Tag: SSD

Seagate reshuffles sales and marketing team

seagate-longmontSeagate has announced a few changes in its sales and marketing team, most of which are centred on EMEA. The company said it reshuffled the team to address growth opportunities in cloud, SSD and branded storage markets.

Mark Whitby, Seagate’s vice president of EMEA Sales & Marketing and Global Channel Sales, said the changes will ensure that Seagate positions itself to address evolving market opportunities.

“The storage market is both growing and changing rapidly, and the changes we have made to our senior management team are intended to keep Seagate in the forefront of that market,” he said. “In particular, we want to take full advantage of the huge potential we see in areas such as cloud computing, solid state drives and in the market for branded storage solutions.”

In his expanded role as Vice President of EMEA Sales & Marketing and Global Channel Sales, Mark Whitby has now been charged responsibility for the company’s global distribution channel sales, developing and leading strategy and delivery of the business worldwide.

Joe Fagan is being appointed Senior Director of Cloud Initiatives, EMEA. In this newly created position he will be responsible for shaping Seagate’s Cloud strategy and engagement in the region.

Dimitri Galle has been appointed Senior Director of Sales and Marketing, Branded Products, EMEA. In his new position he will be responsible for sales and marketing of all Seagate-branded retail products across the region.

Bernd Breinbauer has been appointed to the newly created role of Director of EMEA SSD Sales with responsibility for developing sales of the company’s comprehensive solid state drive portfolio across the region. Seagate entered the highly competitive SSD market just a few weeks ago and Breinbauer obviously has a lot of work ahead.

SSD sales continue to rise

ssdSolid state drives (SSDs) will account for more than one third of the computer storage market in 2017.

That’s according to IHS research, which says the predicted figure is almost seven times the number of shipments recorded in 2012.

IHS said that total worldwide shipments are expected to increase from 31 million units to 227 million units in the space of five years, forcing down the percentage of the market devoted to hard disk drives; from 94 percent in 2012, hard disk drives are expected to take up just 64 percent of the total market in five years.

The company pointed out that the explosive growth over this period equates to around 48 percent, and will put SSD on the map as a promising substitute for hard disk drives.

It said the rise in the number of SSDs being shipped across the globe had already begun as a result of the demand for ultrabooks and other super-slim laptop models. It said the continued demand over the next few years would drive “demand considerably.”

IHS also pointed out that touchscreen displays were becoming more prominent, and the upcoming Haswell processor created by Intel is set to revolutionise thin computers for consumers.

It said these units demand powerful, versatile and compact drives. Combine this with the price of NAND flash memory drastically decreasing, and the conditions are perfect for a surge in SSDs.

However, the future dominance of the SSD is not all bad news for the trusty hard disk drive. Firstly they were said to have price on their side, proving to be  far cheaper in price than their high-tech competitors.

They also have better storage functionality compared to SSDs.

WD ships first 5mm 2.5-inch drives

wd-ultraslimWestern Digital has started shipping the world’s first ultraslim 2.5-inch drives, designed specifically to meet the needs of Ultrabook vendors and makers of all things thin.

Measuring just 5mm at the waistline, WD’s new drives should enable even thinner devices, but as an added benefit they are quieter and more efficient than 7mm and 9.5mm drives. The new ultraslims also usher in a new era for WD, as they are the company’s first big foray into the hybrid drive market.

Seagate pioneered the hybrid drive market a couple of years ago with its Momentus XT series. It was only a matter of time before Western Digital entered the market and earlier this year they showed off their first SSHD designs. They were followed up by 5mm slim WD Black SSHD products. Mechanical 5mm drives will be marketed under the WD Blue brand. 

“With the launch of our new WD Blue 5 mm ultra slim hard drives and our WD Black SSHD products, currently shipping to OEMs, WD is delivering to our customers a variety of solutions that maximize storage capacity and volumetric efficiency, as well as performance and system responsiveness, for consumers,” said Matt Rutledge, vice president of WD’s client computing business unit. “Our engineering team took a clean-sheet approach with 5 mm to deliver an ultra-thin hard drive that enables a world of possibilities and applications for mobile computing and beyond.”

Although SSDs are slowly emerging as the preferred choice for Ultrabooks and high performance notebooks, the medium range and low end are still dominated by traditional hard drives, with a few proprietary hybrid solutions here and there, usually found in budget ultrathins powered by AMD low voltage chips and a few cheap Intels. 

