Seagate Informs World+Dog That SSDs Aren't Worth The Effort - HotHardware
Seagate Informs World+Dog That SSDs Aren't Worth The Effort

Seagate Informs World+Dog That SSDs Aren't Worth The Effort

Seagate issued a general announcement yesterday in an apparent attempt to clarify its SSD plans going forward. Of all the various hard drive vendors, Seagate has been by far the most acrimonious towards SSD development; former CEO Bill Watkins' plans for dealing with the introduction of SSDs was to threaten to sue the companies out of existence. Watkins is gone, but Seagate has barely dipped a toe into the SSD market.

Seagate's latest official press release statement attempts to justify the company's decision to mostly ignore SSDs in favor of conventional hard drives or hybrid drives.
...the yawning gulf between NAND flash memory production capacity for solid state drives and demand for laptop storage will continue to widen. Whatever portion of megafab production capacity is devoted to NAND flash SSDs, the return on investment would be difficult to justify given the relatively small available market for laptop SSDs.
Translated into plain English, Seagate is saying that any attempt to build a NAND flash fabrication plant would cost far more than the plant's yearly revenue could justify. The company provides various cost/benefit analyses to prove this fact, discusses the current distribution of Flash (the overwhelming majority is used for cell phones, cameras, and other devices) and finishes by stating: "Seagate believes there is ample flash to support the opportunities Seagate sees for enterprise and hybrid solid state storage."

Didn't Western Digital Just Say The Same Thing?

It's only been a few days since we covered Western Digital's own comments regarding the company's position on SSD technology. The general statements of the two companies are much the same; neither see SSDs becoming big enough to warrant massive fab investments at this time. Given the substantial build-out cost and manufacturing difficulties of launching into the SSD business, both positions make logical sense.

What's strikingly different is the tone the two companies' take. Western Digital's CEO gives the impression of a company that's carefully monitoring a new technology, has invested in its own branded product, and is watching to see what happens next. Seagate, in contrast, comes off as attempting to justify its decisions behind a lot of market predictions and number crunching. While both companies have SSD products, Seagate has spent very little time talking up or about its non-rotational enterprise storage solutions.


Seagate's Pulsar-series SSD, seen here without a cover. We assume the whizzy purple thing is extra.

The final oddity here is profit margins. Hard drives are a bargain-basement business; SSDs offer considerably stronger margins. Western Digital, while clearly not leaping into solid state, has at least established itself as a player in desktop and mobile markets, thus allowing it to share a portion of the pie. From that perspective, Seagate's arguments over fab costs are a straw man—buying Flash RAM from someone else surely cuts into SSD profit margins but WD likely still earns a higher revenue percentage per SSD as compared to HDD.

Seagate's decision to stay out of most SSD markets won't impact the company's bottom line in the short term, but its continued near-total dismissal of solid state drives is a curious thing. It's one thing to remark that your company will continue to focus on its core business and something else entirely to dismiss a fledgling market where you might one day find yourself competing with memory manufacturers who built their own brand presences while your company was studiously ignoring market trends. 
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They're probably gonna have to change this approach, or live to regret this decision. (unless they have something else up their sleeves)

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I dont know... i think its a sound business decision.... SSD's are still, i think a few years away from perfection. Once the wrinkles have been smoothed out... then perhaps jump in on the bandwagon?

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I say that because they have already set a name for themselves in the storage world.

If OCZ is to start making traditional hard drives.... i wouldnt buy one until at least a few years after they've been out... why? because i'm a cheapskate student haha. I'd like to see how they do, regardless of if their [ocz] hypothetical hard drive can withstand bullet shots and can cure asthma.

Once i jump on and switch to SSD, sometime in the next few years... I dont know, i'm speculating with myself, but i wouldnt mind strongly considering WD or Seagate if they also have SSD products on the market... why? reputation, brand name etc

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3rd comments a charm

** disclaimer.... not saying that other ssd manufactures suck... not saying WD and Seagate is a 100%reliable, and i'm trying not to contradict myself (the whole, new company into ssds, and when seagate and wd, if they make a jump are ahead of the game because other companies will already have 4-5 years of knowledge behind them) . I'm just providing a general insight as to what i think the public might think.

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This is much like the talk of companies when cell phones were still mainly car based only, and then Motorola threw a flip phone into the mix. I of course bought one of those first Motorola flips. Either way besides my point with that, the big players often wilt in the face of change. I don't think I see any bigger than WD and Seagate as far as HDD's go. I think overall if these words are truthful, and not just a brothers in arms statement or statements they will live to regret it. With the rate technology changes today, and giants like Intel fully in with this SSD thing they have nothing but loss coming from this standing point. This is especially true with a big part of it all moving to mobile devices. That 3/4x2/3rd of an inch 40 and 80 GB ssd really impressed me from Intel. I know it is not on the market yet, but I can see one of those going in a smartphone or a slate device tomorrow and being a mega hit across the board. Remember it has not been all that long since desktop HDD's got there size like it is now. I think I had 2 80 Gb drives and then a 120 and 160 because XP did not support anything 300Gb or larger. They will just loose more market share to Intel, OCZ, Corsair, Patriot etc. There are many who will without a doubt help gladly to put the giants down (One of them also being a Giant as well as the leader I think in SSD's)! One word for WD/Seagate take your head out of that place where the sun don't shine or loose it!

