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OCZ Core SSDs start at $169 for 32GB and top out at $479 for 128GB.
Fujitsu's leadership says flash technology is too problematic, despite the market trend

Solid state drives (SSD) have been seeing gains in marketshare thanks to aggressive pricing and impressive capacity increases.  Proponents include manufacturers Dell, ASUS, Toshiba, and Apple which offer models with the drives.  These supporters tout the drives as delivering faster reads/writes and offering large power savings, especially essential in the laptop market.

However, not all are impressed with the drives.  Hard drive maker Seagate, despite working on the development of the devices, argues that they are not ready for the market and the only way that they're gaining traction is by unprofitable price cutting which threatens to sink the entire storage industry.  Seagate feels so passionately on the topic that they have made good on plans to start suing SSD makers who use designs which infringe on the company's large intellectual property library.

It now looks like Seagate may have found an unlikely ally in its opposition to SSDs -- Fujitsu.  Fujitsu Siemens, a joint venture between Fujitsu (Japanese) and the struggling German Siemens conglomerate, is a major player in the PC market, despite not being in the top five in terms of sales.

Many have noticed that the company has failed to develop a product utilizing a SSD drive or a hybrid half flash/half traditional drive, despite having numerous product lines.  According to a recent interview by ComputerWorld with Joel Hagberg, Fujitsu's vice president of business development, the lack of SSD is a purposeful decision.

Mr. Hagberg states, "There is a place for flash. Right now, that's random-read performance, such as relational database look-ups, tables, etc. But the big question that's been posed to Fujitsu is why haven't we come out with a flash drive product, and what do we think about enterprise disk drives, because there are executives from companies in the Northeast claiming that enterprise disk drives will be dead within two years? I think that's definitely overstating the capability of solid state."

Fujitsu will not adopt the technology, according to Mr. Hagberg, until manufacturers "resolve the performance problems of solid state in sequential reads and writes as well as random writes."

He continues, "Every manufacturer has launched a notebook with a solid-state disk drive. And, almost universally, there has been a customer-satisfaction issue because they're hyped for performance, and people get them and don't realize what [manufacturers] mean is [NAND] flash is really good if you're reading stuff, but it doesn't work very well for large file reads and large file writes, and it doesn't work well for random writes."

He says boot times are often no faster, and that power consumption isn't much improved often amounting only to a meager five percent, or 15 min of life on a five-hour battery.  He argues that hybrid drives are attempts to deal with the shortcomings of flash, but they don't succeed very well at this mark.

Further, Mr. Hagberg argues that there are reliability and lifetime issues, stating that for a flash drive "100,000 writes as a spec across the industry, and with MLC [multilevel cell] solid-state disk, you may reduce it to one-tenth of that or less -- 10,000 writes per cell with two bits, or maybe even 1,000 writes per cell with three or four bits per cell."

He states that the tech is good for certain markets, acknowledging, "Solid-state drives are good in some narrow niche applications where you're focused on random reads. They're great for handhelds, cell phones, iPods, MP3 players."

In time, improvements in technologies like wear leveling and new flash-like technologies like phase-change memory or MRAM may solve much of the problems of flash and allow it to dominate the storage industry, he believes.   He also insists that he is unbiased, stating, "I'm not saying something to slander a technology because we don't have a device. That would be meaningless. If a technology performs better than I'm stating, then my opinion is mitigated."

Perhaps the strongest evidence Mr. Hagberg provides in support of his stance is sales numbers and analysis.  He cites that John Monroe of Gartner, estimated 2007 shipments of solid-state notebooks were about 98,000 -- out of about 120 to 130 million computers shipped.  And, Mr. Hagberg adds, most of those users wouldn't buy another one due to dissatisfaction.

He concludes with a bold prediction, stating, "From a value in terms of dollars per gigabyte, as well as the I/O read/write data rate, disk drives are still not threatened by solid state in the mainstream enterprise server market or in the notebook space. The vast majority -- 90%-plus -- of shipments over the next few years will still be hard disk drives."

Fujitsu's vocal opposition to SSDs will certainly be music to Seagate's ears.  And it is hard to deny the fact that many companies are pushing SSD strongly, while only seeing meager sales.  Fujitsu has been in the storage business since 1968 and still has strong hard drive manufacturing holdings.  More than most companies it treads the line between a PC manufacturer and a component manufacturer.

