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the Top 20 SSD Companies - in 2012 Q1

20th edition in this 5 year running series -

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor, StorageSearch.com - April 10, 2012

click here for the most recent version of this article
Who are the top 20 most important SSD companies?
... the companies which you absolutely have to look at if you've got any new projects involving SSDs? There are nearly 400 companies actively designing and marketing SSD products and systems today. This list ranks companies based on the quarterly search volume of over 1.2 million annual SSD readers here on StorageSearch.com

see also:- SSD market analysts, SSD news, popular SSD articles

Top 20 SSD Companies - based on search volume Q1 2012 - © 2012 StorageSearch
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rank.... company notes...........................................................

1 Fusion-io Same as before.

This is Fusion-io's 13th straight quarter in the #1 slot. Fusion-io's search volume was more than 2x the level of the #2 ranked company in this list and 10x the level of the #20 company.

In this quarter - FIO demonstrated the capabilities of its latency reducing Auto Commit Memory (ACM) extension by being the 1st SSD company to exceed 1 billion IOPS in a reasonably accessible (to mortal enterprise budgets) 8 server configuration.

If you're reading this sometime in 2016 (or later) - then to echo (and deliberately misquote) Woody Hutsell's December 2010 blog - I'd say - "One billion IOPS. Yawn! Is that all you've got?"

But if you pause / reset your time machine to today's date (or anytime later this year too) - and Google "billion IOPS" - you'll see it still is / was a big deal.

2 Violin Memory Same as before.

In this quarter - as part of the company's positioning itself as a great SSD company to invest in (or acquire - or maybe even buy SSDs from) Violin published a video explaining the benefits they get from having their own SSD controller architecture.

3 LSI/SandForce Same as before.

Strictly speaking 80% of the reader interest in LSI/SandForce in this period was related to the SandForce controller part of the company. LSI itself would have been ranked #20 in its own right based on reader interest in its PCIe SSDs and software. Adding the LSI searches to the SandForce searches - didn't make any difference to the #3 rank in this period.

In this quarter - LSI announced it had completed the acquisition of SandForce.

LSI did some significant SSD launch stuff in Q2 too. But hey - this list is about what happened in Q1. You'll have to come back later to see if enough people cared about the Nytro roadmap.

4 STEC Same as before.

In this quarter - STEC continued to frustrate and astonish investors and analysts by reporting 38% year on year decline from the year ago quarter - at a time when the enterprise SSD market appeared to be in stampede growth mode.

I said to one (of many) such SSD investment analysts who sounded me out on STEC's business performance - "I've been talking regularly to STEC about the SSD market for about 8 years. So my frustrations in what they have'nt done and lost opportunities are bigger than those of any investors. (Despite that)...I think STEC could still get much higher multiples of its current revenues than it has achieved in recent quarters but it needs better marketing to do this."

If you look back at past editions of this top SSD companies list (links at the bottom of this page) you'll see that STEC's cargo cult belief that future enterprise SSD business would always come in the next batch of oem customer POs - has been a commonly recurring theme.

5 OCZ Up 1 place since the last quarter. This is OCZ's highest ranking in the history of these lists.

In this quarter - OCZ announced imminent shipments of new high capacity PCIe SSDs optimized for cloud apps. The Z-Drive R4 CloudServ has up to 16TB of storage capacity on a single full height card and is supported by auto-caching SSD ASAP fuctionality.

I'm not a great fan of SSD videos - but I did add OCZ's VDI bootstorm video (directed and produced by OCZ-SANRAD) to my favorites list.

6 Texas Memory Systems.... Down 1 place since the last quarter.

In this quarter - TMS - which has for more than a decade positioned itself as the company which designs the "world's fastest storage" - introduced a "fast-enough" PCIe SSD - called the RamSan-80 as part of an SSD ASAP bundle which included software from NEVEX.

Rather than being seen as a change in direction - the launch fitted into an emerging pattern from TMS in the past year - which seems to be - that if they can adapt their enterprise SSD IP to suit a distinct segment of user needs - by offering a different set of optimized features (not just speed - but also other dimensions like storage density and resilience) then they're willing to do it.

7 Virident Systems Up 5 places since the last quarter.

This is Virident's highest ranking in the history of these lists.

In this quarter - Virident published a bunch of articles and reports which describe and validate important design aspects of its enterprise SSDs which are commensurate ingredients in its marketing goal to - "deliver predictable, industry-leading SSD performance which scales across diverse workloads, data sets, and sustains over time."