Hybrid drives offer substantial performance gains over traditional HDDs, at the fraction of the cost of proper SSDs. This is what is starting to make them increasingly appealing for system integrators and end-consumers alike.

Although Western Digital’s first 5mm are shipping to disties and OEMs as we speak, they are still available in a single capacity, 500GB. The mechanical WD Blue drive is priced at $89, but WD did not release the price of the WD Black hybrid unit.

The downside? WD’s ultraslims feature a new proprietary connector, as the standard SATA and DC plugs are simply too big for 5mm drives.

Demand for SSDs to stay strong

hdd-hugeAlthough the PC market has seen better days, shipments of solid state drives are expected to grow more than 600 percent by 2017, according to the latest figures released by IHS. However, even at this rate, two thirds of PCs shipped in 2017 will still have mechanical hard drives, although many of them will probably be hybrids. 

PC SSD shipments are expected to hit 227 million units in 2017, up from 31 million last year.

Hard drive shipments will drop to 410 million by 2017, down 14 percent from 475 million in 2012. In just five short years SSDs will claim 36 percent of the market, up from just six percent last year. HDDs will account for the remaining 64 percent, but memory makers stand to cash in from them as well, as hybrid drives hit the market in ever increasing numbers.

The driving force behind the SSD boom will be ultrabooks and other ultrathin devices. IHS analyst Fang Zhang believes ultrabooks and ultrathins, combined with touch screens and convertible form factors, will become very compelling machines, designed to lure consumers away from smartphones and tablets.

Of course, none of this is possible without more consumer interest. Although enthusiasts have been buying SSDs for years, the standard PC box buyer doesn’t care too much about the latest storage technology, which is still too pricey for mainstream adoption. Ultrabooks are slowly changing the public perception of SSDs are geeky devices for gamers and enthusiasts. Consumers are slowly starting to appreciate the added agility and responsiveness of SSD-based systems, and prices are tumbling as well.

On Tuesday Seagate announced its first series of SSD products designed to cover all market segments. The news was closely followed by an announcement from Western Digital and SadDisk, who will collaborate on new hybrid drives. Traditional HDD churners simply have to transition to SSDs and hybrid drives, it is just a matter of time.

“SSDs have dropped in price this year. The industry would probably put this down to supply and demand – but if I’m honest I think it’s all down to competition. Big players are moving in and really taking this industry to the next level – this week WD and Seagate separately announced their SSD push – and it wouldn’t surprise me if these larger players triggered a price war to push smaller players out of the market,” a reseller told us. “In terms of getting consumers more involved isn’t it just a case of making them a more prominent feature of gadgets and cost points? The average consumer just cares about what they can get and for how much.”

More marketing cash from the likes of Seagate and Western Digital will help, but so will tablets and smartphones. Consumer are already enjoying the perks of speedy solid state storage on their iPads and Androids, which means they are far more likely to go for an SSD based PC next time they upgrade. It is basically a case of not downgrading from a horse to a donkey, as Balkanese old wise men would say.

Seagate’s SSD push starts to take shape in Colorado

seagate-longmontHard drive maker Seagate is planning a big push into the solid-drive market and now it seems to be making its first move. The company is hosting a job fair in Longmont later this week and it is looking to hire about 150 people, mostly engineers. 

Seagate’s 1,250-strong Colorado Design Centre is based in Longmont and it seems it will lead Seagate’s SSD push. Gary Gentry, Seagate VP and general manager of the company’s SSD business, said his client SSD team will be headquartered in Longmont. 

“We already have a substantial group and we’re expanding the technology, the product and the business development here in Longmont,” he told Timescall.com.

Seagate’s new 600-series SSDs will be marketed to consumers and OEMs alike, marking a new era in the company’s history. The drives will be available in multiple capacities up to 480GB and they will fit standard hard drive bays, which means we are probably looking at 2.5-inch 7mm units. In addition, Seagate also plans to develop a series of business oriented SSDs at Longmont.

This won’t be the first time Longmont dabbled in flash. The centre was instrumental in the development of Seagate’s hybrid drives (SSHDs) a couple of years ago. It got the job done and Seagate was the first hard drive market to successfully introduce 2.5-inch hybrids. Earlier this year it upgraded and expanded its SSHD offer.

Seagate VP and management lead for the centre Jeff Mason said his team is also developing drives specifically designed to suit the needs of large-scale cloud storage systems. He said the job fair is Seagate’s biggest recruitment in a decade and said the hiring will occur throughout the year.

Although Seagate is betting big on SSDs, it won’t leave the traditional HDD market anytime soon.

