Samsung's monster 15.36TB SSD pricing is a monster too

Amazing technology. High performance. Tiny 2.5" form factor. But it costs over $10,000 online. Is it worth it?
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Image: Samsung

I first heard some pricing for these 15TB solid state drives from big system vendors. The numbers they were offering were astronomical: $50,000, $60,000, even $70,000 each. Sure, somebody would pay those prices -- the "cost is no object" demographic -- but it was clearly not going to be a popular product.

That's why I'm interested in the first public pricing I've seen. $10k is much better, but is it good enough?

Break it down

At $10k the SSD comes to $670 per terabyte. That's about 3x what a one TB SSD costs online. It sports a 12k SAS interface, up to 200,000 read IOPS, 32,000 write IOPS, and up to 1.2 GB/sec bandwdith.

OK, that's the opening bid. Where does Samsung go from here?

New disk drives are typically priced high, partly to recover the engineering costs and also because it takes time to get yields up. Scrap is expensive.

But SSDs are chips on a board, not a precision electro-mechanical device. The firmware needs tweaking -- which the qual groups in the big OEMs will endlessly document -- but if you know how to put 100 chips on a board, there aren't a lot of other variables.

Except for the chips. In this case, Samsung is using its highest density 3D chips, presumably the 48 layer Vertical NAND chips that they started producing last year. Haven't heard any scuttlebutt on yields, but processing time alone is ≈50 percent greater than for the earlier 32 layer VNAND -- and yields have to be lower.

So the chips are more expensive. But 3x expensive? I don't think so.

The Storage Bits take

Expect to see the prices on these monster drives drop substantially next year, after this fall's uptake of NAND chips for new phones declines and more capacity is available. How far? I expect a 50 percent drop in 12 months.

That still isn't cheap, but if you don't need a 2.5" SSD with specs rivaling a $100k storage array five years ago, Samsung does offer smaller capacity drives with similar specs. Choices.

How would you use a 15TB drive?

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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