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HDD Vendors Want Long-Term Contracts with PC Makers

Well, it seems that the flooding in Thailand has done a lot more than destroy lives, wreck a few factories and cause HDD prices to shoot up. There appears to be a lot of opportunities for changing the terms of business too - to less favourable ones for customers of hard disc drives. First, we had the severe and unwelcome warranty reductions and now we have HDD manufacturers trying to lock branded PC makers into expensive long-term contracts, according to Digitimes. Some PC makers buy hard disk drives on a quarterly basis, at a fixed price, but now that prices have shot up and supplies restricted, HDD manufacturers are trying to coerce them into signing one year contracts at current high prices. However, it looks like it might not be such a good deal for PC makers, because the recovery in supply is continuing, with a full recovery potentially not so far away, which will of course make those prices plummet again. As it is, HDD shipments are projected to be around 140 million units in the first quarter of 2012, while the same quarter last year was 170-180 million units - so the fall isn't really that hugely less than before anyway and should become less severe as 2012 wears on.

One does get the impression that the HDD manufacturers are playing up the difficulty of restoring production volumes in order to give them a better bargaining hand. There's also the fact that recovering from the disaster is hugely expensive for them, so HDD makers will want to charge more to recoup those costs faster, motivating them to use tactics like these.

Seagate Finalizes the Acquisition of Samsung's Hard Drive Business

Seagate Technology has today announced that it completed the acquisition of Samsung Electronics' hard drive unit. Worth $1.4 billion, this deal covers the assets, infrastructure and employees of Samsung's HDD business and is supposed to boost Seagate's production capacity, R&D strength and customer access in China, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Germany and the Russian Federation.

As part of the agreement, Seagate will be supplying HDDs for Samsung PCs, notebooks and consumer electronics devices, while the South Korean giant will provide Seagate with semiconductor products needed for enterprise solid state drives (SSDs), solid-state hybrid drives and other products. Moreover, the two companies have signed an extended patent cross-license agreement, and have agreed to collaborate on the development of enterprise storage solutions.

WD Slashes HDD Warranties By A Third – But You Can Buy Them Back

Way back in 2008, we reported that Seagate was lowering warranties of its hard disk drives from 5 years to 3. This trend quickly spread throughout the HDD industry and unsurprisingly, wasn't something that customers were too happy about. Now, Western Digital is lowering the warranty on some of its HDD lines from 3 years to a mere 2, with the affected lines being the Caviar Blue, Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue. Lines not affected are the Caviar Black, Scorpio Black, A/V drives and externals. Also, as the stock feeds through the channel, there will be a transition period where the same model in a store will have either a 2 or 3 year warranty, depending on its serial number, which can be checked on WD's support site. It will be interesting to see if retailers will clearly differentiate to customers which drives have which warranty, as it might be rather convenient for them not to.

Channel partners have received a letter from SelectWD about this:

Seagate Technology Provides Updated Financial Outlook

Seagate Technology plc., updated its financial outlook for the December 2011 and March 2012 quarters. The company continues to believe that, due to the industry impacts caused by the extensive flooding in Thailand, hard disk drive supply will be significantly constrained for several quarters. For the December 2011 quarter, the company believes the industry will ship between 110-120 million units.

The company believes the industry's ability to manufacture and ship hard disks drives will gradually improve throughout calendar 2012. While this may alleviate some of the unit demand shortfall, it is expected that some companies will optimize unit shipments by manufacturing lower component count/lower capacity hard disk drives; thereby, only modestly offsetting the growing petabyte shortage. Because demand is estimated to significantly exceed supply during this time, pricing is expected to remain stable.

Seagate Announces Momentus XT Solid-State Hybrid Hard Drive for Notebooks

Seagate is now shipping the second generation of Momentus XT, its groundbreaking solid state hybrid drive for consumer and commercial laptops and the company’s fastest drive ever for personal computers. With a simple drive upgrade, users can boost boot-up speed and overall performance to turbo-charge their laptop PC. Seven original equipment manufacturers are gearing up to ship laptops powered by the Momentus XT drive. The drive is now available at online retailers Amazon, Canada Computers, CDW, Memory Express, NCIX, Newegg, and TigerDirect.

