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the Top SSD Companies - 2014 Q4

31st quarterly edition - based on market metrics in Q4 2014

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - February 27, 2015

The Top SSD Companies - researched and analyzed by - has established a unique reputation within the SSD industry for detecting and predicting significant new business and technology transitions in the SSD market.

You can read a little bit more about the 8 years track record of this marketing ranking technology in my sidebar article (lower right on this page) and a lot more in the series overview.

Those articles will let you see for yourself - with the clarity of hindsight - how quickly and accurately this series has captured advance signals from the SSD market about future stars, correlated with upturns and downturns in company revenue, and has been a rich barrel of pickings for those who acquire SSD companies.

But let's remember the reason you came here today. The old reliable Top SSD Companies List - ranked by analyzing the search of hundreds of thousands of SSD readers on in the 4th quarter of 2014. Here it is.
Top SSD Companies - ©

based on SSD search volume in the 4th Quarter 2014

For more details about each company click on the compay name.

diablo logo - click for more onfo

1 - Diablo Technologies

Same as before.

Today - as I write this - Diablo is in the unenviable position of being at the center of a new server based acceleration technology which is attracting huge interest from those who can see opportunities in the latency zone which lies between PCIe SSDs and DRAM (the good thing) while at the same time being prevented from shipping any further products (the bad thing) pending the outcome of legal proceedings (or a settlement) with Netlist - which claims that a (seemingly insubstantial but) necessary enabler of Diablo's new SSD platform may be using unlicensed interface design tricks for which Netlist owns the patents.
memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs

But throughout most of Q4 2014 - which is the period on which Diablo's ranking is based - it was the good news rather than the bad news which attracted readers to learn more about the company.

To give you an idea of the scale - reader interest in Diablo was about 2.5x the level of the #2 ranked company, and 11x the level of the #20 ranked company.

See also:- memory channel SSDs, flash DIMMS, MCS versus PCIe SSDs

...Later:- in March 2015 - Diablo announced it had won a "decisive victory" in its critical court battle with Netlist and in April 2015 the preliminary injunction was dissolved.

SanDisk logo - click for more info

2 - SanDisk

Same as before.

Best previous position - #1 in 2007 Q3.

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2007 Q2 (1st edition).

Most of the reader pull towards SanDisk in this quarter (Q4 2014) was still related to the products and technologies it acquired with Fusion-io. But over 20% was due to interest in SanDisk's other enterprise software products.

To put this into a competitive landscape context - SanDisk's software products in their own right were getting about 50% more interest than any other SSD software related ISV in this period.

I had long been curious to know how SanDisk would handle the anomaly of having a hybrid array system (inherited from Fusion-io's acquisition of NexGen Storage) in its product mix. We got the answer shortly after the quarter ended - with the news that NexGen had been spun off as an independent company to seek its own way forward in the enterprise systems maze.

See also:- SSD services, SSD software , PCIe SSDs

HGST logo

3 - HGST

Up 3 places.

Entered the Top SSD Companies list (as HGST) - 2013 Q3

This is HGST's highest ranking in this series - which shows that if you acquire enough enterprise related SSD companies which have done well in the Top SSD Company lists (previously - Virident and STEC - followed in this quarter by the momentous acquisition of rackmount SSD company - Skyera) then you will own enough SSD IP and products to pull readers through to engage with you too.

From an SSD controller architecture point of view HGST has demonstrated its preference for companies which have big and (latterly) complex DSP based architectures.

IBM logo

4 - IBM

down 1 place

Best previous position - #2 - 2014 Q1 and 2014 Q2

Entered the Top SSD Companies list (TMS an IBM Company) - 2012 Q4

In October 2014 - IBM inadvertently set the trend for a new fashion in press release messages which has been followed by many others in the rackmount SSD and hybrid appliance markets - when IBM said - "You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems."

OCZ logo

5 - OCZ

Same as before.

