent IPO filing.

FUSION-IO UPDATE: IPO WEEK OF JUNE 9 (Quote, Dow Jones, Bloomberg)

May 29, 2011


Back to Calendar Week of Expected Pricing 06/09/2011
Company Name Fusion-io,Inc.
Proposed Ticker FIO
CUSIP 36112J107
Business Description A next generation storage memory platform for data decentralization.
Lead Underwriter Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC,Goldman, Sachs & Co, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated.
Co-Managers N/A
Initial Shares 12300000
Revised Initial Shares
Initial Price $13.0
Revised Price
Final Price
Final Ticker




Fusion-io Inc. unveiled estimated terms for a bigger-sized initial public offering of its stock to raise funds for expansion.

The data company expects to offer at least 12.3 million shares at an estimated price of $13 to $15 each, according to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fusion-io plans to offer at least 10.8 million shares, while selling shareholders intend to offer at least 1.5 million shares.

The company in March initially had filed plans for an IPO of up to an estimated $150 million.

Fusion-io specializes in data decentralization, which it said improves the processing capability of a data center by moving active data to the server where it is being processed from centralized storage.

The tech sector–and particularly the data storage field–has benefited of late from increased information-technology spending by businesses.

The company reported that its loss narrowed to $1.2 million in the nine months ended March 31 as revenue soared to $125.5 million amid stronger volume. Fusion-io said revenue from its 10 largest customers accounted for 91% of its revenue in the latest period, with Facebook Inc. accounting for 47% of the total.

Prior to the quarter ended March 31, the company has posted quarterly losses since its inception. The company, which was founded in December 2005, sold its first products in April 2007.

Fusion-io shares have been approved for listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FIO


Fusion-io Inc., a maker of flash- memory technology for companies including Facebook Inc., plans to sell shares in its initial public offering for $13 to $15 apiece, valuing the company at as much as $1.17 billion.

Fusion-io said it will sell 10.8 million shares along with an additional 1.54 million to be sold by other stockholders, according to a regulatory filing today. The stock will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker FIO.

The Salt Lake City-based company aims to raise as much as $212.2 million, up from the $150 million offering announced in March. The increase follows last week’s IPO of LinkedIn Corp., which more than doubled in value on its first day of trading, even after raising the per-share price. Founded in 2005, Fusion- io is benefiting from a shift among corporations to flash memory from traditional storage drives.

Flash has no moving parts and can access data more quickly than disks, which rely on spinning platters to hold information. Facebook, owner of the world’s biggest social network, is Fusion-io’s largest customer, accounting for 47 percent of revenue in the nine months ended March 31.

Fusion-io has raised more than $110 million in venture capital, and it counts Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak among its top executives.

Sales Surge

Sales in the first quarter surged fivefold to $67.3 million, from $13.4 million a year earlier, according to the filing. Assuming the same revenue over the next three quarters and a $1.17 billion valuation, Fusion-io will be valued at 4.35 times sales, compared with a price-to-sales ratio of about 11 for LinkedIn when its shares started trading.

Fusion-io turned profitable in the first quarter, reporting net income of $7.04 million, compared with a $6.71 million loss a year earlier.

The company’s biggest shareholder is venture firm New Enterprise Associates, which owns 39 percent of the company. Lightspeed Venture Partners holds 13 percent, and Chief Executive Officer David Flynn controls 10 percent.

Fusion-io said in January that it’s shipped more than 15 petabytes of flash memory to corporations in the past year — enough to hold more than 199 years’ worth of continuously played high-definition video. Fusion-io combines software and memory chips to speed the rate that server computers can access data.

Its products are sold through Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and Dell Inc. The bulk of Fusion-io’s purchases come from a limited number of partners, with the 10 largest customers accounting for 91 percent of revenue in the nine months ended March 31.

“As a consequence of our limited number of customers and the concentrated nature of their purchases, our quarterly revenue and operating results may fluctuate from quarter to quarter and are difficult to estimate,” the company said in today’s filing.