However, if Fujitsu and Seagate are right, then why does the industry's giants like Dell and Apple insist on SSDs?  The answer boils down to public opinion, and really only time can tell which side's view holds more truth.



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he's right, or is he.
By freaqie on 7/9/2008 10:20:45 AM , Rating: 2
i think he is right about sales.
normal HDD's will be 90% of the market for a few years to come, atleast for the average consumer.

they are bigger and cheaper so i want a normal HDD. '
kinda logical.

so except for the super high performance market (where almost everything is overpriced) SSD's will remail small.

however., this might not be such a smart move. it's new technology so even though salesfigures are small. one needs time to get aquainted with the technology. so it is a risky move not to invest while other companies are investing...




RE: he's right, or is he.
By Machinegear on 7/9/2008 10:32:17 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with the guy mostly. But after reading the article, the historically attributed IBM quote came right to mind:

"The world needs only five computers."

I say get with the SSD club today or lose down the road.


RE: he's right, or is he.
By lifeblood on 7/9/2008 10:39:31 AM , Rating: 2
"640k is enough for anyone!"

Yes, SSD's may not be the top dog today, and it may never be. But it's still in it's infancy. Lets see how it does given time and growth. If Seagate and Fujitsu are wrong, they are going to have to jump through some hoops to catch up.


RE: he's right, or is he.
By othercents on 7/9/2008 11:53:50 AM , Rating: 2
What is true today won't be true tomorrow. I would bet that they are both working on products, but are working on a breakthrough technology that will be the foundation to their flash HD business. Until then they are not wanting to provide users with products that don't produce the gains that users are expecting. Just wait in the next 5 years we should see products from both companies that deliver what they say.

Other


RE: he's right, or is he.
By Inkjammer on 7/9/2008 11:57:07 AM , Rating: 4
I think that's why Seagate is researching them now as opposed to later. They don't see the current technology as viable, but don't want to behind the curve either... just in case.

Myself? Dissapointed in SSDs. New technology should move forward, both with reliability and speed. SSDs have been out a few years now, but are only really just starting to hit the speed part. Their reliability is still an unknown factor long term, though signs point to "yes".

Still, there's no major reason to go SSD unless you have a laptop and love driving around on cobblestone roads. If you have a Toughbook then SSD is your dream come true. Otherwise they're spiffy bragging right.


RE: he's right, or is he.
By deeznuts on 7/9/2008 12:44:43 PM , Rating: 5
"Compound Interest is the most powerful force in the universe" Albert Einstein.

Now there are two quotes attributed to people who never said it.


RE: he's right, or is he.
By HrilL on 7/9/2008 12:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
Fujitsu maybe. But Seagate on the other hand did a lot of R&D into SSD's so I think they'll be fine in the long run.


RE: he's right, or is he.
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2008 6:13:22 PM , Rating: 1
Who cares what Fujitsu thinks anyway ?

They make crap drives. I have never purchased one, and I don't know anyone who has. How many people here actually went out of their way to get a Fujitsu HD ??


RE: he's right, or is he.
By HrilL on 7/9/2008 7:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
I believe they used to sell to OEMs such as HP in the past. But yeah really if you didn't get one that way then I don't know who would actually buy their drives


RE: he's right, or is he.
By plinkplonk on 7/10/2008 4:55:00 AM , Rating: 3
how do you know they're crap drives if you've never bought one?


RE: he's right, or is he.
By afkrotch on 7/11/2008 3:12:25 AM , Rating: 2
Other large companies go out and purchase Fujitsu hard drives. I wouldn't be surprised if you had one sitting in your house.

If Fujitsu gave me a good price, I'd buy them. Their hard drives work well. They might not be the top performers, but they're a hell of a lot better than Samsung's conventional hdds.


RE: he's right, or is he.
By afkrotch on 7/11/2008 3:03:22 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think Fujitsu has ever been a market leader. For them, it's the smart move to not bother at this point in time. Let the other companies waste billions of dollars fixing the problems with SSD. Then hire employees from them and reap the benefits. Cause all large companies will eventually start laying off ppl.


give it time
By vapore0n on 7/9/2008 10:25:55 AM , Rating: 2
So were not there yet
No reason to push it down though.