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RealNeil,

A few statistics:

1) It's been ~9 years since higher end 80GB HDD's debuted with price tags around the $169 mark.

2) SSDs cannot scale the way hard drives did. There's currently no effective way to scale SSDs down past 22nm manufacturing. Intel, Samsung, etc are undoubtedly working on solutions but evidently haven't found one yet. In the short-term--say, the next two years--SSD costs per GB will continue to fall. If there isn't a solution in place by then, SSD $/GB will only drop further thanks to economies of scale (if such exist).

3) Hard drives are going nowhere. SSDs offer great performance but can't match HDD capacities. As people integrate computer-like functions into televisions or download more content online in 720P/1080P instead of 480P, the need for larger hard drives is only going to rise.

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Joel H:
RealNeil, A few statistics:

Stats don't matter,......not to me. I understand that prices go southwards all of the time.

The market matters,....at least it should to them. And SSD's are gonna be a part of the storage landscape whether they like it or not. I think that it will eventually be a very large part of the market and if Seagate and WD do not get into production of SSD's in a big way, they'll lose market share. They've already surrendered a huge amount of share to the other guys who are selling the hell out of SSD's right now, just because they refuse to participate. I can't think that their stockholders are impressed either.

They are the Big Dogs in the storage market these days, but they sometimes make stupid mistakes, such as WD's decision to cripple RAID functionality on their mainstream HDD's because people were using them in large RAID arrays and NOT buying their enterprise drives for a crapload more money per drive. While both companies make enterprise drives, Seagate didn't screw with the capabilities of their less expensive drives like WD did.

So I just quit buying WD drives, I quit recommending WD drives, I essentially show WD the same consideration that they've shown me.

I can still buy Seagate 2TB drives at a low price and use them in a NAS storage box.


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WD and Seagate will most likely get a hurting put on them by Samsung. Dispite all that everyone hears about OCZ, Samsung is still the #1 SSD company in the world and a pretty big player in HDDs.

Any company, no matter how big, that doesn't follow the market and keep up with new tech will fall back. Even Intel suffered from this several years back when AMD put a beating on them for a few years. If the big players in storage don't start getting their act together now, their going to get hit between the eyes and have to spend several years scrambling to catch up if they don't outright crash.

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I'm with Seagate on this one, I bought an SSD for my OS and ended up not using it at all, since it was only 32gb it could only store the OS and it was an unwanted hassle to change all the directories for everything to store on a secondary internal 1tb HD, I'm very interested in hybrid drives.

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They will regret this decision. Sure, it's costly to change technology but if they don't they will go out of business. They say the return on investment sucks for building a new ssd fab plant. Maybe so...but what's the return on investment for staying with old technology that's sure to one day be obsolete?

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any company is foolish not to try to be on the turning edge of technology IN THEIR FIELD. you don't shape the market, the market shapes you.

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As far as it goes I run a 64Gb SSD OS drive, and 2 750Gb Hdd's for storage. It may not be the easiest to setup, but it teaches a general user about data management, which in the end has advantages across the board. It also inherently leads to user's in general learning about other functions like backup which have always been there, but without knowing anything about the inherent features available because they knew nothing on data management the did not realize the tools that were there.

I am sure many will say a general user does not need to know these things, or is not interested in them, However; as the world changes more and more to a more encased digital world they will be dragged kicking and screaming into these things, by there own choice or not. So that in the long run will be necessary, and a bonus for them as well.

Then on to performance the performance of an SSD drive is substantial. Being an OS drive is really the best use for it from my viewpoint. This is because everything has to run through the OS or under it in one aspect or another. Th OS also has to manage everything in the background so the bonus of having an OS on an SSD with these inherent performance factors make it all that much more of a positive.

The final point being from a profit stand point is that HHD's are huge, and costs cents per gigabyte of storage, and therefore the profit margin is very slim on them. The SSD drive while more expensive on a per gigabyte spectrum also makes considerably more profit per unit. Even if the price goes down which it will that will still exist although at a smaller amount. It is the profit area of storage though, and both the lost profits while they are not involved, and the lost profits whenever they do get involved (because the longer they wait the slimmer it will be) affects there profitability in the long run.

So the biggest thing here is that every month or quarter they delay the more they loose from a long term stand point. Sooner or later they will have to pick it up or disappear, and the equipment for the manufacturing of them as well as the research properties, and payrate for individuals as well as production equipment will rise as it becomes more and more of the market. In the end it will then cost them more to get into it the longer they wait.

As for the 22nm limitations etc why would global foundries and other companies be implementing lithography equipment to make 16nm die's if that was not already to some point if not fully solved? Either way they recognize the future need for it so it will be a factor. I know it is on a different part of the hardware market. If they can use it on one they will eventually use it on all and go beyond 16nm as well.

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This is a poor, poor decision. Sure, the SSD market is still nascent, but cheaper and smaller NAND will drive prices down and capacities up and while I don't think that SSDs will reach the low cost per gigabyte of hard drives in the near future, I see them taking the mobile market, and high-end desktop market for sure. By the time Seagate and WD decide to get in the market with SSDs, OCZ and Intel will already have taken the quality cake, especially since OCZ is set to become the first SSD company

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