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the Top 20 SSD OEMs - in 2010 Q4 - 15th in this series

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com January 12, 2011
Who are the most important SSD manufacturers?

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

After 20 years reporting the SSD market - I'm pleased to say that 2010 was the industry's first multi-billion dollar revenue year. But that was simply the start of the SSD market bubble. In the next 6 years we're going to see the number of SSD makers increase from the current 200 to over 1,000 companies - as they pursue a market opportunity which could be worth over $100 billion / year by the end of this decade.

Who's going to dominate the SSD market? And who are the companies who should be appearing on your partner or supplier shortlist for further qualification?

I get asked this question by VCs, analysts, other editors, SSD specifiers and SSD vendors themselves. No one's got the time and brainpower to reliably track and analyze huge numbers of SSD companies - many of whom are operating in transient new market segments which may only have a very short market life - as vendors and users arbitrate the hotly disputed questions of - where's the best place to put SSDs? and what's the best way to design them?

I've been using search volume in my niche enterprise buyers guides since 1996 as a sensitive and dependable short term detector and long term predictor of where the market is heading. Search and reading about vendors and their technologies is a necessary precursor to buying activity.

StorageSearch.com was the first publication to recognize the huge market potential of SSDs and our millions of readers (which includes the founders and leading management in most SSD companies) have greatly influenced the market in the past - and will continue to do so in the future.

What better way to to spot rising and falling trends than to leverage the intelligence of the world's best focus group for enterprise and military SSDs? You can read more about the theory and methodology in previous editions of this article (listed at the bottom of this page). The important thing is that when you compare like with like from quarter to qiuarter it works!
SSD ad - click for more info
Megabyte announces future winners in the SSD market,
based on the world's best focus group for SSDs.
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SSD news this month
SSD news summary - 2010 Q4
SSD market history - from the 1970s to the present day
.
.
What's the best way to design a flash SSD?
and other questions which divide SSD opinion
click to read the article - the SSD Heresies ... Why can't SSD's true believers agree upon a single coherent vision for the future of solid state storage? ...read the article
Top 20 SSD OEMs - based on reader search volume in Q4 2010 - ©StorageSearch.com............

For more commentary and analysis click on the highlighted company name.
rank company main SSD technology comments about this quarter......................
1
Fusion-io
PCIe SSDs
InfiniBand SSDs
Same as before.

This is Fusion-io's 8th straight quarter in the #1 slot. Fusion-io's search volume was 51% higher than the #2 ranked company, and 8x higher than the #20 ranked company in this list. Fusion-io epitomizes what I call the New Dynasty architectural trend in the enterprise SSD market.

In November 2010 - Fusion-io set new speed records with its double-wide slot ioDrive Octal SSD - achieving 1 million IOPS 6.2 GB/s of bandwidth while offering capacity up to 5.7TB.

See also:- my recent interview with Fusion-io's CEO - re MLC SSDs in banks and 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 December 2010 - STEC announced that MLC versions of its ZeusIOPS SSDs are being used in IBM's Storwize V7000 (RAID systems).

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

In October 2010 - SandForce announced availability of its next generation SF-2000 family SSD processors - for oems designing SAS 3 class (6Gbps) enterprise acceleration SSDs. The SF-2000 supports 500MB/s sequential R/W, 60,000 sustained random IOPS, wire speed encryption, end to end data integrity checks and industrial temperature operation in a skinny flash SSD architecture. Also new in this controller generation is support for sector sizes additional to 512-bytes e.g., 520, 524, 528, 4K, etc., with Data Integrity Field (DIF) for true enterprise-class SAS drive behavior and performance.

See also:- SandForce's news page
4
Texas Memory Systems
PCIe SSDs
Rackmount SSDs
Up 2 places since the last quarter.

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.

See also:- my recent interview with Texas Memory Systems - re MLC and RAM in SSDs and TMS's news page
5
OCZ
2.5" SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Up 2 places since the last quarter.

For a long time I was dubious about OCZ's aspirations in the server SSD market. But I was wrong. OCZ is ambitious. And their dramatic upwards movement in these lists in recent quarters confirms the value of objective data based vendor rankings compared to subjective editor and analyst "picks".

In October 2010OCZ announced it will open a new SSD manufacturing plant in Taipei, increasing overall manufacturing capacity to 140,000 units a month. OCZ said it sold over 54,000 SSDs in August - 3x the monthly level at the start of this year.

