Gartner: SSDs will break into the mainstream next year

Solid-state drives have gotten considerably cheaper and more plentiful over the past few years, but they’re still unarguably luxury items. For less than the price of a 40GB Intel SSD, you can snag a 1TB WD Caviar Black with a five-year warranty. However, the winds of change are blowing, and PC World says research firm Gartner expects solid-state drives to break into the mainstream in the second half of 2012.

At that point, Gartner expects SSD pricing to reach $1 a gigabyte. For the math-challenged among us, that means even fairly roomy SSD boot drives will fall well below $100—like, say, 64GB for $64. Considering the very palpable boot speed and responsiveness benefits, it does seem likely that many users would make the jump. Gartner expects NAND flash prices to tumble 30% this year and 36% in 2012.

For those who think $1/GB is still expensive, keep in mind that mechanical hard drives were at or above that threshold not long ago. In March 2003, we reviewed a trio of 120GB hard drives from Maxtor, WD, and Seagate that were priced in the $132-188 range. Back then, getting the best deal involved sticking with a parallel ATA interface, too.

Comments closed
    • burntham77
    • 8 years ago

    If I could drop 500 dollars and get a 500 gig SSD, I would do it. I think everything I have only takes up about 300 gigs, so I could easily ditch the HDD in my desktop and be happy as a clam.

    The HTPC, however, is still going to need its 2 TB HDD for a long time, especially since that is not a performance machine. However, I would gladly drop a little SSD in there (30-50 gigs) as an OS drive. It would be neat to see how that affects performance in Windows Media Center.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    Seems like to me the size, heat, power, noise, and of course speed advantages of SSD’s will allow them to create laptops that are just all around better than today’s laptops built around using mechanical hard drives. Hell, imagine a smaller than 2.5/1.8″ bay for multiple SSD’s. Then again, USB3 or Intel’s Thunderpants port will allow you to add external SSD’s that are as convenient as a USB flash drive and as fast as current SSD’s. Perhaps you just skip the bays, make the laptop thinner and quieter and call it a day.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      There are a lot of existing technologies that would allow laptops to be built “just all around better.” Outdated conventions keep it from happening. The trouble is that while flash memory is one of them, SSDs, as they are seen on sites like TR, are not.

      By loading up a 2.5″ HDD case (or equal sized PCB, like the mSATA format) with separate flash chips to occupy numerous memory channels and feed a high speed controller, the potential is not only negated, it is sometimes worse than a HDD. Very few SSDs actually outright beat 2.5″ HDDs in overall power consumption and heat, and as they become faster ands faster, that is becoming rarer. For example, the new Sandforce drives like the Vertex 3 actually use considerably more power than a 2.5″ HDD. It’s like the clock speed race that single core CPUs went through.

      The conventions that laptops still follow with new technology are holding progress back. Tablets and phones are not bound by such silliness and are moving much faster. Flash memory is already “mainstream” in most new devices, but there are very legitimate reasons SSDs as we know them are not.

