E3 2013

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Plextor SSD

11 - 13 June 2013 | Written by Maxxum

If you're a regular reader, you know that I get nostalgic about computer hardware from my past. TurtleBeach sound cards get that reaction from me, as does the ColecoVision console. Plextor is a manufacturer I began using about 15 years ago, and they too are on my list. I still use a PX-708 in my Linux server box - it'll be 10 years in August that I've had that drive.

I put Plextor at the top of my list when I saw that they would be presenting at E3 for the first time. When I initially visited their booth, it was to arrange an appointment, that lasted about 15 minutes as Andrew Wei, their Sales Account Manager ended up reminiscing with me about the past. When I returned for the actual interview, we spoke for one hour and twenty minutes, of which only 5 minutes was the interview, with the rest of the time being engineering and nerd chat.

This is what happens when you put geeks together, and it's one of the primary reasons I have an interest in Plextor, it is an engineer driven company. Their marketing brochure at E3 was almost entirely devoid of fluff advertising; it was a document written in a way tech oriented people prefer: numbers and specifications. Follows is our interview with Andrew Wei, and Roxanne Alaniz:

Andrew Wei

How much of your sales now come from SSDs versus ODDs?

Andrew: SSDs are roughly 35%, versus our entire revenue.

You made a point earlier of the in-house hardware development, what components specifically do you work on in-house?

Andrew: So aside from the SSD controllers, which we use the Marvel and the additional [Toshiba] NAND flash, everything else we do in-house, so including the manufacturing, testing, firmware designs from the ground up.

What do they [Marvel] controllers, give you over other manufacturers.

Andrew: Marvel, they came from a long history of server enterprise-grade... their data security is known to be much, much higher than their competitors, and is one of the reason that we chose Marvel.

Plextor dropped the TLC from its line-up, and they had cited some endurance issues they noted after CES, how will that affect the price point if it should be coming back to your line-up?

Andrew: For the Toshiba next generation NAND flash chips, which they have officially named the "A19-nm", which is the Advanced 19-nm, that will be more price competitive in terms of say, Micron, Micron's next generation which I believe is 16-nm... but, yes it will be more cost-effective than our current 19-nm.

Do you have any new synch or asynch SSDs on the way?

Andrew: We actually do, we have something in the pipeline which will be coming up end of this year, and earlier next year time-frame. And, so we have a major announcement coming up somewhere around CES [2014] time-frame.

Before the CES announcement, we actually have something coming up September/October too, and that actually will be also using the A19 Toshiba, I don't know if I can go into the details, yet. But, we will be making the announcement on a new product, which will be available in the consumer-side channel starting October time-frame.

Was there anything else you'd like to add that I might not have asked?

Roxanne: I think the primary message is that when Plextor says they're reliable, and about quality and reliability, they really mean that. And, you'll see that in how they behave, and what they choose to put on the market, and the partnerships that they develop, and that carries through. What we want to do is make sure that the consumer not just knows that this is a great product, but there's also the support behind it.

They have a 5-yr warranty, and I think that's the best in the industry right now - so, they really do stand behind their product in ways that a consumer can understand, outside of being into the tech world, and opening it [the drives] up, and looking inside, not everybody always has time to do that, and so just trusting a company, and that's one of the reasons that we're here, we want to have that face-to-face with gamers, and say here's an SSD of choice, and it's a quality product for you to enjoy your game.

Journalist Comments:

Roxanne raised an interesting point, in my experience, information about Plextor has been spread through word of mouth from tech-head to tech-head; it's how I first learned of Plextor, as did the people who told me. And, almost every review of any Plextor drive I read from the late 90's and early 2000's was written by someone with an engineering background. If you look at their Wikipedia entry, you'll see hardly any information about Plextor's history. By attending E3, Plextor has taken a step towards addressing the consumer market, and creating a history with consumers. You can learn more about Plextor's entire product line here.

Photos by Maxxum