Semiconductor pseudo-startup Solidigm broadens portfolio to deepen HPE relationship

Solidigm, which is technically a startup, but given that much of their original technology came from Intel, and the rest from South Korean semiconductor giant SK hynix, really isn’t, has broadened out its portfolio, and is looking to broaden their strategic relationships with HPE and other vendors.

Tahmid Rahman, Director Product Marketing for the Data Center Group at Solidigm

San Jose-based semiconductor vendor Solidigm, neatly located next to the SK hynix booth at the recent HPE Discover event in Las Vegas, was one of the new vendors on display at the event. However, while Solidigm is a new name in the semiconductor market, the assets that make it up are not new. Late last year, Solidigm was formed out of SSD and NAND assets which South Korean semi-conductor vendor SK hynix had acquired in October 2020 from Intel. It is now a standalone U.S.based subsidiary of the Korean company, reflecting the fact that the company considers that  having a distinct US presence was important.

“Having the backing of a giant like SK hynix is critical for success in the semiconductor space,” said Tahmid Rahman, Director Product Marketing for the Data Center Group at Solidigm. “To be successful in the SSD business, you have to continually invest, especially with the storage market continuing to grow You need that kind of commitment, as well as a laser focus on both SSD and NAND.”

Rahman himself came from Intel, and the company is a mix of Intel and SK hynix veterans. Rob Crooke, who was SVP and GM of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group is the CEO, while Lee Seok-hee, president and co-CEO of SK hynix, was appointed Executive Chairman of Solidigm.

The assets were being transferred over from IBM in two stages. The emphasis here was on the NAND business, while the SSD business, which will bring in considerably more revenue, will come more through the SK hynix connection.

“The first part to be transferred included the NAND business and the final part, to be transferred in 2025, will be the components design,” Rahman said. “Everything else – the hardware design, firmware design, and the fabric of the NAND, have already been transferred over.”

The NAND includes Charge Trap technology from the SK hynix side, and Floating Gate technology, which has gradually been abandoned in favor of Charge Trap by the other semiconductor companies, except for Intel, and now Solidigm.

Jane Chen, Product Marketing Manager, Solidigm

“We think having these two complementary technologies is important,” said Jane Chen, Product Marketing Manager at Solidigm. “They assist in bringing about the  necessary economies of scale. We see Floating Gate as well designed to bring really high density storage to the market and leverage QLC – where floating gate will probably play for in the future – rather than TLC, which is where it plays now.”

Solidigm sells through a fairly broad channel.

“We have about 30 plus distributors including Ingram and TD Synnex, servicing VARs and Sis,” Chen said. “There are some direct channel customers as well.”

Solidigm was specifically invited by HPE to the Discover event.

“It’s based on our dozens of years as a supplier with SK hynix and Intel,” Chen indicated.

Right now, Solidigm is partnered with HPE around HPE’s ProLiant servers, but they hope to go more broadly than that.

“We are looking at all of their servers, but ProLiant is shipping now,” Chen said. “We expect that since we launched our most recent drive, all the OEMS should show interest, because it is much advanced over our previous drives. Cisco, Dell, and Lenovo – we are engaged with all of them.”

“We are seeing deeper interest now that we have a wider portfolio,” Chen added. Before, we could not do lower density drive for compute. We were high density  storage. Now we can answer questions about SATA with our broader technology.”