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Very few SSDs actually outright beat 2.5" HDDs in overall power consumption and heat,[/quote<]You have a citation for that? Because the numbers I've seen don't support that. For example, StorageReview has been doing more detailed power measurements in their recent SSD reviews, and even the worst-case numbers are as good or better than any of the 2.5" HDs (except perhaps some very old and slow 4200rpm ones). Their numbers for the [url=http://www.storagereview.com/crucial_m4_ssd_review_256gb<]Crucial m4 (256GB)[/url<]: Idle: 0.6 Constant Random Read (4K): 0.84 Constant Sequential Read: 1.55 Constant Sequential Write: 2.93 Or the [url=http://www.storagereview.com/corsair_performance_3_ssd_review_128gb<]Corsair Performance 3 (128GB)[/url<] Idle: 0.27 Constant Random Read (4K): 0.80 Constant Sequential Read: 1.84 Constant Sequential Write: 3.14 And the [url=http://www.storagereview.com/ocz_vertex_3_review_240gb<]Vertex 3[/url<] (a pre-release model) Idle: 1.82 Constant Random Read (4K): 1.93 Constant Sequential Read: 1.90 Constant Sequential Write: 2.14 Compare that to their measurements of [url=http://www.storagereview.com/php/benchmark/suite_v4.php?typeID=10&testbedID=4&osID=6&raidconfigID=1&numDrives=1&devID_0=370&devID_1=365&devCnt=2<]a couple of popular 2.5" HDDs[/url<]: : Scorpio Blue (500GB): Idle: 0.8 Active: 2.3 Max:3.7 Scorpio Black (320GB) Idle: 1.0 Active: 2.6 Max:4.1 All the numbers for the SSDs are lower; how much lower is going to depend on how you think your mix of reads/writes, sequential/random, and in-use/idle, weights the numbers. But in pretty much all "normal client usage" reads dominate writes, so that tips things further towards the SSDs. Moreover, the max power usage for HDs involves random seeks (ie moving the head in addition to spinning the platters) rather than sequential access, and that favors SSDs as well. (The Vertex 3 seems to have abnormally high idle numbers, but [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/4256/the-ocz-vertex-3-review-120gb/13<]AnandTech[/url<] noted that was a bug in the pre-release firmware and recorded a more sensible 0.89W, though they also saw higher active numbers with their testing setup) Now, we're only talking up to a watt at most, and for most people that's not a big deal. But for someone like you who seems to be obsessed with going bazillion hours between power outlets and is willing to forgo an extra stick of RAM because of the power consumption it represents, an SSD represents an unqualified win.

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          I thought it was a troll since he said SSD’s are hotter.

      • Peldor
      • 8 years ago

      The MacBook Air is doing this already. The SSD looks more like a stick of RAM.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    BTW what is the definition of mainstream? Because I don’t see large numbers of people buying even at $1/GB. I think of mainstream as 20% or more of the market in this case. According to Gartner’s prediction, enterprise numbers will be around 5 Million in 2013, while HDD numbers currently are around 30 million… thats less than 20% assuming HDD numbers don’t change dramatically.

    I think in the consumer space they will have even tougher challenges at adoption.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    Three and a half years ago (late 2007), a 64GB drive (with sub-50MB/s performance) would set you back about $1000: $15/GB
    Prices have been dropping (on average) about 40%-50% each year, which is why a 64GB drive is right around $100 now, less than $2/GB

    It doesn’t take a lot of fancy math to predict that the magic $1/GB point will be reached next year.

      • [TR]
      • 8 years ago

      Shh! *whispers* Quiet! Don’t let them know industry analysts do exactly the same thing as any sane person.

    • Buzzard44
    • 8 years ago

    Try closer to Q2 – Q3 2013.

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]keep in mind that mechanical hard drives were at or above that threshold not long ago. In March 2003[/quote<] That is eons in computer years, 8 in human years. Just to put some perspective on this, in 2003 the price of a barrel of crude was $20.

      • cheddarlump
      • 8 years ago

      Big deal, in 12/2008 it was $30…

      • jpostel
      • 8 years ago

      I think a more relevant comparison would be something like SD card prices or USB thumb drive prices.

      In late 2003, a 256MB SD could be had for $65, so around $240/GB. Now around $2.50/GB.

      In 2003, USB drives were a bit higher at around $350/GB. Now around $1.25/GB.

      The price for SSDs are around $2/GB today.

      The prices tend to have slanted steps down. The steps follow releases of new memory chip densities. Based on the rate prices above have dropped since 2003 (around the 36% Gartner predicts for next year), I see no reason why this trend would stop within the next 18 months.

    • Captain Ned
    • 8 years ago

    Ah, Gartner.

    ISTR a dire Gartner prediction from 1997 that unless the world spent eleventy billion dollars on Gartner-directed code rehab projects, the world of computing would come to an end on 1/1/2000.

    Bloody morons never once stopped to ask banks writing 30-year mortgage loans in the ’80s if their systems had any issues with maturity dates post-2000.

    Sorry, but if Gartner says the sky is blue, I’ll still go out and check to be sure.

