- editor mentions on StorageSearch.com and
|Seagate dropped 5 places to #8
Q4 2014 edition of
the Top SSD Companies
- which was published in February 2015.|
In 2014 there was a dramatic
transformation for Seagate with respect to how it was viewed in the SSD
market - due to its acquisition of the SSD business of LSI.
to this - and throughout the entire
first decade of
the enterprise flash SSD market - Seagate was not considered by SSD
insiders like myself to be a heavyweight SSD company - despite its entry in
the Top SSD Companies
searched list at #12 in
reasons for that being a combination of factors including:-
I discussed the market changes which can be expected from
Seagate augmenting its own SSD business development activities by leveraging the
SSD and SSD controller business acquired from LSI in
May 2014 when
news broke of the agreement.
- the company's habutual downplaying of the importance of SSDs
Seagate's rank at #10 in the most
searched SSD companies by readers of StorageSearch.com in Q2 2014 - moving up 9
places to acheive its best rank (upto that time) in the 7 year history of this
industry tracker - was a signal that the SSD market recognizes the strategic
significance of the changes in Seagate - and now expects to see much more from
When comparing the new SandForce driven Seagate with
other leading enterprise SSD competitors - a superficial competitive analysis
by detractors may lead you to think that Seagate still has some
apparent weaknesses compared to its PCIe SSD rivals. But how valid are they?
Here are some examples: of such questions.
- Seagate - unlike Micron,
OCZ - doesn't have its own
Is that really a problem?
In the short term - I don't
think it's a problem at all.
I have often said on these pages that
pure play SSD companies - can have advantages by being able to pick and choose
the newest or cheapest flash - and not being tied to a
flash memory fab.
SandForce design team - who have been responsible for the widest penetration
of SSDs into diverse applications anywhere in the world so far - has proven
that its designs are flash agnostic. And so long as Seagate stays out of the
flash market and increases its focus on SSDs - there are many advantages to be
gained by the flexibility which comes from not having its own flash.
it all up.
- Seagate - unlike SanDisk
and OCZ doesn't have a
strong SSD software
It could be argued that neither does
Intel - and it hasn't
stopped their products being widely used by oems in the enterprise market.
some markets - having an SSD product line which isn't tied to a strong software
personality - can be a competitive advantage - as seen from the systems design
perspective. For more about why - see my article on the
of rackmount SSD market segmentation.
On the other hand - as we've
seen in the recent history
of SSD acquisitions - that short term weaknesses in SSD software can be
fixed by buying a suitable company. And there's no shortage of new software
companies which are doing interesting things in the SSD market.
No SSD company is perfect and no SSD company has everything
needed by the different needs of the SSD market. But I now feel confident in
saying that the new SandForce driven Seagate has the potential to remain a
long term resident within the Top 10 SSD Companies List (companies which you
absolutely have to look at if you've got any new projects involving SSDs).
a huge about face from me - as you can see by reading what I've written about
Seagate's activities in the SSD market in the years before the recent big
changes at the company.
In April 2008 -
an SSD patent suit against STEC. This attempt to stall the SSD market by
scaring wannabe oems was unsuccessful.
In December 2009 -
Seagate entered the SSD
market and announced details of its
- a 2.5" SATA SLC SSD with 200GB capacity.
Sequential R/W rate
is upto 240MB/s and 220MB/s respectively, R/W IOPS are 30,000 and 25,000
respectively. Aimed at the server market the BER is quoted as 1 sector per
10E16. Seagate says it has been sampling the new drive - its 1st SSD - since
In January 2010 -
they have collaborated on designing
PCIe SSDs for the
enterprise accelerator market which will sample in Q2 2010.
XT a 2.5" hybrid
drive - for the
market - which internally has a 500GB
HDD cached by a 4GB
SSD ASAP controller.
Seagate said the new drive is OS agnostic and delivers
performance at the lower
price of a hard
2010 - Samsung
they will jointly develop
technologies to operate with Samsung's 30nm-class MLC NAND. The jointly
developed controller will be used in
Seagate was ranked #13
in the top 20 SSD
companies list - its highest position since the series began 4 years ago.
- Seagate announced
details of new
SAS SSDs - marketed
under its Pulsar brand
- which will ship in the 2nd quarter.
Available capacities are 400GB
(SLC) and 800GB (MLC). R/W speeds are upto 360MB/s and 300MB/s respectively.
Sustainable random R/W
48K and 22K respectively.
In June 2012
announced it will use DensBits's flash
care technology in the
design of forthcoming consumer and enterprise SSDs. Seagate has also made an
equity investment in DensBits.
