How does Cactus Technologies differ from SanDisk?

I’m often asked how Cactus Technologies differs from SanDisk in the flash storage market. It’s an understandable question because at first glance it appears the products we sell are the same. What is a solid state drive used for is a good starting question.

In reality, Cactus rarely competes with SanDisk since there is a wide gap between our offerings and quite frankly capabilities. SanDisk is a multi-Billion dollar public corporation focused on huge markets and opportunities requiring fastest, largest capacity and lowest cost solutions. SanDisk’s offering is almost exclusively based on the lowest cost TLC and MLC NAND memory which they manufacture themselves.

At Cactus, about 85% of our business is Industrial Grade Flash Storage based on the highest reliability SLC NAND and focused in the CF, SD and more recently SATA form factors. Our OEM customer types are well known: Industrial Controls, Medical, Gaming, Mining, etc. Our products are not the lowest cost but have long life cycles, BOM control, wide temp ranges available, etc. We’re exactly what SanDisk and later Silicon Systems preached when they previously supported Industrial Grade products…

Recently some OEMs have begun to test the MLC waters, especially at high capacity points. Cactus offers a Industrial MLC line of CF, SD, SSD and SATA parts for this market. Our MLC parts are not the fastest or lowest cost, but we focus on maintaining the BOM for 18-24 months and can extend this longer through inventory, etc. We’re open to whatever makes business sense.

Another Cactus advantage is our customization. We will create/provide custom labels, preload content, set custom IDs, special configurations, custom firmware for the right opportunities.

The main place we see SanDisk in the market is when one of their customers of CF or SD begins having issues using one of their Consumer flash products in an Industrial application. BOM changes to TLC NAND in an application that really should be using MLC/SLC NAND cause issues. Cactus replacement parts of either Commercial or Industrial Grade generally resolve the issue.

Bottom line: SanDisk is successfully addressing the large Enterprise SSD, and Consumer flash storage markets with low cost, high performance innovative flash storage offerings. Cactus focuses on the Industrial Grade and MLC markets where reliability, long life cycles and firm BOM control are most important. Cactus service for Industrial OEMs is second to none.

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Steve Larrivee has over 30 year's experience in the data storage market, including 5 years at Seagate Technology and 10 years at SanDisk. He joined Cactus Technologies Limited as an equity partner and Co-Founded Cactus USA in 2007 with partner Tom Aguillon. Learn more about Steve on LinkedIn.