Powering the Momentus XT drive are Seagate’s Adaptive Memory and FAST Factor technologies. Adaptive Memory technology works by identifying data usage patterns, and then moving the most frequently retrieved information to solid state memory for faster access. Adaptive Memory effectively tailors hard drive performance to each user and the applications they use. FAST Factor technology blends the strengths of SSDs and hard disk drives for faster access to applications, quicker bootup and higher overall system speed.

Western Digital Reports Arbitration Decision, will Challenge the Award

Western Digital Corp. today reported that on November 18, 2011, an arbitration award of $525 million was rendered against the company by a sole arbitrator in a pending confidential arbitration action in Minnesota. The amount of the award does not include prejudgment interest, which will be subsequently determined. The award involves claims brought by Seagate Technology LLC against WD and one employee who was formerly employed by Seagate, alleging misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets.

"We do not believe there is any basis in law or fact for the damage award of the arbitrator," said John Coyne, president and chief executive officer. "We believe the company acted properly at all times and we will vigorously challenge the award. This does not affect our ability to conduct our operations, to complete the recovery and recommencement of our Thailand operations or, subject to obtaining the required regulatory approvals, to consummate our planned acquisition of Hitachi GST."Source: Western Digital

LSI Implements SAS 12 Gb/s Interface

LSI corporation is the first to implement new serial-attached SCSI (SAS) 12 Gb/s interface, geared for future generations of storage devices that can make use of that much bandwidth. For now, LSI proposes SAS expander chips that distribute that bandwidth among current-generation storage devices. The company displayed the world's first SATA 12 Gb/s add-on card, which uses PCI-Express 3.0 x8 interface to make sure there's enough system bus bandwidth. This card can connect to up to 44 SAS or SATA devices, and supports up to 2048 SAS addresses. It is backwards compatible with today's 6 Gb/s and 3 Gb/s devices.

By making use of the 12 Gb/s SAS Expander solution paired with 32 current-generation Seagate Savvio 15.3K RPM hard drives, LSI claims 58% increase in IOPS compared to a 6 Gb/s host controller, because of better bandwidth aggregation per drive. There's also a 68% increase in bandwidth yield. The array of 32 hard drives could dole out 3106.84 MB/s on IOMeter, and more significantly, over 1.01 million IOPS. As big as this number seems, it could be an IOMeter bug, because the numbers don't add up. Perhaps it's measuring IOPS from disk caches.

Seagate Streamlines Barracuda Product Family; Simplifies Selection for Consumers

Seagate is streamlining its flagship family of desktop drives under a single product that hones in on performance and big capacities to help satisfy the explosive growth in content creation and consumption by businesses and consumers worldwide. The new Barracuda family makes it easier for consumers to find the product they need and reduces costs for Seagate’s original equipment manufacturer and distribution channel customers by reducing the number of product qualifications and amount of inventory they need to manage.

“A simpler desktop drive product family is exactly what Seagate customers are asking for,” said Scott Horn, vice president of Marketing at Seagate. “The new Barracuda family reflects the reality that end-users want a full range of hard drive capacities and as much performance as we can give them to help manage and store massive amounts of digital content. In addition, our OEM and channel customers want to reduce overhead costs by having fewer product lines to qualify and manage in their inventory.”

Seagate Technology Reports Fiscal First Quarter Financial Results

Seagate Technology plc today reported financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The company shipped 51 million disk drives and reported revenue of $2.8 billion, gross margin of 19.5%, net income of $140 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.32. On a non-GAAP basis, which excludes the net impact of certain items, Seagate reported net income of $146 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.34 for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For a detailed reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP results, see accompanying financial tables.

Additionally, Seagate returned $75 million to shareholders in the form of a dividend and repurchased $128 million of ordinary shares during the first fiscal quarter.

Seagate Announces World's First 4 TB Desktop Hard Drive

Seagate today announced it is shipping a new 4TB GoFlex Desk external hard drive – the highest capacity hard drive in the industry. This latest addition to the GoFlex Family of external hard drives showcases Seagate’s new desktop design. The streamlined industrial design delivers a smaller footprint and better reflects the aesthetic of today’s modern offices while still providing all of the benefits of previous generations of the GoFlex drives. The new 4TB GoFlex Desk drive is now available from www.seagate.com and will be available from select online retailers within the month for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $249.99 USD. The entire line of GoFlex Desk products will also adopt the new industrial design in the coming weeks. The GoFlex Desk for Mac external drive featuring both FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 will be available in Apple stores by the end of the month.

