Sandisk has a great head start over the SSD competition thanks to its acquisition of msystems. At the time of the acquisition, msystems was on its fifth generation of SSDs, which were sold primarily to the military, aerospace and telecom industries.
These niche markets required rigorous performance standards, making them an ideal R&D environment for the development of a product which seems destined to soon roll out in consumer/mass markets.
With each generation, msystems concentrated its efforts on integrating the required SSD components, reducing cost and size, while improving performance. Five stages of product improvement also provided extensive and invaluable real world expertise in meeting customer needs.
Suspect that msystems’ capabilities will soon enable MLC for Sandisk SSDs, while the competition will be stuck with SLC for quite a while.
Although it doesn’t seem as if SSDs will do much this year, the ramp-up for 2008 through 2010 looks like a lot of fun. According to Gartner, SSDs will likely penetrate about 20% (or 32M) of the notebooks that will be sold in 2010, accounting for about 1300 petabytes (PB) of flash, or about 11% of 2010’s total output — about the equivalent of this years total industry output of NAND.
Gartner estimates the 2010 total available market for SSDs at $3B. Right now my guess is that the biggest pieces of this pie will go to SNDK and Samsung, probably in that order. By 2010 would not be surprised if each ends up with about 1/3 of the market, with the last 1/3 shared among everyone else.
SNDK has its first SSD win with Dell. Suspect this is the rumored msytems’ SSD win of last fall, in which it supposedly beat out a very, very, large player — likely Samsung.
Also suspect SNDK has some additional wins in the bag or almost in the bag. If history were to repeat itself, and I see no reason it shouldn’t, top candidates for new SSD wins would be companies that had good business relationships with msystems. At the top of that list are Lenovo and HP. Like Dell, msystems had good working relationships with both.
Find the hinted-at SNDK vision for SSD evolution particularly interesting. SSDs seem poised to morph from a HDD look alike into something else entirely. Today’s SSD is simply a HDD replacement. A laptop manufacturer can simply plug SSD in where HDD used to be, bundling the SSD with the unit for the consumer. A straightforward OEM business model.
Following initial adoption, it appears that SNDK is intent on driving the bulk of the SSD market in different direction, away from the OEM model & towards its strengths in consumer retail. Makes a lot of sense. SNDK potentially gets better margins, more control over the evolution of the device/format, and reinforcement of the SNDK brand. No need for “SNDK inside” labels when the SNDK logo can be front and center.
My guess is that SNDK is thinking about pushing SSD evolution towards a removable consumer device/card similar to the recently announced SxS ExpressCard. If this is how things play out, laptops will move to a storage model like that of today’s digital cameras. Some storage will be embedded within the device, but primary personal storage will be removable cards. Laptop, etc. manufacturers should like this, as primary storage costs cease to be part of their products’ cost. Consumers should like this, as flexibility & upgradeability are maximized. Buy storage as needed, at best prices.
Expect a segment of these SSD cards to eventually evolve, with the addition of crypto chips and microprocessors, from dumb to smart storage. Would seem to have Uber-U3 potential for PC virtualization and other futuristic stuff. Probably one of the reasons that MSFT has now partnered with SNDK for U3 and beyond.
My suspicion is that SSD cards were originally an msystems strategy. msystems used to use a picture of an ExpressCard with an msystems label in its presentation visuals, even though, as far as I know, no msystems’ ExpressCard was ever released.