OCZ Storage Solutions Interview With Alex Mei
HH: Will you be updating existing product lines with Toshiba NAND, where previously Toshiba wasn’t validated in the design? Are there any intrinsic advantages for your customer base if you’re able to do this?
Alex: We have been working with Toshiba for quite some time, and even when we were NAND agnostic our Product Management and R&D teams recognized the performance and quality of Toshiba’s eMLC and MLC NAND. We have already made the transition to Toshiba NAND on our premium consumer SATA products based on our proprietary Barefoot 3 and Barefoot 3 M10 controllers, the Vector 150 and Vertex 460 Series SSDs. An example of the advantages of this transition is our latest generation Vertex 460 where we saw an immediate boost in bandwidth once we leveraged Toshiba 19nm NAND. We are also looking at refreshing a number of enterprise products with Toshiba NAND, and the Intrepid 3000 which is our newest SATA drive for mega data centers already utilizes Toshiba NAND as will our upcoming Z-Drive 4500 PCIe solution. Moving to Toshiba NAND not only improves the cost structure for our customers but also the availability of products, something which is critical in the enterprise market when large deployments require guaranteed supply.
HH: Are there any changes to your manufacturing flow and location under the new Toshiba arrangement? Any advantages in final assembly and test?
Alex: Our manufacturing operation in Taiwan has been absorbed by a Toshiba manufacturing partner and will continue to produce our drives. This organization has a wealth of expertise in the manufacture of storage products for Toshiba and is infusing additional resources into the operation. As we ramp both our client and enterprise businesses there is a major push to continually improve quality throughout the organization. This includes designing for quality, tight supplier qualification and monitoring, manufacturing in an upgraded state of the art ISO 9001 facility, using the latest test equipment (such as FlexStar, LCR meters, 2.5D optical measurement, 3D X-Ray), and putting strict processes in place to automate quality data systems and provide real time data to ensure product and processes are within stated limits (CpK). The new operation also employs daily process audits, implements ESD & change control systems and runs 100% enterprise product burn-in. The bottom line for all our customers is the continued investment in enhancing quality for all our solid state drive products.
HH: Will OCZ continue to ship drives into the channel and target enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers or will there be a change in product/go-to-market strategy?
Alex: Yes! We have a very loyal following among enthusiasts and high performance users and we highly value our customers in the rapidly evolving consumer market. We will not only continue to support enthusiasts, gamers, and DIY users with our current generation SATA products, but we are adding additional resources and focus on this market globally. It is no secret that the last two years were a challenge for the previous company, OCZ Technology Group, and as we invested in proprietary technology, the lack of access to NAND forced us to focus the product strategy on certain areas and the breadth of our consumer offerings suffered since we were unable to supply our top products in certain key capacities, thus we were forced to aggressively streamline our product offering. Through this challenging period we have always respected how important the enthusiast and power user customer base is, and to our valued customers I would like to say thank you for all your support. The OCZ brand has always catered to the high-end power user--those looking to squeeze more performance out of their desktop or mobile systems--whether it is for gaming or productivity applications. Moving forward we are not only going to continue to cater to this key group of customers, but increase our efforts to develop leading-edge consumer SSD products that leverage our in-house technology.
From Left To Right: Jessica Luken (OCZ), Dave Altavilla (HH), Marco Chiappetta (HH), Alex Mei (OCZ), and Lisa Gregerson (OCZ)
HH: Many recent SSDs are being limited in performance by SATA III, so we’re looking forward to things like SATA Express and next-gen, native PCI Express-attached storage solutions. Is there anything exciting OCZ can share relate to future advances?
Alex: With our current controller technology we are already at the point where we are saturating the SATA III bus, and I can share that we are already making great progress on next generation controllers that are not only native SATA but native PCI Express as well. I think we are entering a period where SSDs are going to get really interesting. Not only have they become much more affordable when you consider the price per GB, which continues to increase adoption, but the new I/O interfaces are going to enable SSD manufacturers to make another leap in speed. We are also prioritizing improving endurance and reliability while reducing cost for both client and enterprise SSDs, which is a major challenge, but one that can be addressed with new NAND and controller technologies. In terms of actual future generation OCZ Storage Solution drives you can expect to see M.2 products which are not just compact in footprint but also extremely fast, PCIe SSDs in form factors beyond edge cards, and more total solution enterprise products that combine our SSDs with in house designed application software. I am very excited about the future, not just in regards to our solution offering, but with what SSD users are going to be able to do with this technology when deployed in their own unique applications.
I want to personally thank all the Hot Hardware readers and our valued customers. To continue to design, innovate and bring to market cutting edge SSDs we need to understand exactly what storage challenges our customers are facing, and engaging publications and audiences like this are key to our philosophy of learning how power users utilize the technology and take that feedback to create products that push the performance and feature envelope to address these specific needs. We greatly value your input and look forward to delivering even more compelling solid state storage products moving forward.
There you have it. Information straight from OCZ. If you'd like more information or think we failed to ask an important question, please let us know in the comments and we'll reach back out to OCZ and Alex.