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Seagate Turns To SK Hynix, Rolls New Nytro XF1230 SATA SSDs

Seagate rolled out its new line of SATA HDDs for enterprise applications, and although 6 Gbps SATA SSDs aren't particularly exciting (we saturated the throughput of the interface long ago), they are the big "volume play" for SSDs vendors, so a successful strategy is critical.

Seagate's real SSD progress began when it inked a broad strategic alliance with Micron, which gives it direct access to Micron NAND and establishes an engineering partnership between the two companies. This alliance seems to be working well, as the two companies have both announced several new, jointly-designed products. Even with the alliance in place, Seagate considers its lack of a fab as a strength ("fab independence") because it isn't beholden to one flash supplier. This means the company is free to shop around for the best price and the best product, which can vary from generation to generation. 

As such, the Seagate/Micron relationship took an odd turn with the new Seagate Nytro XF1230, as it features SK Hynix controllers and planar eMLC NAND. Seagate used LAMD controllers and SK Hynix NAND with its previous-generation 600 Series SSDs, which debuted way back in 2013, but the company eventually discontinued them. In the interim, SK Hynix purchased LAMD, an SSD controller vendor, and now uses the controllers internally, so this is a familiar pairing for the new Seagate SATA products.

Seagate Nytro XF1230SK Hynix SE3010Samsung PM863SanDisk CloudSpeed Eco IIIntel DC S3500Micron M510DC
Capacity1.92TB, 960, 480, 240GB960GB3.84, 1.92 TB, 960, 480, 240, 120 GB1.92TB, 960, 480 GB80 - 800 GB120, 240, 480, 800, 960 GB
NANDSK Hynix eMLC16nm SK Hynix MLC NANDSamsung 32-layer 3D TLC V-NANDSanDisk 15nm MLCIMFT 20nm MLCMicron 16nm MLC
Random Read/Write IOPS (up to)98 / 17 K98 / 18 K99 / 18 K76 / 14 K75 / 11 K63 / 30 K
Sequential Read/Write MB/s (up to)560 / 500520 / 460540 / 480530 / 460500 / 450420 / 380
Endurance (DWPD)0.5 - 0.670.3 - 0.61.310.351-2

The XF1230 isn't going to break any records with its (up to) 98,000/17,000 read/write IOPS, but it nails the high capacity points with a 1.92 TB offering. Seagate designed the SSD low power operation (2.9W-4.8W) in read-centric environments, such as boot drives, web server applications, analytics and reporting. The Nytro SATA SSDs offer up to 0.67 DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) of endurance, which exposes it to a wide range of competing products.

The SSD comes with all of the enterprise trimmings we have come to expect, such as power loss protection, end-to-end data path protection, a two million-hour MTBF and a five-year warranty. The SSD doesn't offer encryption features, but most value-centric applications do not require the extra functionality. 

Seagate has been busy refreshing its SSD portfolio, but by and large, it hasn't made as many successful moves on the SSD chessboard as its chief rival WD, which is now armed with a fab and tremendous amount of flash IP. Seagate has made a few faltering steps in the right direction, such as purchasing the once-popular SandForce SSD controller manufacturer and the Nytro line of PCIe SSDs from Avago. Surprisingly, this marks yet another non-SandForce SSD from Seagate, so one has to wonder if the brand will ever surface in retail again.

The strategic alliance provides it with more options, but it is apparent from the move that the Micron relationship isn't exclusive. The Nytro XF1230 SSDs will ship to Seagate's channel partners next month.