Samsung buys SSD caching expert Nvelo

December 18, 2012 | 11:00

Tags: #caching #nand-flash #readyboost #ssd

Companies: #intel #microsoft #samsung

Samsung has officially announced plans to acquire Nvelo, a start-up which specialises in caching software for small secondary solid-state drives (SSDs) in laptops and desktops.

The small Californian start-up Nvelo has but a single product to its name: Dataplex, a software package designed to shuffle data from a mass storage device to a high-performance yet low-capacity solid-state storage device. As with other systems, including that built into the firmware of 'hybrid' drives that include a small SSD partition alongside a larger spinning-platter partition, Dataplex boasts of 'intelligent' algorithms that ensure the most commonly-accessed data is shuffled to the SSD to keep PC performance as high as possible.

It's a tempting proposition for buyers: rather than having to sacrifice capacity for performance or manually shuffle files and applications between a small SSD and a larger hard drive, the caching software takes care of everything while providing SSD-like performance for the majority of applications. It's also something that has won the company industry support from the likes of OCZ, Corsair, Crucial, Mushkin, Edge Memory and Razer - all of whom bundle the software with selected models of their SSDs or, in Razer's case, laptops.

Windows includes a built-in caching system dubbed ReadyBoost, first introduced in Windows Vista and primarily designed to use USB-connected removable storage devices as system cache. Intel offers a similar feature in its Smart Response Technology (SRT,) designed for use with SATA- or mSATA-connected SSDs. This, however, is restricted to selected chipset versions.

Nvelo, naturally, argues that its Dataplex software is superior to existing systems, allowing OEMs and ODMs to bundle the software without needing to worry about the chipset, processor or SSD with which the software will be used. Dataplex also has no restriction on the size of the cache SSD, while Windows ReadyBoost is limited to 32GB maximum.

That's an argument with which Samsung apparently agrees, having announced that it is picking up Nvelo lock, stock and barrel for an unknown fee. 'The acquisition of Nvelo will enable us to extend our ability to provide SSD related storage solutions to customers,' claimed Young-Hyun Jun, executive vice president of flash products at Samsung, of the deal. 'We are pleased with this transaction as the employees of Nvelo share our vision to take SSD storage into the next-generation of performance and reliability.'

'The Nvelo team is excited to join the Samsung family,' added Jiurong Cheng, Nvelo's president and chief executive. 'We look forward to accelerating storage innovation in close cooperation with Samsung storage experts as we help to deliver fully integrated SSD solutions to the market.'

Thus far, it's not clear what will happen to Dataplex as a standalone and OEM offering: clearly Samsung will be interested in using the technology in its own future products - the 'fully integrated SSD solutions' referred to by Cheng above - and may decide to keep future revisions of the software to itself as a way to differentiate its products in what is an extremely competitive market.
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