Google, Facebook, Microsoft Lead Growing Appetite for Enterprise-Grade SSDs

Intel, the current leader in supplying enterprise storage disks, is feeling the pressure from Samsung.

Intel.SSD

Intel, the world’s largest computer processor maker, isn’t particularly known as a global leader in shipping solid-state flash storage disks. That’s always been market territory Samsung, WD SanDisk, Micron and Toshiba have owned.

But markets are changing, as they tend to do everywhere.

DRAMeXchange, a division of global market analyst TrendForce, reported May 25 that shipments of enterprise-grade SSDs for the first quarter of 2017 grew against normal seasonal headwinds by 3 to 4 percent compared with the prior quarter to reach about 6 million units.

Intel is the No. 1 seller at this point, followed closely by former leader Samsung, which is adding pressure in its fight for regaining top marketshare.

In Q1 2017, enterprise-grade SSDs comprised more than 10 percent of the total SSD product shipments worldwide. Currently, U.S.-based Google, Facebook and Microsoft and China’s Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent all have voracious appetite for server systems as they are providing their services via their growing network of data centers. These companies are contributing substantially to the global demand for enterprise-grade SSDs, DRAMeXchange said.

“Compared with other end applications for NAND Flash, enterprise-grade SSDs have exhibited strong and dramatic demand growth and will continue to do so this second quarter,” said Alan Chen, senior research manager of DRAMeXchange.

Samsung Catching up to Intel in Shipments

Samsung has recaptured a significant chunk of the enterprise-grade market with its competitively priced and high-performing 3D-NAND SSDs. Samsung’s global market share for enterprise-grade SSDs came to 25 percent in this first quarter, making the company the second-largest supplier worldwide.

Intel, while being the leader enterprise storage solutions, has been feeling the pressure from Samsung. Before the first quarter of 2017, Intel had fallen behind in its development of 3D-NAND SSDs. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company had to offer products that were not as cost competitive as Samsung’s, because they were based on older memory manufacturing technologies.

To attract customers, Intel not only lowered prices but also emphasized that its SSDs complement its server processors. After persevering into the first quarter of this year, Intel was able to ship its 3D-NAND products in greater volumes. The company’s global market share in enterprise-grade SSD segment returned to above 40 percent for the first quarter, DRAMeXchange said.

Western Digital: 20 Percent of Market, Thanks to SanDisk

Western Digital’s shipments of enterprise-grade SSDs has been on the rise since the $19 billion SanDisk acquisition in 2015, and the company became the third-largest supplier worldwide in the first quarter of 2017 with a market share of more than 20 percent.

SanDisk’s product lines have benefited considerably from its parent company’s expertise in enterprise storage as well as the larger client base. At the same time, Western Digital also integrated into its portfolio some specialty products that SanDisk has worked on in the past several years, DRAMeXchange said.

Following Intel, Samsung and Western Digital are smaller SSD suppliers with respective shipment market shares of less than 5 percent.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...