    • Spotpuff
    • 8 years ago

    Do SSDs fail more frequently than mechanical drives?

    The diminishing write cycles as the processes get smaller is also disconcerting, but I guess a “reasonable” Person wouldn’t write 100gb/day anyways.

      • [TR]
      • 8 years ago

      Incidentally, the people* that have taken advantage of SSDs in the past few years, given their price, are exactly the sort of people that might write 100GB/day.

      *You know, pr0n DLs and such.

    • wirerogue
    • 8 years ago

    to put things really into perspective, i think we have to flashback circa 1997. you guys will love this. kids, this is what we grownups used to pay for computer parts. i can’t believe this guy hasn’t updated the page [url<]http://reocities.com/Baja/cliffs/3204/products.htm[/url<] i personally remember having 2 4.5gb IBM Ultrastar Ultra-2 Wide SCSCI HDD. only paid $250 each. what a deal...

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Intel Pentium II 450 CPU.................$596.24[/quote<] That Blast From The Past.........Priceless! Thanks

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Oh no, the AMD CPUs only go from $60 to $200, while Intel hits the exact same prices that 99% of their CPUs sell at, but also has $600 and $900 SKUs! AMD is unprofitable and doomed within a year!

      The more things change…

    • ew
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t want to play the system drive + data drive game so I’m holding out until either…

    1. I can afford an SSD that completely replaces my hard drive.
    or
    2. A good non-proprietary solution comes around that let’s me combine an SSD and hard drive into a single logical block device. (good hybrid drive would also be acceptable)

    Also, everyone keeps exclaiming about the boot time benefits. Isn’t it much better to just never shutdown your machine and avoid the problem altogether?

      • phez
      • 8 years ago

      You sure you want to do that? If the drive fails, there is no chance of recovery.

      If you’re going to keeping backups on mechanical … why not just use the mechanical in the first place?

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]"Isn't it much better to just never shutdown your machine and avoid the problem altogether?"[/quote<] When you find a major desktop GUI OS that doesn't require reboots please do let me know. It HAS gotten much better. I think there was one or two patch Tuesdays in the past year where reboots weren't necessary. The minute you go back to mechanical from SSD you'll know you wish you hadn't. It's more than boot times, it's things like zipping 1000 files in the background and have zero perceived impact on foreground apps. It's an AV scan of tens of thousands of files and you don't even notice. It's a split second to open Office and most apps uncached. Things you don't really notice when you experience them because it becomes second nature, but you definitely notice when they get slow again on a mechanical.

        • [TR]
        • 8 years ago

        Oh, come on!!!
        Here I am, looking at articles about SSD’s going “Pfft. I don’t need that!” and you have to ruin it!
        I know all that, but I’m trying to forget so I don’t spend my money before they’re cheaper. And it’s been really hard, lately, without you needing to point out all those benefits.

        Now my week is ruined. I’ll be thinking up ways to save some $150 for an SSD sometime soon until I can get it out of my mind again 🙁

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          There was a 64G kingston SSD for $~1/G posted in a bread earlier. Might be a good starter SSD. It is on the low end of performance in terms of todays SSD’s, but will still give you a good idea…

      • stdRaichu
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]A good non-proprietary solution comes around that let's me combine an SSD and hard drive into a single logical block device. (good hybrid drive would also be acceptable)[/quote<] From the looks of Anand's review especially, a Sandy Bridge Z68 board will be right up your street - it allows you to use an SSD as a write-through cache, giving much improved performance on a HDD. Intel have even released a 20GB SLC SSD for precisely this purpose. [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4329/intel-z68-chipset-smart-response-technology-ssd-caching-review/4[/url<]

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        You didn’t read the next page? All of this screams “hackish” and if you are getting this board you should spring for an SSD not a cheap cache and the inevitable limitations you WILL run into.

          • stdRaichu
          • 8 years ago

          Of course I read it, and of course you should spring for SSD if you can afford it (I’ve been running my computers of SSD for 2 years now). But “screaming” is putting it too strongly; Anand was quite impressed with how well the “hack” works in terms of filling in for a HDD’s shortcomings. It’s nowhere near as good as a full-blown SSD, but considerably better than just a hard drive.

