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SSD news - 2011, March 8 - 14

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OCZ acquires SSD controller company

Editor:- March 14, 2011 - OCZ today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Indilinx for for approximately $32 million of OCZ common stock.

Indilinx controllers have been deployed within OCZ's SSD products since December 2008, and are currently featured in the Z-Drive series of PCIe-based SSDs. Indilinx's technology is expected to enable OCZ to expand its presence into the embedded, hybrid storage, and industrial markets. OCZ will gain substantial intellectual property from Indilinx including approximately 20 patents and patent applications related exclusively to the business as part of the transaction.

Following its acquisition by OCZ, Indilinx will continue to produce and supply its line of controller products to SSD manufacturers and OEMs on a global basis. The Indilinx controller business, and its 45 employees, will remain intact under the leadership of Bumsoo Kim, the founder and President of Indilinx, and Hyunmo Chung, Indilinx's CTO. OCZ will continue its own R&D program to develop new proprietary technologies and products to expand its own solid state drive offerings. The Indilinx acquisition notwithstanding, OCZ plans to continue utilizing controllers from other manufacturers including long-term partner SandForce, who currently supplies SSD processors for a wide range of the Company's SSD products including the Vertex 2, Agility 2, RevoDrive, customizable Deneva enterprise drives, and the upcoming Vertex 3 family of SSDs.

"This transaction is an important step in OCZ's strategy and significantly enhances our ability to capitalize on the worldwide demand for Solid State Drives," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology Group. "This combination brings together 2 organizations that are committed to advancing solid state drive design, and provides a unique opportunity for OCZ to increase both customer and shareholder value as well as expand our reach into embedded markets."

Editor's comments:- this announcement will send ripples throughout the SSD industry. OCZ has been one of the most successful SSD companies at growing sales revenue by filling the gap in the mid market for fast (but not too insanely fast) and affordable SSDs.

I had previously said that the most significant gap in OCZ's profile (given its revenue and comparing it to its peers in the top SSD companies list) was IP.

Acquiring an SSD controller company is an astute move. In the medium term it will enable OCZ to influence product features to maximize the fit to user market needs which OCZ has been so adept at spotting. The newly acquired patent base will also provide horse trading and licensing revenue opportunities in the long term.See also:- 3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market

Recovering Data from Flooded Hard Drives

Editor:- March 13, 2011 - it's with great sadness and regret that I have to report that the article Recovering Data from Drowned / Flooded Hard Drives - which includes useful tips for protecting disks even before you send then to data recovery companies - has become popular in the past few days.

The Japanese people have shown a level of discipline, organization and courageous response to their recent disasters which the rest of the civilized world can only view with admiration.

Fusion-io plans IPO

Editor:- March 9, 2011 - Fusion-io today announced it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the SEC for a proposed IPO of shares of its common stock to raise upto $150 million.

Editor's comments:- the valuation (when we learn it) is something which everyone in the SSD market will be interested to know. If the enterprise SSD market has a future - then by any rational measure you can make today Fusion-io will be one of the leading companies in that market. Or the leading company - depending how much confidence you place in the predictive powers of's top SSD companies lists (which track SSD buyer search volume).

The important caveats here are:- that markets don't always behave rationally and that even having a leading position in a fast growing technology market in one year doesn't guarantee that the shape of the market and that leadership will be the same in ensuing years. I've got to say that - because I reported on a lot of IPOs during the dotcom bubble in the late 1990s - and we're only just starting to see the first swelling of the SSD market bubble.

You can read what I've said in the past about Fusion-io . And if you follow up the many links which start from the SSD analysts page you'll see interesting stuff there too.

The SSD market is a very competitive market with a lot of smart and talented people and companies working hard to make their vision of the future - the one that will succeed. Unlike the PC market, or the microprocessor market or the search-engine market - I don't believe that a single company will dominate all aspects of the SSD market. There are too many fragments in the SSD market which actually need different types of solutions. But I've always expected that the biggest chunk of the SSD pie will be enterprise SSDs.

If you think that annual SSD market revenue in 2020 will be on the order of $100 billion / year - which is what I anticipate - then you're going to put different numbers in your spreadsheet than if you believe Seagate's view - which is they've only introduced some SSD products to stop pesky analysts asking why they haven't done so yet - but (unlike me) Seagate doesn't believe that the future is solid state.

