Interview with Pearse Coyle @, CEO of NVMdurance. Creators of software proven to make Solid State Disks last 6 times longer by extending endurance of the flash memory. Winner: Most Innovative Technology Award 2013.
Describe the company – the elevator pitch
Flash memory wears out – NVMdurance software makes it last 6 times longer. We solve a fundamental problem for the US$27bn flash market.
Flash Memory is by far the main type of non-volatile memory (NVM, where information is stored when equipment is switched off). It is the storage medium used in mobile phones, tablets and the Solid State Disks (SSDs) that are rapidly taking over from hard disks as the NVM platform for computing.
How are you different?
The machine learning algorithms that drive our solution are delivering a significantly better result than any available alternative solution. We are being recognised as the technical leader in flash endurance.
Flash memory is becoming smaller, denser and cheaper but as it does so the endurance (wear-out) problem is becoming more acute. There is now a clear trade-off between cost and endurance.
Our advantage lies in the way that we achieve the endurance gain. Our software tunes the flash devices such that “out of the box” they last longer. The alternative approaches all have either a cost or a performance penalty that we allow the vendors to avoid. These approaches can however be used with NVMdurance software to multiply the endurance gain that we deliver and extend the endurance of an SSD to 20 or more times the endurance that the “raw” flash might provide.
We’re at an exciting stage – we’ve proven our technical leadership and are now working on the commercial deployment of it.
Why will the company/product do well?
Flash memory is used in smartphone and tablets, digital cameras, USB sticks, memory cards and video games. The NAND Flash market is forecast to reach as high as $27 billion in 2015. It’s a big market and our software is proven to work.
Where are you based, and how is the broadband? How long will you stay there?
We are based in the Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre at Limerick Institute of Technology. The broadband is excellent!. We started with one unit, then two, now three, we’re seeking a fourth but realistically we won’t fit there pretty soon.
We also have a base in San Jose, California – the US flash memory hub in Silicon Valley!
When was the company launched?
NVMdurance was founded in Ireland in 2013 when the ADAPT research group and the test equipment maker Evolvability were brought together at the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) in Ireland. The technology is the result of 15 years’ foundry work on flash memory endurance optimisation by the founding team.
What have been your biggest wins to date?
We won an award in 2013 at Flash Memory Summit for “Most Innovative Technology”. It was our first year in operation, in fact we were only a few months running and our first year at Flash Memory Summit, so we were thrilled. We’ve since considerably improved the technology and have a great technology roadmap.
We also have some big customer wins that will be announced in the next few months.
What type of market segment are you trying to attract to your product?
We offer our software to the 6 makers of flash memory and the top tier users of flash memory – all being big-name tech companies. This allows them to deliver more cost-effective flash storage solutions in the high-volume price sensitive markets such as mobile phones and desktop (client) Solid State Disks (SSD).
l-r Conor Ryan, Pearse Coyle, Tom Burniece, Joe Sullivan
Tell us about your team?
Joe Sullivan discovered a way to make Flash memory last longer but realised that powerful software was needed to give effect to the method. He teamed up with Conor Ryan, who is a machine learning expert, and after almost 12 years of effort in several less fruitful directions, in 2011 they took a new approach that really worked and led to the creation of NVMduance.
I have worked with several successful Irish tech ventures, including Eurologic, which gave me my grounding in data storage. In the last few years I have been focused on commercialising spin-outs from research labs and took on the role of NVMdurance CEO in 2013.
Tom Burniece is a veteran of the industry and is our Commercial Director based in the USA.
What are you long term plans for your product / company?
We will be announcing our first major customer over the summer and are concentrating on spreading the message and selling our software to SSD, NAND and Controller manufacturers around the world.
Last year we secured €800,000 in funding and we are currently going through another round.
What are your favourite tech gadgets?
It depends on what large airport I last spent time in, but I left Taipei airport with a large-screen Asus Zenphone that I’m quite fond of.
What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?
It’s less gadget but more business model, because it’s technically possible now: I wish you could roam around the world and not need to be paranoid about the rip-off charges for mobile data – calls roaming is still bad but the data situation is outrageous.
How can people contact you?