Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2012 - 10:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, Seagate, LaCie, Hard Drive, controlling interest
Earlier this year, it was revealed that hard drive manufacturer was interested in acquiring a controlling interest in LaCie. LaCie is a manufacturer of high-end desktop drive and NAS enclosures. The company announced that it planned to purchase shares from LaCie CEO and Chairman Philippe Spruch and an unnamed partner. Doing so would give Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares. It is further offering shareholders as much as $5.09 USD for their shares should Seagate acquire 95% of outstanding shares and voting rights within six months of the deal closing.
After getting the necessary go ahead from various governmental anti-trust bodies, Seagate is ready to move forward with the acquisition. Both Seagate Technology PLC (public limited company) and LaCie S.A. (annonymous society) have announced the buyout is official. Seagate has indeed purchased all shares owned by Philippe Spruch and his partner for €4.05 (approximately $5.01) per share, giving Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares and a majority interest in the company and more votes than the remaining investors combined. Should Seagate acquire 95% of shares within six months, the check made out to the LaCie chairman and his unnamed affiliate would increase 3% due to the price per share paid increasing to €4.17/share (approximately $5.16).
The merging of Seagate and LaCie logos (hehe).
Beyond that, Seagate wants to completely buy out all outstanding shares of the company. It will offer an all cash offer to the remaining shareholders. While Ricol Lasteyrie & Associes is still the independent expert that was announced previously, Seagate has increased the price per share that they are willing to offer shareholders. Should the independent experts okay the offer (by making sure that LaCie shareholders would be getting an appropriate amount of money per share based on an independent valuation), Seagate is prepared to pay up to €4.50 per share, or approximately $5.57. With the new offer, there is no contingency offer like the 3% increase to Spruch should Seagate get 95% of shares. The €4.50 is as much as Seagate is looking to pay.
With all the talk lately of Seagate acquiring an SSD manufacturer, the official acquisition of LaCie is interesting. Seagate may well still be looking for an SSD manufacturer, because although LaCie does have some flash USB key storage experience and products, they do not have SSD experience. Also, the intention to buy LaCie has been known for much longer than the rumor that Seagate would acquire OCZ has been making the rounds on the web. As far as the combination of Seagate and LaCie goes, Seagate is getting a high-end enclosure product lineup that the company can then integrate its own drives into.
While not the announcement that people were hoping for, it is likely a positive move to Seagate to acquire LaCie. Is it OCZ or Fusion IO’s turn next?
Here, you can find more information on the deal.
Introduction and Internals
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag right here and now. Everyone's home RAID is likely an accident waiting to happen. If you're using regular consumer drives in a large array, there are some very simple (and likely) scenarios that can cause it to completely fail. I'm guilty of operating under this same false hope - I have an 8-drive array of 3TB WD Caviar Greens in a RAID-5. For those uninitiated, RAID-5 is where one drive worth of capacity is volunteered for use as parity data, which is distributed amongst all drives in the array. This trick allows for no data loss in the case where a single drive fails. The RAID controller can simply figure out the missing data by running the extra parity through the same formula that created it. This is called redundancy, but I propose that it's not.
Subject: Storage | July 10, 2012 - 08:04 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, red, NAS, hdd, Hard Drive
** Note ** - Full review has been posted HERE!
Today Western Digital launches their Red series of hard drives. These are basically Caviar Greens that are specificially tuned to operate in small RAID configurations - namely home and small business NAS solutions containing up to 5 drives. These drives carry over some of the features present on Western Digital's Enterprise lines while adding a few of their own.
We got samples of the Red in yesterday evening, so instead of going on with conjecture derived from the news post, I'll hit you with the new features and a bit of my initial impressions from our early benching:
- Extremely quiet operation thanks to a new dynamic balancing mechanism built into the spindle motor hub. The drive essentially re-balances itself on-the-fly as temperatures change, etc.
- Seeks are equally quiet - quiet enough that a bunch of these doing random access outside of an enclosure would barely be audible from only a few feet away.
- Great sequential throughput (~150MB/sec at start of disk, ramping down to ~65MB/sec at the end).
- Random access times in the 20ms range - likely due to the very quiet seeking mechanism.
- Red Series drives will all be advanced format (i.e. internally addressed by 4k sectors).
- Reds will all be 1TB/platter, available in 1, 2, and 3TB capacities. This gives similar throughput figures regardless of capacity purchased.
