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Wozniak Accepts Post At a Storage Systems Start-Up

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the something-to-fall-back-on dept.

Hardware Hacking 183

Hugh Pickens writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is going back to work as chief scientist at Fusion-io, a start-up company that tweaks computers to let them tap vast amounts of storage at very quick rates. In the early days of Apple, Wozniak stood out as one of Silicon Valley's most creative engineers, demonstrating a knack for elegant computer designs that made efficient use of components and combined many features into a cohesive package and Wozniak will do similar work at Fusion-io, although this time with larger server computers and storage systems rather than PCs. 'I have a pretty quiet life, and I like to watch technology evolve,' says Wozniak. 'In this case, I like the people and the product, and said I would like some greater involvement.'"

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Good - Stay Busy (4, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733153)

It's always good to stay busy, and doubly so if you can actually do something that helps grow the existing technology.

And if he can make some cash from this gig, even better!

Go Woz!

Re:Good - Stay Busy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733225)

I hope he can do more than 1 Gig. Let's aim for petabytes, shall we?

Re:Good - Stay Busy (4, Interesting)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733417)

Well, he does until the company gets too big then he'll leave out of dissatisfaction. He has stated this, and you almost can't blame him: little usually= friendly, personal, tight; big usually= formal, !personal, and sometimes even evil.

Regardless, he is a very skilled hardware hacker. I especially appreciate still to this day the ADB, which was designed (according to legend) in a mere weekend, on the same level of hack-skill as the "Joy wrote vi in a weekend" hacker lore. I just hope he never loses his ability for great pranks, too - that's another personal hero element he has for me.

Keep it up woz, never change.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733521)

http://stage4.co.uk/film/teaser5.php [stage4.co.uk]

Gotta love em.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733679)

Why don't you post some bullshit story about how Woz wrote the code in your signature? It'll probably go down better than your last attempt [slashdot.org] .

Re:Good - Stay Busy (0, Flamebait)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733727)

Stalk much? And it was a joke I just didn't make that clear enough, damn get a life.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733963)

get a life

You must be new here.

be new here (5, Funny)

be new here (1431563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733969)

You must be new here.

No, I be new here!

Re:Good - Stay Busy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26734031)

Stalk much? And it was a joke I just didn't make that clear enough, damn get a life.

This post was funny, but the GP was flamebait/trolling. Get it right, mods!

Re:Good - Stay Busy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26734055)

Quite a joke you pulled. Kinda like that time one of my AC comments was modded to +3 before somebody realized that the subject line's words abbreviated to "N.I.G.G.E.R".

HAHAHAHAHA!

Re:Good - Stay Busy (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733719)

Heck, if I had the financial freedom to do so, I'd probably spend my time jumping around between startups too. The startup phase is in a lot of ways the best part of a company's life. It's full of boundless optimism and exciting work. It's also full of staggering risk and the ever-present specter of catastrophic failure too, which is why it's not right for everyone.

My brain loves working for startups, but my wallet doesn't. In Woz's case, he doesn't have to worry about the wallet part, so more power to him.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734501)

Agreed. The energy and just get it done attitude in a startup is awesome.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734785)

Well, they do say that some leaders are good in small companies, some are big in large companies, and very few (Gates, Jobs) are good in both start-ups and big companies. Woz is clearly good in start=ups, so why shouldn't he do what he is best at?

Re:Good - Stay Busy (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26735201)

In Woz's case, he doesn't have to worry about the wallet part

My first thoughts when I read the headline were that his Apple stock had tanked and his house was in negative equity. Still, could be worse - he could have invested with Madoff.

WE'RE DOOMED !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733615)

And in other news
Uncle Snarly is back in the spot light
Spreading his good cheer that we are all going to die soon.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090204/pl_politico/18390;_ylt=AhMXgwtWsleWCpVM_u8GeMyyFz4D [yahoo.com]
Seems we all had 8 great years of fear and terror dished out daily by this cock sucker, Dick Cheney, and he's not finished yet

This guy is a real Dick !!

Re:Good - Stay Busy (2, Funny)

az1324 (458137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733699)

Yeah he must be bored since its the segway-polo offseason.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733733)

That must be why he is looking especially fat in that picture from the article.

Re:Good - Stay Busy (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733839)

These days, he plays in a jazz trio called "Bellyflop "with Joey Francesco [mixonline.com] and Doug "Doctor Music" Riley. [jeremyshort.ca] He also enjoys tending to his cat [ksu.edu] .

I hope Sun buys them (1)

htnmmo (1454573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734119)

I'd love to see Woz and Andy Bechtolsheim working on a new generation Thumper.

Sounds Simple (0)

saxoholic (992773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733189)

Sounds like a pretty simple idea, I don't know why it hasn't been done before.

It has been done before (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734407)

There's nothing new under the sun. We used to do it with system RAM dedicated to the purpose, back in the '80s.

