SAN JOSE, Calif. – Disk drive and flash memory giants Seagate Technology plc and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. have struck a deal to co-develop and cross-license controller technologies for server-class solid state drives. The duo will use Samsung's 30nm multi-level cell flash technology.
Seagate, the world's largest hard disk drive maker, is to some extent playing catch up. Intel and drive maker Hitachi GST stuck a deal to co-develop server flash drives in December 2008.
Seagate started shipping its first flash drives for servers, the Pulsar family in September. The 2.5-inch Pulsar drives comes in 50, 100 and 200 Gbyte models using a 3 Gbit/second serial ATA interface and single-level cell flash chips.
Competitors have been offering server flash drives since 2005, some of them now using multi-level cell flash chips that provide higher densities but need enhanced controllers to ensure reliability and peak performance.
Seagate and Samsung did not say when they expect to field products based on the new controllers. In January, Seagate said it is developing with LSI to develop controllers that put flash drives on a PCI interconnect.
International Data Corp. estimates more than 11 million flash drives shipped in 2009. It expects server flash drives to expand from revenues of $424 million in 2009 to approximately $2.5 billion by 2014, reflecting 48 percent compound growth, said Jeffrey Janukowicz, research manager for flash drives at IDC.
“Today’s agreement with Samsung will help us bring a compelling set of SSD innovations to the enterprise storage market, with benefits that range from enhanced performance, endurance and reliability to cost and capacity improvements,” said Steve Luczo, chief executive of Seagate, speaking in a press statement.
“Our green memory solution is designed to enable more energy-efficient server applications, which is expected to increase the use of NAND-based SSD storage in enterprise applications,” added Chang-hyun Kim, a Samsung Fellow and senior vice president of memory product planning and applications engineering in Samsung's semiconductor group.