During this year’s 2013 CES, we had a chance to sit down with Ryan Smith, the Senior Manager of SSD Product Marketing at Samsung Semiconductor, with his particular disclosures to us closely guarded by a familiar public relations representative. All of this, of course, was after a certain amount of time spent milling around the ad-hoc lobby that existed in the Encore Hotel after being directed to them past a number of other Samsung representative suites and even one by Sony.
We were led past a fairly large, spacious suite with a number of Samsung Semiconductor’s new innovations in the past year as well as some more of the hush-hush products they wanted to show off to more privileged clientele, and into a meeting room. Our representative sat down with us, and detailed a few of the market trends that they deal with. The representatives were from the OEM production group, and deal indirectly with enterprise needs.
With the tech industry’s shift to thin and light, a similar set of values is also held by the data center/enterprise group, but with a few important modifications to the requirements. For example, consumer data retention is usually about 1 year after the useful life of the drive (meaning an unpowered drive will retain the information on it for 365 days), however enterprise needs only call for approximately 3 months’ time. Another relevant point is that consumer drives normally promise about 1 million to 1.5 million hours MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure), while the enterprise class drives drive that number up to 2 million.
Samsung Semiconductor claims to be driving forward with a focus on what data centers and enterprise groups care about, given that there has been major growth in SSD sales. Normally, the metric that consumers care about is the price per gigabyte, but in the corporate space this is not a valid metric, since many companies will simply opt for the cheapest overall options to make their main operating system drive on a stack. This means that a 3 TB HDD that sells for $150 provides great value to the consumer at $0.05 per gigabyte. However, if a company only needs 100 GB, and they can purchase an SSD at $100 with 120 GB, the SSD would be more attractive to them. This is because even though the SSD costs $0.83 per gigabyte, $100 is still cheaper than $150; therefore the overall cost is lower. This trend has seen recent increase in 2012, since the individual cost of solid state drives has fallen significantly.
This new focus on the SSD market follows Samsung’s sale of their regular hard drive division to Seagate, a move which has allowed them to put more into the development of new solid state options. One such major option is the introduction of drives utilizing Triple Level Cell flash (TLC), while not as appealing to the enthusiast market, will play a key role in the more casual consumer market since the emphasis on maximum performance does not exist there.
Overall, Samsung Semiconductor seems to be very mum about their entire operation. Aside from the above, very general, market trends that they were willing to discuss, they refused to actually discuss the selling of the Samsung Hard Drive division or anything remotely pertinent or useful about their daily operation.