Back in the stone age [techreport.com] , we used to do it with RAM in a drive box. And then with add-in cards that acted like disk but stored RAM. I bet you noticed that RAM costs a lot of money if you need 320 GB of it. For a brief moment so long ago that I forget the date, we did it with something called "bubble memory".

I also talked about this here two or three years ago, before this product was produced, so I look forward to providing some prior art to the inevitable patent troll discussion.

But that's not the point. This is a startup, and they're at a vulnerable cusp in their history. If you need this product I suggest you buy it before somebody discovers the motive and method to kill it. I can think of three motives and two methods offhand, so if I were you I'd get crackin'.

SSD == Turning Point (5, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733235)

I've had the chance to play with some pretty phenomenal solid state drives (SSD) lately and, I have to say, that I can't believe that there isn't more industry buzz.

In a few months, an extra $100 will probably buy 120GB SSD, which will make a given PC perform like something completely different (you really need to go test drive an SSD PC if you have not yet indulged).

In a decade, I can see handhelds having so much storage and so much processing power, that we'll all just carry around our PC-on-a-phone and just use a standard interface to put that PC on any external monitor and keyboard. Hell, I can USB boot Ubuntu from my Blackberry, already.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733435)

I think his old pal Steve is already on top that one:

http://www.apple.com/iphone/ [apple.com]

Seriously, with a bluetooth keyboard I am able to easily SSH into servers or RDP/VNC into an office machine if something goes wrong. I don't even use my Powerbook anymore for checking Email. The only thing I do use it for is light coding and surfing the web.

I don't have the A/V adapters but I've seen them out there already.

You aren't going to be playing Duke Nukem Forever anytime soon, but the iPhone has already come in handy a couple times and I've only had it a month.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (1)

beav007 (746004) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733759)

You aren't going to be playing Duke Nukem Forever anytime soon

True, but that has nothing to do with the processing power that you can fit into a phone. Chances are that we'll get 80fps on Crysis on a mobile phone before DNF is even released.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (5, Insightful)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733471)

phenomenal solid state drives

Combine the fast access of flash with the organization and optimizations I've seen in ext4, and you'll have an incredible system at the non-volatile storage level, which to me has always fallen behind other advancements like GPUs, processor speed/bus width, and RAM pricing/addressability (goes in hand with 64-bit processors).

With this in mind, I eagerly look forward to my next system because of the long-awaited storage advancements over the last few years, mainly due to filesystem development (well, Linux filesystem development) and SSDs. The only gripe I have right now is the cost, which is falling steadily anyway (despite the economy) so that won't matter when its time to shop around :).

Re:SSD == Turning Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26734301)

Hybrid storage systems using SSD as L2ARC, such as Sun's ZFS filesystem can make things like Oracle perform miraculously...

Of course, the storage platform was 4 dual core processors, 512GB of RAM - most used for ARC, 256GB L2ARC, then several terabytes of ZFS storage....

Re:SSD == Turning Point (-1, Troll)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734461)

*sigh* Fuck ZFS.

There is another major drawback (1, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734749)

to SSDs, and that is lifetime. It is my understanding that the memory cells they are using in SSDs today are rated in the neighborhood of 100,000 writes. I do know for sure that it is less than 1,000,000 writes.

Within reason (many millions of cycles), magnetic storage media does not care how many times a particular location is written. Flash memory does. So "good" flash memory uses a scheme whereby the cells that are written to are rotated.

100,000 cycles is not very many for a computer. I could easily write a routine that would read and write bits in such a way to wear out large portions of your SSD within a few days.

That is not good. And because of the rotation scheme, it is not often mentioned by the SSD manufacturers.

Re:There is another major drawback (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#26735197)

Hmm, we will see this soon enough. Due to netbooks there are now a large amount of users with extensive SSD usage, many read-writes. There is no swap, and cache of the browser should be turned of by default, but I already noticed that if my RAM gets full, the eee would write to my harddisk at a high rate.

In practice, if the write operations on the SSD would slowly descrease below a useful level, I would just swap the current SSD disk in my Dell mini, by that time the price, performance and storage would be so much better that I'd probably it anyway.

Re:There is another major drawback (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26735253)

I have to admit that I was concerned about this too as I discussed this issue with an engineer five years ago. However, even the palimpsest of Archimedes [slashdot.org] survives to this day. With digital technologies we can do better. It turns out that by providing wear levelling and planning for the predictable degradation of your media, you can design a controller that provides reliable access to written data transparently to the user, despite the fallibility of the media. With sufficient parallel redundancy you can do so without even alerting the user to your difficulty, and in the extreme case you can degrade gracefully. When the devices are solid state, you can build predictable reliable performance for a specific time/use. That's what these devices do. Your concern is unwarranted. We figured that out.

ZFS and SSDs (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733559)

I've had the chance to play with some pretty phenomenal solid state drives (SSD) lately and, I have to say, that I can't believe that there isn't more industry buzz.

