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WD dives in to SSDs

Drive maker Western Digital is looking to hop on to the solid-state drive bandwagon by paying $65 million for a company that has the technology.

WD today completed a cash acquisition of SiliconSystems, Inc. of Aliso Viejo, Calif., a supplier of solid-state drives for the embedded systems market. The SiliconSystems’ product portfolio includes solid-state drives with SATA, EIDE, PC Card, USB and other interfaces in 2.5-inch, 1.8-inch, and other form factors. WD plans to develop new solid-state offerings to be embedded in OEM systems with the new intellectual property.

Depending on who you talk to, SSDs could become the new tier 1 in storage over the next several years. Not everyone shares such a bullish outlook, but it’s clear to drive makers like WD and Seagate that they must have an offering in this space to compete. Forward Insights president and analyst Gregory Wong sees the acquisition as the only way for WD to develop a competitive offering at this point, noting on his blog today that WD “dabbled” in SSD technology in the early 1990’s.

“However, it appears that early experience wasn’t enough for a latecomer to catch up to the vast improvements in performance and reliability made by SSD vendors recently,” he wrote. “System-level solutions particulary on the firmware side are required to manage the increasing complexities of NAND flash with each new technology generation.”

Wall Street analyst Aaron Rakers of Stifel Nicolaus Equity Research wrote in a note to investors Monday that he expects to see the combined entities focus on positioning embedded SSDs in blade servers.

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