High-performing, affordable SSDs set to take over consumer market

The prices of SSD drives have been volatile in recent times, with high-capacity drives becoming more affordable per gigabyte and low-capacity drives remaining relatively higher in cost. However, it appears likely that most SSDs will eventually decrease in price while simultaneously reaching higher levels of performance.

Access to these larger repositories of lower-cost storage will transform SSDs into key assets for individuals and businesses. Adoption of flash-based memory will pick up speed over the next decade, as new innovations make it increasingly easier for manufacturers to create long-lasting, high-performing drives that can reliably store large amounts of data.

Mobile devices and slimline laptops, such as Ultrabooks, have been the catalysts for consumer adoption of SSDs, but there are growth opportunities for aftermarket SSDs and specialized drives in the enterprise, where HDDs are still popular. According to IDG News Service's Agam Shah, SSDs may become important server components, due to advantages like their small sizes, quick read/write speeds and low power consumption, which also make SSDs preferable to HDDs in consumer contexts.

The only remaining HDD advantage – price – is likely to disappear as NAND technology matures. Speaking to Shah, Objective Analysis analyst Jim Handy expressed optimism about NAND's popularity and room for growth moving forward. 

"It's going to be a long time until NAND flash runs out of steam," stated Handy.

Specific price and performance improvements
Efficient new technologies like vertical NAND and triple level cell storage arrays may give SSDs a needed boost in their price competition with HDDs. ExtremeTech's Joel Hruska observed that manufacturers had not implemented V-NAND or TLC in widely available devices yet, but that these new approaches to flash could put downward pressure on consumer SSD prices and accelerate the pace of SSDs overtaking HDDs.

The refinement and growing affordability of NAND technology is already having a noticeable effect on HDDs. Hruska noted that some drive manufacturers had once projected that the majority of laptops would have 7,200 RPM HDDs by 2013.

Instead, these specific HDDs are being phased out, meaning that consumers most interested in performance may have gravitated toward SSDs while price-conscious ones have stuck with 5,400 HDDs. However, the mass-market availability of V-NAND, TLC and similar SSD arrays may eventually obviate even the low-end HDD market.

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