Seagate, the world’s top maker of hard drives, has teamed up with Samsung, which has a huge Flash memory operation to make solid state drives for corporate computing. SSDs, as they are called, have become a popular feature in consumer laptops and electronic devices because they consume less energy and have no moving parts to break when the device is jostled or dropped (screens are another matter). The partnership is one of many aimed at making SSDs more suitable for the enterprise, which wants to use SSDs because they can access data faster and because they reduce the power consumption of servers. However, SSDs are expensive and can be unreliable, losing bits and corrupting files at a higher rate than hard drives.
Samsung and Seagate will work on the controller for enterprise-grade SSDs. The controller helps govern where the bits are stored on the memory chip, which is growing more complicated as more transistors are crammed on a chip and manufacturers are stacking them on top of one another to boost capacity. Not only will Seagate have to walk the thin line between cannibalizing its primary hard drive business as it tries to bridge to the up-and-coming storage technology, but the two firms will compete against giants like Intel as well as a host of startups like Fusion-io, Pliant and Violin Memory, which all are trying to tweak SSDs to make them more reliable, faster or otherwise acceptable for enterprise customers.
Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d): Bringing Moore’s Law to the Data Storage Market