Seagate's Approach to the SSD

Arthur Cole

So what, exactly, is Seagate's view when it comes to solid-state storage for the enterprise? In a word, it's complicated.

The company made quite a splash this week with the introduction of two new members of the Pulsar line: the 800 GB Pulsar.2 that purportedly drives new levels of data integrity and endurance in a multi-level cell (MCL) configuration, and the 400 GB Pulsar XT.2 that utilizes single-level cell (SLC) technology to deliver higher read/write performance.

There's certainly nothing to complain about in either of these drives, particularly since they came from a company that has demonstrated lukewarm interest in enterprise-class SSDs to date. And to be clear, the company has been entirely consistent in its message that SSDs are suitable for a rather limited set of enterprise applications, calling it "overkill" to deploy them for anything but the highest throughput environments.

Also note that the new Pulsar devices were released in conjunction with a pair of Savvio hard disk drives and a new 3 TB Constellation disk. As far as mass storage goes, then, Seagate is clearly of a mind that HDD technology offers the best price/performance ratio and will continue to do so for some time.

It would seem, though, that if ever there was a platform that is ripe for an SSD takeover it would be the laptop. With higher capacity Flash coming out, SSDs would make laptops smaller, lighter and faster than current HDD-laden designs. Perhaps, says Seagate in a recent report examining the subject, but the fact is that Flash supplies simply don't meet current or projected capacity demands. Laptop storage is expected to grow by nearly a third in the coming year, from roughly 70 exabytes to 95 exabytes, and yet the entire Flash industry is currently producing about 21 exabytes, with the vast majority of that earmarked for mobile and consumer devices. In Seagate's view, then, SSDs will provide only the smallest fraction of laptop storage going forward, with users expected to pay a high premium for the privilege.

If anything, Seagate seems to want to change the conversation from "What is the next big thing in storage technology?" to "What is the best solution for any given application/environment?"

While SSDs will get the nod from Seagate in limited circumstances, it seems clear that HDDs will continue to make up the overwhelming majority of deployments.

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