Seagate Ships 1 Million Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drives

Seagate has shipped its one millionth solid state hybrid drive for laptop PCs after launching the product – Momentus XT – in spring 2010. Major computer makers including Alienware, ASUS, Dell, Sony and Toshiba now offer laptops powered by the 2.5-inch drive that blends performance rivaling solid state drives with the enormous capacity and much lower cost of hard disk drives.

The Momentus XT solid state hybrid drive, a 7200RPM drive with up to 500GB of capacity, boots up to 50 percent faster than traditional 5400RPM drives and sets new benchmarks for real-world system performance for laptops and gaming systems. Seagate's Adaptive Memory technology is key to the drive's speed, optimizing its performance by moving frequently used information into the 4GB of onboard solid state memory for faster bootup and application access.

Seagate Hard Drives To Feature SafetyNet Data Recovery Services

Seagate, today unveiled the GoFlex Turbo performance drive with SafetyNet data recovery services (DRS). SafetyNet data recovery is the first recovery service offering by a hard drive manufacturer to be included as part of the purchase price of an external drive. With the latest super speed USB 3.0 interface and RPMs clocked at 7200, the GoFlex Turbo drive is equipped to handle transfer speeds up to 40% faster than that of its USB 2.0, 5400-RPM siblings. This latest addition to the GoFlex family was developed with the understanding that those who place a high value on their data should have the peace of mind that their data is even more secure regardless of what unforeseen incident might occur to the drive. The new GoFlex Turbo performance drive features two-years of SafetyNet data recovery services and is now available from Best Buy for a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $119.99 for 500GB and $139.99 for 750GB.

Seagate Ships Pulsar XT.2 Enterprise SSD

Seagate today began distribution channel shipments of the Pulsar XT.2 solid state drive (SSD) that combines outstanding and consistent performance with the data integrity and drive endurance needed for the most demanding enterprise environments, and is on track to commence channel shipments of the Pulsar.2 SSD, the first Multi-Level Cell (MLC) Flash-enabled SSD from an enterprise hard drive maker, on July 29.

The Pulsar XT.2 SSD combines Single-Level Cell (SLC) flash with a native 6Gb/s Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface to make it the fastest drive in the Seagate portfolio. The 2.5-inch SSD with up to 400GB of capacity is optimized for complex, mixed workloads typical of enterprise environments such as online transaction processing (OLTP), database or web indexing, and email.

OCZ Puts SSD-HDD Hybrid Onto a Single Addon Card

While not the very first of its kind, Intel Smart Response technology took the enthusiast community by storm, offering a middle-ground between small but fast SSDs, and large but slow HDDs. By caching on the SSD, Smart Response is able to give system responsiveness a significant boost. Before that, HDD major Seagate put a tiny SSD component onto its Momentus XT hard drive, to chop access times a little. Now OCZ inverted the concept, and strapped an HDD onto its SSD to make it more capacious, on its new RevoDrive Hybrid.

Here, the major component is a SSD RAID 0 on a stick, which pools data onto an HDD. RevoDrive is a PCI-Express x4 SSD card, which uses a number of SandForce SF-1200 driven SSD sub-units in RAID 0 that's abstract to the host machine. The card is normally available in capacities as low as 60 GB, or as high as 480 GB. On RevoDrive Hybrid, OCZ installed a 2.5-inch hard drive with capacities as high as 1 TB, with the SSD component very much intact. The device promises to give you RevoDrive-like speeds, and humongous capacities, by streaming low-access data onto the HDD.

Seagate Debuts First Mobile Wireless Storage For iOS And Other Mobile Devices

Seagate, today announced GoFlex Satellite mobile wireless storage, the first battery-powered external hard drive to wirelessly extend the storage capacity of any Wi-Fi enabled mobile device. With 500GB and Wi-Fi access over 802.11 b/g/n and a rechargeable battery, this latest member of the GoFlex family provides the ability to carry an entire library of video, music, pictures and documents with you. Devices are wirelessly connected directly to the GoFlex Satellite drive by use of the free GoFlex Media app–available now on iTunes and the Apple App Store–or a web browser. GoFlex Satellite is available immediately for preorder from Seagate.com, Amazon and BestBuy.com for a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $199.99, and is scheduled to arrive in Best Buy stores in July 2011. Global availability is planned for later this summer.