“There’s not enough SSD production in the world to replace the amount of storage that magnetic storage devices provide,” said Mason.

Mason pointed out that mobile devices are not a “displacer” for mechanical storage, but rather a stimulant, as mobile devices tend to rely on cloud storage, which is still largely based on mechanical drives.

Seagate revamps SSHD line-up

seagate-hddSeagate recently announced that it will phase out 7200rpm laptop drives by the end of the year and now we know what it will use to replace them. The company announced its third generation solid state hybrid drives, or SSHDs, and for the first time it is bringing NAND cache to desktop drives as well.

Seagate’s venerable 7200rpm laptop drives will be replaced by two new SSHDs, in 500GB and 1TB capacities. Both feature 8GB of NAND, double the 4GB used in first and second generation Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drives. They are 7mm thick and Seagate claims the new drives are up to 40 percent faster than its previous SSHD generations. Better yet, they are up to five times as fast as 5400rpm mechanical drives.

Seagate’s vice president of marketing Scott Horn likened the new drives to adding a turbo charger to a PC and he added that the drives will come cheap, much cheaper than proper SSDs. The 500GB is priced at $79, while the 1TB variant costs $99.

However, Seagate’s decision to bring SSDH technology to mid-range desktop drives is perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement. Seagate will sell 1TB and 2TB desktop hybrid drives for $99 and $149 respectively. Although the prices sound a tad too high, 3.5-inch hybrids should have no trouble attracting plenty of takers.

They will allow OEMs to come stick them into very cheap desktops, greatly improving performance and reducing the storage bottleneck which plagues most PCs. The speed of solid state drives increases with each new generation, which is not the case with HDDs. However, SSDs are still too expensive to be used in most desktops. Decent hybrid drives with a reasonable price tag can bring the best of both worlds to boring entry level desktops and they can easily become a big selling point for vendors.

Seagate to phase out 7200rpm notebook drives this year

seagate-hddSeagate is planning to kill off 7200rpm notebook hard drives by the end of the year, but the decision is raising quite a few questions, and eyebrows.

Ultrabooks and high end notebooks have already shifted to SSDs, or in some cases hybrid drives, hence Seagate’s decision should come as no surprise. Traditional 7200rpm drives tend to generate quite a bit of heat and they need a lot more power than SSDs, so they’re anything but an ideal choice for thin and light notebooks.

David Burks, Seagate’s director of marketing and product management, told X-bit Labs that the company will stop building 7200rpm notebook drives “at the end of 2013”. Seagate already offers a range of hybrid 2.5-inch drives to OEMs and retailers, but it is expected to refresh its lineup later this year. The phase out should coincide with the introduction of next generation Seagate hybrid drives.

Western Digital recently showcased its first 2.5-inch hybrids, with a lot more NAND cache than Seagate Momentus XT series hybrid drives, but neither company has made a serious effort to enter the SSD market, which is overcrowded as it is.

However, although Seagate will stop producing 7200rpm notebook drives this year, they will probably be on the market for the better part of 2014. Since Western Digital is a relative newcomer to the hybrid market, it might keep building 7200rpm drives a bit longer, although it is more than likely that WD will drop 7200rpm drives in favour of hybrids as well.

Zycko prepares for Flash flood

flash_gordon (1)The demand for Enterprise class SSDs is going to grow like topsy according to value-added distributor Zycko.

The outfit has just signed a partnership deal with Micron to provide its Client, Enterprise SATA and Enterprise PCIe SSD solutions to channel resellers.

David Galton-Fenzi, Zycko’s group sales director said that as the price of SSD drops and performance increases, the technology will take a leading role in data access and storage.

The SSD enterprise market has grown year-on-year and against this backdrop, Zycko has been looking for a manufacturer who can give it the products for its client list.

Meanwhile Micron wanted a partner to develop the enterprise market for its products. “In that sense the timing and nature of this partnership is perfect. There’s a gap in the market that Micron can fill with its cost-effective SSD solutions, known for their exceptional quality, low-latency and reliability,” said Galton-Fenzi.

The read speeds of the Micron Enterprise PCIe SSD are perfect for the rigorous virtual I/O demands of the current breeds of optimised data centres.

“It’s clear the SSD market is going to quickly grow and Zycko’s reseller network will be well positioned to help their enterprise customers benefit from best-in-class SSD technology,” Galton-Fenzi added.

He said that SSDs were reaching a price tipping point where the technology is becoming part of every major business storage network.