Best previous position - #4 - 2012 Q2 and 2012 Q3

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2010 Q2

In this quarter OCZ announced a new consumer SSD channel in Europe - Currys PC World - which has more than 500 stores across the UK and Ireland.

OCZ also announced availability of a new consumer 2.5" SATA SSD - the Vertex 460A.

Related markets:- PCIe SSDs, SATA SSDs

Micron logo - click for more info

6 - Micron

Up 12 places.

This is Micron's highest rank so far in the history of this series.

Micron stood out for me in 2014 for not having acquired any significant SSD companies.

Another thing which stood out for me and which I commented on in a linkedin conversation in December - was that because Micron doesn't have the type of strong sticky controller architecture and SSD software which would make it easy to lock-in customers and bypass many of the SSD companies it supplies to - Micron is a less threatening flash partner for many enterprise SSD companies to work with.

We saw that assessment being confirmed in Q1 2015 with strategic supplier agreements being announced with both Seagate and IBM.

Skyera logo - click for more info

7 - Skyera

Up 3 places from previous quarter.

Best previous position - #4 in 2013 Q1

Q4 2014 was Skyera's last hurrah in the Top SSD Companies list as Skyera got acquired by HGST in mid December.

How much difference will this make to HGST in the future?

In my article - Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs - I mentioned that there are some markets in which a simple, low cost, efficiently designed, high capacity, white box style of rackmount SSD is now regarded as the lowest level component for integration - in a similar way to which others might view a single SSD drive or a server.

I think that if HGST avoids the temptation of adding too many software frills to the Skyera boxes - which would make them less attractive for embedded integrators - then they could form the basis of an attractive 1U high capacity SSD building block which could become a multi billion dollar product line.

Related articles and markets:- Petabyte SSDs, scary Skyera

Seagate logo - click for  more info

8 - Seagate

Down 5 places from previous quarter.

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2010 Q3

In 2014 there was a dramatic transformation for Seagate with respect to how it was viewed in the SSD market - due to its acquisition of the SSD business of LSI. Despite SSD search spikes related to that in Q3-14 - Seagate didn't make any significant SSD related announcements in Q4 - which probably explains its drop in rank.

In December 2014 - an article written by analysts at - discussed Seagate in this article - A Look at The SSD Market - Where Do Seagate and Western Digital Stand? - which, among other things such as historic market share and partner linkages which fleshed out the article also included this observation - " is evident that the SSD market is not even close to the near duopoly enjoyed by Seagate and Western Digital in the hard drive business."

You can say that again.

Personally I think it's less helpful than you might think to extrapolate too much from the pre-SSD market competitive behavior of storage companies into the SSDcentric future. Nevertheless it can sometimes make for entertaining reading today as it did in the past.

See also:- hostages to the fortunes of SSD,
How will the hard drive market fare... in a solid state storage world?

Related markets:- SSD controllers, PCIe SSDs, SAS SSDs, consumer SSDs

Tegile logo - click for more info

9 - Tegile Systems

Down 1 place.

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - Q4 2013

Tegile didn't make any significant product announcements in this quarter.

Later - in Q1 2015 - a blog - Hybrid Storage Array Industry Social Landscape - by Don Jennings, Senior VP - Lois Paul & Partners comparing the noise levels on social media of various "similar" companies - concluded that Tegile came in 2nd to Nimble Storage.

However - readers were 7x more interested in Tegile than in Nimble

Which goes to show that different ways of assessing internet based signals gives you different results.

It may also reflect the lower interest attached to companies which are still attached more firmly to the HDD part of their hybrid storage IP.

Innodisk logo

10 - InnoDisk

Up 17 places.

This is the first appearance in this list for InnoDisk - which is involved in both the industrial and rackmount SSD markets.

"The customer really just wants a faster SSD with more capacity" - said Charles Tsai Senior Director - at Innodisk - when talking to me about the market for his company's 1u FlexiArray.

3 companies were too close to call and tied at #11

A3CUBE logo

11 - A3CUBE

Down 4 places from previous quarter.