"With the growth of the tablet and iPad markets and the larger volumes of high-quality media now being consumed, there is a clear need for access to content that is not plagued with the challenges of streamed video over the Internet," said Patrick Connolly, vice president and general manager of Seagate's retail group. "The unfortunate fact is that these popular new mobile devices are hampered by their limited storage capacity while one of their primary functions is that of media consumption.

Seagate Breaks Areal Density Barrier, Unveils First HDD with 1 TB per Platter

Seagate, the leader in hard drives and storage solutions, today unveiled the world’s first 3.5-inch hard drive featuring 1TB of storage capacity per disk platter, breaking the 1TB areal density barrier to help meet explosive worldwide demand for digital content storage in both the home and the office.

Seagate’s GoFlex Desk products are the first to feature the new hard drive, delivering storage capacities of up to 3TB and an areal density of 625 Gigabits per square inch, the industry’s highest. Seagate is on track to ship its flagship 3.5-inch Barracuda desktop hard drive with 3TBs of storage on 3 disk platters – enough capacity to store up to 120 high-definition movies, 1,500 video games, thousands of photos or virtually countless hours of digital music – to the distribution channel in mid-2011. The drive will also be available in capacities of 2TB, 1.5TB and 1TB.

Seagate and Samsung Announce Broad Strategic Alignment

Seagate Technology, the world leader in hard disk drives and storage solutions, and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in digital consumer electronics and information technology, today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Seagate and Samsung will significantly expand and strengthen their strategic relationship by further aligning their respective ownership, investments and key technologies. Major elements of the agreement include:
  • Samsung combining its hard disk drive (HDD) operations into Seagate
  • Extending and enhancing the existing patent cross-license agreement between the companies
  • A NAND flash memory supply agreement under which Samsung will provide Seagate with its market-leading semiconductor products for use in Seagate’s enterprise solid state drives (SSDs), solid state hybrid drives and other products
  • A disk drive supply agreement under which Seagate will supply disk drives to Samsung for PCs, notebooks and consumer electronics
  • Expanded cooperation between the companies to co-develop enterprise storage solutions
  • Samsung receiving significant equity ownership in Seagate

Samsung Electronics Exiting HDD Business, Seagate Front-runner to Buy It

Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung is planning to sell its hard disk drive (HDD) business held by Samsung Electronics. The company wants to focus on other kinds of storage products that are flash-based. Samsung is planning to sell the unit for an estimated US $1.5 billion. HDD major Seagate Technology is the front-runner to buy it. The HDD industry is under pressure after the market success of tablet and netbook industries, which use more compact and inexpensive SSDs instead of 1.8-inch HDDs. With Samsung's exit, the consumer HDD industry will be reduced to just three players: Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Seagate Ships World's Slimmest, Portable, External Hard Drive

Seagate today announced the availability of its new GoFlex Slim portable hard drive –– a svelte, 9mm, 2.5–inch external drive designed for the latest trend of portable, thin, stylish laptops and netbooks. Initially showcased at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics show in January of this year, the new GoFlex Slim performance drive is now available on Seagate website, in–store and at select online retailers. A 320GB version of the GoFlex Slim drive can be purchased for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $99.99 USD.

At an ultra–sleek 9mm—38 percent leaner than the current GoFlex ultra–portable drives—the new GoFlex Slim drive is roughly the width of a pencil. Sliding effortlessly into a pocket, purse or messenger bag, the GoFlex Slim portable drive enables transport, access and enjoyment of personal digital content from anywhere, making it the perfect complement to today’s mobile lifestyle. Equipped with a 7200RPM drive and a USB3.0 interface to accelerate transfer speeds up to 10x faster than USB2.0, this attractive super–slim drive delivers quick access to large, multi–media files such as HD movies and video games. The faster drive speed takes full advantage of the included plug–and–play USB 3.0 interface, while still maintaining compatibility with USB 2.0 ports. The GoFlex Slim portable drive also allows for use between Windows and Mac computers, interchangeably, without formatting or performance loss. Additionally, the drive’s included p remium backup software provides automatic and continuous backups and encrypts files and folders.

