NEW YORK -- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has entered the storage sector with a line of Radeon-branded solid-state drives targeted specifically at the gaming market.
AMD is partnering with Toshiba-owned OCZ Storage Solutions, which will manufacture the solid-state drives and provide its flash controller, the Barefoot 3 3M00 device. The Radeon R7 series will also be equipped with Toshiba’s A19-nm NAND flash memory.
“We’ve been receiving a lot of demand ever since we introduced Radeon memory and memory modules,” said Robert Hallock, AMD product marketing manager, in a press briefing.
“We’ve had a lot of demand from customers looking to build all-AMD systems -- Radeon graphics, FX CPU, an AMD APU -- and now we are simplifying that process further by adding an SSD.”
The Radeon R7 series SSDs will be available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities at a cost of $99.99, $163.99, and $298.99, respectively. AMD’s Hallock claims that the SSDs offer better performance than competing devices with sequential read speeds of 550 Mbit/s and write speeds of 530 Mbit/s. They also provide a write endurance of 30GB per day compared with 20GB per day for Samsung’s 840 EVO, Crucial’s M500, Plextor’s M5S, and Kingston’s HyperX 3K.
“The result is four-year warranty on this drive. Most only have a three-year warranty,” he said.
The Radeon R7 series is not being aimed at high-end or entry-level applications, but rather the gaming console, “which always appreciates a good combination of price and performance,” he said. There are no plans to produce higher-end SSDs yet. “We’ll see how it goes. Maybe we’ll adjust our game plan down the line,” he added.
For now, it’s all about gaming for AMD, which understands the market’s needs, since its chips are designed into all three major consoles: the Nintendo Wii U, the Microsoft Xbox One, and the Sony PlayStation 4. Despite its strong presence in gaming applications, however, AMD still has to compete in an industry saturated with many players.
One analyst thinks it has a good shot. “With the right partners, this market is still fluid enough for late entries of well differentiated products targeting specific use-cases. The initial products have those elements as this represents a low-cost, high-performance alternative for gaming enthusiasts -- a market AMD knows well,” says Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group of San Jose, Calif.
Still, it can’t afford to lose. In the third quarter of 2012, AMD launched a three-pronged restructuring plan to transform its business model and lessen its dependence on the PC market dominated by Intel. Its goal is to derive up to 50% of its revenue from high-growth markets, including ultra-low power client, dense servers, and professional graphics, embedded and semi-custom, by 2016.
So far, AMD is headed in the right direction as it returned to profitability in the third quarter of 2013. And in its second quarter ended June, AMD said it is on track to generate 40% of its revenue from these high growth markets for the full year 2014.
“This is consistent with its diversification strategy because storage occupies a very different vertical market in the technology space than processors or graphics chips,” Enderle said.
— Isminis Scouras wrtes about the semiconductor industry for EE Times.