Considering Western Digital's household name status in hard drive-based storage, it's a little surprising that the company hasn't dipped its toe in the fast-developing solid-state drive market before now. Acquiring Silicon Systems, that already makes SSDs, will mark WD's official entry.
Western Digital will fork over $65 million for Silicon Systems Inc., a California-based company that makes SSDs for the embedded systems market, and will integrate the new acquisition into its business plans "immediately."
Of course, the steady developments in solid-state drive tech and associated price tumbles are behind this business move. Western Digital's hard drives are indeed among the cutting edge in current tech, but the days of the HDD as the core of the average consumer's PC experience are definitely numbered: SSDs are less power hungry and offer bonuses like "instant-on" bootups. WD's move is a faint echo of Cisco's acquisition of Flip videocam-maker Pure Digital a couple of weeks ago: Cisco wanted quick access to a new business sector, so it just went and bought it instead of spending more money developing its own tech internally. WD has wanted to do much the same, and clearly it has been waiting until its business team thought it was the right moment.
Silicon Systems will become WD's "Solid-State Storage business unit" and since it already has production capacity it's possible we'll see real products some time soon—these will definitely include desktop-and laptop-class drives. But since Silicon also made drives for embedded systems with "SATA, EIDE, PC Card, USB, and CF interfaces in 2.5-inch, 1.8-inch, CF and other form factors" it's possible we'll see a bunch of different storage systems bearing the Western Digital mark. Just don't expect a flash-memory SSD version of the recently announced WD 2TB MyBook external drive until SSD prices drop significantly—it'd cost several times what your PC did.