Depends on who you ask. The Sun ZFS guys are all over this and are screaming at the top of their lungs about the use of SSDs for both read and write performance:

http://blogs.sun.com/brendan/entry/l2arc_screenshots
http://blogs.sun.com/ahl/entry/hybrid_storage_pools_in_cacm
http://blogs.sun.com/main/tags/fishworks

Sun many have other problems, but engineering talent is not one of them.

Re:ZFS and SSDs (2, Insightful)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733585)

Sun many have other problems, but engineering talent is not one of them.

Doesn't matter if they can't afford to pay said engineers or if layoffs keep occurring at the present rate.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (2, Funny)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733929)

What about the life of a modern SSD? Is it true that they have gotten them to get within the threshold of millions of writes? Hard drives are terribly unreliable in practice, but it seems that an SSD would potentially hold up for years and years if you could do millions of writes and didn't swap to the drive. Hell why not just slap a 20GB SSD on the motherboard with linux preinstalled......? Heck, integrate it into the bios for all its worth. Can you say instant on? Maybe we will start seeing devices that can actually saturate SATA-II.....

I want to say that in 5 years the mechanical, magnetic hard drive will be dead, but something tells me that the density will give it an edge for quite a while longer than that unless some major breakthrough occurs in the manufacture of SSD.

$100 for a 120GB SSD is actually really cheap when you look at what a 4gig stick cost just a couple of years ago, so the real question is when does the cost/gigabyte ratio become equal? It would seem reasonable to assume that a SSD is much cheaper and far easier to produce than a hideously precise mechanical drive, so perhaps the answer isn't that long at all. Consider that in 2005 a 4GB thumbdrive cost roughly $33. In 2009 a 120GB SSD will cost roughly 100. (rough numbers here cost history-nazis!) Thats over an 800% decrease in price per gigabyte. Around the same time 320gb cost about $100. Now $100 will by you a 1TB drive. (maybe 1.5TB) A 300% decrease isn't bad but not at the same rate. Here is the real number though. That 1TB drive costs 0.10 per gigabyte, while the 120GB SSD costs 0.83 per gigabyte. At the current rate it seems it would likely take about 6-7 years for SSDs to become cost effective in comparison. Hell, I'm about to replace my aging 80GB SATA with another 80GB because they are like $35 or so. I don't need 80GB for just programs and whatnot. I have some big drives for the real data.....When 120GB SSDs are like $50 I'll start to get interested. Raid 0 might start to become a lot more interesting if they can prove to be reliable.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733989)

The expected lifetime on the Intel X25-e is about 24 years in an enterprise server. The products of the company in TFA likewise. Use of SLC, sparing, internal error detection and correction, wear levelling and virtual block addressing add up to devices that are not only ridiculously fast - they also last a long time and degrade gracefully [fusionio.com] (pdf).

Both the Intel SSDs and the IODrive are internally massively parallel.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (3, Interesting)

xlotlu (1395639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734909)

I want to say that in 5 years the mechanical, magnetic hard drive will be dead, but something tells me that the density will give it an edge for quite a while longer than that unless some major breakthrough occurs in the manufacture of SSD.

Actually in 5 years' time they might be back with a vengeance. See this guy's thesis [stanciu.nl] about Laser-Induced Femtosecond Magnetic Recording

He proved in 2007 that it's possible to use an ultrafast pulsing lasers for demagnetization and magnetization reversal, unleashing a potential recording rate of magnetic media higher than 100 Tbits/second.

Of course, packing femtosecond lasers inside HDDs is nowhere near feasible in the foreseeable future, and neither could the plasmon antennae keep up with the high density (plasmon antennae were expected to be used for polarizing light below its wavelength [wikipedia.org] )

However, according to TFOT [thefutureofthings.com] , during his Seagate internship Stanciu proved the technology is viable, mostly because of recent developments in plasmon antennae. He also chose to use picosecond lasers instead, which are substantially cheaper and smaller, but slower, at "only" 1 Tbits/s.

IIRC laser-reading from magnetic media was already possible a few years ago, at huge speeds as well. That makes the potential of magnetic storage already hundreds of times faster than the expected maximum throughput of NAND-based SSDs.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (4, Interesting)

ouachiski (835136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733943)

In a decade, I can see handhelds having so much storage and so much processing power, that we'll all just carry around our PC-on-a-phone and just use a standard interface to put that PC on any external monitor and keyboard.

Ok I have heard this a million times now and I just dont see it happening. Cell phones are easily lost, broken, dropped in toilets or stolen. Could you imagine what you would feel if you dropped your pc in the toilet. I can see integrating more tasks into it, but you will still have a need for a base station.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734007)

But your base station need not be in your house. Your base station could be network-based storage.

You wouldn't feel too bad about dropping your PC in the toilet if you could get another one at CVS for the price of a couple packs of razor blades.

Such a PC won't be a game station, or scientific number-cruncher, but it could satisfy a rather large niche that is only just now being developed.

