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The State of Solid State 2013 Edition - OCZ ('s IP) Technology

The State of Solid State 2013 Edition
It's been two years since Chris released his signature series that covers the SSD market. Today he talks about OCZ, next-generation NAND and more.
By: | Editorials in Storage | Posted: Dec 4, 2013 2:05 pm

OCZ ('s IP) Technology


(Pulls up to a drive through window) I'll take the Indilinx and PLX IP. Give me SANRAD too; leave the rebates and RMA off the bun.




I'm not going to worry about how OCZ got to this point, we'll discuss some of that later when we talk about the 'fab companies', let's focus on what's going to happen with the OCZ's technology.


There are two camps right now: those who believe in the Indilinx Barefoot 3 and those who think it's a reworked Marvell controller with Indilinx firmware. Over the last year, we've seen several enterprise SSD markers with controllers scooped up by larger companies. HGST, sTec, Link_A_Media Devices, SandForce, and SMART Storage all come to mind, but others with IP were swallowed whole by larger players in the storage market. OCZ was not scooped though.


In a recent meeting with Marvell, we were told a new controller costs between $100 and $150 million dollars to bring to market. It's been a long time since OCZ Technology had a spare $100M sitting around. Even if Indilinx had most of the controller design taken care of, the dollars don't make a lot of sense. Personally, my skepticism comes from Vertex 4. OCZ led us to believe it was an OCZ controller. Then, when testing the Toshiba THNSNH 128GB and 256GB drives, some of the same performance oddities tipped up in those products even though the controller read Toshiba and Marvell.


I find it interesting that Toshiba made an offer to purchase the OCZ assets prior to OCZ announcing the bankruptcy; just weeks before one of our insiders told us that Toshiba was taking a close look at OCZ. A week later, OCZ announced Vector 150 with Toshiba 19nm Toggle flash.


Moving forward, the Toshiba asset acquisition makes sense. A recent report stated that Seagate plans a bidding war for OCZ, but we just don't see it. At one time, Seagate looked at the books and we hear it got as far as an offer, but it Seagate pulled out at the last minute. Seagate may still have interest but Barefoot 3 or not, it doesn't make sense for Seagate to acquire OCZ's assets.




The reason why Toshiba is a good fit and Seagate isn't comes down to flash. Toshiba is a fab company; they make the flash but don't have a controller. Seagate on the other hand sources flash from Toshiba and Samsung. If Seagate acquires a controller, the only current model fast enough to compete with the 840 Pro, will Samsung feed Seagate flash for enterprise SSDs? If Seagate steps on Toshiba's toes, will Toshiba sell Seagate flash for consumer SSDs? Regardless, OCZ's IP portfolio will go somewhere, but it'll be at least a year before we see a new product come from it.


I'm just as certain on this next part. Your OCZ SSD warranty will not survive past bankruptcy. No one wants to buy debt and a company declares bankruptcy to shed debt. I wouldn't even try to RMA a halfway working drive to OCZ right now, because you might not get anything back. If you have OCZ SSDs, update the firmware before the server goes down due to an unpaid bill.


UPDATE - On December 1, TweakTown spoke with OCZ and the company will honor warranties. On December 2nd, OCZ released a statement that says the company signed an asset purchase agreement with Toshiba worth $35 million. OCZ will continue to operate and serve existing and future customers during this process.


Essentially, Toshiba will foot the bills while the Chapter 11 proceedings take place. This eases our warranty warnings until Toshiba takes the reigns. At this time it's unclear if Toshiba will honor existing warranties after the acquisition, but doing so would keep the OCZ faithful happy.

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