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Seagate plans SSD, 2TB hard drive for next year

Selling hard drives will remain Seagate's focus for now

By Agam Shah
May 30, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Seagate will introduce its first solid-state drive (SSD) storage and 2TB hard drive next year, said company CEO Bill Watkins.

The company's first SSD product will be targeted at enterprises that need speedy storage and can afford to pay a premium for the expensive drives. Seagate has no plans to release SSD drives for consumers, as the high prices could deter them for the next few years, Watkins said in an interview.

The release date and price information for the 2TB hard drive were not available. Seagate released 1TB hard drives, the Barracuda 7200.11 and Barracuda ES.2, in the middle of 2007.

While there is no competition now between hard drives and SSDs, Seagate is thinking of going to SSDs in the long term to replace hard drives.

"SSDs are not price-competitive yet," Watkins said. The storage market is driven by cost per gigabyte, and though SSDs provide benefits such as power savings, they won't be in laptops in the next few years, Watkins said. Low-power consumption capabilities and high speeds make SSDs useful for laptops, but the cost per gigabyte won't come down at least for the next few years, Watkins said.

"If the cost per gigabyte comes down to 10 cents, maybe," Seagate will focus on SSD storage for consumers, Watkins said.

A 128GB SSD costs $460, or $3.58 per gigabyte, compared with $60 for a 160GB hard drive, said Krishna Chander, a senior analyst at iSuppli.

"It will take three to four years for SSDs to come to parity with hard drives" on price and reliability, Chander said.

Besides price, other issues will keep SSDs from the consumer space, Watkins said.

Users seek fat storage to carry data, and hard drives can store terabytes of data, something SSDs can't do, Watkins said. SSDs also have write issues, with cells in the drives deteriorating quickly and reducing storage capacity, a general problem that plagues flash drives.

Even enterprise adoption of SSDs could be slow, Watkins said. "People are still trying to get tape out of the enterprise," he said.

Seagate's SSD would be mainly for data centers that rely on processing data quickly, like indexing servers or search servers, that can temporarily store data until it is ultimately moved to permanent storage on hard drives or tape. Solid-state drives can move data up to 10 times quicker than hard drives, but data has to ultimately be moved to larger and more reliable storage, Watkins said.

The SSD drive could also be useful for data centers looking to save on energy consumption and costs.

Seagate is taking a wait-and-see approach to SSDs, similar to the company's approach to optical storage. Seagate acquired optical-storage company Quinta in 1997 when everyone thought optical storage would replace hard drives, Watkins said. Seagate wasn't sure how far rotating media technology would stretch, but the cost per gigabyte fell and hard drives overtook optical drive technology.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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