Virident's SSDs demonstrate the value of reducing technology implicit biases in SSD design symmetries.

There are 11 core SSD architecture symmetries which are required to build the perfect enterprise SSD. No designs in the market today are anywhere near perfect. The best SSD designers currently struggle to achieve high scores in as many as 4 of these.

8 SanDisk Same as before.

In this quarter - SanDisk acquired FlashSoft - one of the leading independent software vendors in the SSD ASAPs market.

9 BiTMICRO Up 1 place since the last quarter.

In this quarter - BiTMICRO announced that its new TALINO-DE - SSD controller - had gone through tape-out with Global Unichip.

10 Kove Up 1 place since the last quarter.

In this quarter - Kove remained at the top end of the fastest SSDs list.

11 WhipTail Up 9 places since the last quarter.

In this quarter - WhipTail announced it had secured a Series B funding.

12 SMART Up 2 places since the last quarter.

13 WD Down 4 places since the last quarter.

14 Anobit / Apple First appearance in the top SSD companies list.

Anobit's acquisition by Apple in December 2011 meant that a lot of people who hadn't previously tracked the SSD market wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

15 EMC Up 2 places since the last quarter.

16 RunCore Down 3 places since the last quarter.

17 Intel Up 2 places since the last quarter.

18 Samsung Down 3 places since the last quarter.

19 FlashSoft Down 1 place since the last quarter. FlashSoft was acquired by SanDisk half way through the quarter.

20 Toshiba Down 13 places since the last quarter.


2 companies dropped out of the top 20 list in this quarter:- Seagate and DDRdrive
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about the top SSD companies list
StorageSearch.com tracks over 300 manufacturers of SSDs.

That's 30x more than when we started publishing daily updated SSD guides in 1998 and 6x as many as when we started this quarterly top SSD companies series in 2007.

Our search volume based rankings give you an idea of which SSD companies other readers like you have been following in the most recent quarter.

People don't buy products (or companies) they don't know about.

StorageSearch.com has been the leading publication in the SSD market since the 1990s. Our readers have been making SSD history and not just reading about it.
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9 years that changed the SSD market
"In October 2001 - the number of SSD manufacturers listed on StorageSearch.com was 21 companies. Upto that point it had been growing at the cumulative rate of 1 new SSD company each year.

In October 2010 - the number of SSD manufacturers listed on StorageSearch.com passed 200 companies."

In June 2012 - there are so many me-too SSD companies that it's not worth listing them all. - I know directly of about 400. But in my big picture projection (published a few years ago) I estimated that the number of SSD companies will pass 1,000 SSD companies before we see any significant market consolidation.
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Readers often ask me...
"How do you choose the top SSD companies?"
I tell them - the rankings are objective - not subjective. The series is based on analyzing the search volume of millions of enterprise SSD readers who make the market happen.

It includes the key early adopters - which is why our lists picked up successful companies like Fusion-io and SandForce years before the financial data confirmed their importance in the market.

For more FAQs about this series scroll to the bottom of this column.

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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 - since this series started - from 50 to over 300 - and now SSD ISVs are another factor too - it's much harder than it used to be to break into general awareness in the serious SSD market.

Our brains haven't got any bigger.

The SSD market has become really important - and we have to filter in (and filter out) more SSD messages - to recognize those which matter. (That includes me too - BTW - as the editor.)

Despite the importance of being in the top SSD companies list - there are many companies - which have strong positions and narrow product lines in their own application niche - which can survive and thrive without ever worrying about being in it. It's only when those niches get large enough to impinge on others that the visibility stakes matter. Let's not forget that the whole of the SSD market was itself a tiny niche in the dim distant past.

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 #91 on Google could make a big difference to your company - being #1 or #99 with the readers of StorageSearch.com makes a difference to your SSD business. It's not me as the editor which makes the difference. It's our readers. SSD vendors often tell me that our readers are the most significant new customers they see. (And when it comes to financial matters and understanding the SSD market too - our site is high up in the thinking of would-be investors, VCs, market analysts, acquirers and go ahead vendors - as I know from my discussions with readers.)

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

My reply is -

I'm just the messenger. I created the format - but I don't pick who's in the list. I use the stats myself to tell me - who's important and who's not - what's important and what's not?

Here's my advice for how to get better rankings...

Design better SSDs. Improve your SSD marketing and spend more effort in communicating with important SSD market segments. 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.

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