Western Digital announced today that they have entered in to an agreement to acquire SanDisk for approximately $19 billion. Western Digital is one of the few remaining hard drive manufacturers, but their only presence in the solid state storage market has been the enterprise SSDs sold by subsidiary HGST. SanDisk's joint venture with Toshiba on the other hand - one of the four major manufacturers of NAND flash - allows SanDisk to develop a wide range of solid state storage products. This acquisition will give Western Digital some much-needed diversification and potential for growth as hard drives are becoming a niche storage medium.

Without a major SSD-related acquisition, Western Digital would have faced diminishing relevance or the daunting task of carving out a significant piece of the highly competitive SSD market. Over the past several years the solid state storage industry has seen a lot of consolidation, leaving Western Digital with few options for acquisition, of which SanDisk was the largest they could afford.

However even with the acquisition Western Digital won't enjoy the same status in the SSD market that they have had in hard drives. Toshiba and SanDisk are lagging behind in the transition to 3D NAND, having only just started installing manufacturing equipment in their new fab that is intended to start production in the first quarter of 2016, a year and a half after Samsung's 3D NAND drives hit the shelves. SanDisk has also not established a large presence in the mainstream SSD controller space, relying on third-party controllers while their competitors have been striving for more vertical integration. SanDisk's 15nm NAND will probably go down in history as the most advanced planar NAND process but they're running out of time for it to make a significant impact on the market.

Western Digital expects the deal to be closed in the third quarter of 2016. The acquisition will give their future more security, but they'll still have to work hard to stay a major player in the long run.

Source: Western Digital

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  • Kutark - Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - link

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while ;-).

    Honestly, i'm just ribbing you. It does feel nice to have a prediction come true though. My most satisfying was predicting the dismal failure that is Wildstar.
  • dsumanik - Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - link

    this is just gonna mean more $$ for already overpriced sandisk storage, anyone who thinks otherwise is dreaming
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, October 22, 2015 - link

    All Samsung's enterprise drives use V-NAND, which are used by a number of enterprise storage array vendors.
  • jjj - Thursday, October 22, 2015 - link

    All meaning the newly released SM863 and PM863, those are too new to matter and you are deflecting. By the end of next year maybe 20-25% of wafer output will be 3D and chances are Toshiba/Sandisk will have the best or the second best solution. Micron/Intel are first pushing MLC but the others will go TLC in SSD , mobile and removable. They went floating gate and they'll be a bit slower because of it and ofc they got fewer layers. Hynix seems a bit fuzzy on timing and volumes so chances are they got cost problems for now. We'll see what Samsung does but they might need a shrink to beat Toshiba/Sandisk.
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, October 22, 2015 - link

    Out of the branded enterprise SSDs, the previous gen 845DC PRO also used V-NAND (24-layer MLC). If you look at the OEM SAS and PCIe models you will find quite a few products using V-NAND and only a couple of older products with planar NAND.
  • frenchy_2001 - Thursday, October 22, 2015 - link

    There is no XY shrink planned for 3D nand, all the manufacturers agreed during the Flash Memory Summit keynote this year. Shrinking XY would risk toppling the Z structure.
    Everyone is talking about higher and higher Z layer count though.
  • LordanSS - Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - link

    I don't think hard drives are going away any time soon either.

    At home, on my main PC, I have one SSD for the OS and some games, mostly ones that benefit the most from quick access storage and that I'm playing frequently still, two HDDs for media (movies, music, etc) and one extra HDD where most of my Steam repository stays (infrequent played games, etc).

    There's no way I could fit all that data on SSDs, the cost would be too much, and gains minimal (media reading... media recording is another story).

    Perhaps most people don't need more than their 512GB/1TB SSD on their notebooks, or something. That's not my case. I certainly could put all the media into a NAS or fileserver, but the games would still have to stay within my machines.

    As HDD sizes grow tho, it becomes a bit scary the amount of data you can lose if all your fault-tolerances end up failing. =/
  • stephenbrooks - Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - link

    Then there are just cheapskates like myself who will buy 2TB in HDD form because it's cheaper than the SSD and kind of works.

    I've often wondered how long it will take SSDs to replace 90% of HDDs but I think it's 5 years away at least. When I replace my 2013 PC - and that's 2018 or later with the current slow rate of progress in CPUs - I may get an SSD by default because it comes with a new system, but no earlier than that.
  • Kutark - Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - link

    But the point is you don't NEED an SSD to store a bunch of videos/music, etc. Where the benefits of an SSD are apparent are OS drives, and game drives. Now, i will say that there is some argument to the issue of gaming, particularly with monstrosities like BF4 at 56gb and TW3 at 50+ GB, etc. However, i think we're not too far, 2-3 years at most, from being able to get 512gb to 1TB SSD's at a reasonable cost ($100-150) and at that point the argument for gaming starts to go out the window IMO.

    I think too many people are looking at whatever their current total storage is and equating them to having to replace all of that with SSD. I think if people prioritized (like you did) they could reap the benefits of an SSD and be perfectly fine on storage. SSD for a gaming drive and particularly on your OS drive is a night and day difference. It was far and away the best quality of life decision i ever made on my PC.
  • Robalov - Thursday, October 22, 2015 - link

    I kinda feel that peeps installing all of their games on an SSD are only doing it for emotional reasons, the difference in-game is minimal.

    The reason I like SSDs, especially in laptops, is they don't suffer from being shaken/shocked like a HDD does. Same reason why I don't use external drives anymore, when high capacity USB / uSD cards are available.

    Until networking (home network and internet providers) gets to a stage where your HDD is the limitation, I can't see a big movement over to SSDs until it becomes cost effective to.

    Crappy networks are more a barrier to progress than SSDs/HDDs, reliable 4G/5G networks rolled out for 100% coverage with enough resources put in to give unlimited data for all uses (mobiles/tablet/desktop/home server). Surely this is cheaper than taking a fibre optic cable to each and every house?

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