Hard drive prices slowly returning to pre-flood levels

hddcloseupThe hard drive industry was hit hard by heavy flooding in Thailand back in 2011. Several plants, providing vital components for Seagate and Western Digital, temporarily went off line following the disaster. The shortage caused a massive surge in hard drive prices and its effects are still being felt.

Keen to provide a bit of perspective, Xbit Labs compiled an interesting chart of hard drive average selling prices, based on data from Seagate’s and Western Digital’s SEC filings over the last four years. Pre-flood average selling prices (ASPs) were between $45 and $55, but they soared to the $70 mark in Q4 2011. The recovery was painfully slow and although some rather optimistic analysts claimed the market would stabilize by mid-2012, we are still feeling the muddy aftertaste of Thai flood water.

According to the latest figures, average selling prices decreased to $62 – $63 per unit and they are still considerably higher than pre-flood prices. Prices are currently at 2008 levels, which means they are still too high for comfort. Of course, the effects of the global economic downturn and recent PC slump were not factored into 2008 pricing and ASPs should be significantly lower today, even after they are adjusted for inflation.
This is bad for consumers and system integrators alike, as they have to adjust their own margins to compensate for the higher prices.  What’s more, hard drive makers are probably not too keen to reduce their ASPs, as further cuts would negatively impact their margins while they are still reeling from flood-related losses. Western Digital CEO Stephen Milligan confirmed the company has more capacity, but it is throttling it to what it sees as demand, which is a polite way of saying WD is trying to keep prices artificially high.

It is even worse for end consumers looking to upgrade their PCs or get some cheap portable storage. Back in mid-2011, per-terabyte retail prices were at their lowest point, about €25 in European markets and a 2TB 3.5-inch drive cost roughly €50. By November 2011, per-terabyte prices hit €35 to €38 and they went on to peak at €50 to €55 by April 2012. Retail prices today are still significantly higher than in 2011 and they are in the €38 to €40 range across Europe.

Xbit also concluded that ASPs peaked in Q4 2011. In the meantime, SSD prices continued to tumble, but SSDs are still too costly to completely replace traditional hard drives. However, SSD shipments are expected to double in 2013, as they are the preferred storage option for Ultrabooks.

Hybrid drives are also entering the fray and they can be found in quite a few budget ultrathin notebooks, although their days in proper Ultrabooks are numbered. So far Seagate is the only hard drive maker to offer 2.5-inch hybrid drives in retail, but Western Digital is also entering the market and it showed off its first consumer friendly hybrid drives at CES.

Traditional hard drives are not going anywhere yet and it is evident that WD and Seagate have enough room to maintain a huge price advantage over SSDs, as they are artificially inflating prices. They can’t bridge the performance and power consumption gap, but by offering hybrid drives they can bring the best of both worlds to value-minded consumers.


New generation Intel ultrabooks set to drive SSD growth this year

ssdA new wave of low-cost and attractive Ultrabooks could help double shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) this year, IHS iSuppli has said.

According to the analyst company’s Storage Space Market Brief worldwide SSD shipments are set to rise to 83 million units this year, up from 39 million in 2012.

Shipments are set to continue to rise 239 million units in 2016, which the company said amounted to around 40 percent of the size of the hard disk drive (HDD) market.

SSDs can serve as an alternative to hard disk drives in personal computers and work by storing data using NAND flash memory semiconductors rather than through traditional rotating media.

In its report, IHS looked at traditional solid state drives in both the consumer and enterprise segments, as well as cache SSDs that along with an HDD component make up a composite storage products such as those found in Intel’s Ultrabooks.

The company said that Ultrabooks had played a part in the slump of SSDs last year. It said that despite SSD shipments rising by 124 percent, growth  had fallen short of expectations because sales faltered – due to poor marketing, high prices and a lack of appealing features.

It said the future depended on the new generation of Ultrabooks, which if, as predicted, take off this year, will see the SSD market growing at robust levels.

Intel, which has been plagued by poor Ultrabook sales despite all of its bluster, is still trying to break into the market, introducing a new range loaded with Windows 8 and Haswell microprocessor architecture.

However, other factors are also involved when it comes to the SSD market, with IHS pointing out that average selling prices for NAND flash memory have come down, in the process establishing new price expectations.

The lower prices are attracting deal-seeking consumer enthusiasts, as well as an increasing number of PC manufacturers that are now more willing to install the once-costly drives into computers.

Over in the enterprise sector, SSD use is also growing as a result of product introductions from major vendors and startups.