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You know flash is king when disk giant Seagate grows its SSD line

Plus: Might elbow its way into PCIe server flash card market

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Seagate is going to expand its solid state drive (SSD) line this year using co-developed Samsung controller technology and introducing its first multi-level cell drive.

Seagate and Samsung have a flash chip supply and controller partnership. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers has talked to Seagate execs and gleaned that:

Seagate ... will have a refreshed line-up of SATA and SAS solid state drives, based on the co-development work with Samsung on controller technology, in 2013. Additionally, our conversations suggested that the company also plans to launch its first MLC-based PCIe SSDs in 2013.

Seagate currently ships its fast single level cell (SLC) Pulsar XT and Pulsar.2 MLC SSDs. Its recent flash activity includes investing in controller company DensBits, whose technology makes slow, shorter-life TLC (3-bits per cell) flash work for longer.

Just over a year ago, Seagate bought Samsung's disk drive business as part of its reaction to Western Digital buying Hitachi GST and leap-frogging Seagate into the disk drive market revenue leadership. Both Seagate and Western Digital appear to realise that the performance data access market is moving away from fast spinning hard drives into a high-end pure-flash market and a mid-range/low-end hybrid solid state hard drive (SSHD) market. Flash is where the strongest growth prospects are - for both Seagate and WD. Of course, just last year, Seagate was singing a different tune.

A move into the PCIe flash card for servers space from Seagate would be logical. We note Samsung has invested in PCIe server flash card market leader Fusion-io, which will make its relationship with Seagate interesting. The PCIe flash card product space is pretty crowded and the entry of Seagate would not be welcomed by other suppliers. ®

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