In January 2013 -
Seagate made a
strategic equity investment in Virident as part of a
new collaboration agreement which includes remarketing Virident's
PCIe SSDs and working
together to design new SSDs
for the enterprise market. However, despite that - Virident Systems was
later acquired by
enterprise SSD subsidiary - HGST for approximately
$685 million in cash.
In May 2014 - Seagate agreed to acquire
business for $450 million.
in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - February 2013|
Seagate is a
Top 20 SSD Company.
Seagate's position in the development of the SSD market upto now has
been that of a follower of, investor in, and integrator of 3rd party SSD
IP rather than an originator of leading SSD technologies. Seagate's highest
rank to date in the top SSD companies list was #11 in
Seagate was a
comparatively late entrant to the SSD market launching its first SSDs in
December 2009. But Seagate was already corporately aware of SSDs - having launched an
unsuccessful lawsuit aimed at
STEC the year before.
didn't Seagate's dominance in the hard drive market translate into an early
dominance in SSDs too?
(In case you need reminding - Seagate was
the world's largest HDD
maker during the time that companies like
Violin were launching
their first products.)
But Seagate's failure to engage constructively
with the SSD market at a critical time in the modern SSD era was noted by
many SSD market commentators.
Among the possible root causes for
history will interpret as a missed early opportunity for Seagate to make
its own mark in steering the direction of the SSD market are these factors.
- Seagate misunderstood the
potential size of
the SSD market opportunity - and didn't think it was important enough
compared to other business opportunities in hard drives.
In early 2011
- in keeping with the tone of a multi-year series of "SSD-denier"
style corporate marketing communications which started hitting newswires and
blogs (and mysteriously disappearing again) in the apologetic years before
before Seagate had any SSDs of its own to talk about ("but you wait and
see - when Seagate does SSD - we will be the best") - Seagate in
January 2011 - finally offered to the world a hard hitting rebuttal to the
SSD-taking-over-the-world view in an
focused paper which argued that the reason hard drives would remain
the dominant storage technology was because - the company reassured us - it
would cost far too much for the SSD market to invest enough resources into
replacing hard drives.
StorageSearch.com was not alone in thinking -
but maybe was alone in asserting so aggressively - that Seagate's
analysis and vision was
said - if users see unbeatable business advantages from SSDs (something we
analyzed and demonstrated longe before) - then the necessary investments
would be made to support the larger SSD ecosystem.
It's likely that a
root cause of Seagate's wrong footedness in SSDs in the 2003 to 2011 years
was due to the company's management mistakenly
SSDs as just an expensive specialized form of hard drive.
- when Seagate did begin to realize that the SSD market wasn't going to go
away - the SSD market had already grown too complicated for Seagate to
understand what was going on and Seagate was in no position to entertain the
idea of becoming a credible technology leader.
from that perspective
and co-existance look like a better solution than they do from a pure SSD
As Seagate didn't develop an adequate SSD IP set of its
own - the company's first SSD products relied heavily on 3rd party IP from
after LSI's acquisition of SandForce in January 2012 it soon became clear that
LSI was perfectly capable of getting storage oem customers such as EMC and
Intel on its own. It didn't need Seagate as a route into the SSD market.
recently - 2012 and 2013 - Seagate has therefore been pursuing the only
realistic options left to latecomers in the SSD market -
licensing 3rd party IP and badge engineering.
Examples of this
- - licensing IP from the adaptive R/W flash company -
DensBits (announced in
June 2012) and
I have applauded these recent steps as
positive moves - either of which - if followed through - could improve
Seagate's position within the SSD world.
- and oeming the PCIe SSD product line and related enterprise SSD software
(announced in January 2013)
But SSD is a very competitive
and complex set of markets. Even pure SSD companies - which don't have other
distractions - have a tough enough time understanding what's the right way
to go with products and markets. And I'm still not convinved that Seagate
takes SSDs as seriously as it should.
Looking ahead at the
challenges and opportunities posed by the SSD market for Seagate - I think
that having to share management time and investment resources between the
mutually different interests of solid state and magnetic drive product lines
will lead to tensions and conflicts for resources in which the corporate "compromize
solutions" aren't always going to be the same as the best of class
solutions which the SSD market expects.
What's still lacking at
Seagate (and they aren't the only company in this predicament) is a fiery SSD
core which has the ambition to take on the (SSD) world.
the modern era of SSDs - the only thing which can beat an SSD in the market - is
another - better SSD. In that context - knowing how to design and build the
best or cheapest hard drives - and having routes to market for hard drives is
- frankly - irrelevant.
chooses DensBits for TLC and 1Xnm|
|Editor:- June 25, 2012 - Seagate announced
today it will use DensBits's
flash care technology in the design of forthcoming consumer and enterprise SSDs.|
has also made an equity investment in DensBits.
comments:- I've already written more than enough about about this technology
trend recently the article -
flash care management & DSP IP in SSDs.
