Samsung: Solid-state, mechanical storage will reach price parity

Will solid-state drives ever become as cheap as mechanical hard drives or will hard drives always have a pricing advantage? Samsung, the world’s biggest flash memory maker, believes the former—although CNet News says the company didn’t reveal a precise time frame for the event. Samsung merely expects the two mediums to reach price parity “within the next few years.”

That’s not such an outlandish prediction considering how flash memory prices have declined in recent years, of course. In September 2007, for example, we reviewed a 128GB Super Talent SSD that cost a staggering $4,600. Today, the same company offers a 128GB SSD with a more compact form factor and better performance ratings for just $265.

Samsung Flash Marketing Manager Brian Beard told CNet that adding capacity “doesn’t really add a lot of incremental cost” to a mechanical hard drive. With an SSD, on the other hand, cost “scales linearly” with capacity. The report adds that this cost structure “works in favor of lower solid-state drive pricing too–as flash memory prices drop and densities and capacities increase.”

In a more immediate and less nebulous time frame, Beard believes the sweet spot for SSDs in terms of pricing per gigabyte will go up from 128GB to 256GB for consumer offerings this year. Samsung itself has been shipping 256GB SSDs since January.

Comments closed
    • allston232
    • 11 years ago

    2 mediums? That’s similar to saying 2 antennas, 2 potatos, 2 gooses…No wonder those people who run the media events gave you guys blogger badges instead of media badges.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      Pretty sure it’s “two media”. 😉

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Huh? What’s wrong with “two potatoes”?!!

        • SHOES
        • 11 years ago

        Nothing is wrong with “two potatoes”!

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Samsung has actually been predicting this for quite a while now, and they’ve been pretty accurate with their cost projections — it has been 40%-60% per year for several years now. From a year ago:
    §[<http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/25/ssd-prices-in-freefall-wont-overtake-hard-disks-anytime-soon/<]§ There are older slides than this but I don't want to spend time trying to find them.

    • cygnus1
    • 11 years ago

    when ~250 GB SLC SSD is between $0.75 to $1.5 / GB, i’ll bite

      • Buzzard44
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah, I agree. I want $1/GB SSDs using SLC tech before I’ll buy into it. Mechanical is just sooo much cheaper, and as much as they say SSDs are getting cheaper, mechanical are too. For $88 on Newegg right now you can pick up terabyte hard disk with free shipping. I’m not sure what the price on a TB HD was a year ago, but the price sure has dropped a lot.

      And a lot of MLC SSDs I see don’t appear to be much faster, if at all, than a lot of mechanical hard drives. Almost all the bigger/cheaper drives are MLC.

      I mean seriously, an X-25E still costs >$400 for 32GB of storage.

      It may be the future, but I think currently this technology is overrated, at least for use in most applications.

        • cygnus1
        • 11 years ago

        yeah, unfortunately i just don’t see SLC in that price range for at least another 2 to 3 years

          • Buzzard44
          • 11 years ago

          Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I’d go as far as to venture to say at least 5 years before we see those price ranges. Of course, if you would’ve told me 10 years ago that I’m about to get 50 Mbit/s internet connectivity, I would’ve peed myself.

    • Clint Torres
    • 11 years ago

    Who needs HDs or SSDs? Shortly, Google will be offering GDisk…for free! You simply keep all your data on their servers. What could be easier?

      • Sargent Duck
      • 11 years ago

      I wonder how long it would take to load Crysis from the web…

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      How fat is your pipe? How about when you’re not at your desk? How’s that 3G working out for you? There are real limits to wireless bandwidth, and higher frequencies require more power.

        • designerfx
        • 11 years ago

        are you saying we should be playing crisis on our G1’s?

        I know technology is advancing, and I’d love it to be faster, but it’s not *that* fast lol.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          No, I’m saying that there’s still a need for local storage, and as computing gets more mobile that need doesn’t go away (and may in fact increase due to bottlenecks between the device and the cloud).

        • Clint Torres
        • 11 years ago

        My pipe is fat but not long…they call me “The Tuna Can”, but I digress.

        My first post is all sarcasm.

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      What could be easier to subpoena?

        • [TR]
        • 11 years ago

        Sub-what?!
        Get with the times, man! You just have to flash a Photoshoped government badge and “all your GDisks are belong to us”.

    • bender
    • 11 years ago

    should be ‘the two media’ … poor medium, always misused and abused

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    If a person plays a fairly large selection of newer games the amount of space used is quite large. With a lot of games using 8 or more gigs to install a 128 gig drive can run out of space fairly quickly.

