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Toshiba

Toshiba is a leader in the development, design and manufacture of mobile, consumer and enterprise hard disk drives and solid state drives.
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see also:- Toshiba - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com and Toshiba's storage blog

Who's who in SSD? - Toshiba

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor StorageSearch.com

Editor:- January 22, 2014 - Compared to earlier acquisitions in the SSD market upto the end of 2013 - Toshiba only spent a miniscule sum to acquire the SSD assets of OCZ.

So you might be surprised when I say I think this offers a significant springboard of opportunity for Toshiba in the SSD market - particularly in the enterprise market.

One of the things you have to take into consideration is the strength of the old OCZ brand and its past successes before its business started to hit the rocks and reveal the scale of its profitability problems in the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Up to that point the old OCZ was reporting SSD revenues over $100 million / quarter.

In a conversation with OCZ Technology's "get the train back on the tracks" interim CEO, Ralph Schmitt in November 2013 (BTW Ralph is the CEO of the new Toshina group OCZ too) - I came to the conclusion that a lot of hard won success which the company had been getting in the enterprise market - was under reported and undervalued. And I wrote at that time - that if and when the financial straightjacket which limited OCZ's every move at that time was ever lifted - their mastery of the entry level enterprise market - which is a difficult market for all vendors - might pay dividends.

It's tempting to draw parallels and glean lessons from some other past SSD company acquisitions - for example
  • the rebranding of HGST (by various acquisitions) as the enterprise SSD battalion of Western Digital
We'll have to wait and see what unfolds in future SSD news - but for now at least (taking January 2014 as my reference point) I think the SSD prospects for Toshiba with OCZ as a group company - are considerably better than would have been the case without them.


Toshiba milestones from recent SSD Market History

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

In September 2008 - Toshiba sampled a 256GB 2.5" SATA MLC flash SSD with R/W speeds of 120 / 70 MB/s.

In December 2008 - Toshiba said it will sample a new family of MLC flash SSDs with 256GB capacity in 2.5" and 128GB capacity in 1.8" form factors in Q1 2009.

In January 2009 - Toshiba announced it will start volume production of dual port SAS SLC flash SSDs in Q2 2009. The 2.5" SSDs will have 100GB capacity, and 25,000 read IOPS, and 20,000 write IOPS. One of the enabling factors for the high write IOPS is the use of a non-volatile cache - which was predicted in StorageSearch.com's article - the Flash SSD Performance Roadmap. This brings the number of oems who have announced SAS SSDs to 6. See SSD Buyers Guide table for the full list.

In May 2009 - Toshiba announced it is offering 512GB SSDs as an option in notebooks for the Japanese market. The new, Toshiba-developed 512GB SSD employs a 2-bit-per-cell MLC flash memory - which gives 4x the capacity of SLC flash used in industrial and enterprise SSDs for the same silicon wafer footprint. One of the failures of the SSD market in 2008 was the low performance of SSDs integrated in notebooks. Toshiba's new notebook seems to address that market failure . The company says its new SSD controller boosts data throughput figures of 230MB/s reads and 180MB/s writes.

In September 2009 - A report in DIGITIMES said that Toshiba has ordered flash memory card controllers from ITE Tech to diversify its supplier base.

In January 2010 - Toshiba announced it is sampling 128GB mSATA MLC SSD modules (30mm x 50.95mm x 4.75mm ) aimed at the netbook PC market. Sequential R/W speeds are 180MB/s and 70MB/s respectively. Weight is 9g.

In April 2010 - Violin Memory announced it had received a significant investment from Toshiba.

In April 2011 - Toshiba announced it was sampling SmartNAND - 24nm flash memory chips (with upto 64GB capacity) with integrated ECC controllers to simplify the design of consumer products which need storage.

In January 2013 - Toshiba started sampling a new range of 2.5" SAS MLC SSDs - with self encrypting security features and on board sanitization.

In October 2013 - DensBits announced that it has licensed its advanced Memory Modem technology (a variety of adaptive R/W and DSP flash controller IP) to Toshiba for use in new designs of SSDs.

In November 2013 - OCZ announced that it would file for bankrupty and also said it had received an offer from Toshiba to acquire substantially all of its assets.
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Toshiba nudges Violin's late entry into PCIe SSD market
Editor:- March 4, 2013 - Violin is entering the market for PCIe SSDs.

Its new Velocity PCIe Memory Cards range have regular RAM caches and are available in 3 physical sizes.
  • Low profile - 1.37TB raw capacity, 110K IOPS (70:30 R/W)
  • Full height, half length - upto 5.5TB raw capacity, upto 250K IOPS
  • Full height - upto 11TB raw (8TB usable) capacity, upto 500K IOPS
Editor's comments:- in October 2012 - I wrote that Violin's lack of a PCIe SSD card product line was a serious business weakness - which limited their accessible revenue in the enterprise SSD market.

This product gap would have been an important scoring factor in any potential company assessing Violin's value as an acquisition.

It was one of several significant reasons why Texas Memory Systems (acquired by IBM) looked like a much more attractive acquisition candidate in the early part of last year than Violin - even though both companies had market-leading big controller SSD architectures - and despite Violin having sought acquisition much longer.

