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the Top SSD Companies - in 2012 Q4

23rd edition in this 6 years running series

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor, - January 11, 2013

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.

For the series overview, links to earlier (and later) editions of this list and an outline of our market proven methodology (which is based on analyzing the search volume of millions of SSD readers on who have made the SSD market what it is today) click here.
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Top SSD Companies - ©

based on reader search in the 4th Quarter 2012
rank.... company top related segments notes...........................................................

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

This is Fusion-io's 16th straight quarter at #1.

Fusion-io's search volume is 2x the level of the #2 ranked company in this list.

Among other things Fusion-io reported 59% year on year revenue growth for the quarter ended September 30, 2012.

2 STEC enterprise component SSDs...
industrial SSDs
military SSDs
Same as before.

In this quarter STEC announced that its revenue for the quarter ended September 30 was 57% lower than the same quarter 3 years before. In the same 3 year period the available SSD market had grown about 8x bigger.

3 Violin Memory rackmount SSDs
Same as before.

In this period there was more speculation than usual that Violin was preparing for an IPO.

consumer SSDs
Same as before.

As part of its company recovery strategy following the loss of its CEO and SEC filing problems reported in the previous quarter OCZ slimmed down its catalog and headcount and made strenuous efforts to convince observers that it was focusing on the more promising business segments in its product and customer mix.

5 Skyera adaptive R/W
rackmount SSDs
Up 2 places since the last quarter.

This is the highest ranking ever for Skyera.

Although few people on this planet really understand the complex mix of technologies which Skyera has mastered to architect one of the world's most efficiently engineered SSD arrays - almost anyone can easily appreciate the results when they're presented with the resulting price and performance.

One of the frustrations for Skyera, however, is that demonstrating reliability and apps compatibility as a newcomer to the mission critical systems market - can't be rushed.

6 WhipTail rackmount SSDs
Same as before.

In December 2012 - WhipTail announced it had secured $31 million series C funding from a group of investors which included SanDisk.

7 LSI SSD controllers
Up 1 place since the last quarter.

LSI moved its stock listing from NYSE to NASDAQ and also said that any improvement in the ultrabook market would be good for its SSD controller business too.

8 Texas Memory Systems... rackmount SSDs
Down 3 places since the last quarter.

Although nothing dramatically new was announced by TMS in its first full quarter as an IBM company - there were already signs that the "SSD secret sauce" absorption was already underway when the TMS product line appeared in a strategic IBM presentation at the Server Design Summit.

(And for people who communicate with TMS another sure sign of steady progress is that they all have new shiny IBM domain email addresses.)

9 (tie) Virident Systems PCIe SSDs Same as before.

Virident announced the general availability of its previously unveiled FlashMAX II - fast enterprise PCIe SSDs.

9 (tie) SMART SAS SSDs Up 2 places since the last quarter.

Negative publicity and uncertainty related to re-organizations in 2 of SMART's SAS SSD competitors (STEC and OCZ) combined with growing market appreciation of the significance of adaptive R/W technology helped to create a more favorable search climate for SMART in this quarter.

And SMART's MLC based SAS SSDs performed mostly well when compared to (older) and more expensive SLC SAS SSDs from SanDisk, HGST and Toshiba in a review by

11 RunCore industrial SSDs
Up 6 places since the last quarter.

12 Nimbus rackmount SSDs
Up 6 places since the last quarter.

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

The company declined to reveal the exact size of their SSD revenue but said that SSDs were already more than 10% of SanDisk's revenue and they expect to see strong growth in SSDs.

Extrapolating the clues from the company for the recent quarter I estimated that SanDisk's SSD revenue run rate was about $0.5 billion / year.

14 BiTMICRO SSD controllers
Down 2 places since the last quarter.

Recently BiTMICRO has confirmed that it had changed its business strategy from being (mainly) a supplier of rugged embedded SSDs for the industrial and military markets - to becoming a supplier of fast SSD controllers and fast SSDs aimed primarily at the enterprise SSD market.

15 Micron consumer SSDs
2.5" PCIe SSDs
Down 1 place since the last quarter.

Overriding all previous faltering (and sometimes misdirected) steps taken by Micron in the SSD market in recent years - the company's 2 biggest legacy achievements in the SSD market upto now were clearly revealed in 2012.
  • revealing that 1/3 of Micron's nand flash trade sales go into SSDs.