- 3-year warranty, with a 24/7 support hotline specifically for Red owners.
- Red drives feature a QR code on the label to assist with any support issues down the road.
I'm not kidding about the quiet operation. The only sound the Red makes is reminiscent of a DVD spinning at low speed, in a sound deadening enclosure. There is no motor whine whatsoever and the head actuator is nearly inaudible. I have to almost lay my head on the drive to tell it is seeking at all.
A full review with all of the gory details will be up later today. For now I leave you with the WD press release after the break, along with this nifty QR to get you more info on the Red Series:
*note - the QR page may not yet be live.
Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 18, 2012 - 09:56 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day, external drive, Hard Drive, buffalo
Today's deal offers us a 2TB version of the Buffalo LinkStation Live, a NAS device (network attached storage) that allows users to easily backup their systems while being able to share the resources on the drive at the same time.
The Buffalo LinkStation Live series of drives allows you to access the NAS through Android and iOS applications over the web, supports transfer rates as high as 1 Gbps, is Apple Time Machine compatible and integrates a BitTorrent client too. A copy of NovaBACKUP Professional is included for users to install and setup easy, automated PC backups. And you can use the LinkStation Live as a DLNA media server to boot.
Today, LogicBuy has a deal on this unit for $135 with free shipping, using a coupon code found in the product's description.
Subject: Storage | December 18, 2011 - 11:20 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: WD, thailand, ssd, Seagate, hdd, Hard Drive, flooding
The hard drive industry might be recovering more quickly than expected and the entire tech field should be hoping that is the case. We have been covering the unfortunate disaster in Thailand and the accompanying disruption in the world of storage since things first started hitting the fan in October. The initial result was a very dramatic price increase on traditional spinning disks - prices going up as much as 200% in some cases. This week we got our hands on some very interesting data from Dynamite Data, a company focused on channel monitoring, that they were willing to let us share with you.
First, the bad news that we already know about - the price increases we have seen percolate throughout the entire industry in the last two months.
Click to Enlarge
This graph shows the average price of the top 50 spinning disk drives over the last year in red and the very specific Western Digital Velociraptor 150GB pricing on Amazon.com in blue. You can see that around October 16th the big price increase began and over the entire ecommerce span that Dynamite Data monitors, prices on the top 50 HDDs went up by 42%. And while not shown in the graph, other provided data shows that at its peak the low-cost leaders in the HDD market increased their prices by 150% as of early December.
Why did this happen? Looking at inventory levels clearly shows the drop in availability.
Click to Enlarge
Based on those same top 50 SKUs, we saw ecommerce inventory drop by 90% in late October (in less than one week!) after the first impact on the supply chain that occurred on October 8th. What is interesting is that it took a week or more for the price changes to take place based on the analysis of the disaster in Thailand. Much to the dismay of many of the conspiracy theorists out there though this data definitely backs up the price increases from WD, Seagate and others.
There is an uplifting bit of news in both of the above the graphs though - look towards the end of the time lines of gathered data. Both show movement in the direction of consumer's interests: a jump in inventory and a drop in average pricing. WD announced on November 30th that the first of its production facilities was back online and we are already seeing results. Of course the CEO of Seagate is still claiming that it will take more than a year for the industry to recover but it looks like supply may increase at a quicker rate than initially expected.
Finally, just for a bit of added bonus coverage, many have wondered if the price increase on traditional spinning drives would affect the pricing of SSDs. Well, it looks like did at least for a 10 day span.
Click to Enlarge
Over the last year prices for solid state drives have dropped by 23% on the top 50 devices available with one minor hiccup. In a 10 day period between the end of October and early November, there was an SSD price increase that isn't explainable by any kind of inventory changes or supply line changes. This was likely due to the HDD shortage and vendors looking to maximize profits when consumers didn't have access to the low cost hard drives they were used to. But because the price increase lasted such a short time I think we can clearly see that customers didn't fall for the ploy and the hiccup was quickly self-corrected.
Even though we have been monitoring prices on our own since the Thailand disaster first occurred, it is great to get some hard data to put alongside our presumptions. While there is tons of bad news still to digest for at least the first two quarters of 2012, the information provided by Dynamite Data provides some hope that the worst is behind us. If you are interested in more analysis of this data and you will be at CES in January, you should stop by the Storage Visions conference where there will be a short talk on the topic.