I remember when the CDR came out. Really expensive and companies were hard to adopt it. 10 years later you can buy one for $30.

Just give SSDs time. OZ is making a bold step introducing consumer level drives. Even if the performance is not as good as a SATA drive.

Id like to send to Toshiba their own statements 5 years from now when they start hyping SSDs.




RE: give it time
By Diesel Donkey on 7/9/2008 10:38:20 AM , Rating: 2
What does Toshiba say on the subject?


RE: give it time
By vapore0n on 7/9/2008 11:22:35 AM , Rating: 2
lol oops, Fujitsu not Toshiba


RE: give it time
By Schrag4 on 7/9/2008 2:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
No, this is a little different. When CDR drives came out, they wrote CDs that you could read in other computers. There wasn't customer dissatisfaction with the product.

SSDs behave differently than your typical magnetic HD, in some ways better, and in some ways worse. If users aren't satisfied with them, I'm not sure why we should be pushing for SSDs. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for replacing our old, relatively slow and unreliable magnetic drives. But I'm not willing to pay through the nose for something that only sometimes works better.


RE: give it time
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 5:43:57 PM , Rating: 2
So where does it work worse than HDs? The ONLY parameter in favour of HD is the amount of GB it can hold. All other points goes to SSD: Weight, Speed, Power, lack of noise at all, dropability, tempearature range etc. etc.

SSD's are THE future storage solution. In five years, Fujitsu will regret not jumping on now and help it spread and thereby lowering the prices further.


RE: give it time
By SexyK on 7/9/2008 6:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, its not as clear cut as you make it out to be. For example, Anand tested a MB Air with SSD vs. one with a traditional drive, and battery life was worse with the SSD and performance was a mixed bag. See here: http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3287&p=4


RE: give it time
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 2:49:49 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but I think that comes from the fact that notebook drives are already at those 'limits'. In a conventional PC, for which I see this as a brilliant choice, at least for system disc, the power consumption is lower compared to 3.5" drives. I really like to get the PC I'm using in the Studio 100% silent :)


RE: give it time
By SiliconJon on 7/9/2008 5:44:59 PM , Rating: 2
And time should tell fairly quickly due to the short read/write cycle MTBF of these drives. This really is a beta product being pushed heavily. I'm not sure what he means by destroying the hard drive industry, though...except the burn that may be fealt against the companies that are selling these when drives start failing in mass with heavy users only 2-3 years after purchase.


He may be right
By aftlizard on 7/9/2008 10:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
But when SSD's become cheap enough for me, I am going to replace my two raided 160gb 5400rpm HDD's in my Fujitsu notebook and put SSD's in them.

I guess another thing is that I am surprised that Fujitsu is tasking this approach. Their lappy's already cost more than the average big name one and one of their selling points is durability(at least for me it was), why wouldn't they want to take on this and push this added durability feature in their own products?




RE: He may be right
By JustTom on 7/9/2008 12:39:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
He cites that John Monroe of Gartner, estimated 2007 shipments of solid-state notebooks were about 98,000 -- out of about 120 to 130 million computers shipped. And, Mr. Harberg adds, most of those users wouldn't buy another one due to dissatisfaction.


There is your answer.


RE: He may be right
By OPR8R on 7/9/2008 1:02:23 PM , Rating: 3
Though I wonder about his motivation, at least the guy is being honest.

I take the article to mean they don't want to compete in a market that is selling a product, that is of questionable quality, at a loss.

It seems like they understand that people don't like spending $$$$ on stuff that doesn't work that well: it's bad for business when consumers don't like your products. Others should a listen a little closer....


RE: He may be right
By IGoodwin on 7/9/2008 1:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe he is right about the facts, but not the overall conclusion. Yes, a traditional HD can have a higher peak transfer on a large contiguous file, and, yes, the buffering allows for a higher write spead. However, no matter how you try, you won't get access times to below a milisecond.

You can add, for both technologies, drives in parallel to increase both the read and write transfer rates, so it is quite likely you can hit any transfer rate you want to, mitigating any comment on read/write speeds. Access time becomes the only factor you can't change, as this does not alter with multiple drives and represents the slowest drive in the setup.

