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

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?

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TOPICS: Hardware, Storage
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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

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16 comments
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  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    Microsoft and Windows 7 borked the use of economical SSDs for a lot of people. The typical bloatware install from HP or Dell is 50-60 GB which would rule out the use of low-end cheap SSDs. The minimum size is 120GB SSD, which adds almost $200 to the price of the unit and still leaves the user with almost immediate space issues.

    If Microsoft and the PC vendors could trim the install back to 10GB and put the recovery files somewhere else, it would go a long way to increasing the viability of SSD use in midrange laptops and ultrabooks.
    terry flores
    • Your numbers are borked

      @terry flores <br>[i]The typical bloatware install from HP or Dell is 50-60 GB which would rule out the use of low-end cheap SSDs. The minimum size is 120GB SSD.[/i]<br><br>Minimum SSD size needn't hover around 120GB (or higher). One could get by perfectly well on a 60-64GB SSD, and with more than enough room to spare on a 80-96 drive. If one needs to dump most of the preinstalled OEM bloat, then do so without delay (and in the name of smart computing practices).<br><br>A base installation of Windows 7 64-bit comes in at just over 14GB. After typical driver installations, security patch updates, and say an anti-virus application, the used space increases to just over 17GB. That leaves plenty of space for most user's programs - and (optionally) even some games - on 60 to 90GB drives.<br><br>Note: Official W7 minimum disk space requirements are 16 GB available (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit), which includes requisite breathing room for installation. Beyond that, W7 is actually optimized for SSDs. It specifically checks for the presence of solid state units and then operates differently than it would with traditional HDDs. <br><br>The bigger problem with SSD uptake lies in the fact that NAND makers anticipate only modest cost declines from now through 2015. This leaves room for the HDD makers to continue doing their thing.<br><br>PS. Recovery files ideally should be placed on a second HDD drive (internal or external) whenever possible. Same with personal data, videos, music, backups, games, etc. That leaves more SSD room for progs, utilities and even fave games.
      klumper
      • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

        @klumper - That's all nice and fine, except that not everyone wants to dismantle a new laptop and rebuild it from scratch, much less twenty or thirty at a time. My issue is with what comes preinstalled on today's systems, not what I could potentially build in my spare time.
        terry flores
      • No dismantling, but some OEM purging is required

        @terry flores<br>[i]That's all nice and fine, except that not everyone wants to dismantle a new laptop and rebuild it from scratch, much less twenty or thirty at a time. [/i]<br><br>It's hardly that radical, and no dismantling is required (unless of course you want to). If you're buying OEM, whether laptop or tower, you'll be doing yourself a HUGE favor purging 90% of the OEM bloatware + trialware + crapware that comes pre-packaged with it. As a general rule, and without exception to maker. Result = space gained.<br><br>Then unload (relocate) unnecessary files and personal data off the primary system drive, as per what I wrote earlier. Or, conversely, make sure to place same files and personal data anywhere but on the primary on a virgin system, right from the git-go. If a 2nd HDD isn't included internally, hook up an external one via USB, FireWire, SCSI or eSata. Result = more spaced gained.<br><br>As for laptop HW setups, you could consider replacing the ODD (CD/DVD) drive with HDD from the outset, then rely on things like USB thumb drives + external ODD in its place. Some OEM's allow for this configuration when ordering. You can also swap out the drive bay yourself with a simple caddy (OBHD).<br><br>All I provided earlier were baseline and target figures, to show you what is doable with W7 + SSD -- whether OEM, white box or bare metal configured. Now you're that much more informed as to what space is actually required for the platform when you decide system specs and purchase the unit(s) upfront. <br><br>It goes without saying that it's up to you to get there = some OEM "assembly" required (but those amount to lightweight measures). ;) If it's volume buying in multiples for business needs, then sure, you have more to weigh out. But even there I don't see how a 60-90GB unit wouldn't cut it for most employees, more so when it's properly purged, configured and/or imaged from the start.
        klumper
      • PS

