Tom Coughlin, the President and founder of Coughlin Associates, has just published a good background piece on growth paths for SSDs and Flash memory. I commend it to your attention and I particularly want to call your attention to several strong statements.
“Currently even the lowest price SSDs sell for about $0.70/Gbyte while the most price impacted HDDs sell for $0.14/Gbyte (a difference of 5:1). As the available production volume for HDDs recovers the price of HDDs in real dollars will continue to fall. In addition if higher areal density HDDs are introduced later this year, capacity prices will drop to pennies per GB while the least expensive SSDs will likely drop to $0.50/Gbyte by the end of 2012. Economics is an important consideration for consumer and business purchases, and price does matter.”
So if you’re expecting the price-per-Gbyte of SSDs to reach parity with HDDs any time soon, please stop holding your breath. Although many pundits predict such an event, the experts I follow such as Coughlin and Jim Handy continue to look at historic trends and write “’Taint so.” (See “SSD and HDD Economic Forecast: Analyst Jim Handy Speaks Out” in the Denali Memory Report for a historic view from two years ago.)
“Over the next year or two there will be additional consumer and business products that shift from using HDDs to only using SSDs or flash memory. In mobile devices and automobile applications the ruggedness of flash memory and its ability to be put into smaller volumes than HDDs provide other advantages to users even if the purchase price is greater. In addition, many mobile applications have limited local storage (to control the product price) and depend upon storage and other resources from “the cloud.” Mobile consumer electronics will be a major growth area for flash memory, but likely not as much for traditional SSDs.”
Here, Coughlin is pointing out that HDDs have an inherent cost floor below which they cannot go. In the Denali Memory Report article referenced above, Jim Handy noted that HDD costs seemed to have bottomed out at $50, leaving a vast unserved market for devices that need less costly storage.
Coughlin then points out other areas for SSD and Flash growth:
“The growth areas for SSDs will primarily be in two areas. In client computing applications, such as Ultrabooks, SSDs will be used alone in the most expensive machines while less expensive Ultrabooks will use a combination of a HDD and an SSD, or else flash memory cache in the HDD (a hybrid HDD), or possibly on the motherboard (although this seems less likely)…
The other growth area for SSDs is in enterprise applications where SSDs can provide fast transaction processing, partly to support cloud services and storage in the cloud.”
See the Forbes.com site for the complete article.