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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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Toshiba - mentions on

SSD news

Selling Toshiba's memory business - collected stories

3D nand fab yield - the nth layer tax?

where are we heading with memory intensive systems?

an SSD guide to semiconductor memory boom-bust cycles

why buy an SSD company? - includes list of acquisitions in the modern era

sauce for the SSD box gander - re Nimbus's entry to the SAS SSD controller market

Toshiba - as a Top SSD Company

Toshiba entered the Top SSD Companies Lists (the series which is researched and published by for the 1st time in the 4th quarterly edition - in Q1 2008.

Toshiba's highest rank in this series was #3 in Q2 2008.

Recently - in Q4 2017 - Toshiba was ranked #8 in the attention of StorageSearch readers.

During the fuss and hullabaloo about the long drawn out spectacle of Toshiba's forced memory business sale there was a view shared by myself and also written about by others in the market that some strategic innovative and forward looking developments related to future Toshiba product lines might be put on hold and delayed - due to poor morale and uncertainty about the ownership of the company and how its portfolios might fit with the needs of a future buyer whose identity continued to be uncertain.

The reality of this type of erosion in competitive sharpness has been seen in past SSD company acquisitions even when the original product lines didn't get axed.

Offsetting that risk however the sales process took part against an industry background where the ability to make and ship memories was more highly valued than before due to memory shortages caused by supply / demand imbalances which changed the balance of power between memory suppliers and the markets they served.

Consequently all the leading memory companies (Toshiba included) became the darlings of the investment community - despite their collective failures to deliver the next generation memory transitions in the kind of seamless pattern set by the semiconductor industry experience since the early 1970s.

During 2017 the ability to ship any memory based products became highly prized.

The broken industry pledges of the flash and DRAM markets greatly helped boost the strategic possibilities offered by alternative nvms which had upto this time always overshadowed by legacy memory types. It is likely that future SSD and processor designs will indirectly benefit from the essential rethinking of architectural values caused by these shortages. Therefore the whole industry (and not just Toshiba) may have to scrap previous ideas about the future direction of SSD designs which were simply predicated on more of the same but bigger and faster.

For more about this see - 3D nand fab yield - the nth layer tax? - are more dimensions of analysis needed to get a clearer picture of future 3D nand successions?

SSD market history - 1976 to 2017

In the first half of 2017 there were 2 background factors which surfaced in many stories related to the SSD market.
  • The memory supply shortage (due partly to yield problems with new generations of 3D nand) affected the whole market.

    For example Seagate said it had lost $50 million of SSD business in a single quarter due to unavailability of raw memory.
  • The risk of bankruptcy for Toshiba's parent company due to losses in a nuclear subsidiary.

    This gave rise to much speculation about who would be the successful bidder for the company's memory and SSD business - which Toshiba said it would sell to fix its balance sheet.


Who's who in SSD? - Toshiba

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - January 2017

As a primary supplier of flash memory Toshiba has been involved in the industrial SSD market since that market began. But Toshiba didn't enter the SSD market with its own products until the 1st quarter of 2008 at which point Toshiba entered the Top SSD Companies List.

Toshiba entered the enterprise SSD market in 2009 with a range of SAS SSDs.

Toshiba's appearance in the 2.5" NVMe SSD market in 2016 was due to the rebranded product line from OCZ.

Toshiba - selected mentions from 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'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.

In January 2014 - Toshiba confirmed it had acquired the SSD product lines and assets of OCZ.

In January 2015 - Toshiba showed a prototype of the world's first PCIe single package SSD - with up to 256GB in a single BGA package.

In March 2015 - Toshiba sampled the world's first 48-layer 3D stacked 2 bit nand flash memory in 16GB chips.

In May 2015 - Toshiba demonstrated a hybrid storage drive which combined HDD and flash in a 3.5" form factor with an Ethernet interface.

In July 2016 - Toshiba said it was sampling 64 layer 3D TLC flash in a 32GB device.
SSD marketers who weren't scared of mice

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OCZ ad
OCZ advertised its enterprise SSD products on for years before it was acquired by Toshiba in January 2014.

Thereafter Toshiba continued the ad programs until the 3rd quarter of 2016 by which time Toshiba redesignated OCZ as a consumer SSD brand. (And as we aren't a consumer facing site that was the end of that relationship.)

The banner ad above shows the OCZ Z-Drive 6000 - a 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD with dual port failover - which began life as an OCZ product - sampling in September 2014 - and then 2 years later changed to the same number as a product in Toshiba's consolidated enterprise product line.

