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the Top 10 SSD OEMs - in 2008 Q2 - 5th in this series

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Editor's intro:- Who are the top 10 most important SSD manufacturers - the companies which you absolutely have to look at if you've got got any new projects involving SSDs?

A decade ago there was an easy answer. "All of them!" It wasn't till 1999 that our online SSD directory tipped over the 10 companies mark.

Today (July 2008) there are over 77 active listed SSD oems. Another 4 or so I know in stealth mode, another 10 I'm checking out as imminent maybes and I expect the total number of SSD oems to go north of 100 in 2008. The new storage gold rush is chasing an opportunity for storage systems companies that could eventually be worth 5 to 10 billion dollars a year.
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Who's going to dominate this market? It's not that easy to predict. There's already a lot of traction as you can see by comparing which companies have consistently remained in the top 10 list in the past 4 quarters.

Stakes have been put in the ground claiming desirable application or technology territories. A handful of SSD pioneers have already exited the market, gone bust or been acquired.

STORAGEsearch.com has a 10 year track record of accurately predicting the top 10 storage oems and major technology shifts within the storage market. In the SSD market for example...

In 2003 - I predicted that the SSD market had the potential to become a $10 billion / year market. That was many years before any other storage analysts recognised this.

In 2004 - I predicted that Sun Microsystems would be the first server oem to announce end to end SSD solutions. 4 years later - in June 2008 - Sun did just that. And the original article still gives the best explanation of why Sun had to do it - and how it will leverage SSD technology.
To go back to the question -which are the most important SSD oems to look at right now? There are 2 empirical ways to form such a list based on different market research approaches.

(1) - financial data - looks at revenue and shipping volumes. The problem with this approach in a market that's growing so fast - is that revenue data can be 3 to 6 months out of date when collected and may not sample any data at all from important new companies which have recently entered the market. This traditional approach will probably work fine from about the middle of 2009 onwards. And if you can afford to wait that long before choosing SSD partners / suppliers that's OK. But is it really? I think waiting that long is very risky. Many companies will be at a severe competitive disadvantage if their competitors are using SSD technology first. Faster SSD accelerated ecommerce sites, faster databases and new SSD powered business applications will mean that waiting too long to hit the SSD trail could be damaging to your competitiveness.

To be frank - using revenue based reports to guide your way ahead in a fast growing market like SSDs is about as sensible as driving fast down the highway and steering ahead by what you see in the rear view mirror.
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(2) - search volume data - is a near real-time and (nearly) reliable way to see which way things are heading in changing markets.

One simple way to think about it is this. It's the world's biggest focus group of people with a strong interest in SSDs - typically 200,000 to 300,000 unique SSD readers in each past quarter.

What they think and do changes the industry.

Our methodology excludes measuring direct advertising impressions BTW. So although advertising (or editorial) on this and other sites does create awareness - and that feeds into what readers search for - the top companies in this list may or may not be advertisers.

I've got strong confidence in this approach having used it as an online publisher for over a decade to help me make predictions about emerging technologies and disruptions in the storage market. But search volume based market inferences only work if you have high volumes of search in the specific subject. That's why you're here... Because when it comes to SSDs STORAGEsearch.com has delivered millions of article views related to hard SSD content and our readership is growing fast. We've also been discussing the SSD market with nearly every SSD manufacturer (sometimes before they founded their companies) and with analysts and interested readers in a wide range of enterprises longer than any other publisher or analyst.
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The Top 10 SSD OEMs

The listing below is based on storage search volume on this site. This metric samples strong follow up interest generated by browsing our SSD directories, following up news stories and articles and following links.
Top 10 SSD OEMs - based on reader pageviews in 2nd Quarter 2008 - © STORAGEsearch.com
rank manufacturer SSD technology notes....................................................
1 Memoright Flash SSD Up 3 places since the last quarter.

Memoright's GT Series was the fastest 2.5" SATA flash SSD family actually shipping throughout most of this quarter.

Several publications tested the GT and gave it favorable reviews.

Outside the IT market the eyes of the world turned to China in May 2008 when it suffered a series of catastrophic earthquakes. World reaction was sympathetic and admiring of the way that the Chinese people dealt with the disasters.
2 BiTMICRO Networks Flash SSD Down 1 place since the last quarter.

BiTMICRO didn't make any major product announcements in Q208 but it was offering the highest capacity 3.5" flash SSDs during this period.
3 (tied) Mtron Flash SSD Same as before.