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2014 Q1

A3CUBE's technology enables architecture way beyond legacy storage and SSD fabrics.

For example - having data in a PCIe SSD or NV DIMM in an external server (another box in the same room) no longer precludes that very same data being accessed by another server - with similar applications latency, and R/W performance characteristics as if it were just another SSD installed locally in the very same server - which is markedly superior to GbE or 16GFC - while at lower cost and better native transparency than IB.

That's a small part of what I wrote in a story in September 2014 after linking the synergistic thinking between A3CUBE and Diablo - based on my conversations with founders of both companies.

Related articles:- RAM SSDs, Are you ready to rethink RAM?

Violin Memory logo - click for more info

11 - Violin Memory

Down 2 places from previous quarter.

Best previous position - #2 in 2013 Q1, 2013 Q2 and 2013 Q3

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2007 Q3

In March 2015 - Violin reported financial results for its quarter - ended January 31, 2015. Revenue was $20.5 million - 27% lower than the year ago period.

If you strip away the software which does so little to differentiate Violin from countless other flash array companies - you'd still be left with a proven, proprietary, big SSD controller architecture based, fast rackmount SSD - which (while being somewhat more expensive to build than others which use standard COTS SSDs and different flash) still has a role to play in some types of high performance, low latency, shared storage applications.

The problem - is that the implementation is more capable and more expensive than needed in most applications in the market today. And you can't slow it down to make it cheaper.

I began wondering last December - if the often commented on segmentation based, and marketing miss-positioning problems affecting the company - were to raise questions about its viability operating as an independent entity - who would still want to buy Violin? (the company) and why.

The crazy answer I came to (based on extreme boundary analysis) is that it may still have value as a reference architecture for a memory supplier (who doesn't yet own a rackmount SSD business) for redeployment as a white box, simple high speed, high availability, platform.

Which is more than you can say about most of the companies Violin competes with.

So there is enough value there - given another rethink in marketing. (Or - as I've been saying for years - maybe with more focused thinking.)

I'll be returning to the question of what happens if you imagine enterprise SSD box vendors stripped away from their software in a later blog.

Related markets:- rackmount SSDs

Virtium logo - click for more info

11 - Virtium

Up 2 places.

In October 2014 I commented on the growing number of educational white papers on Virtium's web site.

Virtium operates in the industrial SSD market - but I commented on a paper which I thought had a bearing on the enterprise. I flagged this with the headline - NV + 0.4 DWPD @ 85C = V

Temperature considerations in SSDs (pdf) includes some stark graphs and observations about data retention - which you should be aware of - even if you're not (like Virtium) in the industrial market.

"This shows the dramatic effects that temperature has on data retention for given workloads. For the same full drive writes (0.4 drive writes per day for 5 years), SSDs operated and stored at 85°C will only have 2 days of data retention, whereas those drives at 40°C will have 1 year and those at room temperature 25°C will exhibit characteristics of nearly 8 years of data retention."

2 companies were too close to call and tied at #14

Cisco logo

14 - Cisco / WhipTail

Up 1 place from previous quarter.

Related markets:- rackmount SSDs

In the previous quarter Cisco was said to have temporarily suspended shipments of the SSD product line it had acquired from WhipTail - due to reported technical problems.

Those problems were still live issues in Q4 2014 - according to a blog in CRN - which indicated that one area of concern was in the operational experience of high availability - and the discovery of "single points of failure."

PLX logo - click for more info

14 - PLX Technology / Avago

Down 3 places.

Related markets:- PCIe switch chips, PCIe fabric

PLX continued its multi-year educational program of articles, advocating the growing and distinct advantages of PCIe interconnect and fabric methods - as superior alternatives to traditional networks (such as GbE and IB) in an enterprise server world which has already adopted PCIe SSDs as the de-facto industry standard for low latency server based storage. But Neither PLX nor Avago made any significant SSD related announcements in Q4 2014.

click to see more info about Microsemi's rugged SSDs

16 - Microsemi

Up 3 places.

