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flash memory SSD technology

OCZ sells out to Toshiba (it’s been good to know yuh’)

OCZ Technology
OCZ Technology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/03/toshiba_buys_ocz/

Seems like it was only two years ago when OCZ bought out memory controller and intellectual property (IP) holder Indilinx for it’s own branded SSD products. At the time everyone was buying SandForce memory controllers to keep up with the Joneses. Speed-wise and performance-wise SandForce was king. But with so many competitors about using the same memory controller there was no way to make a profit with a commodity technology. The thought was generally performance isn’t always the prime directive regarding SSDs. Going forward, price would be much more important. Anyone owning their own Intellectual Property wouldn’t have to pay license fees to companies like SandForce to stay in the business. So OCZ being on a wild profitable tear, bought out Indilinx a designer of NAND/Flash memory controllers. The die was cast and OCZ was in the drivers seat, creating the the Consumer market for high performance lower cost SSD drives. Market value went up and up, whispers were reported of a possible buy out of OCZ from larger hard drive manufacturers. The price of $1Billion was also mentioned in connection with this.

Two years later, much has changed. There’s been some amount of shift in the market from 2.5″ SATA drives to smaller and more custome designs. Apple jumped from SATA to PCIe with its MacBook Air just this past Fall 2013. The m2 form factor is really well liked in the tablet and lightweight laptop sector. So who knew OCZ was losing it’s glamor to such a degree that they would sell? And not just at the level of 10x cheaper than their hightest profile price from 2 years ago. No, not 10x, but more likely 100x cheaper that what they would have asked for 2 years ago. Two whole orders of magnitude less, very roughly, exactly 35Million dollars along with a large number of negotiated guarantees to keep the support/warranty system in place and not tarnish the OCZ brand (for now). This story is told over and over again to entrpreneurs and magnate wannabees. Sell, sell, sell. No harm in that. But just make sure you’re selling too early rather than too late.

Categories
computers flash memory SSD technology

OCZ samples twin-core ARM SSD controller • The Register

OCZ Technology
Image via Wikipedia

OCZ says it is available for evaluation now by OEMs and, we presume, OCZ will be using it in its own flash products. Were looking at 1TB SSDs using TLC flash, shipping sequential data out at 500MB/sec which boot quickly, and could be combined to provide multi-TB flash data stores. Parallelising data access would provide multi-GB/sec I/O. The flash future looks bright.

via OCZ samples twin-core ARM SSD controller • The Register.

Who knew pairing an ARM core with the drive electronics for a Flash based SSD could be so successful. Not only are the ARM chips helping to drive the cpus on our handheld devices, they are now becoming the SSD Drive controllers too! If OCZ is able to create these drive controllers with good yields (say 70% on the first run) then they are going to hopefully give themselves a pricing advantage and get a higher profit margin per device sold. This is assuming they don’t have to pay royalties for the SandForce drive controller on every device they ship.

If OCZ was able to draw up their own drive controller, I would be surprised. However, since they have acquired Indilinx it seems like they are making good on the promise held by Indilinx’s current crop of drive controllers. Let’s just hope they are able to match the performance of SandForce at the same price points as well. Otherwise it’s nothing more than a kind of patent machine that will allow OCZ to wage lawsuits against competitors for Intellectual Property they acquired through the acquisition of Indilinx. And we have seen too much of that recently with Apple’s secret bid for Nortel’s patent pool and Google’s acquisition of Motorola.

Categories
flash memory SSD technology

OCZ Acquires Indilinx SSD Controller Maker

OCZ Technology
Image via Wikipedia

Prior to SandForce‘s arrival, Indilinx was regarded as the leading makers of controllers for solid-state drives. The company gained both consumer and media favoritism when it demonstrated that drives based on its own controllers were competitive with lead drives made by Intel. Indilinx’s controllers allowed many SSD manufacturers to bring SSD prices down to a level where a large number of mainstream consumers started to take notice.

via OCZ Acquires Indilinx SSD Controller Maker.

This is surprising news especially following the announcement and benchmark testing of OCZ’s most recent SSD drives. They are the highest performing SATA based SSDs on the market and the boost in speed is derived primarily from their drive controller chip supplied by SandForce not Indilinx. Buying a competing manufacturer no doubt is going to disappoint their suppliers at SandForce. And I worry a bit that SandForce’s technical lead is something that even a good competitor like Indilinx won’t be able to overcome. I’m sticking with any drive that has the SandForce disk controller inside due to their track record of increasing performance and reliability with each new generation of product.

So I am of two minds, I guess it’s cool OCZ has enough power and money to provide its own drive controllers for its SSDs. But at the same time, the second place drive controller is a much slower, lower performance part than the top competitor. In future I hope OCZ is either able to introduce price variation by offering up SandForce vs. Indilinx based SSDs and charge less for Indilinx. If not, I don’t know how they will technologically achieve superiority now that SandForce has such a lead.