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the Top 20 SSD OEMs - in 2010 Q3 - 14th in this series

October 7, 2010 .....by Zsolt Kerekes, editor click here for the most recent version of this article

Who are the top 10 most important SSD manufacturers?

Which companies do you absolutely have to include in your thinking if you've got any new projects involving SSDs? And which SSD companies most likely to succeed?

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. When the top 10 SSD series started in early 2007 - there were 55 active SSD oems listed in StorageSearch.com's online directories. Today in October 2010 - there are over 200 manufacturers of SSDs (systems, modules and chips) active in the market. Looking forwards - due to the business attractiveness of a fast growing multi-billion dollar SSD market and easier ways of getting into it I think that figure will grow to 1,000 SSD oems in 2013.

Who's going to dominate the SSD market?

Who are the companies who should be appearing on your partner or supplier shortlist for further qualification?

I believe that search volume is the best predictor of where the market is heading - unlike financial data which tells you where the market has been - typically 12 to 15 months before. The advance visibility from search volume data - if sampled and interpreted correctly - can give you a 2 to 3 year look ahead into emerging market trends. Our methodology tracks and correlates 3 different types of search and navigation behavior done by millions of readers searching for SSD content - which includes analyzing what search terms brought them here, what they looked for when they were here - and where they actually went.

As a reader you can interpret the listings (past and present quarters) in various ways which suit your own needs.

Making comparions with past editions of this list is useful too. (Links to those are at the foot of this page.) If a company has a good ranking now it helps to know - is it going up? - or - is it on the way down? - or has it performed consisitently - riding out the waves and turbulences created by its competitors?

My own view is this.

These lists tell you how the most important people in the SSD market - the readers of StorageSearch.com - are reacting to the market's various messages. Our readers include the leading people people (vendors, buyers, investors analysts and others who are seriously interested in SSD). Our past readers made the SSD market what it is today. Our current and new readers will shape the SSD market of tomorrow.

As an editor - I use this search data and the other various SSD market models (developed to help readers and advertisers) to tell me where where I should be spending more of my time - both today and planning for the future. Search data driven priorities, moderated by technology and market models - which explain why the changes are happening, and helped by reader emails telling me what they're doing - have helped me steer through 19 years (already?) of publishing enterprise buyers guides - for readers who want to make the best choices they can in fast growing - seemingly chaotic - technology markets.

It works! - In the past 3 - 4 years this Top 10 SSD companies list has already accurately predicted the ebbs and flows of many SSD vendors and has been sensitive enough to recognize the industry's new rising stars from the background noise of the SSD bubble's hype.
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Top 20 SSD OEMs - based on reader search volume in 3rd Quarter 2010 - © STORAGEsearch.com

For more commentary related to each company's recent SSD activities - click on the company name.
rank company main SSD technology comments about this quarter....................................................
1
Fusion-io
PCIe SSDs Same as before.

This is Fusion-io's 7th straight quarter in the #1 slot. Fusion-io's search volume was 50% higher than the #2 ranked company, and 4x higher than the #10 ranked company in this list. Fusion-io epitomizes what I call the New Dynasty architectural trend in the enterprise SSD market.

In August 2010 - Fusion-io announced the availability of a new high density PCIe SSD - which supplies 1.28TB of MLC capacity on a single card.

See also:- Fusion-io's news page
2
STEC
SAS SSDs
military SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Same as before.

STEC has been in every past edition of this top 10 list.

In September 2010 STEC announced it is sampling a new 3.5" dual port SAS compatible RAM SSD - the ZeusRAM SSD - with 8GB capacity and under 23 microseconds average latency and internal flash backup. RAM SSDs don't have the "play it again Sam... as time goes by" syndrome inherent in flash SSDs - because they have genuinely low repeat write latency and can be 10x to 20x faster. In some applications that's a difference worth paying for.

See also:- STEC's news page
3
SandForce
flash SSD Controllers Same as before.

In September 2010 - SandForce announced it closed $25 million in Series D funding - bringing the total investments in the company to $67 million.

See also:- SandForce's news page
4
Foremay
military SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Up 1 place since the last quarter.

In September 2010 - Foremay announced it is shipping SATA 3 versions of its EC188 M-series flash SSDs (2.5" and 3.5" SSDs) - with R/W speeds upto 450MB/s and 350MB/s respectively.

See also:- Foremay's news page
5
WD Solid State Storage
1.8" SSDs
2.5" SLC SSDs
Down 1 place since the last quarter.

WD made no significant SSD announcements in this quarter. WD has in the past published many whitepapers about aspects of "SSD reliability" (a subject which was 20th most popular site search on StorageSearch.com in this quarter).

See also:- WD's news page
6
Texas Memory Systems
Rackmount SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Same as before.

Texas Memory Systems epitomizes what I call the Legacy architectural trend in the enterprise SSD market. The company has continuously marketed SSDs to accelerate enterprise servers longer than any other company in this top 10 / 20 list. Some other RAM SSD oems (because all enterprise SSDs were RAM based in the 1990s) have been in the commercial erver speedup business for even longer than TMS - but have not sustained their earlier market prominence.