In this quarter Microsemi didn't make any significant SSD product announcements. But for those interested in rugged and secure electronic devices - it did have a few things to say.
  • Commenting on the Rosetta Spacecraft Mission - which had just completed a key objective in its 10 year, 4 billion mile mission - Microsemi disclosed that over 15,000 of its components (including FPGAs and other ICs as well as discrete components) had been used to support the flight.
  • Furthermore - on the subject of FPGAs (which are are the building blocks of many military and enterprise flash controllers) Microsemi announced a new range of ultra secure FPGAs with unclonable keys and active tamper detectors.
Related markets:- military SSDs

image is Foremay's logo - click to read profile

17 - Foremay

Down 3 places.

In November 2014 - Foremay said it was accepting orders for a high capacity - 8TB - 2.5" military SATA SSD. Mass production was planned for Q1 2015.

Related markets:- military SSDs, industrial SSDs.

Pure Storage logo - click for more info

18 - Pure Storage

Down 6 places from previous quarter.

Best previous position - #6 - Q3 2013.

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2012 Q4.

In December 2014 - Pure Storage announced a new compatibility oriented marketing program called FlashStack Converged Infrastructure (blog) - whereby customers who also use Cisco and VMware in the same deployments as their Pure storage boxes can choose to buy single call support services.

Related markets:- rackmount SSDs

Samsung logo - click for more info

19 - Samsung

Up 2 places.

Best previous position - #2 (2009 Q1, and 2007 Q1).

In November 2014 - Samsung acquired Proximal Data (an SSD software company in the enterprise caching market).

Related markets:- flash memory, consumer SSDs, PCIe SSDs, industrial SSDs, SAS SSDs, SSDs on a chip

Kaminario logo - clock for more info

20 - Kaminario

Down 4 places.

Best previous position - #15 (Q4 2013)

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - Q2 2012

In December 2014 - Kaminario announced it had closed a $53 million financing round, bringing its total raised capital to $128 million.

Kaminario later disclosed that its bookings in Q4 2014 were 2x the level of Q3 2014 - which necessitated a further $15 million funding.

Related markets:- HA SSDs, rackmount SSDs

Intel logo click to see  info

21 - Intel

Up 1 place.

Best previous position - #5 (2008 Q4)

Entered the Top SSD Companies list - 2008 Q4

Intel did not make any significant SSD related announcements in this quarter.

Related markets:- 2.5" SSDs, SATA SSDs, PCIe SSDs

Bitmicro logo - click for more info


Up 2 places.

Related markets:- PCIe SSDs, military SSDs, SSD controllers.

23 - PLDA logoPLDA

Down 3 places.

Related markets:- SSD controllers.

RunCore SSDs click for more info

24 - RunCore

Same as before.

Best previous position - #5 - 2009 Q1

RunCore has successfully adapted to being an important SSD supplier in niche applications despite there being so many other competitors in the wider market. You can read more about this in a new article - RunCore SSD - what's the picture now? - based on recent conversations with the company.

Related markets:- military SSDs, industrial SSDs, PCIe SSDs, consumer SSDs

EMC logo - click for more info

25 - EMC

re-entry to the list.

Aspects of EMC's solid state storage business and some of its so called "competitors" are discussed in my January 2015 blog - "compared to EMC" - the unreal positioning of many AFA startups.

who are the companies just below the top 25?

Marvell, Memblaze and Maxta were close - and any one of them could be in the list next time.

Note:- Rankings above are based on analyzing the search activity of over 300,000 SSD readers on in the 3 months period ending December 31, 2014.

The rankings above are based on multiple types of search and browsing activity - and after filtering out unreliable and fake searches coming from robots and spam intended to subvert rankings for criminal or malicious reasons. Our rankings and tie breakers also use data from some other SSD related internet sources from time to time.