Frankly, though, I'm surprised no one has taken a palm, given it a dock that hooks up directly to a large (B&W) LCD monitor and keyboard, as a typewriting and email device.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734667)

Obviously you wouldn't carry around your sensitive data on the phone. That's just daft. It would be stored on a central server somewhere where it's backed up.

Given that, it does indeed seem a bit pointless to rely on plugging in a physical device. More likely you'll just navigate to some web site and have all your applications, data and settings available. This is pretty much already the case for many users.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (0)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733967)

Yes, SSDs are phenomenal. SSDs are fast. SSDs are awesome. It's like describing detergent or something. Soon they'll be 120GB for $100, real soon.

When we have real facts and real numbers of what they can do and what they cost and all that sorted out, there will be industry buzz. Right now, it's just vague abstract words that people sprout out about SSDs.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734673)

They are quite amazing. The company I work for moved its production database servers over to these exact devices several months ago, and now we never have DB performance issues or timeouts.

The bad part, of course, is that slow-DB issues are only discoverable on test or staging servers, and you have to remember to do it. Come to think of it, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26734765)

> 120GB SSD, which will make a given PC perform like something completely different

I take it you've not actually used one of those pieces of garbage yet. My boss bought a dozen of them for our devs, and every single one of the devs has since rejected them. While the read speed and the write speed of the SSD's aren't bad, they're slow as crap when you mix small writes with reads. You know like you do with real world systems like compiling software and with certain database usage patterns. To do a small write, the Flash RAM has to read the entire block into memory and then write the entire block back. With our web service project written in C#/.NET, the compile time increased from just over three minutes with a SAS drive to over nine minutes with one of those SSD pieces of crap.

Re:SSD == Turning Point (3, Informative)

sarabob (544622) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734831)

Which is why fusion-io is different from normal SSDs. The devices have 20% or more spare capacity and use a log-based FS with block mapping, so your writes don't go through the read/erase/rewrite cycle.

Obviously there is a little slowdown once the 20% has been used up and it goes into garbace-collection mode, but there are plenty of white papers around about steady-state usage (ie once it has started GC) and you can opt to use even less of the physical capacity in order to get more performance. See http://www.oracle.com/technology/deploy/performance/pdf/OracleFlash15.pdf [oracle.com] for example.

My Hero! (4, Interesting)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733237)

Woz was always my hero. I was just a pimply faced kid when I first discovered Apple IIs (or more correctly, Apple II compatibles, since I was from a 3rd world country). Then I started reading about what he did, and his designs and so on. And when AAPL went public, he gave away his own shares to people who helped Apple get off the ground. Very very nice, very down to earth guy, from what I read about him. IIRC, he wanted to sell the Apple Is for $200 or so, and Jobs wanted $2000, and they settled on $666.66.

I was so disappointed when he left Apple and quit working on the Apple II series - that was such a great computer, and ahead of its times.

Re:My Hero! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733321)

What a loser. Jobs is the king of the world and this retard is working for a startup

Re:My Hero! (5, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733383)

HA!

If the mere act of this man taking a job with a start up is enough to make front page Slashdot news... and you call that being a loser. I want to be upgraded to a loser! Where do I sign up?

Re:My Hero! (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733393)

Jobs = marketing guy
Wozniak = engineering geek

If you prefer Jobs over Woz, you're at the wrong website.

Re:My Hero! (1)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734039)

obs = marketing guy Wozniak = engineering geek If you prefer Jobs over Woz, you're at the wrong website.

While I *LOVED* my Apple //e... you know, 20+ years ago... I think I'm happier with the products Jobs has driven others to build (iPhone, iMac, OS X plus it's earlier NeXT roots, the functionality of iLife 09 which for $70 is a real steal for editing home video and tagging photos, etc, etc, etc.

I love(d) Woz... but he hasn't really made any products I've been remotely interested in since the Apple // days. In fact, he really hasn't done too much in the way of technology. I mean, is he still a great engineer? I hope so. But for now, Jobs has done more for me.

Re:My Hero! (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734085)

The difference being that Woz actually MADE the stuff, Jobs managed folks who made stuff.

Re:My Hero! (1)

webagogue (806350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734111)

Put another way... Woz made stuff Jobs made stuff work

Re:My Hero! (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734277)

Well - Woz's stuff worked. Jobs was able to bring it to the world (and realized it was something the world should be interested in - whether they were aware at the time or not). Apple was really Jobs' thing that he had to talk Woz in to. Of course, Jobs would have nothing to work with if Woz didn't design the stuff in the first place. Very symbiotic.

Re:My Hero! (3, Insightful)

webagogue (806350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734131)

Right... it must be marketing that makes my iMac and suite of iLife and iWork tools with the neato Unix underpinnings work so well together. Woz made stuff. Jobs made stuff work well. BOTH are important.