    • Farting Bob
    • 11 years ago

    You can just tape/zip tie an SSD to anywhere inside your case and it will remain cool and silent. Or just leave it sitting on the bottom of the case. There really is no need for SSD’s to be screwed into a case apart from making it look tidier (and who the hell looks at the drives bays in a PC that often??).

      • moose17145
      • 11 years ago

      there is too a reason for properly mounting a SSD. I like to pick my computer and carry it around with me to LAN parties, friends houses for random nights of gaming, etc, and i sure as hell do not want it to be flopping around all over the inside of my case. Maybe not having the SSD properly mounted inside a computer the never gets moved isn’t as big of a deal, but for those of us who relocate their computers on a frequent basis, the need for a proper mount is critical, even for a SSD.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 11 years ago

        or even infrequently. I have to move mine once in a while, would be nice to not worry about the mass storage drive.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        Intel’s X25-E:
        *[

          • moose17145
          • 11 years ago

          That’s kinda what i was thinking, protection for other parts as much as for the SSD itself. I don’t want my SSD suddenly crashing into my motherboard or viodecard or whatever else it might happen to hit, and likewise a SSD flopping around can damage itself too. Lets say the controller PCB board hits a sharp corner inside the case. Could damage the control board and ruin the drive even though you never exceeded any of its shock tolerances. Likewise what if it is turned on and someone bumps it at a lan and the drive moves and hits something conductive and the control board shorts out on something. There are an endless number of reasons why you would still want to properly mount a SSD. Most of which have nothing to do with the drives shock tolerances.

            • mattthemuppet
            • 11 years ago

            as FB said, tape? You could even put it inside a padded envelope and /[

            • moose17145
            • 11 years ago

            guess i would personally just prefer to do things properly.

      • shaq_mobile
      • 11 years ago

      whatever, you should see my case. i ran out of drive bays years ago. i now have hard drives littered all over the inside of my case. a fire started a week ago when my cat wandered too near the hard drive pile in my case. i still havent gotten the smell of richard gere (my cat) out of my apartment. my chinese neighbors came over and thought i was cooking one of their favorite dishes. i had to explain to them that it just smelled like burnt cat because i didn’t spend five times as much to purchase SSD’s for storage.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        Didn’t you think ahead that Richard Gere would be more interested in your mouse than just to eatg{

    • StashTheVampede
    • 11 years ago

    Minus drive sleds, I want some 3.5″ drives!

      • paulWTAMU
      • 11 years ago

      I kind of wonder why they haven’t started this. You don’t even have to make the innards a 3.5″ drive. Just slap ’em in a bigger cage so they fit into most cases. OTOH, I wish case manufactures would start putting in 2.5″ internal drive bays too.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Because adaptors are a lot cheaper than maintaining two separate product lines, only one of which works in what is currently the best market (mobile).

          • StashTheVampede
          • 11 years ago

          With the 3.5″ drives, they could increase their density as well! Drives are getting larger and more space to build = more possible SSD capacity.

            • moose17145
            • 11 years ago

            I have been wanting them to do the same thing, make a 3.5″ SSD. Like i have been saying, i understand why they are only focusing on the 2.5″ drives. But that doesn’t stop my want of a 3.5″ SSD for my desktop.

            Plus as you mentioned, a 3.5″ drive has a fair deal more volume than a 2.5″ form factor, so you should be able to cram a heck of a lot more memory chips into it. So really a desktop SSD should have a similar capacity bonus as todays mechanical desktop drives have over their mobile counterparts.

            The only real thing i could see MAYBE being an issue would be shuving that many flash chips into that tiny of an area could generate an awful lot of heat. But even then i fail to see how it could be that big of an issue. Since an SSD doesn’t need to be sealed up near as tight as a mechical drive, you could just put some vent holes all along the sides of the 3.5″ SSD, and even passive cooling relying upon pure convection should be enough to keep the drive plenty cool. Even still most cases would mount the drives in the lower front corner of the case with the option to throw a fan right in front of them, so if for some reason you were worried about heat you could just put a fan in front and that would actively blow air through the drive itself if it did have vents all along the perimeter. The only thing i would be most concerned about would be getting dust out of the inside of the drive, and even that would be easy with 3 minutes of patience and technical know-how and a set of screw drivers.

