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
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
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.
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.
quote: Which corporations are you talking about? Because all the ones I am aware geeks seldom drive adoption of technology.
quote: What about the stationary PC? It would be a brilliant solution there, don't You think??