Re:My Hero! (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734695)

Oh, come on, this is getting old. Jobs is as much just a "marketing guy" as president Obama is. Sure they both need to be able to make pretty speeches, but at the end of the day, they are actually running things.

Jobs created three of my favorite companies: Apple, Pixar and the new Apple. That's all just marketing, is it?

Re:My Hero! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733457)

How was any of the crap Apple put out "ahead of its time?"

iirc, the Commodore 64 and subsequent Amiga were much better products.

The NeXT was the first decent system from that camp.

Re:My Hero! (4, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733553)

OK, let's look at what was available in 1976, when the Apple-1 came out.

In single-board computers, which the Apple-1 was... there was, what, the KIM-1? Amazingly primitive compared to the Apple-1.

In backplane computers, there were the S100 bus machines, which cost significantly more to do what the Apple-1 could do with one board.

Now, for the C64... it came out in 1982, no? Of course some features are going to be advanced beyond what the Apple II could offer at the time. Keep in mind, though, that the Apple II was still quite competitive against the C64.

The Amiga... I'm not gonna dispute that it had better hardware than the Mac. (Although, the Mac arguably had a more intuitive UI.) But, I will use the Apple IIGS, which had by far the best sound chip of anything in its time. (Yes, I'm fully aware that this sound chip was gimped by not offering stereo sound without an add-on board. But still.)

Plus, the Apple II did offer quite a lot of expansion, which is something that many of its competitors lacked (or didn't do as well.)

Woz == "down to earth" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733533)

I had a very brief close encounter with him, in which I got to ride his Segway. He was, indeed, eminently approachable, with absolutely no "mightier than thou" attitude, self-assured, willing to engage, and very affirming to talk to.

(And that was *before* I recognized him!)

Re:My Hero! (1)

webagogue (806350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733955)

Okay... I acknowledge that the guy did something incredible... about 25 years ago. In terms of tech, what's he done since then? (Well, Wikipedia says "Wozniak founded a new venture called CL 9, which developed and brought the first universal TV remote control to market in 1987.[3]). Yeah... not too much. Woz seems like a nice enough guy, but I can't help see him as anything more than a geeky, loveable, dufus. I must be missing the love-for-wozniak gene in my geek DNA makeup or something, so... for the geeks who do (really) like Woz... can I ask why?

Re:My Hero! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733973)

He jacked off their 2 inch penises with a pair of tweezers.

Re:My Hero! (1)

AnthropomorphicRobot (1460839) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734047)

I'd speculate people like him because they relate to him and see him as a role model. He was the geek who made a product that launched a company, and he comes off as a likable person who's really in it for the technology. He's also given a very positive portrayal in "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" and a few documentaries on the early PC era.

You don't need a lifetime of cranking out new innovations to become a cult icon. One (or a few) big success(es), combined with some personality traits can be sufficient

Re:My Hero! (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734625)

Because he's the engineer behind apples success, jobs was (and is) a ruthless business man taking advantage of a situation as much as he can, as good businessmen do.

The more I looked into apples history, the more it became apparent that jobs really isn't a very nice person. But that wozniak was really in it for the enjoyment and technology.

Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733245)

If its life depended on it, you might as well go to their site to learn what they do: http://www.fusionio.com/Products.aspx [fusionio.com]

"The module slides into certain slots inside servers. That gives the main computing chip quick access to data stored on the flash chips." I know that a general publication has to avoid jargon; but that sort of vague-but-vaguely-specific circumlocution looks like the server architecture equivalent of an awkward sex-ed class.

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733327)

The article is from the NY Times.

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (2, Insightful)

sketerpot (454020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733519)

It's a solid state hard drive that uses PCI Express instead of SATA. It looks pretty zippy. Decently large, too. Is there something else cool about their technology that I'm missing?

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733605)

PCI Express? Can you even boot from that without a specialized BIOS? Not unless this is intended for backup/secondary storage purposes, then its a good idea, especially if hot-swap/hot-spare safe, although most boards I've seen only have one (1) PCI-Express, so maybe there is much more missing than thought.

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (3, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733645)

The "specialized BIOS" would be a ROM on the card itself - you can boot off of a PCIe SATA or SAS controller, just like you can boot off of a PCI PATA or SATA controller, just like you could boot off of an ISA ST506 or PATA controller.

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733713)

(smacks self in head)

I actually set up a poweredge to net boot thanks to the ROM from a 3com card a looong time ago, I forgot about this was even possible because its been so long since I've had a need to do so (and virtually nobody tinkers with the BIOS that much anymore anyhow).

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (1)

electrogeist (1345919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733765)

It would have an Option ROM, like RAID cards and every other bootable controller does
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_ROM

Not using a SATA interface should yield a good performance advantage.

Rock on, Woz

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (3, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734095)

It would have an Option ROM, like RAID cards and every other bootable controller does
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_ROM [wikipedia.org]

Not using a SATA interface should yield a good performance advantage.

