Seagate has forged a strategic alliance with Micron Technologies, one of the biggest memory manufacturers, signing a multi-year agreement guarantees Seagate access to Micron NAND for making flash drives and promises strategic cooperation on future products.
Seagate and its main rival Western Digital have been on acquisition tears, grabbing all kinds of SSD-related vendors as the flash-based drives eat into their hard disk business. Seagate and WD can build them bigger – up to 8TB – but they have no chance of matching SSD speed, and soon, SSDs might match them on capacity.
The deal initially focuses on next-generation SAS SSDs and strategic NAND suppy. but Micron and Seagate anticipate the agreement will extend into future collaboration on enterprise storage solutions featuring Micron NAND flash memory.
Micron has the memory, but Seagate has an important piece of the SSD puzzle: it acquired SandForce from LSI Logic in May of 2014. SandForce designs proprietary SSD controllers and is one of the leading suppliers of high performance controllers. Its controllers cover the full gamut, from consumer models to enterprise PCIe SSDs. It was not spelled out in the announcement that Micron would have access to SandForce controllers, but it would make sense.
The deal was something of a partnership of necessity for Seagate, since its rival WD's flash-oriented HGST subsidiary is allied with Intel, although the deal is not exclusive.
In addition to making SSD drives, Seagate also makes hybrid drives, hard disks that have a large amount of flash memory that acts as a big cache. They have firmware intelligence that notes the most commonly accessed files, which are then moved to the flash section for quicker access. If some files are used less, they are removed from the flash section.