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Toshiba Memory sale clear to close June 1
Editor:- May 17, 2018 - Toshiba Corp today announced it has received all required regulatory approvals for the sale of Toshiba Memory Corp. The sale to the Bain led consortium is expected to close on June 1, 2018.

See also:- list of SSD company acquisitions since 2000
Toshiba wins award at FMS
Editor:- August 11, 2017 - With so many things going on in the SSD and memoryfication markets the best of show award winners category at the annual Flash Memory Summit has - in past years - provided a useful way to filter interesting developments. And this year is no exception. Among the many awards - 2 things caught my attention:-
  • Another new SSD controller company recently emerged from stealth:- Burlywood.

    In the current state of the memory market the availability of usable leading edge flash memories is subject to great uncertainty due to technology difficulties and market demand. And we know that flash memory makers are jealous about who they cozy up to and share their precious early samples with.

    In that context Burlywood's claim to fame is that their IP - "Allows for multi-sourcing of 3D TLC/QLC flash for a single SSD controller."

    If you're developing SSDs for new markets but not sure whether the memory will turn up in your factory at the prices and volumes you require - this multi-sourcing idea might sound attractive.
  • IO Determinism - won an award for Toshiba and Facebook.

    Although by no means a new idea - because the variability and consistency of benchmark related factors such as latency in enterprise SSDs has been discussed in these pages and elsewhere ever since flash SSDs have been used in the enterprise - nevertheless the recent award has refreshed the idea. And instead of the competitor A versus competitor B arguments which were popular in the PCIe SSD market 6 years ago - the new comparison at the heart of the award showed the difference in the quality of latency in NVMe SSDs from the same company - due to firmware. read more about it
You might say that what the 2 different awards above share in common is the desire for predictability in environments which are beset by highly chaotic elements.
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"Toshiba's market share in HDDs was 24% in Q4 2016. The impending sale of Toshibas flash memory business creates an open question of what the company will do with its HDD business."
Tom Coughlin, President Coughlin Associates - HDD Implications of Toshiba Memory Unit Sale (April 4, 2017)

who will make enough flash?
Editor:- March 14, 2017 - A fab capacity view of the flash industry's ability to meet demand for memory this year is presented in - Shootout At Yokkaichi - the NAND Industry at the Crossroads by William Tidwell, Semiconductor Analyst who regularly writes about such things on Seeking Alpha.

Among other things Bill discusses the state of production maturity within the major memory companies in their transitions to 3D and says:-

"Industry productivity is still low due to a condition that could be called planar overhang - that being the amount of planar capacity that must be converted as fast as possible to 3D, so the company can take advantage of the denser 3D process. Unfortunately, this conversion process from planar to 3D is basically like buying a house that has to be completely renovated and then finding out that load-bearing walls are involved - and the foundation has to be reinforced."

The article's central theme is the imminent auction of Toshiba's flash assets, the main competitors and possible bidders, winners and losers.

Along the way you get a good feel for the investment and production dynamics which will shape the next few years of this industry. the article

will there be enough flash to replace enterprise HDD?

boom bust cycles in memory markets - lessons for SSD

nand flash memory and other SSDward leaning nvms too

the SSD bookmarks - Cactus Technologies

Toshiba was fastest growing SSD vendor in 2016 says IDC
Editor:- March 8, 2017 - The flash business unit of Toshiba - which may be called something different depending when you read this - has announced that its SSD business was the 4th largest by market share and the fastest growing (year on year) in 2016 according to data in a report - Worldwide Solid State Storage Quarterly Update, CY 4Q16 ($40,000) - published recently by IDC.

is Toshiba salami slicing its memory heirloom?
Editor:- February 14, 2017 - Toshiba has today, again, topped mainstream media tech headlines due to the resignation of the company's chairman. In recent weeks - were I so inclined (to fan the flames of rumor) - I could have inserted some story or other about the sale of Toshiba's semiconductor business in this news page every day.

Instead I came to the conclusion that the real story was that there probably wouldn't be a single big story because the sale of the entire memory systems business to a single buyer (most likely another memory or SSD company) would inevitably introduce a delay due to antitrust hurdles. And Toshiba needs financial bandaids now.

Therefore, what we've been seeing is a fragmented approach - which on linkedin I described as "salami slicing" the memory business heirloom. Western Digital got some - but no one will get it all quickly due to caution about the impact of regulator antiacid.