This means, ignoring money, that there is a way to mitigate the SSD shorcomings to the limit of the transfer rate of a raid controller, and not be able to mitigate the access times for traditional HDs.


Missing the next wave...
By RabidDog on 7/9/2008 10:34:55 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the execs at Fujitsu and Seagate are smarter then I am, but it seems like the 'geeks', who are the biggest influencers in corporations, have really latched onto the idea of SSD in the next laptops. If Fujitsu and Seagate and their ilk don't get on this bandwagon quickly, they will miss the boat.
While the technical factors that were brought up in the interview maybe valid, social factors are a major movement with technology now a day. With companies the size of Fujitsu and Seagate, I don't understand why they can't allocate a small group to produce SSD products. If they sell, great, you can expand, if there are major problems or sales tank, not much lost.




RE: Missing the next wave...
By JustTom on 7/9/2008 11:09:56 AM , Rating: 2
Which corporations are you talking about? Because all the ones I am aware geeks seldom drive adoption of technology.

What Fujitsu is doing is pretty common in business. If the market pans out they will jump in with a product. It is not like it is so hard to design a notebook with a solid state drive. This will allow them to leverage those companies who pushed the technology early without the associated costs. Sales are at this time meaningless for all practical purposes.


RE: Missing the next wave...
By Inkjammer on 7/9/2008 12:03:24 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Which corporations are you talking about? Because all the ones I am aware geeks seldom drive adoption of technology.
Working in the tech industry where I've seen people still using Pentium IIIs for apps servers... yeah. Geeks don't drive the company, just Ms. Daisy.


Obviously biased perspective
By srue on 7/9/2008 4:46:06 PM , Rating: 3
The candle maker is complaining about light bulbs.




RE: Obviously biased perspective
By gudodayn on 7/9/2008 10:08:58 PM , Rating: 1
Canldes Vs light bulbs = stone-age Vs technology
HDD Vs SSD = tech Vs tech......just which one is more worth while

Given SSD offer huge read / write numbers.......but @ 64GB, it will cost $1000 USD??

I am pretty sure with 6 x 1TB Seagate 32MB buffered drives in Raid-0, I can come close to those numbers offered by the 64GB SSD, if not surpass it.

On top of that, I'd still get change from the $1000 USD and 5936GB (not taking formatted capacity into consideration) worth of free storage space!!!

I think SSDs should stay in their industrial application field where machines are subject to extreme heat or vibration, which are out of HDD operating environment range!


RE: Obviously biased perspective
By Silver2k7 on 7/14/2008 6:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
If you made a 6x1Tb in raid 0 that would be kind of insane.. perhaps 0+1 or something.. or 5 or 3, im no good with raid modes, but i would rather have half the storage capacity +redundancy.


Right on
By mmc4587 on 7/10/2008 2:48:31 AM , Rating: 2
Consumer oriented SSDs are way over-hyped.

Dropping my laptop causes any number of things to break before the HD so much as skips a beat.

And it is not the HD that makes my laptop hot.

Furthermore, if I were to invest $500 on my laptop for energy savings I would get a LED back-lighting.. that would actually make a difference.

Now, as far a enterprise solutions go, maybee they are the cat's meow... I don't know.




RE: Right on
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 2:52:53 AM , Rating: 2
What about the stationary PC? It would be a brilliant solution there, don't You think??


RE: Right on
By mmc4587 on 7/10/2008 3:39:06 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
What about the stationary PC? It would be a brilliant solution there, don't You think??


Oh yeah I quite agree! In fact I really can't understand why I spent $100 on a HD when I could have spent $800 on a SSD with 1/10th the capacity. ..I must have been duped, I mean, everyone knows that an AVG Read of 80MB/s on a SSD is WAY faster than an AVG Read of 90MB/s on a HD.

..why oh why did I save $700 on a bigger, faster HD?

..sniffle
...sob
....bawl

... :-(


By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2008 6:11:12 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah good one buddy. This is rich !




Are they serious?
By Indianapolis on 7/10/2008 8:28:48 AM , Rating: 2
Are we really supposed to take these guys at their word? These aren't consumer advocates, they're cut-throat businessmen who have ulterior motives. If SSDs were truly the disaster they're claiming, then they would just sit back and wait for the backlash against SSDs and then (Step 3...profit!!!) sell everybody standard HDDs .




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