        @klumper <br>[i]The bigger problem with SSD uptake lies in the fact that NAND makers anticipate only modest cost declines from now through 2015. [/i]<br><br>I should add, I see a few other prognostications claiming that "over the next year SSD prices will drop by 50%" (including Robin Harris from only last year). So I suppose only time will tell on this front.
        klumper
  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    I think there will be a new footprint for HDDs arriving. one that will contain only one platter hence thinner. density might even be 1 TB per platter. this will alleviate problems UltraBooks will pose and certainly be much cheaper than SSDs.
    gabe02878
  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    I recently purchased a hi-bred drive for my laptop (Seagate Momentus) .... What a difference. This will not help the tablet market ... But for a laptop it has cut boot time to less than 20 sec.
    mclavey
  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    HDD's offer the best price/bit, but are slow
    SSD's offer the best performance, but are expensive.
    Caching software (like Dataplex) uses combination of a low-capacity SSD with a normal-capacity HDD to accelerate overall system performance (boot, apps, data, etc.)
    Hybrid-HDD's include a low-capacity SSD inside the HDD enclosure, but even the most current versions (Seagate Momentus XT 750GB) only offer a minor improvement over normal HDD's - they do not deliver anywhere near the performance of a caching solution. Both Western Digital and Seagate are woefully behind in the use of SSD's in computing. But, they will both be winners as caching emerges as a much more efficient storage configuration for PC's - both HDD's and SSD's will be in play for a long time to come...
    mailman65er
    • They are not just more expensive

      @mailman65er SSDs are also less reliable and for the most part, when they crash the data is unrecoverable (without spending big $$$).
      wackoae
      • Unproven

        @wackoae <br>[i]SSDs are also less reliable...[/i]<br><br>How so? Where is the data that suggests or proves this? Comparative studies always seem to be mixed at best. Beyond that, solid state drives are generally marketed as being [i]more reliable[/i] than hard drives, mostly due to possessing less moving (mechanical) parts.<br><br>At best you can suggest they're [i]less proven[/i] than HDDs, but that goes without saying considering how new they are by comparison to their big brother HDDs. Simply rely on the better name flash chip makers when buying SSD for greater reliability. And never forego regular and timely data backups - HDD or SSD!<br><br>It's worth noting that more and more data center managers are beginning to integrate SSDs into their server infrastructure at this point. Cautiously, but it's happening.
        klumper
  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    HDD's offer the best price/bit, but are slow
    SSD's offer the best performance, but are expensive.
    Caching software (like Dataplex) uses combination of a low-capacity SSD with a normal-capacity HDD to accelerate overall system performance (boot, apps, data, etc.)
    Hybrid-HDD's include a low-capacity SSD inside the HDD enclosure, but even the most current versions (Seagate Momentus XT 750GB) only offer a minor improvement over normal HDD's - they do not deliver anywhere near the performance of a caching solution. Both Western Digital and Seagate are woefully behind in the use of SSD's in computing. But, they will both be winners as caching emerges as a much more efficient storage configuration for PC's - both HDD's and SSD's will be in play for a long time to come...
    mailman65er
  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    As sales increase and production ramps up, SDDs prices will drop dramatically. It will be much more economical to build SSDs than HDDs as there are no moving parts, no critical machining etc. When I first got into computers in the early 1980s my first big drive was 1GB, a full size 5 1/4" and I paid $1000 for a used one. Look for larger SDDs for less than equivelant HDDs - soon.
    cdhanks
    • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

      @cdhanks I have a 456 mb HDD in my workshop with the price tag still on it. $459.99. WOW a dollar a megabyte (or $910 per Gigabyte) now we are at $.15 per gigabyte and SSD are around a dollar per Gigabyte. I guess ny point is SSD's are much cheaper than our early HDD.
      bvonr@...
  • RE: Is 2012 the year of the SSD? SanDisk, Western Digital disagree