        • ew
        • 8 years ago

        With Intel’s solution can I take the drives over to a motherboard with another chipset and access the data?

          • stdRaichu
          • 8 years ago

          I doubt it’d work with anything but an intel chipset, so no joy for switching to AMD and keeping the same HDD+SSD cache hierarchy. The data on the hard drive will still be perfectly portable however.

            • ew
            • 8 years ago

            Thanks, that’s good to know. As long as I could access the data somehow that would be acceptable.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Do you not group files into separate folders? I think you’re already playing the system and data organization “game.”

        • ew
        • 8 years ago

        That assumes the split should be per-folder. Splitting whole folders between an SSD and HDD can’t be very efficient and like I said I don’t want to bother taking the time to move things around myself. Think about all the junk in the windows folder that is never used. It doesn’t make sense to put that junk on valuable SSD space. I’d rather some algorithm that works on the block level do the work for me.

          • ew
          • 8 years ago

          Also, same goes for my personal data. I’ve got lots of old stuff that is rarely used and has no business taking up SSD space. That stuff should sit on an HDD and the recent and actively used stuff should go on an SSD. Again, I don’t want to have to manage this myself.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          “Splitting whole folders between an SSD and HDD can’t be very efficient…”

          Uh…so why would you do that? You’re making this more complicated than it is, which is really funny, considering that you are saying you just want to avoid anything unnecessary. :p

          You know that prompt that comes up when you’re installing something that asks where you want to put it? You’re doing that whether you have one drive or 100 drives, and it ought to defaul to the SSD, anyways, because you’d have your OS there if you really want to get any use out of it.

          The rest of your files would just sit on your HDD as they already are, no changes necessary, and if you’re going to move something new there, you have to browse to the folder whether it’s on a SSD or HDD, so what’s the difference?

            • ew
            • 8 years ago

            Like I said there’s huge amounts of junk that is never used in the windows directory and probably in most program folders as well. That stuff has no business sitting on an SSD. Moving whole folders from one to the other just doesn’t make sense.

        • Sunburn74
        • 8 years ago

        I shudder to think what would happen if that sort of logic is applied to other things.

        I don’t want to play the PC+mp3 player storage game until i can afford an mp3 player that completely replaces my PC

        I don’t want to play the pants+underwear game until I can afford underwear that completely replaces my pants.

        I don’t want to play the all my friends + lone girlfriend time-sharing game until i can afford a lone girlfriend that completely replaces all my friends

        The fact of the matter is SSDs and conventional hard drives are 2 completely different products. Until you see that, you’ll truly be playing games. Mind games. With yourself.

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    I think “Year of the SSD” is sort of becoming the next “Year of Desktop Linux”.

      • WillBach
      • 8 years ago

      If Linux can conquer the smartphone market, why can’t SSDs conquer the mobile storage market? Keeping in mind that smartphones and almost all tablets already use SSDs and laptops outsell desktops, why not?

    • lethal
    • 8 years ago

    Until SSDs can work around the diminishing write cycles each time a node gets smaller, I doubt we’ll get SSDs at mainstream prices. I’m guessing that manufacturers will either have to add more chips for added redundancy, or just not use smaller nodes and prices will remain relatively flat.

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 8 years ago

      The write cycles thing is (and presumably will continue to be) a total non-issue for almost everyone with normal usage patterns. The fact that there are limits is overwhlemed by the fact that the limits are so high as to be irrelevant to the vast vast majority of users.

        • phez
        • 8 years ago

        And what about diminished performance?

          • mianmian
          • 8 years ago

          With trim support, diminished performance is not a problem either.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 8 years ago

    Good ol’ days, maybe now I need to start enjoying the good new days?

    • Yawn
    • 8 years ago

    I’m already prep’ing my list of wake-up calls.

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 8 years ago

      Or maybe you should just let the sleeping dogs lie.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This