From the SEC filing we lean that Fusion-io's revenue for the 2nd half of 2010 was $58 million. The document also includes a scholarly assessment of the state of the enterprise SSD market, key competitors and risk factors. From that point of view it makes good reading.

In later years:- anticipating FIO's quarterly results became a preoccupation with many SSD analysts and bloggers and when the market commentary for 2011 in SSD market history was written I called it "year of the FIO IPO".

NetApp acquires Engenio

Editor:- March 9, 2011 - Network Appliance announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the Engenio external storage systems business of LSI for $480 million.

The close is anticipated to occur in approximately 60 days subject to customary closing conditions.

Engenio will enable NetApp to address emerging and fast-growing market segments such as video, including full-motion video capture and digital video surveillance, as well as high performance computing applications, such as genomics sequencing and scientific research. NetApp has the channel reach and customer relationships today that require high performance and big bandwidth capabilities that will be well served by Engenio's storage platform. NetApp says these segments are expected to collectively represent a $5 billion incremental market opportunity by 2014.

Editor's comments:- LSI has been trying to sell off Engenio since 2004. NetApp will love them more. For a brief time this past week - searches for Engenio exceeded that for "SSD". In the previous decade over 500 leading storage companies were acquired, changed name or went bust.

Anobit ships new 3-bits-per-cell flash SSD controller

Editor:- March 8, 2011 - Anobit announced today that it has commenced high volume production of its MSP2020 NAND flash memory controller in cooperation with Hynix Semiconductor.

The MSP2020 controller enables the use of commercial-grade 2-bits-per-cell and 3-bits-per-cell NAND flash across all of the latest process nodes, within endurance- and performance-intensive embedded computing applications. MSP2020 controllers support up to 2 ONFI-compliant NAND interfaces to a host processor, and can support product configurations from 4GBs to 128GBs.

"In the span of just 5 years, the endurance of mainstream NAND flash has plummeted from 100,000 program/erase cycles to approximately 3,000 cycles, and the industry push toward 3-bit-per-cell MLC NAND will place further downward pressure on NAND endurance. In parallel, mobile computing devices will continue to fuel demand for higher NAND endurance and performance," said Gregory Wong, founder and principal analyst, Forward Insights. "Anobit's innovative MSP technology is well positioned to close the NAND endurance gap, and in so doing, help fuel the proliferation of NAND flash memory into a variety of consumer electronics and computing markets."

no recall yet for Intel's new SATA 3 SSD

Editor:- March 8, 2011 - I can't remember the name of the 8th man to land on the moon although I'm sure there was a press release about it at the time - and for the same reason I didn't think it was newsworthy when Intel recently launched the SSD 510 - a 2.5" SATA 3 MLC SSD with 250GB capacity and upto 315MB/s sequential write performance (which could have been faster if it had a different SSD controller inside. They'll just have to buy someone when the market gets bigger and these comparisons get too embarrassing).

What is newsworthy about this new Intel SSD - and the reason I waited till today before mentioning it - is that a whole week has gone by without any mention of a product recall or firmware upgrade (to make it work) announcement. These have been the traditional follow ups to many of Intel's past SSD launches. I haven't seen one yet. Maybe I'm speaking too soon. Or maybe Intel's SSD product management is getting better.

Editor:- my thanks to Robert Young who was the first reader to tell me that maybe the reason there hasn't been a recall yet is because Intel's new SSD uses an SSD controller from Marvell instead of one of its own. Among other things Robert publishes a blog about relational database performance, SSDs and parallelism called Dr. Codd Was Right

today's storage news

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SSD sudden power loss vulnerability guide
Why should you care what happens in an SSD when the power goes down?

This important design feature - which barely rates a mention in most SSD datasheets and press releases - has a strong impact on SSD data integrity and operational reliability.

This article will help you understand why some SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of application) might fail in others... even when the changes in the operational environment appear to be negligible.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. the article
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In the future - all nand flash SSDs will have to use adaptive R/W and DSP ECC IP technologies in their controller schemes in order to be able to use newer generations of denser flash memory.
Adaptive R/W flash care management & DSP IP in SSDs

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