    I have a 128Gb Zalman S SSD (same drive as the ADATA S596) and it has 128MB of DDR2 cache that requires to synch with my video game before playing, which requires one or two reboots. Also, it doesn't like Internet Explorer9 and is only internet friendly using Google Chrome. I have no issues when using a magnetic hard drive; just really slow load times.
    Zurk_Orkin
  • Not until 2015

    At present, you can option an SSD in many laptop configurations instead of a mechanical HDD. However if you look at Dell's site, some systems, like the XPS 15 are being defaulted with a 256 gb SSD option. This is an important point, because it says that, the capacity to price has evened off where OEMs can put them in and have them be sizeable enough to hold most consumer's data. But these systems are still a whopping 200 USD more expensive than the mechanical HDD at 750 gbs.

    As far as i can tell, it will take another 3 years for the 512 gb SSDs to reach below the 150 USD mark. Once that happens, it will become ubiquitous. For most people, 512 gbs is the "that's more than they will ever need" capacity. By my estimates, 2015 should be when that happens for the latest.

    However, by that half decade point (2015), we should see mechanical HDDs arrive at capacities far above 5 TBs for under 100 USD. So for media junkies, those will be in the server in the basement but will be slaved to an SSD with the OS on the SSD.

    Hopefully by then, dual-HDD full sized laptops will be more popular for the media junkies like me by then so we can walk around with a small theater of content in our bags.

    For the ultraportables and tabs on the market, there will be adequately sized SSDs at reasonable pricepoints for average Joes and Janes.
    veer01
  • SSDs still worth it.

    6 monhs later... I just got a 128GB OCZ Vertex 4 for $80. The 512 is only $300. I don't need that much storage, I have a dual-hdd laptop. 128 SSD for OS + 1TB hdd for media and apps = win! Throw in a $7 2.5" enclosure and for $100 I have my original drive for a usb 3.0 backup, AND brand new SSD tech.

    Most clients I deal as a at-your-door pc tech don't even know how to make new folders in explorer, let alone know the advantages in speed of SSDs. When people ask me if a computer is good for the price, I ask the specs they say "250GB hard drive, dvd burner... uh, i forget the rest" so there you go. For the techies, we know better and will utilize all that SSD has to offer.

    How many times have I seen a perfectly good 500GB+ or 1TB hard drive in an OEM computer go to waste when I see "945GB free". I don`'t see how having a small SSD in place of a larger HDD would be disadvantageous. Need space? get an external drive. most PCs can fit a cheap 2nd drive, it's laptops that are a concern. No1 wants a laptop with one 128GB SSD drive for the same price as one 1TB HDD drive! The UN-techies will feel jipped.

    All tech-savvy users know to put your data on a separate disk when using a small SSD.
    Though it's a lot to ask of people who have ONE HDD ONLY in an older desktop or laptop to partition their drive and keep their files out of windows in the event of a virus stopping them from logging in. So they take it to best buy who wipes their computer out, losing their files... I see stupid stuff all the time.

    I am totally in favor of SSD deployment increasing. In order to do so, the price has to come down a bit so that OEM deployment can increase without driving up the cost of consumer computers. I also don't see the size of SSDs increasing as fast as the price is decreasing... another limiting factor. My WD 1TB 3.5" Scorpio Black was $100 2 years ago. a WD 1TB 2.5" Scorpio Blue is $109. 2 Years to shrink and bring to about the same price point. Add another 2-3 years to make it a $100 1TB SSD. Desktops are where the SSDs production should be going.

    People need to utilize the available tech better (aka, SSD for OS and HDD for data) in order to be able to appreciate it as much as possible. Perhaps a marketing strategy should be deployed that informs the consumer how much faster an SSD will be and that they should invest in one. The more they get made, the cheaper they will be for all of us.
    John Giallanza