See also:- OCZ's news page
6 joint
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.

The people who founded WD's SSD business started talking about reliability in their SiliconDrive 2.5" SLC SSD designs - aimed at the embedded market - in 2004. That's 7 years ago! My article the cultivation and nurturing of "reliability" in a 2.5" SSD brand which discusses the marketing aspects of that - was the most popular article in the SSD branding series in the 4th quarter of 2010. Nowadays a lot more companies are talking about the internals of their SSDs.

The company's notebook SSD (which uses a 3rd party controller and MLC flash) operates in a different product universe altogether - with over 100 competitors.

We may see some analysis of how WD's SSD products did in this quarter when the company announces its results on January 18, 2011.

See also:- WD's news page
Violin Memory
Rackmount SSDs Up 4 places since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - Violin Memory (which makes rackmount SSDs) unveiled a multi-terabyte SSD cache solution for NAS systems which use NFS. Violin says its vCACHE expands to 15TB of useable cache and delivers over 300,000 NFS operations per second over 8x 10GbE ports.

I spoke to Don Basile, CEO of Violin Memory, and Matt Barletta to get a current view of how the company sees itself, competitors and the SSD market. ...click here to read the interview

See also:- Violin's news page
8
RunCore
1.8" SSDs
2.5" SSDs
3.5" SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Up 1 place since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - RunCore launched the world's first CF card compatible SSDs with fast (typically 30 seconds) on-board sanitization functions. The fast erase - which is designed to protect confidential data leaks and thwart any attempts at data recovery - is achieved by pressing a button or activating erase pins while the device is powered. It can be once again used by formatting after the data destruction process.

See also:- RunCore's news page
9
Intel
2.5" SSDs
SATA SSDs
Down 1 place since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - Intel Capital led a $32 million funding round into Anobit (an SSD controller company).

See also:- Intel's news page
10
Foremay
military SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Down 6 places since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - Foremay announced shipment of the fastest 1.8" micro SATA slim flash SSDs - with 280MB/s R/W and random IOPS as follows:- up to 30,000 read and 15,000 write. The 5mm high SSDs have capacity up to 400GB and are available in industrial temperature versions.

See also:- Foremay'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
Pliant Technology
2.5" SSDs
3.5" SSDs
SAS SSDs
Up 1 place since the last quarter.

Pliant was ranked #5 on the Lead411 list of 500 fastest growing tech companies.

See also:- Pliant's news page
12
SanDisk
notebook SSDs Up 1 place since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - SanDisk announced that its integrated SSD had been named a CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honoree .

See also:- SanDisk's news page
13
Seagate
PCIe SSDs Up 2 places since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - Seagate ended discussionns with private equity firms about going private.

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

In December 2010 - Samsung announced it is sampling 400GB 2.5" SATA MLC SSDs for use as the primary storage in enterprise storage systems (instead of hard drives). The new SSDs can process random read commands at 43,000 IOPS and random writes at 11,000 IOPS. In addition, they have an 'end-to-end data protection' function with advanced data encryption algorithm to assure reliability and security for the drive.

See also:- Samsung's news page
15
NextIO
PCIe rackmount SSDs Up 3 places since the last quarter.

In November 2010 - NextIO announced record breaking 4.2 million IOPS in a 4U rackmount SSD with 10TB capacity stuffed with 16x SSD cards from Fusion-io.

See also:- NextIO's news page
16
EMC
Rackmount SSDs Up 4 places since the last quarter.

In October 2010 - Samsung said it is shipping 200GB 3.5" SATA SLC SSDs to EMC. Sequential R/W speeds are 260MB/s and 245MB/s respectively. R/W IOPS are 47,000 and 29,000. The new Samsung SSDs have an 'end-to-end data integrity' function and encryption.

See also:- EMC's news page
17
PhotoFast
2.5" SSDs
PCIe SSDs
Reappearance in top 20 list after a brief absence.

In October 2010 - PhotoFast said it would ship a 256GB USB SSD for the MacBook Air at the end of November. Sustained R/W speeds are 250MB/s. Random R/W speeds are 50MB/s and 30MB/s respectively. It uses a controller from SandForce.

But later - in November 2010 - a report in DailyTech.com said that Apple had put pressure on PhotoFast to withdraw this MacBook Air compatible SSD.