Violin's lack of a PCIe SSD product line till now was a serious misjudgement of the opportunities for its technology in the enterprise SSD market and not due to any technical defficiencies. The company's first SSD racks launched in August 2007 (the Violin 1010 Memory Appliance) had - in fact - been launched with PCIe interfaces.

How will Violin's late entry into the PCIe SSD card / module market impact competitors?

The established leaders in this market space are:- Fusion-io, Texas Memory Systems, Virident and OCZ (and another 35 or so companies are listed on our PCIe SSD page). One more company in this market mix won't make any material difference to sales forecasts - even if that newcomer is Violin. Instead it will mean that the fuzzy edge of users' vendor shortlists will appear sharper - and companies which shouldn't have been in these lists in the first place will drop out. (But they wouldn't have been the ones who got the business anyway. There are a lot of different specialized types of PCIe SSDs - and just because they may look the same on the outside - doesn't mean they compete equally for the same apps slots.)

My guess is that Violin's new products will be most attractive to companies which already like its rackmounts - and who were already looking for a more complete single supplier solution around which to hang their software.

So I anticipate that customers in the big web economy and SSD dark matter users will predominate early demand for these new products. And - for any server companies which haven't yet acquired their own enterprise SSD IP - Violin (the company) will now look more attractive too.

In a press release later today:- we learned that the final stimulus which nudged Violin tipping into the PCIe SSD market may have been:- hints, inducements and probably pressure from investor, memory supplier and wannabe-bigger-in-SSD partner - Toshiba.

See also:- my classic article - if Fusion-io sells more - does that mean Violin will sell less?
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OCZ relaunches as a Toshiba Group company
Editor:- January 21, 2014 - Toshiba today announced some details of how OCZ Storage Solutions (which was based on the recently acquired assets of OCZ Technology Group) will operate within the Toshiba Group of Companies.

The new OCZ Storage Solutions, under the continuing direction of CEO Ralph Schmitt - will leverage Toshibas cutting-edge NAND and combine it with the companys proprietary controllers, firmware and software to provide both client and enterprise customers with innovative and cost-effective SSD solutions.

OCZ Storage Solutions will continue to maintain its established worldwide sales channels. Its headquarters will remain in San Jose, California, with strategic design centers located in Irvine (California), Tel Aviv (Israel), and Abingdon (UK).

The acquisition of OCZ further expands our solid-state storage capabilities and represents Toshibas commitment to this high-growth area, said Seiichi Mori, VP of Toshiba's Semiconductor and Storage Company. Our goal is to offer a leading edge portfolio of solid state solutions to address the storage challenges faced by both client and enterprise customers, and the acquisition of OCZ is an ideal addition to our team in realizing this strategy.

The acquisition provides Toshiba with OCZ's enterprise and client SSD businesses and enables the established OCZ brand to continue in full force with a current product portfolio that includes SATA and PCIe consumer drives for high-performance and mainstream applications, and SATA, SAS and PCIe enterprise drives supported by virtualization, cache and acceleration software.
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picture of ZD-XL - PCIe SSD accelerator from OCZ
HA integrated PCIe SSD based acceleration
with caching optimized for Microsoft SQL
the ZD-XL SQL Accelerator
from OCZ Storage Solutions
a Toshiba group company
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Toshiba offers to buy assets of OCZ
Editor:- November 29, 2013 - Just before the holiday OCZ announced its working credit lines had been terminated - forcing the company to file for bankrupty.

OCZ also said it has received an offer from Toshiba to acquire substantially all of its assets in a bankruptcy proceeding provided various conditions are satisfied - which preserve the value of OCZ's business including the retention of employees. ...more in SSD news
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Toshiba will design new SSDs using DensBits' adaptive flash controller IP
Editor:- October 21, 2013 - DensBits today announced that it has licensed its advanced Memory Modem technology (a variety of adaptive R/W and DSP flash controller IP) to Toshiba for use in new designs of SSDs.
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Toshiba samples encrypted SAS SSD
Editor:- January 6, 2013 - Toshiba says it's sampling a new range of 2.5" SAS MLC SSDs - with self encrypting security features and on board sanitization. The PX02SMQ/U has upto 1.6TB capacity.
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image for IBM rackmount article
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suggested SSD articles on StorageSearch.com
the Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs

what do enterprise SSD users want? - and why aren't vendors asking.

how fast can your SSD run backwards? - 11 Key a/Symmetries in SSD design

The big market impact of SSD dark matter - As Fusion-io found out years ago, and OCZ and STEC are reportedly seeing now - some of the very biggest direct customer opportunities for SSDs aren't the big name computer and storage oems.

Where are we now with SSD software? - (And how did we get into this mess?)

adaptive R/W flash care management IP (including DSP) for SSDs - what is it? and who does it? This will be a disruptive transition.

enterprise SSDs - exploring the limits of the market in your head - is about enterprise SSD futurology.

Can you tell me the best way to SSD Street? - I'm like the Old Woman of the SSD Village who talks to everyone that passes through. No wonder I have a unique perspective. It would be strange if I didn't.

comparing the SSD market today to earlier tech disruptions - applying a sense of perspective to what's happening now with SSDs

anticipating - this week's big story - in SSD news - one of the new realities of the SSD market is - there's nearly as much interest in SSDs as $$Ds (lucrative investment vehicles) as in SSDs as business improving technologies.
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