Subject: Storage | December 13, 2011 - 03:54 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thailand, supply shortage, Intel, Hard Drive, amd
Due to the recent flooding in Thailand, many hard drive and hard drive part manufacturers have had to close down business to conduct repairs. Many technology news sites and enthusiasts speculated that the drive shortages from lost production time would drive the price of hard drives up dramatically as well as decreasing computer sales. The price of drives has indeed skyrocketed; however, it seems as though the fallout on the industry is a bit more widespread that originally thought.
Specifically, the hard drive shortage has even managed to effect semiconductor giant Intel. According to Market Watch, Intel Corp announced that it would be scaling back their sales outlook for the fourth quarter of 2011. While it’s previous sales outlook was an estimated $14.7 billion “plus or minus $500 million,” the company’s revised estimate is @13.7 Billion, with a +/- margin of $500 million. The 1 billion USD reduction may not seem like much for Intel; however, their stockholders have taken note and their shares are down 4 % to a closing price of $24 on Monday (and $23.56 at time of writing). As far as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the decline represents “one of the top decliners.”
The semiconductor giant is not the only company affected by the drive shortage, however. Arch nemesis AMD’s stock price down 4.3 % for example. The site also cites Applied Materials’ 6.1 % decline. The companies that many assumed would be affected by the hard drive supply shortage included PC OEMs such as Dell and HP whose stock prices have dropped 2.3 % and 1.6 % respectably. Western Digital has begun to spin up production in the area again; however, it is likely too late for the various companies to recover. The article analyst speculates that Intel will continue playing catch-up into the first quarter of next year, and will recover starting in Q2 2012.
The numbers are showing a decline in many technology company’s stock prices likely due to lower than projected profits. It is interesting to see that even Intel felt the waves caused by the shortage. Did you find yourself second guessing computer or hard drive purchases due to increased prices?
Subject: Storage | November 19, 2011 - 04:25 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: thailand, Seagate, Hard Drive, flooding
Last month we noticed that hard drive prices were spiking very high and we took a quick look at exactly why this was: most notably, the devastating flooding in Thailand. While at one point you could buy 2TB hard drives for under the $100 mark when on special, those days seem long gone. Our original story quoted the CEO of Western Digital as saying it could take "multiple quarters" for recovery to occur.
Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
According to this quote seen on Bloomberg, Seagate's CEO, Stephen Luczo, says it might be much worse:
The projections by some Wall Street analysts that production will be back to pre-flood levels by summer are nonsense, Luczo says.
“This is going to take a lot longer than people are assuming, until the end of 2012 at least,” he says. “And by then, demand will have gone up.”
Well....crap. Users looking to build new systems or even buy them from third parties will likely see increases in costs because of this. And while not every need can really be addressed by SSDs (I type while looking for room on a system using one to install Skyrim...), the hard drive price increases could drive quicker adoption of solid state media in the near term.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 04:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: wdc, shortage, Seagate, Samsung, hitachi, hdd, Hard Drive
Chances are good you have heard about the recent flooding in Thailand - as Yahoo puts it: "The country's worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 373 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million." Obviously this is a horrific disaster and we feel for the people affected by it.
But there is a tech angle to the story that has been showing up in many of our discussions as late and is the impact this disaster has had on the production of spindle-based hard drives. Looking for a 2TB hard drive today on Newegg.com this is what I found:
Prices for hard drives have sky rocketed in the last week or so due to the pending shortage of them across the world. Many of the top manufacturers have facilities based in Thailand for production as well as partners that are responsible for supplying companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi with the parts they need to produce platter-based drives.
While we used to talk about finding 2TB hard drives in the $89 price range, the best prices we could find on comparable units today start at $129; and this is for the slower units. Western Digital Caviar Black drives are starting at unit prices of $229 now!
Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
If you are careful and shop around, you can still find drives like this for the $149 price point at sellers like Amazon are bit slower to update their prices. (Scratch that, after publication this was already at $199!) But don't just blindly purchase drives at this point - do your research!
WD drives aren't the only ones affected. When doing a search for a Seagate 2TB drive, these were our results:
When asked for comment, a representative of one of the affected manufacturers expressed concern for the people of Thailand first, but when pressed, said:
"The entire hard drive business is affected. Two of our factories are inundated with water, which supports 60% of our output. But a ton of suppliers that the entire industry uses are also flooded so we are all impacted."
