Market research firm IHS iSuppli has peered into its crystal ball and made some predictions about notebook storage. Hybrid configurations that combine mechanical platters with solid-state caches are expected to garner the lion's share of the market, at least as far as ultrabooks and similarly slim systems are concerned. Interestingly, most of those hybrids are said to be dual-drive implementations rather than integrated solutions like Seagate's Laptop Thin SSHD. This year, 53% of ultra-thin systems are expected to have dual-drive hybrid configs, while only 5% will pack SSHDs. The remaining 42% will supposedly sport solid-state storage exclusively.
Looking forward, IHS iSuppli anticipates that caching setups will remain the most popular storage config for thin notebooks through the next four years. SSHDs will make up an increasing slice of the pie, with shipments expected to surge from 2.6 million units this year to 20.5 million units by 2017. Western Digital just launched its own ultra-slim hybrid for notebooks, so the competition is heating up in that segment.
Caching solutions promise the best of both words—wicked-fast NAND combined with copious mechanical storage—and they tend to be less expensive than SSDs. With ultra-thin notebooks moving downmarket, it makes sense that more of them will opt for hybrid configs instead of strictly solid-state storage. SSDs will likely dominate the pricier end of the spectrum, while cache-based configs fill out the middle and low end of the market.
IHS iSuppli's press release doesn't mention mechanical drives on their own, suggesting that traditional hard drives won't be flying solo in the next wave of skinny notebooks. Good riddance, I say; without solid-state sidekicks, slow notebook hard drives can make mobile systems feel particularly sluggish.
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