Seagate has confirmed that it will enter the SSD market, but maintains that demand for traditional hard-drives will continue as users prove reluctant to give up cheap cost-per-gigabyte storage. CEO Bill Watkins has described the upcoming solid-state drives as intended for enterprise use, the only market segment, he claims is willing and able to stump up the premium. Instead Seagate will push larger capacity platter-based drives, with a 2TB model expected sometime in 2009.
In fact, Seagate have no current plans to release consumer versions of its upcoming SSDs, citing the relatively low capacities and problems with long-term data stability. Instead, Watkins sees the technology as a bridging step between situations that require rapid data access (such as indexing or search servers) and more reliable (but slower) backup. Development will continue in-house, with Watkins aiming for a 10-cent-a-gigabyte cost before he believes SSDs will have serious consumer appeal.
It’s a strategy that has prompted criticism from analysts, who believe Seagate is being too tentative. According to iSuppli analyst Krishna Chander, “[Seagate] haven’t stretched out. They are losing an opportunity. The reality is no matter what, in the next three to five years SSDs are going to come out”; he goes on to describe the technology as Seagate’s opportunity to overtake rival Western Digital, who are “too deeply lost” in traditional drives. Seagate already offer so-called hybrid HDDs, which feature normal platters coupled to an amount of flash storage for access-intensive data (e.g. the OS).