Rock on, Woz

You could have an option Rom, or you could just emulate AHCI (or even ATA) in hardware up to the point the OS loads a native driver, and switch to native mode after that.

Actually I sort of wonder if you couldn't implement an AHCI contoller which talks to flash directly. The bottleneck in SATA is the drive and the SATA bus, not the PCI Express AHCI controller. PCI-E x16 can manage 4,000 MB/s compared to SATA2's 300 MB/s. SATA2 has plenty of bandwidth for a hard disk, but it looks like it will become a bottleneck with an SSD with lots of flash chips running in parallel. In fact an 2.5 inch Intel extreme SSD manages 250MB/sec now, pretty close to the SATA limit. A PCI Express card covered in NAND flash aimed at enterprise servers could easily be more parallel than this.

AHCI is quite flexible (it has efficient NCQ for example) and is already supported by all current OSs and Bioses. There's no reason why you couldn't design a wide flash array on a PCI express card that looks like a fast drive behind an AHCI controller to software.

The upside to this is that there is no device driver and option Rom to develop/support.

Re:Since the WSJ couldn't write a tech description (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733791)

If by "specialized BIOS", you mean "storage controller firmware on the card", then yes.

This is hardly different from any SCSI or SATA controller on the market, only this one has the "disk" built-in. When the system is POSTing, it triggers every device's initialization routine, which is where a disk controller can let the BIOS know it has (bootable) disks up for grabs.

Woz - the apple of your i (3, Funny)

the positive path (1288162) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733283)

Good for Steve! The world needs more minds like his in the game.

hiring Woz for his brain, or for PR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733323)

Twenty years is a long time for a creative type to be mostly kicking back and enjoying the good things in life. Rust sets in quickly, dulling the drive that keeps one working nights and weekends and eating bad takeout food while crazy project deadlines loom. I wonder how much Woz has left.

For the company, it might not matter. Hiring Woz helps build the brand - people will now have heard of them and start paying attention to them. Like Transmeta hiring Torvalds.

Re:hiring Woz for his brain, or for PR? (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733401)

Twenty years is a long time for a creative type to be mostly kicking back and enjoying the good things in life. Rust sets in quickly, dulling the drive that keeps one working nights and weekends and eating bad takeout food while crazy project deadlines loom. I wonder how much Woz has left.

After that plane crash? Not so much.

For the company, it might not matter. Hiring Woz helps build the brand - people will now have heard of them and start paying attention to them. Like Transmeta hiring Torvalds.

Oh yeah, I remember them. They were going to build a chip or something, gonna change the whole world. Kinda like pets.com, but with Linux.

Re:hiring Woz for his brain, or for PR? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734103)

Twenty years is a long time for a creative type to be mostly kicking back and enjoying the good things in life. Rust sets in quickly, dulling the drive that keeps one working nights and weekends and eating bad takeout food while crazy project deadlines loom. I wonder how much Woz has left.

For the company, it might not matter. Hiring Woz helps build the brand - people will now have heard of them and start paying attention to them. Like Transmeta hiring Torvalds.

Sad to say, I think you're right. I bet they had a controller prototyped in FPGAs long before the hired him.

Still, what they're doing is in a way a sort of spiritual successor to the Integrated Woz Machine, i.e. getting more performance out of a storage device by using less hardware in a smarter way. So it's not entirely unjustified.

ron on sentence much? (3, Funny)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733379)

In the early days of Apple, Wozniak stood out as one of Silicon Valley's most creative engineers demonstrating a knack for elegant computer designs that made efficient use of components and combined many features into a cohesive package and Wozniak will do similar work at Fusion-io, although this time with larger server computers and storage systems rather than PCs.

For the sake of easy readability, I'd like to give the grammar nazis somewhere to file all of their remarks.

Re:ron on sentence much? (1)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733395)

ha! ron on little sentence, ron on...

Re:ron on sentence much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733441)

Heh. What a BO-ron.

Jesus Fuck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733405)

God this guy has become a fucking blimp. Lose some weight fatty!

if I had a penny for every failed distributed FS.. (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733515)

...I would be very, very rich man.

tweaks computers to let them tap vast amounts of storage at very quick rates

In other words, Yet Another Half-Baked Clustered/Distributed Filesystem we can add to the list of dozens of failed distributed/clustered filesystems.

Re:if I had a penny for every failed distributed F (3, Interesting)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733569)

Want another penny? Here you go:

A cloud-distributed filesystem using each processor's bottom 2 or 3 general-purpose registers as a block for said filesystem, writing the contents only during certain times, or during periods of low access. This allows for lightning fast storage retrieval perfect for a database or large amounts of quickly updating information that needs to be retrieved just as fast, even better if archiving is not preferred after a brief period (think ticker tape), despite the possible redundancy of a RAID backup using said timing mentioned above. limiting factors are the speed of the reader(s), network speed, and bus bandwidth. Registers not used for storage are used for typical processing, aided by the amount of processors involved in cloud computing (think blue-gene).

