The ebullient Seagate CEO Bill Watkins has made it clear that Seagate thinks flash solid state drives (SSDs) are interesting and Seagate will sell them - but not yet. When Seagate does sell a Seagate-brand SSD how will it make it? Will there be a Seagate flash foundry? A customer buys a hard disk drive (HDD) array from an OEM or …
It costs virtually nothing to make one more.
All the costs of chipmaking are at the front end.
In memory, although improvements are always coming along, once its designed, the only major coasts associated with manufacture are the hot receptionist.
So the only gamble is if there will be a market. Building a foundry from scratch will give them the market edge. The market is already very strong.
We already see flash media as the Videotape Replacement of choice for Electronic News Gathering andt Electronic Film Production (see www.RED.com .)
As the hard drive crosses the TeraByte Capacity range, smaller, more rugged flash drives are filling in the aquisition market.
Brave Seagate... Now try to keep the bean counters from spoiling the soup.
Paris cause she would be so cute as the hot receprionist.
The real question:
When Seagate does get into the SSD business, how much time and money will it spend trying to convince its customers that 1GB = 2^30 bytes instead of 10^9?
the difference with Imation
in terms of branding is that an SSD and a traditional platter-based disk are still effectively the same thing: mass storage.
I doubt consumers would make the distinction between the two types when it comes to picking a brand. In fact, I also doubt most professionals would make the distinction, since many of them have already made a choice (pick any HDD article on El Reg & read the vitriol).
Still, I think an own fab would be a massive gamble for Seagate - why not source from someone else to begin with and then pick up an own fab if it takes off. Somewhat higher cost, somewhat lower risk.
Flash is the new Bluray
If I had £250m I'd definitely build a foundry. If they get a move on and get prices down then I won't need to buy a Bluray player.
Building a new fab...
...might turn out cheaper in the long run; established fabs tend to use outdated technology (e.g., smaller wafer size, lower density, that sort of thing), so the higher output of a new fab may offset the immediate price advantage of an established one over a few years.
Just my tuppenny.
While prices are high there is no need for their own fab
I don’t think Seagate would get much of a competitive advantage by having their own foundries at the moment as solid state drives (SSD) are still premium devices at low volumes with premium prices, so there is more margin to work with and less volume to be profitable. In the next few years SSDs will add very little to their bottom line, so why take the risk.
Get a good OEM deal for decent volumes.
Build your own controller to maximise data transfers and life of the drives.
Keep up with the changes in technology.
Then move in when it settles down a bit and is more cost effective and the volumes have risen to a point where you can really make some money.
Is SSD a real substitute for an HD? I thought flash memory had a limited write-cycle life, which is not a problem for saving photos, but might be if faced with virtual memory management by Windows!
dash for flash splash lash mash trash nash hash! lovely.
Is there a market for SSD?
Oh gilly gosh yes. but, you have to get the price, performance and size right.
If the numbers add up people will pay a little over the price of HD to move to SSD.
The erase write cycles, can be accommodated, and they are not small, it is something to realise and solve but it is not a deal breaker in anyway.
In fact it would be rather nice to know when to buy a new drive both as a consumer and as a seller, and at failure the drive could simply just not erase.