See also:- TMS's news page
7
OCZ
2.5" SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Up 3 places since the last quarter.

Like everyone else in the PCIe SSD market OCZ would like to be where Fusion-io is now. But even with the assistance of SandForce controllers inside its latest PCIe drives - OCZ's PCIe SSD products are about 2 years behind the performance state of the art. Nevertheless not everybody needs ultimate SSD performance. And some readers have told me they are very happy with the speedups which OCZ's SSDs have enabled for their legacy applications at prices they can afford.

In August 2010 - At the Flash Memory Summit OCZ demonstrated a new 3.5" SSD with what it calls a High Speed Data Link interface - which is PCIe physically connected via a SAS connector.

See also:- OCZ's news page
8
Intel
2.5" SSDs Same as before.

In September 2010 - Intel's SSD Bookmarks on StorageSearch.com were updated with new links aimed at "enterprise SSD" users. Intel is trying to rebuild its image in the enterprise SSD market having had some embarrassing failures in the past - and having been dumped by some rackmount oems.

9 years ago I wrote an article aimed at publicity experts in tech companies - called remember, the web has no memory! In a fast growing market like SSDs - Intel (and other companies) don't have to agonize too much about past PR blips - because the number of new customers coming into the market next year is bigger than those who were in before. And having never heard those old disaster stories - will be more trusting that a vendor with a good computer brand knows what it's doing in SSDs too.

See also:- Intel's news page
9
RunCore
1.8" SSDs
2.5" SSDs
3.5" SSDs
Down 2 places since the last quarter.

In August 2010 - RunCore released a video which shows innovative consumer SSD security features - which oems will introduce into products soon. These include RFID tag enabling of hidden disk partitions (for use with external SSDs) and remote kill / fast purge of an SSD via SMS text message - if your SSD has been stolen.

In September 2010 - RunCore announced significant price reductions on its ProV 2.5" SATA SSDs - which have SandForce's SF1200 controllers inside - for products ordered via its worldwide distributors.

See also:- RunCore's news page
10
Violin Memory
Rackmount SSDs Up 2 places since the last quarter.

After an absence of 2 years Violin has reentered the top 10 SSD list - having discovered a new market niche - of affordable server accelerators. When it first hit the top 10 list (exactly 3 years ago) its emphasis was purely on speed.

In September 2010 - Violin Memory announced availability of the Violin 3140 - a 3U MLC SSD with 40TB capacity priced at under $16 per GB and $3 per IOPS.

See also:- Violin's news page
This is where the old quarterly top SSD company listings used to end. Now - with a bigger SSD market - the top 11 to 20 companies are significant ones to look at too.
11
Micron Technology
2.5" SSDs
flash memory
Down 2 places since the last quarter.

In August 2010 - Micron announced it is sampling the RealSSD P300 - a 200GB 2.5" SATA 3 SLC flash SSD with R/W IOPS of 44,000 and 16,000 respectively.

See also:- Micron news page
12
Pliant Technology
SAS SSDs Up 1 place since the last quarter.

In September 2010 - Pliant announced it is sampling MLC versions of its 2.5" SAS SSD family with upto 400GB capacity and >10K sustained IOPS. The company was moving away from its original conservative stance of offering only SLC SSDs for the server apps speedup market.

See also:- Pliant's news page
13
SanDisk
notebook SSDs Up since the last quarter.

3 years ago SanDisk was the #1 company in these lists in Q3 2007. With a strong technical leadership position in MLC flash and a bright future anticipated for notebook SSDs what could go wrong? But for various reasons the company dropped out of the top 10 list, came back in and dropped out again - and #13 is its best rank in calendar 2010. The SSD notebook market has been murky due to a lot of badly designed SSDs being fitted in uncomplimentary notebooks. So the consumer pull has been less enthusiastic than most analysts originally anticipated.

In September 2010 - SanDisk announced that NDS (a tv set top box designer with with over 30 million DVR units deployed) has successfully has designed SanDisk SSDs into a new range of lower cost set-top DVRs. (See also tv SSDs.)

See also:- SanDisk's news page
14
Samsung
miniature SSDs
notebook SSDs
Same as before.

Samsung has, in the past, featured more than once as high as high as the #2 slot in these top 10 SSD lists (in 2009 and 2007).

Samsung knows it's got to make the SSD market work for it as a strategic business - and announced this intention back in 2005. Trying hard doesn't always mean succeeding - however - especially when other companies in the market have the same idea - or execute their product and marketing plans better. Samsung knows it needs better technology and has tried various ways to fix these gaps in recent years as documented in SSD history. What Samsung also needs is better SSD marketers. Unfortunately that's a harder problem to fix.

In August 2010 - Samsung and Seagate announced they will jointly develop SSD controller technologies to operate with Samsung's 30nm-class MLC NAND. The jointly developed controller will be used in Seagate's enterprise-class SSDs.

See also:- Samsung's SSD news page
15
Seagate
PCIe SSDs Seagate's previous best rank in these SSD lists was #12 in Q1 2010.