While looking over at WD's press center we found this comment from John Coyne, President and CEO:
In mid-October, to protect our employees and our equipment and facilities, we temporarily suspended production at our two factories in Thailand, which have been inundated by floodwater. In addition, many of our component suppliers have been impacted, leaving material for hard drive production considerably constrained. We are working with suppliers to assess the extent of their impact and help devise short- and long-term solutions. This is a complex and dynamic challenge that will require extensive rebuilding for the Thai people and government, and present unprecedented obstacles to the hard drive industry for multiple quarters.
Obviously with a majority of the facilities affected we can only expect these prices hikes to increase and to linger. That fact that Coyne specifically notes "multiple quarters" indicates that users likely won't see a return to the pricing we were used to until at least mid-2012. With competition from solid-state drives heating up, this could be bad timing for companies dependent on spindle drives as the driving revenue source: comparing a $300 SSD to a $90 standard drive is a much different decision than that same $300 SSD and a $240 standard drive of high capacity.
According to this report from Xbit labs, the industry has "two to four weeks" of hard drive inventory available. The author claims that this points to the situation not being so dire, but with the WD's CEO stating the effects will be seen for "multiple quarters", I am guessing we will see a major buy-up of inventory from system builders like HP and Dell that will cause drive shortages much more quickly than anticipated.
PC Perspective will keep tracking the effects on driving pricing and if any player in the business has other input they want to offer us. Stay tuned!
Subject: Storage | October 14, 2011 - 05:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: hdd, Hard Drive
With all of this SSD talk lately, let's not forget where storage stuff originated from - the HDD. Here's your spinning rust... ah-hem, Hard Drive lesson for the day:
Hard drives store bits by changing the magnetic alignment of magnetic 'grains' which have been 'sputtered' onto the surface of an extremely flat surface, or platter. Here are some grains created with current tech (lesson after the break):
Due to the random arrangement, storing bits on the above requires each bit to span across several grains as to ensure it is properly written.
The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), based in Singapore, does all sorts of experimentation with, well, materials research. They had the bright idea to mix in a pinch of table salt into the sputtering process. This, combined with the use of electron-beam lithography, allows much greater control over grain creation - namely they can actually 'draw' them.
E-beam-etched grains formed with IMRE's new process.
Not only does this enable them to have more control over grain size, but it also allows them to create them in defined tracks. This lets the drive store one-bit per grain. Combine smaller grains with a better ratio of bits to grains and you've got potential for increasing magnetic storage by nearly an order of magnitude. IMRE has already tested the process at densities of 1.9Tb/in2, and they've created platters at up to 3.3Tb/in2. Consider current HDD's run at ~0.5Tb/in2, we're talking 6x the capacity - just when we thought HDD's were leveling off.
IMRE claims the new tech can be easily implemented with existing manufacture lines. The only potential catch I see is that with current HDD's, they make the platter and form tracks onto it once it's already fully assembled. This new tech creates the tracks in the middle of the process. This makes for potential alignment issues when going for a perfect 1-bit per grain density. Think of it as writing to a CD or DVD - the tracks are already there, so your drive's laser has extra components to help it keep the beam locked onto the track during writing (to account for any wobble, etc). HDD's using this new tech may need to employ a similar method, adding complexity to what is likely already the most complex part of these drives.
This development will not only enable higher capacity drives, it should help drop the price of current capacities. I guess SSD's will have to wait a bit longer before taking over the world.
Subject: Storage | September 8, 2011 - 11:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Seagate, Hard Drive, goflex, 4TB
Seagate has broken the capacity ceiling for single disk hard drives with their new GoFlex external hard drive reaching a beefy 4 TB of storage capacity. No specific details on performance have been released; however, Seagate has stated that the new four terabyte drive will be housed in their new industrial design enclosure and will carry an MSRP of $249.99.
The new enclosure is a glossy black design that the company claims delivers a smaller footprint then their previous models. The front face holds a capacity meter that shows the used capacity in 25% increments. Connectivity options on the rear of the drive include FireWire 800 and USB 2.0. Users are also able to pair the 4TB GoFlex drive with a GoFlex adapter that enables USB 3.0 transfer speeds.
Currently, the 4TB hard drive is available for purchase from Seagate’s website, and will be available for purchase from online retailers within the month. More photos of the drive are available here. Personally, I had been holding off on the terabyte craze until a drive with at least four terabytes came out; however, storage needs required me to jump on a 2TB drive a bit earlier than I expected. Are you using a TB+ hard drive, or are you holding off for a certain capacity before jumping into the terabyte era?