Japan Earthquake Could Affect HDD Industry

Over a week after, and still reeling with one of the biggest disasters in its history, Japan is home to major manufacturing plants of hard drive-grade substrate makers such as Furukawa Denko and Kobe Steel; as well as HDD OEM Showa Denko, all of which have faced temporary shutdowns after the quake. The three have all reported damage to facilities, injuries of employees and have shut down their operations pending further evaluation. This could have its repercussions on the hard drive industry, which is beginning to face serious competition from the solid-state drive (SSD) industry, in the lower-mainstream segments.

Showa Denko-made HDDs amount for 25% of global market, but its facilities are distributed between Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. Showa Denko supplies to Seagate and Western Digital, two major companies in the HDD business, though since the two have their own manufacturing facilities, shortage of Showa Denko-sourced hard drives may not have an immediate impact, notes DigiTimes. On the other hand is HDD component manufacturers such as Furukawa Denko and Kobe Steel, which produce HDD-use substrates using aluminum mainly for desktop PCs; TDK, Showa Denko and Fuji Electric, which make fine components such as read/write heads and the magnetic discs.

Seagate Raises The Bar In Enterprise Storage: Unveils Groundbreaking New SSD and HDDs

Seagate Technology today announced its latest enterprise solutions designed to deliver storage for the widest range of application environments. Joining the industry’s most award-winning enterprise lineup, these solutions include: two new members of the Pulsar Solid State Drive (SSD) family that deliver the ultimate enterprise performance, endurance and reliability; two next-generation Savvio 15K and 10K hard disk drives (HDD) optimized for a balance of high performance and capacity; and the latest Constellation ES.2 3TB HDD for pure capacity-optimized mass storage needs.

“The surge in storage consumption is being driven not only by the growth of content and use within the enterprise, but also by new applications and devices that directly or indirectly consume enterprise storage,” said Kurt Richarz, Seagate EVP of Product Line Management. “Seagate’s new family of enterprise storage solutions meets the diverse storage needs of these high growth application environments, whether it’s fast transactional database servers, bulk storage and archiving, or everything in between.”

Seagate Ships Industry's Easiest To Deploy 3TB Desktop Drive To Overcome 2TB Barrier

Seagate today began shipments of the industry’s most elegant, easy-to-install 3TB desktop drive – the Barracuda XT hard drive – a product that eliminates the need to purchase extra hardware or software to overcome the 2TB barrier. The Barracuda XT hard drive delivers the highest available capacity for home servers and workstations, high-definition video editing and production systems, high-performance PC gaming systems and desktop PCs.

Legacy PC BIOS designs and device drivers and older operating systems such as Windows XP are incapable of using hard drive capacities beyond 2.1TB. The upshot is that existing desktop drives with more than 2.1TB of storage capacity must be deployed with additional software or hardware and may also require extra device drivers to overcome this limitation.

Seagate Introduces GoFlex For Mac External Drives

Addressing the personal preferences of the Mac community, Seagate today introduced a new collection of GoFlex for Mac external drives designed to make it easy for those who use Mac OS X and Time Machine to backup, shuttle, or share their digital content.

These new portable and desktop solutions are HFS+ formatted out-of-the-box, making them fully compatible with Apple Time Machine backup software, while maintaining the ability to work across both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X computers. A truly unique feature, GoFlex for Mac drives can also be used with computers running Windows by simply downloading an HFS+ driver for Windows from Seagate.com , which will provide full read-write access to the drive from a Windows computer.

Seagate Delivers First One Terabyte 2.5-inch Enterprise HDD

Seagate today introduced Constellation.2, the industry’s first 2.5-inch enterprise-class hard drive to reach a record 1TB capacity. The Constellation.2 drive is designed for server storage applications and offers a solid combination of high capacity, leading 6Gb/s performance, superior data integrity, and best-in-class low power consumption.

The Constellation.2 drive is designed for system builders and OEMs who want to offer competitive, feature-rich, bulk storage solutions for a sustainable future. The Constellation.2 drive is fit for use in a range of applications in Directed Attached Storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) environments, from small-to-midsized businesses to the largest enterprise data centers storing and hosting data to the cloud.
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