There ya go, maybe I should make my own startup now?

Re:if I had a penny for every failed distributed F (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734121)

Want another penny? Here you go:

A cloud-distributed filesystem using each processor's bottom 2 or 3 general-purpose registers as a block for said filesystem,

Wow, that's like 24 bytes of storage per core. How will anyone ever fill it up?

Re:I didn't do my homework (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733909)

In other words, Yet Another Half-Baked Clustered/Distributed Filesystem we can add to the list of dozens of failed distributed/clustered filesystems.

Um... not even close?

This isn't a clustered/distributed anything. It's also not "virtual".

It's a very real, very fast, local storage for very real computers - servers mostly, but if you've got a few grand to blow on an extreme gaming rig, why not go the extra bit to make your levels load faster?

Their quoted numbers are per PCIe X4 device >100,000 IOPS and >640MB/s both reading and writing, and they have independent benchmarks back that up. They're not kidding. The game has changed. This changes everything about how traditional workloads are configured, when you use a SAN vs local disk, how much throughput your apps can get, how many VMs you can run in a server... basically everything in the server world except where you store the data. You still want to store the data in the SAN for redundancy reasons.

Re:I didn't do my homework (3, Informative)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734037)

We have these in our production servers right now. They really deliver. They seem to top out at around 60,000 IOPS with EXT3 (the 100K figure was with XFS) but I've hit close to 800MB/s on sequential transfers.

It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with. (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733563)

Storage systems are not trivial pieces of hardware and the range of approaches for handling the problem is staggering.

In the red corner, you've your basic NAS and SAN solutions. In the blue corner, you've direct-disk-to-memory systems using RDMA and Infiniband. In the green corner, you've WAN solutions (SCSI-over-IP, RAID-over-IP).

In the purple corner, you've smarter drives (virtual sectors, filesystems in hardware). In the cyan corner, you've more powerful hardware (many read heads per platter, uber-large RAM caches).

(Knowing Wozniak's reputation for doing things different, he's probably inventing a rhododendron corner.)

There is no shortage of opportunity. However, as with the early home computer market, there is a shortage of consensus on what a storage system actually does, other than "store stuff". That seems to be a world Wozniak does well in - the lack of standards meant the Apple II did well, the presence of standards meant that NeXT didn't. In the current computing world, where standards are everything (especially if they come with pretty holographic stickers), can he do much with the flexibility in the arena?

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733761)

Woz doesn't have a corner, he sits in the middle of the room with a soldering iron, tinkering.

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (3, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733847)

Let me translate this for you...

These are "LAN Solutions"
"SCSI-over-IP" - iSCSI
"RAID-over-IP" - some volume manager sitting on top of iSCSI

"WAN Solutions":
WAFS (Wide Area File Services) from the likes of Cisco or Riverbed. They optimize CIFS/NFS protocols which are horrible over high latency links.

Infiniband... Dying... besides infiniband used SCSI over IB to a IB to FibreChannel gateway.

Don't forget tape and our friend FICON.

Where can he be flexible? In the past few years we've seen the adoption of:

-Virtual Tape Libraries (tho they've been in the mainframe world for ages)
-Deduplication in Hardware
-Encryption of Data at Rest (in the tape drive; and now in the disk drive)

We've got plenty of CPU power with multi core systems... what about using that for Compression? (Sorry StorageTek did that in the 80s on their Iceberg (aka IBM's RVA Subsystem).

I don't need more capacity, I need to be able to manage it easier.

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (1)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734485)

Infiniband... Dying...

How do you figure? Infiniband is the absolute final word in minimizing cost per port/density and provides rdma and ultra low latency on crazy high bandwidth connections. There is a reason that companies like NetApp use infiniband for their clustering solutions ;good luck maintaining cache coherency between two or more nodes over something else. Check out how scalable informatics is using IB links on storage boxes that can do over 5k iops at 1500 MB/s

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734709)

1500 MB/s? Hmmm. Infiniband allows you to direct one or more lines (up to 12 in any given direction) to a given target and permits switches (and routers, but that adds latency) in that arrangement, so individual packets can be switched from individual input lines to any number of devices.

Currently, Infiniband over PCIe 2.x supports 5 GB/s per line, although any given server is also limited to 5 GB/s. This would limit you to 12 servers and 36 of the storage boxes you mentioned, on a single storage-area network if you wanted to guarantee zero packet loss at maximum throughput with no throttling or added latency. (Infiniband latency, btw, is around 8 ms, using the run-of-the-mill chipsets.)

To get the same sort of bandwidth on Ethernet requires that you channel-bond five 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards together. This is possible, it has been done (in fact, they've gone as far as ten in the laboratory), but it isn't a supported configuration by industry, it's more than the cost of a single Infiniband card for the same bandwidth, you have twenty times the latency of Infiniband, you don't get RDMA (except on the few Ethernet RNICs that exist, which cost more than Infiniband cards, so you're now paying more than 5 times the cost for truly comparable performance) and switching is a lot more complex. It's also a lot less reliable when channel-bonding to that extent.