            • paulWTAMU
            • 11 years ago

            Cost increases with each flash chip added, so to make a “real” 3.5″ drive you’d be looking at major cost. Sure you could cram more chips in a 3.5″ drive, but it’d still cost as much per gig as the 2.5″ drives, or at least close.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            …and if all of the new available space were used to get the kind of capacity increases the 3.5er crowd wants, heat production density would increase exponentially.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 11 years ago

    The 128s are affordable atm, to the point where I might do an SSD if I ever build a new PC. I’m not a space hog, and by the end of the year those’ll hopefully be in the mid 100 dollar range.

    EDIT: right now it looks like 2.50/gig for the mainstreamish ones. I’d say at 1-1.50 per gig we’ll see significant market gains in the enthusiast segment, at least as boot drives (using smaller 64-128 gig ones). Probably not as primary storage drives until they’re a lot cheaper than that though–even at .75/gig a 512 one would be majorly pricey. But for boot drives, or drives for people without huge storage needs, they’re already hitting the upper end of doable.

    • Peldor
    • 11 years ago

    I’m not sure it matters if the two reach $/GB parity “within the next few years.”

    Solid state looks to be increasing in performance much faster than mechanical storage will be able to manage, all the while dropping in price.

    If those trends continue, the default will be SSD because no one will want to leave that much performance on the table, with mechanical added mainly for bulk storage.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Yep, if they’re fast enough then “big enough / cheap enough” wins even if it loses in strict $/GB comparisons.

      And SSDs are getting close to hitting that point for mobile drives already.

        • [TR]
        • 11 years ago

        Maybe I just don’t understand this very well, but I’d say SSDs are cheaper to make. Maybe not now, since the market is pretty much all HDDs, but if you’re making and selling equal numbers of both, wouldn’t SSDs be cheaper?

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          The materials cost is lower, and if you were just looking at the raw inputs you might conclude that. But you’ve got to pay to create the flash, which are fab’d much like CPUs or any other IC. Those fabs cost billions of dollars, and they have to be upgraded / replaced frequently as we move to new process nodes. Current SSD capacities are only possible because NAND has rapidly moved down process nodes: we’re already at 34nm, which is smaller than current CPUs. If we could be happy with a slow couple of GB, SSDs would be cheap — just like USB thumb drives of that size are. But since we want bigger capacities, we need the very densest NAND, and since we want it to be fast we want it in the form of many chips in parallel, rather than just one slow (and cheap) one.

            • [TR]
            • 11 years ago

            I see… So both HDDs and SSDs will have to play nice with each other for a while, eh? Price parity doesn’t seem such a strange goal, then.
            Still, a well sized SSD, like 500-600GB, working at speeds close to HDD’s, would be enough for most people and could probably be competitively priced, right?

            • paulWTAMU
            • 11 years ago

            Right now? no. I’m sure the performance would be there, but the price sure wouldn’t be. HDDs are around 15 cents/gig, whereas SSDs are like 2.50 per gig. And neither of them have high margins so it isn’t like SSDs are just making big profits atm.

    • Vasilyfav
    • 11 years ago

    Looks like SSD capacities are approximately subject to Moore’s law as well. Capacities will probably roughly double every year for the next decade until a better technology comes along.

      • data8504
      • 11 years ago

      You realize that implies we’ll have 512 TB SSDs by 2020, right?

      I’m not siding on either end; that just blows my mind.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Well, NAND is facing some looming physics issues just like Moore’s Law is in general, and since NAND is actually preceding logic in reaching new process nodes it may hit them first. Solid state storage is obviously the way to go, but it’s unclear if conventional flash will get us all the way there. We may hit a bit of a plateau for a while as we await a breakthrough or two.

      In this case it’s actually Hwang’s Law we’re discussing:
      §[<http://computeraccessories.suite101.com/article.cfm/hwangs_law_comes_to_end<]§

    • Creamsteak
    • 11 years ago

    I wouldn’t mind keeping a 512 GB SSD and a 4 terrabyte media storage drive, in 5-10 years or so. For now, I’ll make due with what I’ve got.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 11 years ago

    Wow. I know SSD’s dropped, but I didn’t realize it was that big of a change. They’ve actually dropped into the realm of “affordable”. Certainly not “bang-for-buck” or “budget” category, but in the “I’ve got a Nehalem processor and SLI’d Geforce 280’s”

    • Farting Bob
    • 11 years ago

    On the low end this may happen in a few years. With platter sizes increasing like crazy soon anything new below 500GB will be single platter, and then SSD’s have the advantage. I cant see the latest 3-4 platter drives being threatened on price for at least 4-5 years. <10c/GB is going to be really tough for flash chips to match, considering the heavy losses most are taking right now i think the big price drops might be less frequent for the near-future.

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