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The chief executive officer of OCZ Technology Group, a leading maker of solid-state drives (SSDs), said that as the prices of NAND flash memory dropped in the recent quarters, demand for higher-capacity SSDs increased, which improved the company's revenues. But in order to further reduce pricing of solid-state storage, makers of NAND flash will have to start adopting new process technologies and/or start to use three-bits-per-cell (3bpc, TLC) flash.

"NAND flash prices declined significantly in Q1 [FY 2013 which ended on May, 31] and as a result we have seen a material increase in sales of our higher capacity products.  While this is an early trend, we expect that the demand shift to higher capacity drives could produce materially increased revenue in our hard disk drive replacement segment if this trend holds," said Ryan Petersen, chief exec of OCZ, during a conference call with financial analysts.

Demand for OCZ's solid-state drives increased by 54% year-over-year during the quarter. In fact, the company shipped over 100 thousand of Indilinx Everest 2-based products, including Vertex 4 and Agility 4, in the first quarter of its fiscal 2013. With the evident success of its SSDs in hard disk drive form-factors, OCZ now claims that solid-state storage has already become strong competitor for traditional hard drives despite of lower capacities.

"It has always been our belief that SSD prices do not need to match those of hard disk drives on a per gigabyte basis in order to drive large scale adoption of SSDs. As such, it is becoming evident that SSDs are increasingly competing with hard disk drives in cost conscious market segment, a trend that is clearly positive for the SSD industry," stated Mr. Petersen.

OCZ believes that by now the pricing of multi-level cell (MLC or 2bpc) NAND flash memory produced using 25nm/20nm-class process technologies has bottomed. As a result, OCZ claims that in order to further boost capacities of SSDs and/or reduce their pricing, new types of NAND flash memory, such as 2bpc/MLC and/or 3bpc/TLC made using thinner technologies, will need to be used for solid-state storage devices.

"Given that, we believe that pricing on 25nm NAND flash has reached its bottom and in order to drive continued price decreases on a per gigabyte basis, SSD companies need to continue to introduce support for new NAND flash nodes and new technologies, such as the upcoming 20nm and 19nm nodes and TLC," stated Mr. Petersen.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2013 (which ended on 31st of May, 2012), OCZ earned $113.6 million in revenue and lost $6.3 million. During the quarter, SSD-related earnings were $106.49 million, of which $100.3 million came from sales of solid-state drives in hard drive format and PCI Express SSDs accounted for $6.168 million. Earnings for power supply units were $7.131 million.

Tags: OCZ, SSD, NAND, Flash, TLC, MLC, 3bpc, 2bpc, 20nm, 25nm, 19nm, Toshiba, Samsung, Micron

Discussion

Comments currently: 8
Discussion started: 07/11/12 12:40:59 PM
Latest comment: 07/12/12 02:25:59 PM
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1. 
Three bit per cell NAND tech is still unreliable so this is certainly not where anyone with an SSD should be headed when they can barely get marginal reliability or compatibility with current flash RAM.
1 0 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 07/11/12 12:40:59 PM]
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I prefer to go the hybrid route. A hybrid storage system combines SSD and HDD. HDD is good for a lot of storage and it has reliability more than SSD. SSD for fast retrieval (low latency). Unfortunately, Seagate is the only company at this time that provides a hybrid drive that is plug-n-play. Intel chipset Z68 and higher models has a way to make a hybrid drive, but only works in Windows.

What the article is not saying is the quality of NAND Flash memory, what SSD uses, gets worst as fabrication process gets smaller and smaller. This means reliability is just going to suck and keep getting "suckier" as the need for larger capacity SSD to fit in a 3.5-inch HDD profile. If you do not believe me, the following is Arstechnica article about the effects of NAND Flash memory as the chip gets smaller and smaller.

http://tinyurl.com/d8y6s27
0 0 [Posted by: tecknurd  | Date: 07/11/12 06:00:37 PM]
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2. 
Perfect timing for flash NAND prices to hit rock bottom. Just picked up an OCZ 120GB SSD for $0.50 / GB and it should last me for 2-3 years as an OS drive, hopefully giving enough time for the SSD industry to move on to PCI Express based SATA and exceed the current 600MB/sec limitations of SATAIII.

Also, the best part about SSDs is that you can move the older one into your laptop giving it more life while mechanical drives are all but useless in making a computer feel fast again.

Crucial M4 drives are also dropping like a rock.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 07/11/12 01:43:24 PM]
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SATA is coming to a fourth revision, getting 1200MB/s
0 0 [Posted by: kensiko  | Date: 07/11/12 02:26:17 PM]
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The only times when that amount of throughput is required is accessing virtual machines (VMware, Parallels, VirtualBox). Besides that, 30 to 60 megabytes per second is all you need.
0 0 [Posted by: tecknurd  | Date: 07/11/12 05:45:07 PM]
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60 MB/s is the maximum transfer rate that USB 2.0 offers and SATA hard drives that are capable of sustaining 100 MB/s are too slow for even booting up Windows (at least the 1 TB Caviar Green I have). SSDs can benefit loading times for games and in some cases can eradicate in-game stuttering if the game loads data on the fly (e.g. the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games). The bandwidth a 16-lane PCI-E slot has to offer can only taken advantage of by a video streaming application or a video card, but that doesn't mean that SSDs in the future will demand that much bandwidth.
0 0 [Posted by: DirectXtreme  | Date: 07/11/12 08:44:28 PM]
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People buy SSD because it is faster than HDD. The main unit of faster for these people is it loads up applications quicker than HDD. This means quicker application loading relates to accessing times. SSD accessing times are less than 1 millisecond or just say it is 1 millisecond. HDD accessing times are 10 millisecond. This means SSD are 10 times faster than HDD. The throughput or bandwidth comes last and usually files for applications are small. If throughput or bandwidth was the issue for these people, they will just put a bunch of HDD in RAID-0, RAID-10, RAID-5, or RAID-6 to increase the throughput.

So what that USB 2.0 has a maximum of 60 megabytes per second. Nobody here reference USB. A lot of people do not understand that a direct connection to PCIe for SSD is over kill for usage of desktop and workstation. Using PCIe for data storage on a desktop or workstation is like using 10000 Mb NIC when using a cable modem or DSL. This is just over kill because all you need is a 100 Mb NIC for those type of connections.

Games stuttering is caused by poor accessing times and bad memory management. Games do not have thorough development, so performance in the game is relied on the OS and the hardware. Yes SSD can reduce the stuttering, but using a SSD that directly connects to PCIe is just over kill. All you will get is bragging rights when using such hardware.
1 0 [Posted by: tecknurd  | Date: 07/12/12 02:25:59 PM]
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3. 
TLC is not as unreliable as you think. Lots of companies are doing work on what's call adaptive DSP and they're using compression techniques to reduce the number of writes to the flash. We're talking P/E cycles 100x what the NAND is originally rated in some cases (See Anobit bought by Apple, Densbits invested in by Seagate, Ndurance by OCZ and Guradian tech by SMART.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/11/smart_tlc/
0 0 [Posted by: josephjpeters  | Date: 07/11/12 03:14:19 PM]
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