In May 2008 - Toshiba acquired approximately $30 million of shares in Mtron.

in June 2008 - Mtron said it will supply SSDs to Hynix.

Mtron also unveiled details of its new 8 channel controller technology which the company says will enable R/W throughput upto 260/240MB/s and 8,000 random write IOPS (using 4KB blocks) in flash SSD products shipping in Q1 2009.
3 (tied) STEC Flash SSD Down 1 place since the last quarter.

In April 2008 - STEC said it was in volume shipment of its Zeus-IOPS range of 2.5" and 3.5" flash SSDs with 4Gbps Fibre Channel ports.

Also in April 2008 - Seagate filed suit against STEC alleging patent infringements related to hard disk interfaces. STEC dismissed the claims.

In May 2008 - STEC launched its first PCIe form factor SSD.

Despite significant growth in overall flash SSD market revenue in the first few quarters of 2008 that cake was being divided up among a lot more companies. STEC reported in May 2008 that its revenue had declined in successive quarters and the tone of a press release in early July (about a new credit facility) still talking about "anticipated" signifcant growth was starting to sound repetitious.
5 SanDisk Flash SSD Same as before.

In June 2008 - in an article published in Blocks&Files.com SanDisk confirmed that its main interest is in the notebook market as it has no products which are optimized for the enterprise flash SSD array market.

The company also announced details of its pSSD - a 16GB PATA miniature SSD for Ultra Low-Cost PCs.
6 Samsung Flash SSD Same rank as last 3 quarters.

In May 2008 - Samsung said it will sample a fast 256GB MLC flash SSD in September 2008. It will have a sequential read speed of 200MB/s and sequential write speed of 160MB/s.

Many SSD oems are pre-announcing fast products - and buyers seem to be more interested in what they are shipping now.

Samsung was one of 2 companies sampling the fastest 1.8" SSDs in this quarter (the other being Mtron.)
7 Adtron Flash SSD Same as before.

In this quarter Adtron was sampling "true industrial grade" SLC flash SSDs with 128GB capacity in a 9.5mm-high package - the highest density SLC SSD in this form factor.
8 Texas Memory Systems RAM SSD
Flash SSD
Same as before.

In April 2008 - Texas Memory Systems celebrated 30 years making SSDs.

Some analysts are anticipating a simplistic Gunfight at the OK Corral style battle for the enterprise SSD crown between TMS and EMC.

My own picture is more complex as (with the exception of a single overlapping product line) they are rarely seen at the same end of the street. And in an article - is the SSD Market Recession-Proof? - I explain why I'm upbeat about the prospects for RAM SSD oems.

TMS had 62% higher reader interest re SSDs than EMC - which would have been ranked #11 (again) in this quarter.
9 Toshiba Flash SSD Same as before.

In May 2008 - Toshiba acquired approximately $30 million of shares in Mtron

Toshiba has shipped more 1.8" storage drives than anyone else. But this segment includes 23 oems - so competition for slots will get fiercer.
10 Violin Memory RAM SSD Same as before.

Several publications published benchmarks for Violin's memory appliance - and this segment got a new entrant in June 2008 when Spansion announced its EcoRAM. Unlike Violin's product (which remained the fastest 2U storage appliance in this period) the Spansion product is aimed at increasing memory capacity while reducing electrical power.
One of the challenges for the enterprise SSD market when designing new products is to understand complex customer needs and decision criteria - which go beyond the traditional bullet points.

New segmentation models are needed because the enterprise SSD market is moving into uncharted territories and use cases where a considerable proportion of the customer needs which affect buying behavior are still formally unrecognized as being significant...
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
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How to interpret the rankings?

The most important thing is being included in the list rather than the position within it. Having said that there's a 4x difference in pageviews between companies at the top or bottom. The top 10 companies will vary from quarter to quarter and the rankings will change too. But there's a hard core of companies which are always in the the top 10. You'll be able to see who those are in future quarterly editions of this list and you'll also be able to see if any companies have moved sharply up or down.

All the top 5 companies in the last 4 quarters of this list were makers of flash SSDs rather than RAM SSDs. However, RAM SSD oems (which tend to offer greater performance but at much higher cost) still occupied 2 of the top 10 slots in this quarter. For a comparison of applications, cost and trends see RAM SSDs versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?

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