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the Top SSD Companies - in 2012 Q3

22nd edition in this multi year series

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor, - October 5, 2012

Who are the top SSD companies? ... the companies which you absolutely have to look at if you've got any new projects involving SSDs? - Here they are in the list below.
.. the top 10 SSD oems ... is proud to pre-announce the probable future winners in the solid state storage market.
.... ....
Top SSD Companies - ©

based on reader search in the - 3rd Quarter 2012
rank.... company top related segments notes...........................................................

1 Fusion-io PCIe SSDs
SSD software
Same as before.

This is Fusion-io's 15th straight quarter at #1.

The gap between the #1 and #2 company in these lists narrowed down in this quarter.

Throughout most of the series the top company has scored 2x the level of search volume compared to the second in this list. But in Q3 2012 - the ratio dropped to 1.5x. Fusion-io's search volume was 4x the level of the #10 company and 7x the level of the #20 company.

There's always so much to say about Fusion-io that if you look at our SSD news page in any given month - you're sure to find something interesting. So I won't repeat it all here.

2 STEC enterprise component SSDs...
industrial SSDs
military SSDs
Up 1 place since the last quarter.

Although STEC's reputation suffered in this quarter from miserable revenue shrinkage and a "temporary" step down by its CEO - the company continued to advance its belated marketing efforts into PCIe SSDs and software. Growing industry awareness of the advantages of adaptive R/W DSP flash IP - a technology pioneered within the enterprise SSD context by STEC - may have been a positive factor in reassessment of the company in critical segments.

3 Violin Memory rackmount SSDs
Down 1 place since the last quarter.

One way to characterize Violin in this quarter - is as the rackmount SSD company which years ago announced that it would like to be acquired by Oracle (or anybody of that market stature) - but which got passed over in this quarter when IBM bought Violin's main rival Texas Memory Systems. In my view that was a no brainer - because Violin didn't have a PCIe SSD product line - and for IBM - buying a single IP set which spans both racks and servers and is software agnostic was a much more efficient option than buying 2 disparate SSD companies and trying to manage and resolve the ensuing integration incompatibilities.

On the other hand if aren't IBM but you've got the money and like the idea of acquiring a big SSD controller architecture rackmount SSD company without diving into the highly competitive PCIe SSD market and also without having to take a bet on the outcome of far side flash technology (like some other companies in this list) then safe (it works) Violin may still be what you're looking for.

consumer SSDs
Same as before.

In this quarter investors in OCZ didn't know whether retaining their holdings in OCZ was the smartest or dumbest thing they had ever done - as speculation spread around the web about possible acquirers.

When I looked at the companies being named in this context - none of these rumors made any serious business sense to me either from the so-called acquirer's or OCZ's point of view at any kind of price which a self respecting SSD company like OCZ would tolerate.

One of the casualties of this hiatus was OCZ's founder who - according to reports - was booted out from his CEO chair due to a feeling that the company needed a different type of management to reestablish the confidence of stakeholders.

5 Texas Memory Systems... rackmount SSDs
Up 1 place since the last quarter.

The big deal for TMS watchers in this quarter was that the privately owned company which has been at the fast end of the SSD market since 1978 - was being acquired by IBM. The acquisition closed at the start of October - and currently the company is retaining its name and being called - an IBM company.

Here are some extracts below from an email on this subject which I sent to a reader.

TMS has had a low level public compatibility relationship with IBM for its SAN SSD product line since at least 2004 - so there are no surprises lurking in the woodwork.

One of the great strengths of the TMS product line (and also its greatest weakness) was in the area of software. The RamSan architecture inside is almost a software-free zone inside. Because so much of the product's functionality is performed by raw hardware – the product isn't tainted by software or OS dependencies. It's software agnostic and can be made to work well with almost any enterprise software.

For a small hardware-centric (and VC-free zone) company like TMS – competing against deeply funded competitors like Fusion-io and Violin and having a best of breed product like in both PCIe SSDs and rackmount SSDs was a great achievement. But as we're now seeing in the enterprise SSD market – it's easy to sell more SSDs if you have software which makes these product easier for users to deploy within their legacy server and storage assets.

Software can multiply SSD hardware sales by 10x – which makes it as good an investment as recruiting more sales people. Hence the ridiculously high (seeming) prices paid to acquire small SSD software ISVs recently.

