Seagate is making a belated but potentially market-changing entry into the solid-state drive market.
Solid-state drives are generally faster than hard-disk drives, particularly at retrieving data, and have won limited acceptance in the laptop market. Seagate, however, is targeting the more lucrative and potentially larger server market and will compete with likes of Intel, Micron Technology, Samsung, and STEC.
Seagate's first salvo in the market is the new Pulsar drive, which is designed for blade computers and general server applications and offers up to 200 gigabytes of capacity based on the industry-standard Serial ATA interface.
Though pricier than hard-disk drives, the key dollar metric for solid-state drives in the server market is IOPS, or input/output operations per second. The more IOPS a large bank, for example, gets from a server equipped with solid-state drives, the more cost-effective the technology can be compared with hard-disk drives.
"SSDs provide superior dollars per IOP as compared to traditional hard drives," said Rich Vignes, a senior product line manager at Seagate.
Pulsar drives achieve a peak performance of up to 30,000 read IOPS and 25,000 write IOPS, Seagate says, many times the performance of even the fastest hard disk drives. Seagate began shipping Pulsar units to select customers in September.
"With the entry of the world's largest [hard-disk drive] manufacturer, this further validates the viability of SSDs in the computing environment," said Gregory Wong, president of Forward Insights, which tracks the solid-state drive market.
Gartner estimates that unit growth in the server solid-state drive market will double and sales are forecast to reach $1 billion for 2010, according to data provided by Seagate.
Seagate did not divulge pricing information. Companies that use its solid-state drives will provide pricing for end products.