If you need bandwidths in excess of about 20 GB/s, Ethernet is simply too expensive. Infiniband becomes cheaper at that point, as well as faster. If you're using something like RAC Oracle over any sort of size of cluster, then you'd be insane to use anything other than Infiniband.

I won't say it's the best technology in the world, but it's most definitely not dying. Even Netcraft won't confirm that one. Sure, for the absolute performance freak, Dolphinics SCI cards push 2.5 ms latencies, but those're point-to-point, not switchable, so it's directly attached storage only. It also doesn't do RDMA. Frankly, I would expect to see SCI dying before Infiniband, simply because it's not as versatile and the latency reduction is going to be more than devoured by the added number of context switches between the kernel and userspace.

However, SCI is not dying. It's not doing great, but it's surviving quite nicely. So any doom-and-gloom forecasts for Infiniband seem to be doomed to stay gloomy as they're not likely to come to pass.

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (1)

electrogeist (1345919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733851)

<p>If a NeXT had cost the same as the Apple II I'm sure things would be alot different. And... NeXT was the other Steve...

He could be Peewee Herman and sell this (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733931)

It's a slam dunk. A no brainer. Two years from now you're going to be explaining to some young kid fresh out of college that "this is how we do it now. Forget that stuff they taught you." Again.

Right before you tell her to get off your lawn.

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (1)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733981)

The startup is on SSDs only. Look up their products page. products [fusionio.com]

So, you're in the wrong ring, though the same building.

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734713)

Silly rabbit, Rings are for Tokens! (Or is that Tolkeins? I forget.)

Re:It'll be interesting to see what he comes up wi (2, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734255)

There is no shortage of opportunity. However, as with the early home computer market, there is a shortage of consensus on what a storage system actually does, other than "store stuff". That seems to be a world Wozniak does well in - the lack of standards meant the Apple II did well, the presence of standards meant that NeXT didn't. In the current computing world, where standards are everything (especially if they come with pretty holographic stickers), can he do much with the flexibility in the arena?

I always thought that the Apple ][ did well because it was cheap and versatile, and that NeXT failed because their machines were outlandishly expensive and proprietary.

jack off apple faggots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733817)

go shove a fake dog dick up your ass to get your faggot thrills. we all know that your a bitch rubberdolly faggot fake you fucking whore dyke. pussy faggots shit. we all hope you get the aids and die.

12 steps work, only bitch fags fear it.

Re:jack off apple faggots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733887)

Wow, I think I got a spam offering one of those.

"Is your girlfriend into bestiality? Don't want to share? Well, we have just the thing for you! Women don't know it's not canine!"

Because of his deep background in storage? (2, Interesting)

joeflies (529536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733947)

Not to dismiss what he's done, but for being the chief scientist in a storage startup, it seems like he is a bit underqualified compared to what the cutting edge of storage looks like nowadays.

It seems that it may be more likely they brought him in in order to impress investors, i.e. an investor is more likely to put money into something where they have a big name of an entrepeneur that's struck it big. And it doesn't get much bigger than Wozniak.

Forget SSD... (5, Insightful)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26733993)

...yeah, it's the buzzword. It's the current growth area.

Let's consider what The Woz did for floppies Back In The Day. While the early floppy drives are to modern drives the way the Wright Brothers plane is comparable to the B2 Stealth Bomber.... the fact is, The Woz turned the industry on its head. While in one light his contributions can be viewed as an incremental improvement, in every other light, HOLY CRAP HE KICKED SO MUCH ASS when it came to primordial microcomputer disk controllers. He proved that the highest-tech, super-chip-count hyper-expensive controllers could be implemented with a handful of chips.

And he could - COULD! - do it again.

I'm totally behind some company - ANY company - throwing money at The Woz, betting on the off chance he gets another flash of insight and pushes storage technology 20 years further ahead in as many minutes.

Was Woz the Right Genius at the Right Time, or is he a straight-up Hacker's Hacker, who just needs the right operational conditions for his genius to manifest?

Time will tell.

Re:Forget SSD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26735057)

Or was it divine inspiration from Jah?

He likes 'IO' in names, doesn't he? (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734133)

Just saw that the Woz is also on the advisory board for IOActive [ioactive.com] , the guys who showed that your (RF)ID may be cloned off you from yards away...

mod uP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26734427)

endLess conflict [goat.cx]

How much (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26735365)

How much would I need to pay to work there?

It must be like to have Mozart hanging around with your band...

Why do we care? (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26735473)

Woz hasn't done anything interesting in the last thirty years. I recognize his contributions are significant but just because he joins some start-up nobody has ever heard of doesn't mean it's going to be the next Apple or something. I suppose techies need their celebrities too and /. is their tabloid.

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