Although it may be galling for the company who for so many years has been the #1 biggest hard disk maker - any listing in the top 20 SSD oems at this stage of the market for Seagate is more than it deserves.

Seagate started as a very reluctant participant in the SSD market - and like someone who doesn't want to be invited to dance at the county ball - its earlier participation in this market included many incidents which the company would like us all to forget. Seagate said and then unsaid - so many silly things about the SSD market - before it had been to the SSD dancing lessons - about how its shoes didn't fit - about how balls were so silly anyway - about how it was going to be the belle of the ball next time when it had a new dress.

As an editor I got so exasperated with this company which started with such an anti-SSD-industry position and whose management was in SSD denial that in April 2008 I published an article - Why Seagate will Fail the SSD Challenge - which starkly stated that whichever damn dress the company decided to wear - it wasn't going to be the belle of the ball by taking that attitude - and that by sitting out the SSD ball year after year - it may have missed its best chance to meet Mr Darcy.

One of the advantages of extending the top 10 SSD oems list to 20 companies - is that readers will get better future visibility of what's happening below the SSD ball event horizon.

See also:- Seagate's news page
16
Solid Access Technologies
Rackmount SSDs This is the company which launched the world's first SAS solid state storage systems in 2005 (2 years before STEC had a SAS SSD. For most of the company's 8 year history their products were very fast RAM SSDs. But in May 2010 they extended their product line downwards to also include flash.

See also:- Solid Access Tech's news page
17
Memoright
2.5" SSDs You may be surprised to learn that Memoright held the #1 position in these lists for 3 straight quarters - starting in Q2 2008. There were only 77 oems in the SSD market in those days and for a while Memoright was shipping the world's fastest 2.5" SATA flash SSDs.

Since then the 2.5" market has become much more competitive - and Memoright (which designs its own controllers) has refocused on the embedded industrial segment. This is a market in which companies who design sound products (which work) don't suffer from the same dizziness as those chasing the latest consumer or server slots.

In July 2010 - Memoright announced a new authorized distributor for their SSDs in the US - First Commercial Technologies based in Beverly Hills, CA.

See also:- Memoright's news page
18
NextIO
PCIe rackmount SSDs NextIO's SSD rackmounts are a good example of a new strand in the SSD rackmount market within the "open" architecture segment - which uses arrays of COTS PCIe SSDs.

In September 2010 - NextIO announced an exclusive distributor for the Japanese reseller market.

See also:- NextIO's news page
19
Toshiba
1.8" SSDs
2.5" SSDs
The last time Toshiba appeared in the top 10 SSD list was Q2 2008. Since then the company's SSD products have mostly failed to inspire - being mostly in the me-too notebook SSD market.

See also:- Toshiba's memory news page
20 joint
Super Talent
1.8" SSDs
2.5" SSDs
In September 2010 - Super Talent launched a range of 1.8" and 2.5" PATA SSDs for industrial temperature operation - and with secure erase.

See also:-Super Talent's news page
EMC
Rackmount SSDs EMC has never appeared in the top 10 SSD lists.

EMC integrates FC SSDs from STEC and now SATA SSDs from Samsung into storage arrays. For customers with large data sets the reliability blanket which encapsulates these SSDs is hard to replicate with lower cost and much faster competing SSDs. But this reassurance comes at a high cost penalty - which makes EMC's products uneconomic for many new dynasty SSD driven applications like video servers. As the SSD market grows I expect EMC will become a smaller and less relevant part of it - until the emergence of bulk storage SSDs which could involve market and technology dynamics more suited to EMC's business culture.

See also:- EMC's news page
How to interpret these rankings?

The most important thing is being included in the list rather than the position within it. As the number of SSD oems has grown - it's much harder than it used to be to break into the top 10.

I sometimes get emails from SSD product managers griping about the validity of these lists. My reply is that it's a marketing reality they have to live with. Just as being ranked #1 or #1,001 on Google could make a big difference to your company - our SSD rankings will make a difference to your business.

High rankings mean that more people in the market are interested in learning more about what you're saying. On the other hand - if your business plan is to be a leading shaker in the SSD market and your company has never appeared in these lists - then you have an uphill struggle - and success could take a lot longer than you think.

I also get asked by companies - what can I do to get into the list and improve my rankings?

My reply is - "Design better SSDs. Improve your SSD marketing. Improve the customer experience of using your SSDs. Get your most enthusiastic customers to spread the word about you by telling people they know that you are such a great supplier."

The converse is also true.

You can see how the rankings have changed in past quarters and years by clicking on the links on the right.

Click here for the most recent version of this top SSD companies article.
...
other editions of this popular article tracking
the search volume of millions of SSD readers.

Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2010 Q4
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2010 Q3 <- you are here
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2010 Q2
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2010 Q1
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2009 Q4
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2009 Q3
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2009 Q2
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2009 Q1
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2008 Q4
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2008 Q3
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2008 Q2
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2008 Q1
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2007 Q4
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2007 Q3
Top 10 SSD OEMs - 2007 Q2
...
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