As DensBits told us a few months ago - their business plan is work
with companies which sell complete SSDs - instead of licensing their technology
to other controller
makers. DensBits's technology spans the widest spectrum of adaptive DSP flash
SSD applications from consumer and industrial to fast-enough enterprise SSDs.
If Seagate leverages DensBits's flash technology successfully - the
result will be tougher competition for companies like
SanDisk in the
consumer SSD market
and tougher competition for
SMART in the
enterprise SSD market.
|don't all PCIe SSDs
look pretty much the same?|
|When you look at the
photos and headline specs for high speed PCIe SSDs - it's easy to come away with
the impression that they all look the same and have about the same performance.|
all - how different can they be?
But don't let the experience of the
2.5" SSD market -
in which clusters of consumer SSD vendors use the
same or similar
controllers and hover
close together inpopular
(consumer) performance rankings - give you the wrong idea about
this market the performance limits and capabilities of the SSD aren't set by an
old hard disk interface
and package limitations.
In the PCIe market the products you get are
limited only by the imagination of the designers - tempered by the guesses of
marketers who are trying to predict the optimum (most salable) features for an
|Seagate launches new
improved Nytro PCIe SSDs|
|Editor:- September 10, 2014 -
2 new PCIe SSDs -
which are based on the SSD product lines and brand assets of the recently
acquired SSD business of LSI.
XP6302 is a HHHL, gen 3 PCIe SSD - which provides up to 1.75 TB of
usable eMLC capacity with 200 microseconds average latency, and 295K/79K
(8KB) and rated for 0.9 DWPD
endurance for 5 years.
XP6210 is a FHHL gen 2 PCIe SSD with 1.86TB usable 19nm cMLC
capacity, with 50 microseconds average latency 185K/120K R/W IOPS (8KB),
and rated at 1.6 DWPD
endurance for 5 years.
acquisition of LSI's SSD business|
|Editor:- September 2, 2014 -
it has completed its previously announced acquisition of the assets of LSI's Accelerated
Solutions Division and Flash Components Division from Avago Technologies.
There is a growing opportunity for mobile and enterprise flash-based
storage solutions, which is why were excited about this strategic technology
acquisition, said Steve
Luczo, Seagate Chairman and CEO.
Integrating LSIs Enterprise
PCIe flash and SSD controller products, and its engineering capabilities into
Seagates leading storage technology portfolio and product development will
expand our ability to meet a broader base of customers needs and drive new
|By acquiring the SSD
controller technology which is at the heart of a significant proportion of SSD
designs in the industry - and also the 2nd largest enterprise PCIe SSD maker (by
volume) - Seagate will come to be regarded in a different way by SSD customers,
partners and competitors.|
|Seagate to acquire LSI's flash
business - analysis
from StorageSearch.com (May 29, 2014)|
|Like cosmological dark
matter - the SSD dark matter customers (companies whose names weren't in those
lists you got by recruiting those traditional enterprise server / storage sales
guys) will be bigger in revenue mass than anything which we can currently see
|The big market impact of
SSD dark matter|
|Seagate invests in eASIC|
|Editor:- August 5, 2013 - eASIC today
it has got a strategic investment from Seagate.|
eASIC has demonstrated innovative custom silicon technology with our... solid
state hybrid drives said Rocky Pimentel,
chief sales and marketing officer at Seagate. eASICs ability to quickly develop
custom solutions while meeting stringent cost, power and performance
requirements will enable us to rapidly improve our product position in both
SSD and SSHDs.
|Seagate's new SSDs|
|Editor:- May 8, 2013 - "Seagate is Serious
about SSD and Flash Technology." |
That's the headline of a
products overview page mentioned in a recent
release about 3 of the company's newest SSDs.
It's the SAS product which to my way of thinking is the
really new thing here.
Until now if you wanted a
1.8" SSD with a SAS
interface you had to go to
SMART to get
The SAS drives market - which Seagate helped to create - used to be
seen by external commentators as a strategic market for Seagate. (And no
doubt it's still regarded that way by SAS product managers within the company.)
Seagate's tardy entry into the enterprise SSD market (December 2009)
which happened only after many of its own enterprise customers had already
responded to the SSD wake up call by
making their own
arrangements - meant that Seagate's continuing existence as a long term
enterprise drive supplier in a world which was
SSDs was called into question.
