Seagate joins forces with DensBits for SSDs

June 26, 2012 | 10:43

Tags: #hard-drive #hybrid-drive #nand-flash #seagate-momentus #segate #solid-state-drive #solid-state-storage #ssd

Companies: #seagate

Seagate has admitted that it may have been wrong about these new-fangled solid-state storage thingies, investing in Israeli solid-state drive (SSD) specialist DensBits to develop low-cost SSDs for enterprise and consumer markets.

Previously, Seagate had been of the very vocal opinion that SSDs were a dead end and would never come close to taking over from spinning-platter drives. Although the company has made use of solid-state modules in some products, these have been largely limited to hybrid drives which combine a small caching SSD with a more capacious spinning disk.

Back in 2008, Seagate CEO Bill Watkins claimed that he 'can't see the flash [SSD] notebook selling,' pointing to the high cost and low capacity of solid-state drives compared to their platter-based equivalents. When Watkins was replaced by Steve Luczo, many wondered if Seagate's attitude would change - but although Luczo would introduce hybrid drives, he too would pour scorn on SSDs. 'There are certain things that are certainly very nice about [SSD storage, but there are] other things that are a little bit frustrating: the cost and the lack of capacity,' Luczo claimed back in 2010. Luczo would go on to claim that hybrid drives, like the Seagate Momentus family, would dominate the market above and beyond pure SSD devices.

Since then, a lot has changed. In the last year, the cost-per-gigabyte of an SSD has more than halved, while increasing numbers of manufacturers are including SSDs as default in their mobile devices - thanks in no small part to Intel's Ultrabook programme. Seagate itself, while not committing to a full-scale launch, has sneaked a few pure-SSD products out the back door - although largely focusing on the enterprise market.

Today's announcement could change all that: with an investment - of an undisclosed but likely eyebrow-raising sum - in DensBits, Seagate has declared its previous position on SSDs a mistake and will now go full steam ahead into competing with the likes of Intel, Samsung and Corsair.

'For the last 30 years, Seagate has delivered technology and product innovation to become the global leader in storage solutions, from high-end enterprise drives to solid-state hybrid drives,' claimed Rocky Pimentel, Seagate's chief sales and marketing officer, at the announcement. 'Seagate is excited to be working with the talented DensBits team and believes we have a significant opportunity with our new strategic relationship to extend our leadership into the SSD market.'

The two companies are to develop SSD-based technologies and products together, using DensBits' Memory Modem controller technology. Initial products will include consumer-grade products based on three-level cell (TLC) sub-20Nm NAND flash and enterprise devices based on multi-level cell (MLC) parts. A timescale for release was absent from the companies' joint announcement, along with a hint at pricing.
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