Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

Summary:Have solid state drives hit an "inflection point," as SanDisk has predicted? Or despite the push for Ultrabook production from Intel, will SSD market penetration remain low, as Western Digital forecasts?

Have solid state drives hit an "inflection point," as SanDisk has predicted? Or despite the push for Ultrabook production from Intel, will SSD market penetration remain low, as Western Digital forecasts? They may not be as sexy as the tablet wars, but the storage wars of 2012 may be every bit as epic.

Of course, both sides have their own motives for stating their positions. While SanDisk isn't a big player in the SSD game, it does expect the drives to account for more of its profits as a greater number of device makers use them instead of traditional hard drives. In particular, Ultrabooks are expected to account for a major boost in SSD production, as companies flock to the drives for their thinner profiles and speedy boot-up times.

But, not surprisingly, hard drive giant Western Digital isn't buying it. Despite a massive hard drive shortage related to flooding in Thailand last fall, WD still thinks that SSDs will only wind up in less than 10 percent of Ultrabooks, as companies rely on cheaper hard drive and hybrid drives -- hard drives combined with a low-capacity SSD for boot-ups -- to meet Intel's aggressive price point suggestions.

The battle will also rage on the enterprise side, as solid state drives will have to prove increasing reliability in order to make a dent in hard drive's traditional dominance.

It would appear that SSDs have some advantages coming into the new year: WD says it won't be back to full hard drive production until the third quarter, and as cloud computing grows, the needs for hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes of storage may become less vital to users. On the other hand, the cost per gigabyte for solid state drives continues to remain much higher than for hard drives -- while the cheapest 160GB hard drive costs around $70 at Newegg, an SSD with equivalent capacity costs over $200.

Will SSD prices plummet enough this year for the drives to compete seriously with traditional hard drives? Which storage technology do you favor? Let us know in the Talkback section.

[Via Fudzilla (1), (2)]

Topics: Hardware, Storage

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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