Diablo boss on IP lawsuit: We are NOT 'engaging in a public pissing match'
Gives Reg the skinny on DDR4 flash DIMMs and IBM, Sandisk
Blog Tech startup blogger Willem ter Harmsel spoke with Memory Channel Storage maker Diablo Technologies' Riccardo Badalone yesterday. He updated us on the current state of affairs at Diablo, including the Netlist IP lawsuit and its newly formed links with Sandisk and IBM.
Last time we spoke, Badalone hinted at a few great partnerships and customers coming up. In the period in between, the following has happened:
- Diablo partners with Smart Storage Systems;
- SanDisk acquires Smart Storage and markets Diablo Technologies MCS as SanDisk ULLtraDIMM;
- IBM adopts Diablo MCS as eXFLash in its portfolio; and
- Diablo Technologies keeps building out its partnerhips and achieves "VMware Ready" Status this week.
That’s quite some progress in barely six months' time. There has also been some negative publicity concerning a lawsuit that Netlist filed against Diablo.
Willem ter Harmsel caught up with Badalone to discuss all of the above and hear about their plans for the upcoming year, particularly where new partnerships/customers and DDR4 are concerned.
WtH: The partnership with IBM is great news. Are you committed to an exclusive partnership with them?
Riccardo Badalone: IBM was the first to really recognise the value of what we were doing. They have very big plans for the technology and they made MCS a key piece of their X6 platform which is an awesome platform. They’re a very important for us, we see them as a very valuable customer and integrator partner. That said, we have no exclusivity with them.
There are some software and firmware that are specific to IBM’s eXFLash. Being involved with us as a first mover, the offering that they have has some advantages in performance and scalability that is unique to them. With eXFLash, IBM has a couple of tricks up their sleeve that will slowly be revealed to the market.
WtH: How is the relationship with SanDisk coming along, will you continue to work with them uniquely?
Riccardo Badalone: Similar to our partnership with IBM, our partnership with SanDisk is a very good one and we are very happy with how things are going. The transition from Smart Storage to Sandisk has gone uncannily well, the right people have stayed with SanDisk and that gave great continuity. The relationship has been very good, we are building new relationships with other customers through the new network that SanDisk brings.
With regard to exclusivity, we have a partnership with SanDisk that is time oriented, where we are exclusive with them.
Realistically neither SanDisk nor Diablo would have the bandwidth to work with more than one partner, because with such an innovative product there is a lot of work involved for both parties to get the right enterprise customers to sign on.
Because of this and because things are going so well with SanDisk, for DDR3 we are not going to push for another partner.
For DDR4 we are working the partner chain. I would like us to continue our partnership with Sandisk but we are keeping our options open there. It is a little too early to say whether we are going to continue in a singular relationship or whether we are going to broaden it out.
As a CEO I am going to do what is required to maximize the penetration rate for DDR4. If we can do this maximally with SanDisk alone that that is what we’ll do. Otherwise we might look for other options.
WtH: What is up with the Netlist lawsuit, can you talk about that?
Riccardo Badalone: We have got a position on this and I will tell you what that is. We are not, as a company, engaging in a public pissing match. What I can say though, is that there is no way that we would have gotten to the scale of partnerships with SanDisk and IBM if there was anything remotely wrong with our IP. These are companies that take IP tremendously seriously and I believe our partnership with them is a testament to our IP. That should send a clear message to the market, "Diablo is clean".
That being said, I will tell you how we deal with this: They basically have yet to prove that, A, they understand the product, and B, that they have found anything Diablo is actually infringing on. We are just going to let this run through the process and we are confident about the outcome.
It will work itself out, the process is going to see Diablo vindicated and we are going to be patient.
That is the key to being successful, you have got to stay focused. Not being suckered into little games, but remain focused on the endgame which is building revenue and building value.
WtH: Onto future developments then. DDR4 is quite an opportunity for Diablo, how far are you guys along adopting MCS to DDR4?
Riccardo Badalone: The penetration rate for MCS is exactly how we wanted it and we are very happy with how things are going. DDR4 represents a continuity of MCS and you are going to see us transition very aggressively onto DDR4 and hit those platforms when they come to market. Everything in MCS has been designed to separate the flash technologies and the memory interface technologies and we are going to be able to completely leverage that aspect of the architecture to DDR4.
I think the market is going to be surprised at how fast we are going to have a DDR4 solution ready. I cannot comment on a date yet, you’ll be among the first to know. DDR4 is straightforward for us, it has always been in the plan.
WtH: The transition to DDR4 is quite a good opportunity for Diablo right?
Riccardo Badalone: It is definitely an inflection point. With DDR4 we want to take advantage of the rollover to do a more broad enablement. Our ecosystem for DDR4 is going to be more comprehensive, we’ll have a lot more infrastructure developed that will allow MCS to drop into any system and work.
I see the trend that applications are transitioning more into flash and RAM, where customers are already looking at their subsystems and thinking of having both RAM and flash installed.
We are going to stimulate that trend and we have an aggressive software roadmap that is going to change the way flash is accessed by the applications dramatically. We are building more and more software that will allow applications to be directly accelerated by our hardware.
I can’t say too much but this year we are going to offer software concepts that are going to be hardware-accelerated that people are going to love.
DDR4 will be an opportunity to do things better than we already have with DDR3, we will see our products and solutions get much faster.
Diablo is going to keep resetting the bar, that is the key to staying ahead of the game. ®
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