Seagate unveils first solid-state drive

update Hard-drive maker finally gets into SSD game with new Pulsar, while executive points to additional products in the pipeline.

update Thirteen months after Seagate's head announced the hard-drive maker had no plans to roll out solid-state drives (SSDs) in the immediate future, the company has launched its first solid-state product.

In a statement Tuesday, Seagate said it had been shipping the new Pulsar drives to select OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) since September 2009. Designed for enterprise blade and general server applications, the 2.5-inch drive has a capacity of 200 gigabytes and is based on the SATA (serial ATA) specification.

Seagate did not provide pricing details for the drives, which come with a five-year warranty.

"Seagate is optimistic about the enterprise SSD opportunity and views the product category as enabling expansion of the overall storage market for both SSDs and HDDs (hard disk drives)," Dave Mosley, Seagate's executive vice president for sales, marketing and product line management, said in the statement. "Our strategy is to provide our customers with the exact storage device they need for any application, regardless of the component technology used."

"We are delivering on that strategy with the Pulsar drive, and you can expect additional products in the future from Seagate using a variety of solid state and rotating media components," he added.

In August, a Singapore-based analyst told ZDNet Asia the hard-drive maker had been hurt in terms of earnings by its tardiness in entering the SSD market. Seagate had closed its manufacturing facility in the country the same week.

Its competitor, Western Digital, made its SSD foray earlier this year, through the finalization of its acquisition of SiliconSystems.

No late penalty
Despite Seagate's apparent late entry, it can still catch up because SSD adoption among enterprises has been gradual.

Fang Zhang, analyst of storage systems at iSuppli, said in an e-mail: "Many HDD companies such as Hitachi and Toshiba, have entered the SSD business. However, they are in the same situation in terms of SSD adoption. The enterprise business will not switch from HDD to SSD overnight. Most of them will adopt a hybrid [model], like Sun Microsystems."

Put in that context, Seagate "is fine", Zhang added. According to iSuppli, the storage vendor currently has a 65 percent share of the worldwide enterprise HDD market.