NPD Group: Top 10 Best-Selling SSD Brands

Top SSD Brands

Research firm NPD Group released its list of the top 10 best-selling SSD brands in terms of revenue market share through distribution for the third quarter of this year, providing a peek into channel activity for this product category. The rankings are based on the dollar value of branded SSDs, not on volume.

Unlike most IT products, the average selling price of the SSDs is rising. NPD estimates SSD ASPs in the third quarter of 2014 was $393.24, up from $338.05 during the third quarter of 2013. No explanation was given, but the likely cause is continuing leaps in per-drive capacity, so that cost on a per-gigabyte basis is still falling.

Turn the page to see the 10 best-selling SSD brands of the third quarter of 2014, as ranked by NPD.

10. Cisco Systems

Cisco is the only company on NPD's list of top 10 best-selling SSD brands for the third quarter of 2014 to not be known as a storage vendor.

Cisco had a 1.3 percent share of the SSD market in dollar terms, up slightly from the 1.2 percent share it enjoyed in the third quarter of 2013.

Cisco's SSD sales stem from its fast-growing Cisco UCS server sales, as the servers often come configured with SSD storage.

The company, in theory, should also benefit from its Invicta line of flash storage solutions based on its September 2013 acquisition of WhipTail Technologies. However, Cisco this fall halted shipments of its Invicta line due to technical glitches, a situation that has put a serious crimp in plans to make flash storage a serious part of the UCS ecosystem.

9. Fusion-io

Fusion-io came in at No. 9, but may not be on the list for much longer given its June acquisition by SanDisk. Should NPD drop Fusion-io off its list of 10 best-selling SSD brands, it will likely be replaced by NetApp, which, according to the analyst firm, was the No. 11 brand in the third quarter of 2013.

Fusion-io, which manufactures both hybrid and all-flash appliances, as well as server flash accelerators, had a 1.6 percent market share in the third quarter of 2014, up from last year's 1.1 percent share.

8. Crucial Technology

While the Micron Technology brand was not on NPD's list of top 10 SSD brands, Crucial is actually a global brand name of Micron's. Boise, Idaho-based Crucial sells SSDs and memory upgrades for most of the largest PC and server brands, primarily via its online store.

Crucial had a 2.7 percent share of the third-quarter 2014 SSD market in dollar terms, down from its 3.5 percent share the year before.

Crucial in June release its latest family of SSDs, the MX100, which features Micron's new 16-nanometer, 128-Gbit NAND flash memory. They are available in 128-GB, 256-GB and 512-GB capacities.

7. Hitachi

Hitachi-branded drives gained a surge of popularity in the third quarter of 2014 with a 5.1 percent market share, up from only 2.0 percent in the same period of 2013.

That's good news for Western Digital, the hard drive giant that two years ago acquired HGST (Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) and, with it, the Hitachi Ultrastar brand of SSDs.

WD's latest HGST drives, introduced in September, are based on NVMe (non-volatile memory express) PCIe technology, and come in either half-height or full-height card, or in a 2.5-inch drive form factor.

6. SanDisk

SanDisk in June acquired Fusion-io, but kept its No. 6 position in NPD's list of top 10 SSD brands because NPD continues to count Fusion-io as a separate brand.

SanDisk had a 5.3 percent SSD market share in terms of third-quarter 2014 sales, down from its 6.5 percent share a year earlier. That drop came despite SanDisk's July 2013 acquisition of Smart Storage Systems, a developer of enterprise-class SATA and SAS SSDs.

SanDisk's latest model, the SanDisk X300 SSD, is based on 1Ynm X3 flash technology, and includes SanDisk's nCache 2.0 tiered caching technology and capacities of up to 1 TB in 2.5-inch 7mm, M.2 2280 and mSATA form factors.

5. EMC

EMC, the storage industry leader, has the fifth-largest brand for SSDs. The company had a revenue market share of 8.9 percent, but that was down 4.0 points from the 12.9 percent market share it enjoyed in the third quarter of 2013.

However, that market-share number could be misleading, as EMC and its archrival NetApp continually go back and forth on who is the IT industry's largest provider of flash storage. For both these companies, a lot of flash storage is sold as part of an all-flash array, which would not count in NPD's SSD numbers, and buried inside its arrays. Neither company sells SSDs for configuring inside PCs or servers.

4. IBM

IBM was ranked in the No. 4 spot in NPD's list of top 10 SSD brands, but that ranking is in jeopardy thanks to IBM's sale of its x86 server business to Lenovo, which is likely to cause a drop in demand for IBM-branded SSDs.

IBM had a 9.9 percent market share in the third quarter of 2014, up a respectable 2.2 points over last year's 7.7 percent share, according to NPD.

Will sales of IBM-branded SSDs continue their strength as IBM services its legacy x86 server business? Or will that market gradually move to whichever SSD maker Lenovo favors over time? Stay tuned.

3. Samsung

Samsung maintained its No. 3 position on NPD's list of top 10 SSD brands in the third quarter of 2014 thanks to a 0.5 point rise in market share to 16.4 percent.

Korea-based Samsung has been busy making its SSDs more business-friendly. The company has in the last two years acquired two U.S.-based SSD caching software developers, and this year acquired new SSD controller technology from Avago.

Samsung's latest SSDs, the 840 EVO, are self-encrypting drives in the 2.75-mm mSATA form factor, with a 1-TB capacity.

2. Intel

The market share for Intel-branded SSDs measured in revenue terms fell year-over-year by 0.1 points to 17.5 percent, which was partially responsible for the company losing its No. 1 spot in the third quarter of 2014.

Intel, currently the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, has SSDs that top out at 2 TB, but that could quickly ramp up. The company in November said it demonstrated 32- Gbps SerDes on its 14-nanometer process, a move that several industry observers said meant that Intel could in the near future be ready to manufacture SSDs with capacities of up to 10 TB.

1. HP

Hewlett-Packard is the world's second-largest storage vendor when capacity in servers is counted, and is also the world's largest server vendor. And, unlike competitors IBM and Cisco, it also has a major PC business, ranking No. 2 behind Lenovo, according to IDC.

So it is no surprise that HP-branded SSDs sit at the top of the market with a 19.7 percent share of branded SSD revenue, up 3.6 points from last year's third quarter.