You can read more about the significance and track record of this methodology in predicting and observing SSD market intentions in earlier editions of this article.


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SSD news archive - October 2014
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10 things which changed in SSD year 2014
the Top SSD Companies - series overview
about the publisher - 23 years guiding the enterprise
the previous edition of the Top SSD Companies - Q3 2014
the next edition of the Top SSD Companies - Q1 2015
consolidation in enterprise flash arrays - why? when? analysis

8 years on - do we still need this type of list?

...maybe we need another one to join it too!

The Top SSD Companies - researched and analyzed by - has established a unique reputation within the SSD industry for detecting and predicting significant new business and technology transitions in the SSD market.

When this series started - 8 years ago - I explained the rationale of using search based metrics derived from the focus group of serious SSD readers to help prioritize your time (and mine) when assembling any list of must-see companies.

With the benefit of hindsight that was a great idea - for more than the reasons I gave at the time - which if you want to be reminded - originally were:- lack of financial data, unreliability and predictive irrelevance of backwards looking shipments data in a fast changing, disruptive market like SSD.

The other reason this series has worked so well as a yardstick of the SSD industry - is that even when we had what seemed to be reliable data about what some companies were doing - there was always uncertainty about whether the market would adopt some of these adventuresome technology notions - and even if they did - how soon they would have any business impact.

Luckily for all of us - whatever the quality of our crystal balls, and whatever our educational levels in memory technologies, data architecture, software or new product launch plans - none of it really mattered - because all those factors (including stuff we didn't know about - and even when we were muddled and sometimes plain wrong in our thinking) - all these factors were scooped up and filtered into the crowd based intelligence of our peers in the SSD market.

Search (and StorageSearch readers) meant that we got the best results in the end - even if - from an individual point of view - the reasons at the time - didn't seem so obvious. Because the market is always right in the end. And people don't buy products they don't know about from companies they don't know.

For all those reasons mentioned above (and more which readers have told me about in our conversations) the Top SSD Companies List has been useful in the past.

What about now and the future?

We still live in chaotic times where the raw pivotal influences now include more technology types and the outcomes of the market blender includes the complex interplay and co-existence of multiple generations of software thinking and architecture. So the need for this list and the list itself will continue.

But it will soon be joined by a new one too. A new SSD list which I've been waiting 12 years for the right time to get started.

12 years?

Back in 2003 I published a market paper which explained why I expected that the enterprise SSD market would reach $10 billion / year revenue based on a simple user value proposition I call CPU-SSD equivalence.

At that time revenue for the whole SSD market in all segments was 100x smaller than that $10 billion figure - so it seemed like a crazy idea compared to what everyone else was saying. But it looked inevitable to me that buyer behavior would make it happen.

I spoke to many SSD company founders about this idea after publication - and many SSD founders have since told me that the original $10 billion enterprise SSD market article (and its 2005 follow up which covered all the markets you see today) gave them extra confidence in setting their aspirations high.

In 2015 we've now reached a point where - if I follow the pattern I've adopted in the past 23 years - of publishing a focused directory whenever I feel the time is right to populate it with 10 or more companies - there is a compelling logic in beginning a new list of SSD companies - which will initially be a list of companies which have revenues equivalent to $1 billion each in the enterprise SSD market. The first draft will appear here in April 2015.

And - as we head towards $100 billion / year SSD market (for all types of SSD) in 2020 (another prediction of mine from 2010) there will be more of these $billion SSD lists. Those will be a lot easier to compile.

SSD ad - click for more info

All SSD systems in the market today are implementations of transient data architectures.

We haven't reached stability yet in reference enterprise designs and use cases.
what kind of SSD world can we expect in 2015?

SSD ad - click for more info

For many of these enterprise AFA "startups" a single customer RFQ like that is bigger than their whole business plan.
some random SSD thoughts about EMC

We're nearing the end of the era in the enterprise flash array market when bad marketing didn't matter.
90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive (April 2015)

SSD ad - click for more info