See also:- PhotoFast's news page
18
Solid Access Technologies
Rackmount SSDs Down 2 places since the last quarter.

Solid Access made no significant SSD announcements in this quarter.

See also:- Solid Access Tech's news page
19
SMART
2.5" SSDs
military SSDs
First appearance in these top 20 lists.

In November 2010 - SMART announced that its XceedIOPS SAS 2.5" solid state drive (SSD) will be used in new models of IBM POWER7 supercomputers instead of hard drives.

SMART's news page
20
LSI
PCIe SSDs First appearance in these top 20 lists.

In November, 2010 - Demartek published a sponsored test report (pdf) which compares the performance of SSDs and HDDs in a simulated web server environment when managed by LSI's CacheCade software - which provides SSD ASAP functionality.

See also:- LSI's news page
Who dropped out of the list since the previous quarter?

Micron Technology, SanDisk and Memoright have (for now) exited the blazing heat of the SSD market furnace and gone back to the relative coolness of the woodpile.

It's important to get some conetxt here. Some companies which were in the top 20 list previously and whose search volume increased in absolute terms nevertheless dropped down in rank in this quarter. The reason being that the search volume for other SSD companies rose even faster.
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SSD ad - click for more info
.......
Imprinting the brain of the SSD
Editor:- How did the SSD market change from:- Who cares? to You care! about the identity of SSD controllers.
click to read the case study - about the SandForce Driven program My article - Imprinting the brain of the SSD - compares SandForce's SSD processor branding program with previous examples in chip history and analyzes key business success factors.
.......
from the garage to a top 10 SSD company
Editor:- February 10, 2011 - OCZ's CEO, Ryan Petersen reveals in a new article on bnet.com the difficulties he faced when he decided his business had to quit the memory business and focus on SSDs. ...read the article

The fast growing company also announced a new loan agreement with Silicon Valley Bank.

Editor's comments:- OCZ isn't the first memory supplier to exit the commodity memory market and it won't be the last either. The right time to do it depends on the internal DNA of the company and external market dynamics.

All memory companies will have to transition to the SSD market in the next 5 to 10 years or risk being locked out of what will be the biggest market for semiconductor memory.

There will be more memory in SSDs than in traditional dumb raw memory banks. The reason is that without SSD controller technology - the uncorrectable error rates in high density flash and even ECC protected DRAM arrays will make them unusable in the capacities that new processors and apps will require.

Owning the brand of a successful SSD business will be a much preferable place to be than supplying memory into the SSD box (from outside the company) at commodity prices.
image shows Megabyte playing the slot machines - click to read 3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market This channel marketing concept is called "forward integration".

See also:- 3 easy ways to enter the SSD Market
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SSD ad - click for more info
.......
Surviving SSD sudden power loss
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. ...read the article
.......
Almost as soon as the first bytewide CMOS static RAMs became available in the late 1970s - electronics designers realized that with the addition of a small lithium battery (which could maintain the RAM's contents in the unpowered state for 5 to 10 years) they could easily create a unique type of storage device...
flash backed DIMMs / NVDIMMs
.......
Top 20 SSD articles - Dec 2010
  1. SSD Myths - "write endurance"
  2. the Top 20 SSD OEMs
  3. Magneto-flash wars - HDDs v SSDs
  4. the SSD Buyers Guide
  5. PCIe SSDs
  6. the Fastest SSDs
  7. SSD news
  8. Flash v Hard Disks - Which Will Win?
  9. 2.5" SSDs
  10. RAM v Flash SSDs - which is Best?
  11. RAM SSDs
  12. are MLC SSDs safe in Enterprise Apps?
  13. SSD Pricing
  14. SSD market history
  15. SSD jargon
  16. 1.8" SSDs
  17. 3.5" SSDs
  18. SSD controllers & IP
  19. What's the best / cheapest - PC SSD?
  20. the Problem with Write IOPS




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SSD ad - click for more info
How to interpret thes 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.
...
Past editions of this popular article which tracks
the search volume of millions of SSD readers.

Top 20 SSD OEMs - latest edition

Top 20 SSD OEMs - 2010 Q4 <- you are here
Top 20 SSD OEMs - 2010 Q3
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
If you're new to the SSD market and want to learn how it got here, take a look at these articles.

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