Seagate has taken competition in the nascent solid-state drive market to a new level by becoming the first of the tier-one hard drive vendors to introduce an SSD.
Seagate on Tuesday unveiled the Seagate Pulsar drive, beating competitors Western Digital and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies to the punch and planting its flag in a market that is currently dominated by smaller hard drive vendors or companies that in the past did not produce hard drives.
There are two types of SSDs, depending on the Flash memory technology on which it is built. SSDs like the Seagate Pulsar feature single-level cell (SLC) memory technology, in which one bit of data occupies one cell of the flash memory, making it optimized for performance and data reliability. Other SSDs feature multilevel cell (MLC) technology, in which four bits of data occupy one cell of the Flash memory for greater capacity.
The Seagate Pulsar comes in a 2.5-inch form factor with a SATA interface, and offers capacity of up to 200 GB. The company said that it is currently available to storage system vendors on an OEM basis for qualification purposes, and that there are currently no details about any plans to bring the SSDs to indirect sales channels.
Seagate recently reported that it expects SSD sales to be material to Seagate's overall revenue sometime between 2011 and 2013.
The SSD market has been dominated by smaller hard drive companies such as Samsung and Fujitsu, or by companies which never manufactured hard drives, including such companies as Intel, Fusion I/O, Violin, Texas Memory Systems, SanDisk, PureSilicon, Micron, and STEC.
Until now, the major hard drive players, including Seagate, Western Digital and Hitachi GST, have yet to get into the market as they work to develop technology that suits their enterprise customers' requirements and look to protect their legacy business, but things are changing.
Western Digital in March acquired SiliconSystems, which develops SSDs for embedded systems. Hitachi GST is developing SSDs with Intel, and plans to introduce them in the first half of 2010.
Meanwhile, storage, server, and PC vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NetApp, Dell and Compellent all adopted SSDs for part of their product lines, joining companies like EMC and Sun Microsystems which did the same last year.