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Thursday, July 03, 2014
Marvell and Taiwanese Makers To Benefit From Recent SSD Controller IC Industry Restructure

Seagate's acquisition of LSI's Accelerated Solution Division (ASD) and FCD (Flash Components Division) assets from Avago Technology is expected to benefit Marvell and Taiwanese SSD controller manufacturers.

FCD was responsible for LSI?s SSD controller R&D division, and formerly a SandForce research team. The division?s main clients include suppliers in enterprise SSD, PC OEM SSD and retail SSD.

With the acquisition, Seagate is strengthening its server storage product competitiveness, and therefore is likely to put less emphasis on the PC OEM and Retail SSD markets in the future.

The largest SSD Enterprise manufacturers as of now are Intel and Samsung, which mainly use in-house control chip solutions to meet high customization demand from clients. Alan Chen, Senior Manager, DRAMeXchange, believes that in the future Enterprise SSD providers will mainly use in-house controller chips and that Seagate's Avago purchase will have limited impact on the Enterprise SSD controller chip market.

Currently, the main providers of PC OEM SSD products are Samsung, Sandisk, Intel, Toshiba, Liteon IT, Micron and SK Hynix, which hold over a 90% market share. In terms of controller chip solution strategies, Samsung uses in-house chips while Sandisk, Intel, Toshiba, and SK Hynix outsource orders in combination with in-house made products. Micron and Liteon IT outsource all of their chip orders. LSI and Marvell hold over a 90% share for receiving outsourced orders, hence following Seagate's purchase of FCD, manufacturers began cooperating with Marvell in order to avoid purchasing controller chips from Seagate as well as lower operation risk. Marvell is also the only manufacturer that has PCle controller chip mass-production experience. With Apple already using PCIe in its notebook applications, other vendors are expected to begin upgrading their SSD interface specifications from SATA III to PCle. Therefore, Marvell is expected to maintain a strong leading position in the market in the short to medium terms, according to Chen.

Retail SSD is also another market for Avago FCD, which currently holds over an 80% share, and module customers are heavily seeking out the company's controller chip solutions. The share is expected to be further divided among Jmicron, Phison and SMI, whose SATA III controllers, according to Chen, are already good enough to compete against Avago FCD?s products in the retail SSD market. Many of the industry's module suppliers are already using the Taiwanese manufacturers' cost effective solutions before the acquisition of Avago's ASD and FCD departments took place. "With the number of module clients anticipated to surge as a result of Seagate's acquisitions, the Taiwanese makers have a good chance of seeing further shipment growth in the future," Chan added.

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