Then when Seagate's first
enterprise SSD dance partners (SandForce and
LSI) eloped to
re-emerge as rival competitors about a year ago - Seagate was left in such a
sorry state that some well meaning stakeholders and seld serving investors were
trying to pair the company off in rumor blogs with
STEC (neither of which
were looking for such a hook up).
Instead - as we learned recently -
Seagate found a very suitable match in the PCIe SSD market with Virident.
And it's safe to assume that if they have any children as a couiple they will
look like 2.5"
As to Seagate taking the SSD market seriously - which is
where I began this - you could ask - who doesn't?
To misquote Jane
Austen - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a storage company
in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an SSD product line."
the other hand - I would take Seagate's sentiments about SSDs more seriously if
they had been expressed on http://www.seagate.com instead of on the less
imposing address where it currently resides -
|How "solid" is an
SSHD? - when less than 2% of the capacity is solid state|
|Editor:- March 5, 2013 - Seagate would like you
to believe that the best way to make a
better (more affordable) is to put it in a
hard drive. |
company describes this as "SSD + HDD = the best of both worlds."
latest offerings at the
hybrid drive altar
SSHDs (Solid State Hybrid Drives) - which are designed to deliver
response from your favorite applications and files" are now shipping
in 2 main wrapper styles:-
engineers have really out done themselves this time" said Scott Horn, Seagate's VP
of marketing in a
Desktop SSHDs - are similar to the notebook drives and have upto 2TB
magnetic capacity in a higher package (26mm rather than 9.5mm).
"Our new SSHDs serve up your favorite
content with the lightning-fast performance you have to experience to believe.
With these new drives it's like adding a turbo-charge to your PC, without having
to sacrifice capacity, at a price that's easy on your wallet. Now consumers can
create, store and consume digital content like a pro without having to
spend like one."
Editor's comments:- Hybrid drives like this are aimed at the
Seagate says they'll boot 5x faster than a
RPM HDD based notebook. But will that translate into the kind of product
which users will rave about?
Ask yourself this question.... If this
kind of flash to HDD caching ratio (125 to 1) works so well - how come the
enterprise rackmount storage market isn't dominated by racks stuffed full of
Seagate hybrids - using an enterprise-adapted version of Seagate's
What are all the clever people in the enterprise
storage market doing wrong? - with their different ways of doing
Accelerated Pools of storage?
That's the question I asked myself
about the viability of hybrid drives on these pages back in 2005 - when the
hybrid drive market
began. And I concluded that - if as a user you want better performance - you
will generally get better results and economics by using vanilla HDDs in your
That doesn't mean to say that millions of people won't
buy hybrid based PCs. The question is - would they choose to buy the same
product again? And would they recommend it to their friends?
really want park bench performance in the PC experience- rather than
benchmark experience - here's 2 ways to dissect and improve the Seagate
- lose the SATA interface
- lose the hard drive
|Seagate invests in
Virident's big SSD architecture|
|Editor:- January 28, 2013 - Seagate today
it has made a strategic equity investment in Virident as part
of a new collaboration agreement which includes remarketing Virident's
PCIe SSDs and working
together to design new SSDs
for the enterprise market.|
"Seagate is thrilled to team with
Virident, a technology leader in one of the fastest growing markets in
enterprise and cloud computing," said Gary Gentry,
senior VP and GM, Solid State Drives at Seagate. "Together, we are working
to develop the next-generation hardware and software solutions in the
comments:- it was obvious a year ago that Seagate's earlier marriage of SSD
IP convenience with LSI
wasn't going to last long or remain monogamous - as LSI and Seagate would be
competing for the same oem design slots in the enterprise market and
furthermore LSI's small architecture
isn't efficient for
scale fast SSD installations. (And in the
LSI didn't have the
controller IP - which is what led to Seagate's stake in
- a top 10 SSD company
- has a roadmap
architecture enterprise SSD controller and drive family which has been
developed in a cleanroom environment - where all the critical IP has been
devleoped by the company.
The obvious gap in the Seagate / Virident
product line is a 2.5"
removable PCIe SSD (to compete with
Micron) - and it's a no
brainer to see that Seagate's experience with this form factor - coupled with
Virident's SSD design skills could quickly result in viable products for this
new market - which will replace upto
25% of the
projected market for fast
|Seagate names new VP SSD|
|Editor:- July 30, 2012 - After 6 years at other companies Gary Gentry
has rejoined Seagate
to lead its SSD business as senior VP SSD. |
He was recently GM
of the Enterprise SSD Division at