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the Top SSD Companies - Q1 2016

36th quarterly edition

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - May 28, 2016
For 9 years the Top SSD Companies has been one of the most popular articles here on the mouse site.

You may ask - is it still needed? -The answer is yes. Because despite the number of big acquisitions in the SSD market in recent years - we're still on the last stretches of an upward ramp of vendors in the SSD market because of new opportunities being created by changes which are necessary and predictable before we get to the kind of standardized product roles and ecosystem which will lead to a collapse in distinct brands needed to sustain the market. (For more about that - read here.)

So it's the same problem as we had before...

Too many companies to track and still many new ways of doing things better which break away from the restricted capabilities of past technologies. And that's why it's still useful to have a short list of companies ranked by the search activity of readers like you on

Collectively through our past actions and insights we've guided the SSD market from the dawnings of SSD market self awareness and early evolutionary struggles to test and prove degrees of sustainability. No one today seriously disputes that all the key ways of advancing progress in the capabilities and affordabilities of the digital data economy will have multi-role adapted, intensive-memory data architectures (call it SSD thinking for simplicty) at the heart.

What were the back stories in Q1 2016 which drew SSD readers to these companies? Clues to reader search gravity can be seen in the archived news for this period (January, February and March 2016) although expectations set by earlier events and things going on elsewhere in these markets also play a part. Enough of the preamble. Here's the list.

the Top 25 SSD Companies - Q1 2016

based on reader search

1 - SanDisk - same as before

This will be the last time that SanDisk is reported as its own identity in this series due to the acquisition by WDC having closed in Q2 2016. SanDisk's search volume was 2x as high as either of the next 2 companies in the list.

2 (tied) - Pure Storage - up 1 place

This is the best ever ranking for Pure Storage in this series. Later (in May 2016) Pure reported that its revenue in this period had grown 89% year on year.

2 (tied) - Violin Memory - up 1 place

Violin's revenue picture was somewhat different to Pure's in this period. (Pure's revenue was 14x higher than Violin's.) Violin's quarterly revenue in early 2016 was about half what it was in 2012 (the year before going public). Given that Violin's product line uses proprietary controllers some of the fascination with Violin is that it is still surviving.

One lifeline on the competitivity front for Violin - should it choose to grab for it - is that it may be feasible to expand its reach to lower cost flash memory by incorporating endurance hardening technology from NVMdurance to create its own brand of eMLC. That's the kind of thing which the company needs to be looking at.

4 - Diablo Technologies - down 2 places

In 2015 over 10 companies indicated they had plans to enter the SCM / SSD DIMM wars market and compete in the application zone evangelized by Diablo. Although the DRAM displacement market is expected to become a multi-billion dollar opportunity there are already signs that it will be fragmented.

5 - Micron - same as before

See also:- an SSD view of semiconductor memory boom-bust

6 - Seagate - same as before

See also:- HDD articles & news from the home page of SSDs

7 - Intel - up 1 place

See also:- a new way to describe any SSD accelerated server

8 - Microsemi - up 17 places

In this quarter Microsemi completed its acquisition of PMC-Sierra for $2.5 billion and also announced it was selling its military SSD business to Mercury Systems for $300 million.

9 - Foremay - up 12 places

In this quarter Foremay announced that a fast method of SSD erase - "crypto erase" - now available in its SSDs could sanitize a 20TB drive in under a second.

10 - OCZ - down 1 place

In this quarter OCZ's product announcements were mostly related to the consumer market (M.2 SSDs etc).

In the following quarter Toshiba (which has owned OCZ for over 2 years) changed the way it was using the OCZ brand. OCZ is now designated as a consumer brand within the Toshiba SSD portfolio.

11 - Kaminario - up 1 place

12 - HGST - down 5 places

In this quarter during the long waiting period between the announcement and completion of yet another SSD company (SanDisk) by its parent WDC - HGST was so silent in the flash airwaves it almost seemed as if all those previous SSD companies which had got sucked into the recycling vortex hadn't happened.

Competitors can probably take comfort from the fact that many of the SSD product lines which HGST and WDC have previously sucked in - don't appear to have stayed stuck to the sides with any meaningful market presence.

And my guess is that given the amount of turbulent changes in technology still in the market's forseeable future we can expect to see more SSD companies being acquired after the present meal has been salami sliced and digested.

13 - EMC - same as before

14 - Samsung - down 3 places

15 - BiTMICRO - down 5 places

16 - V&G also formerly known as RunCore - up 1 place

17 - InnoDisk - down 3 places

18 - Toshiba - down 2 places

I have been asked by some readers why don't I combine the search activities of SSD companies which own other SSD companies which are shown in the same list?

In the 9 years of publishing this series my decision about when to do so has been determined by whether that provides greater or lesser clarity in the market.

Sometimes it takes years for acquiring companies to determine effectively what to do with the new company and products they've got (in a way which the market is empathetic with). In other cases the rebranding and assimilation can be almost instant.

I judge it case by case and month by month for each company. I've been making these judgements in my enterprise buyers guides for 25 years but I still don't have a magic formula.

19 - Memblaze - up 7 places

This is the first time in the Top SSD Companies List for Memblaze.

20 - Tegile Systems - down 1 place

21- Virtium - down 6 places

22 - Cactus Technologies - up 1 place

In this quarter Cactus boldly contributed the 1st set of suggestions in the new SSD Bookmarks Series.

23 - Nimbus Data Systems - down 5 places

Nimbus (which from external digital media appearances resembles a company which has gone back into stealth mode) is the highest ranked privately owned maker of rackmount SSDs in this list.

24 - Netlist - up 6 places

This is the first time in the Top SSD Companies List for Netlist.

25 - NxGn - up 6 places

This is the first time in the Top SSD Companies List for NxGn.

Who were the SSD companies just outside this list?

The next 10 companies (listed in ranking order) were:- This is always an interesting portion of the list for me as it includes many stories of what has been and what might still happen.

For example HP is on its way up. Although it has never been ranked inside the list - its position in this quarter just outside the main list is its highest consideration by SSD readers in the 9 years that this market tracker has been running.

IBM on the other hand has dropped out of the list. Maybe because readers are just tired of hearing new pumped up stories about the same things which they're already read about about before.

For Viking - its prime position in this quarter is undoubtedly DIMM wars related.

If you follow up the links and stories for any of the companies in the list above you'll start to form your own views of what they have been doing that deserves more of your time and consideration.

That's it from me for now. As usual I'll add more detail to the narrative above in the days after publication.
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