There's plenty of genuine demand for high performance, cost effective and high availability enterprise SSDs at the rack and module level. IBM is well placed to provide a credible support and distribution channel for the TMS product line – which I believe will become a multi-billion dollar business unit within 1 or 2 years.

It doesn't really matter what software IBM uses to support the TMS product line. It provides a stable launch hardware platform for a wide range of possible server and storage solutions.

6 WhipTail rackmount SSDs
Up 3 places since the last quarter.

In a report published by IT Brand Pulse this quarter Whiptail was ranked #2 in unified SAN/NAS rackmount flash SSDs.

7 Skyera rackmount SSDs Up 14 places since the last quarter.

The meteoric rise of Skyera in the same quarter in which it exited stealth mode demonstrates that's readers are capable of recognizing when they see a significant convergence in technical and business concepts coming together in a single place.

That convergence is about SSD efficiency - which was the subject of my home page blog this month.

No other rackmount SSD vendor in the market today integrates as many of the raw ingredients in the SSD design efficiency toolkit within a shipping SSD system as Skyera does in its Skyhawk.

And no other rackmount SSD vendor owns all these elements (which include adaptive R/W technology) within its own proprietary IP set.

Now before we get too carried away by this genuine achievement - one of the big weaknesses of Skyera's product line is that it doesn't yet have a high availability product. So it will lose revenue and traction in that important segment until it does.

The company told me that they are working on that track - but my guess is that the kind of customer who's in the market for a true native fault tolerant SSD wouldn't rush out to buy it from a totally new supplier anyway. So even if Skyera already had an HA /FT SSD rack in their catalog today - few end users would click to place it in their shopping carts. They'll wait several quarters to see how Skyera's basic technology works in other user sites first.

Looking ahead it won't take any longer for Skyera's competitors - among those who already make HA SSDs - to source and integrate whatever they think is needed (in the way of missing IP) to climb up the SSD efficiency ladder than it will take Skyera to add high availability. So this time next year the competitive shootout will look different in detail.

But my guess is that the standoff will be among companies which are already named in this edition of the Top SSD Comapnies list. (Or whoever acquires them.)

8 LSI SSD controllers
Down 3 places since the last quarter.

There's a kind of irony in the fact that 2 of the adjacently listed top 10 SSD companies in this quarter - Skyera and LSI - both have their SSD roots in the founders of that earlier 2009 surprise entrant to these lists - SandForce.

9 Virident Systems PCIe SSDs Down 1 place since the last quarter.

Virident announced another round of funding, a new enhanced product and a new CEO in this quarter.

10 SanDisk PCIe SSDs
SSD software
Down 3 places since the last quarter.

The most interesting development which came out from SanDisk in this quarter was a clearer message about how the company plans to run its enterprise SSD business - and in particular the positioning of FlashSoft as a business unit within SanDisk and also as a collaborative platform working with 3rd party competing makers of SSDs.

11 SMART SAS SSDs Up 1 place since the last quarter.

12 BiTMICRO rugged SSDs Down 1 place since the last quarter.

13 Kove ultrafast rackmount SSDs Down 3 places since the last quarter.

14 Micron PCIe SSDs
2.5" PCIe SSDs
Up 10 places since the last quarter.

15 (tie) DensBits SSD controller IP Up 1 place since the last quarter.

15 (tie).. KingSpec industrial SSDs
consumer SSDs
First appearance in the top SSD companies list.

17 RunCore industrial SSDs
Down 3 places since the last quarter.

18 Nimbus rackmount SSDs
Up 2 places since the last quarter.

19 EMC rackmount SSDs
SSD software
Down 2 places since the last quarter.

20 Intel PCIe SSDs
consumer SSDs
Down 5 places since the last quarter.

21 (tie) Seagate PCIe SSDs Re-entry to this list.

21 (tie) Kaminario HA SSDs Up 1 place since the last quarter.

23 WD industrial SSDs
Down 5 places since the last quarter.

24 Samsung consumer SSDs Down 5 places since the last quarter.

25 KingFast consumer SSDs Down 2 places since the last quarter.

Who's at the next level down?

With just 15% of the search volume of the top ranked rackmount SSD company (Violin) and hovering just below the level of the top 25 companies this quarter is Pure Storage.

Will we see them appear in next month's list?

And are there still surprise companies which will crash into high visibility when they exit stealth mode and announce their new SSD offerings?

Stay tuned to the SSD news here on and we'll see the answers in January 2013.

see also:- the top SSD companies (series overview), SSD market history, the SSD buyers g guide.
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