16 Samsung consumer SSDs Up 8 places since the last quarter.

17 Kaminario HA SSDs
Up 4 places since the last quarter.

18 Intel PCIe SSDs
consumer SSDs
Up 2 places since the last quarter.

Does it matter that Intel, while being a world leading semiconductor company, lacks true grit - in the SSD sense?

That assessment coming through clearly too in millions of SSD reader searches is why Intel has been in the lower half of the top 20 SSD companies lists in the past few years.

Intel has improved its enterprise SSDs from being naiively designed and potentially unreliable to adequately me-too.

Why didn't Intel put more resources into SSD? And why were its flash SSD offerings - for many few years - so insipid and flaky?

The effect on Intel's thinking of the market distorting lens factor of - "SSDs are similar to..." are analyzed in the (February 2013) article - Can you trust SSD market data?

But another new reason for SSD users to reconsider Intel's enterprise SSDs - may be software. The capabilities of the company's new cache accelerator software and its market impact were explored in an interview (February 2013). Click on Intel's profile page or the SSD auto caching news page for more details.

19 (tied)..... WD industrial SSDs Up 4 places since the last quarter.

19 (tied) Pure Storage fast enough rackmount SSDs First appearance in the Top 25 SSD companies list. (Up 7 places - from just outside the list.)

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

22 DensBits adaptive R/W DSP IP
SSD controllers
Down 7 places since the last quarter.

From external appearances it seems almost as if the company has gone back into stealth mode.

The real issue is probably too few people in the company being stretched by the demands of a small number of strategic business inquiries which doesn't leave bandwidth for reaching out to the wider market.

These "quiet" signs are also typical in the lead up to acquisition announcements.

23 Seagate PCIe SSDs
hybrid drives
Down 2 places since the last quarter.

In this quarter it still looked as if Seagate didn't still take the SSD market seriously. On the other hand - the SSD market doesn't take Seagate's own SSD efforts very seriously either.

The tactical solution - as we learned soon after the quarter ended - was that Seagate would plug its gaps in credible fast enterprise SSDs by investing in and oeming products designed by Virident.

24 Kove RAM SSDs Down 11 places since the last quarter.

25 KingFast consumer SSDs Same as before.

Who's at the next level down?

There are about 400 SSD companies I know of with visibility below the level of the companies named above.

Does it matter?

For some it doesn't.

The SSD market is so large now that some of the niches within it are bigger than the whole market was 5 years ago. For companies who simply aspire to be good profitable businesses with revenues in the tens of millions of dollars range (or multiples of that) - they can probably get hold of a leading position in their niche and not worry too much about what's happening to other companies in the wider SSD market. And as SSDs get more focused and application specific - that's a viable strategy. They still need our readers - because our readers make the market. But they don't need to engage with so many of them.

For other companies it does matter.

Every week I talk to people in SSD companies who say their company aspires to be a world leader and one of the top SSD companies.

Can they tell me why anyone should be interested in their products? or doing business with them?

Can they tell me what they do that's different and better compared to hundreds of other SSD companies?

Can they tell me what efforts they've made to invest in communicating their business propositions to the outside world? - apart from talking to their employees and some legacy distributors, chatting to some guys they spoke to at a trade show - and writing a meaningless press release?

Often the answer is to these questions is no. But it doesn't stop these wannbe the next big SSD companies being greatly surprised to hear from me that there's more to becoming a leading SSD company than putting the bits together.

Doesn't the fact they are already so well known for their other past products (which aren't SSDs - but which do use chips) will guarantee they have a good starting point?

Maybe - I say - if they went back in time 5 or 10 years and launched the same product back then - they wouldn't need these other skills and they could still be successful.

Despite my doubts - it's possible that even without having any marketing skills whatsoever - they will be lucky enough to find a lot of customers who know even less than they do about SSDs - to whom they can sell something.

For more on this theme take a look at earlier editions in this series.

The sample size in Q4 2012 included over 200,000 unique SSD readers on and the rankings were moderated by sanity check referral data from thousands of external web sites which linked here in that period.

suggested reading

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the Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
enterprise SSDs - exploring the limits of the market in your head
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