Western Digital

Western Digital to Acquire sTec

The following is excerpted from an Objective Analysis Alert e-mailed to our clients on 24 June, 2013:

 sTec Stock Price HistoryWestern Digital Corporation (WDC) and sTec, Incorporated announced today an agreement for sTec to be acquired by WDC for $340 million in cash. The HGST subsidiary will assume control of sTec and will continue to support existing sTec products and customers, while also remaining a part of its joint development program with Intel Corp. HGST’s current line of SSDs uses an Intel controller architecture combined with an SAS interface, end-to-end data protection, and other features key to the enterprise SSD marketplace.

Although sTec was a glorious first mover in the SSD business with EMC’s Continue reading

WDC’s HGST Intros 12G SAS MLC SSDs

Latencey Histogram of HGST's MLC SSDIn case you didn’t have enough abbreviations in your life, The SSD Guy brings you the headline above, with the promise that the news below is really interesting: HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technology, but now a division of WDC – Western Digital Corp.) has brought out a new line of 12Gb/s SAS SSDs based on MLC flash.  These are a part of the UltraStar line.

Whereas HGST’s first-generation UltraStar SAS SSDs used SLC flash, the new SSDs are based on 25nm MLC flash but offer the same warranties as HGST’s prior generation.  Even so, performance for the new SSDs is significantly faster than that of their SLC-based predecessors, with no reduction in wear or lifetime specifications.

These SSDs are the first to support Continue reading

Toshiba Announces its Hybrid Drive

Toshiba's New Hybrid DriveNow that we have seen announcements of hybrid drives from Western Digital and Seagate, Toshiba arrives with a formal announcement of the product that was on display at last month’s Flash Memory Summit.  Two 2.5″ Toshiba hybrid drives are starting to sample at 750GB and 1TB capacities.  Both have 8GB NAND caches, 6Gb/s SATA 3 interfaces, and 5,400RPM spindle speeds.  They are both built using 32nm SLC NAND, Toshiba’s “generation before last” technology, preceding the 24nm and 19nm nodes shipping in high volume today.

More importantly, both are 9.5mm in height, a thickness that renders them difficult to incorporate into the 18mm maximum thickness of the smaller Ultrabooks – a notebook form factor that Intel is heavily promoting.

How is this whole market Continue reading

WD Introduces Hybrid HDD

Western Digital's new hybrid HDD is only 5mm thickWestern Digital Corporation on Monday announced that it is sampling its long-awaited hybrid HDD.  WD claims that the 500GB 2.5″ device is the thinnest in the industry at 5mm. So far Seagate has been alone in this field with its Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive.  There are some significant differences between the two drives:

  • Seagate uses SLC flash while WD uses MLC.  There is more than a 10:1 price premium for SLC flash
  • Seagate’s hybrid ships in 750GB and 500GB capacities while WD’s is 500GB
  • Seagate’s device is 9.5mm thick, while WD’s is 5mm

The last point is extremely Continue reading

For the Lack of a Fab…

SanDisk-Toshiba Yokkaichi Plant from WD 2007 IDEMA PresentationOne popular argument to explain why SSDs have not displaced the HDDs in all PCs is that there isn’t enough NAND flash production capacity to support this business and there never can be.

This argument has been posed as long ago as 2007 by WD CEO John Coyne at an IDEMA conference (the source of this post’s graphic), SanDisk’s Eli Harari at the Flash Memory Summit in 2008, and Seagate‘s CEO Steve Luczo in a Forbes interview as recently as last April.  These are captains of the industry.  Their arguments make people stand up and take notice.

It’s a really flawed argument.

It goes like this: Continue reading

Toshiba Reveals Hybrid HDD Research

Hybrid HDD - An HDD with a NAND Flash CacheNikkei Electronics published an article on May 22 detailing a May 17 briefing by Toshiba president Norio Sasaki. Mr. Sasaki told of the company’s plans to introduce a hybrid HDD (HHDD) in September of this year that is aimed at the Ultrabook market. The article notes that Toshiba is the only company that produces both NAND flash and HDDs, now that Samsung sold its HDD business to Seagate.

The article also says that Toshiba: “aims to become one of the top three companies in the HDD market in terms of market share.” The SSD Guy is forced to wonder at this comment, since there are only three HDD manufacturers in existence today: Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate.

The Seagate Momentus XT, the only Continue reading

Western Digital CEO: Hybrid Drives “Strategic”

Hybrid HDD - An HDD with a NAND Flash CacheDuring Western Digital’s April 26 earnings call (as transcribed by Seeking Alpha) CEO John Coyne disclosed that Western Digital has ongoing development efforts in hybrid HDDs: “In addition, we are continuing investments in strategic growth areas such as SSD, hybrid drives and the digital home.”

It’s encouraging to see a second entrant into this market.

After a false start that was synchronized with the ill-fated launch of Microsoft’s Vista operating system, hybrid HDDs have been a technology that is rarely ever mentioned.  So far the hybrid HDD has been the sole domain of Seagate Technology with Continue reading

The SSD Pricing Maven

Andy Higgenbotham of Price G2When I have a question about SSD retail pricing I know exactly who to consult.  Andy Higgenbotham (pictured here) and his Price G2 service track HDD and SSD retail pricing and publish data to a very high degree of resolution.

Price G2 data has been used in another post in the blog: When Will SSD Prices Drop Below HDD Prices?

This company publishes weekly reports of pricing from all major HDD and SSD manufacturers (Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, Samsung, Intel, Micron, and the like) with information on market trends like this for the week of April 23:

Flat to increasing pricing continues throughout 2012. Only on the 512GB have we seen sustained price drops from Q1 and through Q2. The 512GB capacity currently sells for $1.05/GB in week 17.

Amid recent rumors of steep SSD price declines this service has served to disprove any notion that the SSD market is undergoing fundamental change.  The SSD Guy highly recommends Price G2 for anyone whose business relies on timely and thorough HDD and SSD price tracking.

Micron: SSD Over-Inventory at OEMs & Channel

Excess Inventory of SSDsDuring Micron Technology‘s quarterly earnings call an interesting tidbit was revealed: PC OEMs and Micron’s sales channel partners are carrying SSD inventory from panic buys they made in response to Thailand’s floods.

It seems that Micron’s OEMs and channel partners expected the HDD shortage that resulted from the floods to create new market opportunities for SSDs.  This is not an uncommon notion, and it was first discussed by The SSD Guy in a blog post early last November with another post added in January.  It seems that the messages of these posts didn’t reach those OEMs.

Micron mentioned this because Continue reading

How Will Thai Floods Impact the SSD Market?

Map of ThailandIn early November The SSD Guy published a post that argued that Thailand’s floods would not make much difference to the SSD market.

Since that post not only has the argument gone less in favor of SSD adoption (thanks to a high level of HDD finished inventory, some changes in shipping practices, and a heroic effort from Thailand’s HDD makers and the Thai people to overcome this disaster) but the promotional efforts in favor of SSD adoption have become stronger.

Objective Analysis has spoken since the floods with a number of companies who either produce HDDs or HDD sub-assemblies, or consume HDDs, and this is what we have found: