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the Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2007 Q2 - 1st in a new series

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor

click here for the most recent version of this article

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.. the top 10 SSD oems ... StorageSearch.com is proud to pre-announce the probable future winners in the solid state storage market.
Who are the top 10 most important SSD manufacturers - the companies which you absolutely have to look at if you've got got any new projects involving SSDs?

A decade ago there was an easy answer. "All of them!"

It wasn't till 1999 that our online SSD directory tipped over the 10 companies mark. Today (July 2007) there are over 55 active listed SSD oems. Another 4 or so I know in stealth mode, another 10 I'm checking out as imminent maybes and I expect the total number of SSD oems to go north of 100 in 2008. The new storage gold rush is chasing an opportunity for storage systems companies that could eventually be worth 5 to 10 billion dollars a year. And this is a market in which the "usual suspects" EMC, IBM, HP are nowhere. So in theory anyone could end up dominating this market.
It's not that simple. Because there's already a lot of traction. Stakes have been put in the ground claiming desirable application or technology territories. A handful of SSD pioneers have already exited the market, gone bust or been acquired.
To go back to the question - which are the most important SSD oems to look at right now? There are 2 empirical ways to form such a list based on different market research approaches.

(1) - financial data - looks at revenue and shipping volumes. The problem with this approach in a market that's growing so fast - is that revenue data can be 3 to 6 months out of date when collected and may not sample any data at all from important new companies which have recently entered the market. This traditional approach will probably work fine from about the middle of 2009 onwards. And if you can afford to wait that long before choosing SSD partners / suppliers that's OK. But is it really? I think waiting that long is very risky. Many companies will be at a severe competitive disadvantage if their competitors are using SSD technology first. Faster SSD accelerated ecommerce sites, faster databases and new SSD powered business applications will mean that waiting too long to hit the SSD trail could be damaging to your competitiveness.
(2) - search volume data - is a near real-time and (nearly) reliable way to see which way things are heading in changing markets. I've got strong confidence in this approach having used it as an online publisher for over a decade to help me make predictions about emerging technologies and disruptions in the storage market. But search volume based market inferences only work if you have high volumes of search in the specific subject. That's why you're here... Because when it comes to SSDs STORAGEsearch.com has delivered millions of article views related to hard SSD content and our readership is growing fast. We've also been discussing the SSD market with nearly every SSD manufacturer (sometimes before they founded their companies) and with analysts and interested readers in a wide range of enterprises longer than any other publisher or analyst.
The Top 10 SSD OEMs

The listing below is based on storage search volume on this site. This metric samples strong follow up interest generated by browsing our SSD directories, following up news stories or articles and following links from ads. But it excludes the pageviews of product ads themselves. As we track every manufacturer in the market and any manufacturer can (and does) send us their content related to SSDs - this is a measure of how our readers have reacted to that content.
the Top 10 SSD OEMs - © StorageSearch.com
based on reader pageviews in 2nd Quarter 2007
rank manufacturer SSD technology notes
1 STEC Flash SSD In April 2007 - STEC announced it had sampled a 512GB 3.5" SSD.
2 Samsung Flash SSD In June 2007 - Samsung began mass production of 64GB 1.8" SSDs.
3 Adtron Flash SSD Adtron's 2.5" SATA SSD was the most popular product ad viewed in this quarter.
4 Mtron Flash SSD During most of this quarter Mtron had the fastest 2.5" SSDs.
5 BiTMICRO Networks Flash SSD BiTMICRO has published many articles about SSDs and in this quarter made the fastest 2.5" SSD.
6 Texas Memory Systems RAM SSD Texas Memory Systems makes the fastest SSDs in 3U and above form factors.
7 SiliconSystems Flash SSD In June 2007 - SiliconSystems received a patent for its PowerArmor technology. See also:- Surviving SSD sudden power loss
8 SanDisk Flash SSD In June 2007 - SanDisk launched 64G 1.8" and 2.5" flash SSDs for the notebook market.
9 Attorn RAM SSD In this quarter Attorn improved its Hyperdrive4 (fastest 5.25" SSD.)
10 Solid Access Technologies RAM SSD Solid Access makes the only native SAS SSD and the fastest 2U rackmount in this quarter.
Waiting in the wings - just below the top 10 in this period were:- Curtis, Super Talent Technology and Advanced Media.
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the Problem with Write IOPS in flash SSDs
Random "write IOPS" in many of the fastest flash SSDs are now similar to "read IOPS" - implying a performance symmetry which was once believed to be impossible.

So why are they such a poor predictor of application performance?

And why are users still buying RAM SSDs which cost an order of magnitude more than SLC? (let alone MLC) - even when the IOPS specs look superficially similar?

This article tells you why the specs got faster - but the applications didn't.
the problem with flash SSD  write IOPS And why competing SSDs with apparently identical benchmark results can perform completely differently. ...read the article
..
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How to interpret the rankings?

The most important thing is being included in the list rather than the position within it. Having said that there's a 4x difference in pageviews between companies at the top or bottom. The top 10 companies will vary from quarter to quarter and the rankings will change too. But there's a hard core of companies which are always in the the top 10. You'll be able to see who those are in future quarterly editions of this list and you'll also be able to see if any companies have moved sharply up or down.


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