Today’s announcement between Seagate and Samsung to jointly develop controller technology for future enterprise Solid State Drives is certainly a milestone. And it makes business sense too that the the leading flash and HDD makers join together to develop new SSD controller technologies that will push beyond what exists today.
Each company brings something unique to the table besides its market leadership. While companies in any technology field when marketing will tend to focus on the positive aspects of the technology they are producing or selling, we know that behind the scenes all technologies have challenges and hurdles that must be overcome. In the case of storage, it doesn’t matter whether we’re discussing SSDs or HDDs; engineers working with both technologies are most often tasked with limiting the number of data errors produced at the media. Think of it as the game of always looking to make perfect something that will always be imperfect to start with. Seagate has great expertise in minimizing errors on its media and its current enterprise HDDs are best-in-class in the area of error recovery.
So that is at the heart of the collaboration from a technical perspective: error recovery and management. Samsung brings its flash technology expertise while Seagate brings its error recovery expertise to the table. Between them, the companies will look to produce a controller for SSDs that can attain the high levels of performance, reliability, and endurance demanded by enterprise storage applications.
Another interesting technical piece is the fact that today’s announcement references the use of Samsung’s 30 nanometer-class MLC (Multi-Level Cell) NAND as the technology base for the collaborative project. MLC NAND enables higher capacities at a lower cost, but it has not typically been a target technology for enterprise use due to having lower endurance. However, the controller technology that Seagate and Samsung develop together with its advanced error recovery and flash management, will enable more cost-effective and long-life products for the enterprise space.
It’s an exciting time in the world of storage. As future announcements are made about the collaboration and results, we’ll look to add further perspective to the story.