Solid state disk lackluster for laptops, PCs

Laptops, desktops won't see a cost/benefit advantage in SSD for about two years

Most observers agree that solid-state disk (SSD) will eventually overtake magnetic disk drives as the storage medium of choice. SSD is lighter than traditional hard disk drives, is faster, is more durable and consumes less power. Still, SSD doesn't measure up to the hype, particularly when using it in a desktop or laptop PC.

"There are a host of problems with SSD," says Avi Cohen, head of research at Avian Securities. "There's no reason to pay the extra $600 to $800 -- or a 40 percent to 80 percent premium -- for a solid-state drive."

Cohen is not alone in his assessment of consumer-grade SSD. Consumer-grade SSD generally uses multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash memory, which has greater capacity and a lower-price point but suffers from slower I/O and as much as 10 times fewer read/writes over its life span. Corporate-grade SSD uses single-level cell (SLC) NAND memory and multiple channels to increase data throughput and wear-leveling software to ensure data is distributed evenly in the drive rather than wearing out one group of cells over another. And, while some consumer-grade SSD is just now beginning to incorporate the latter features to increase its performance, there will still be a cost/capacity disparity for years to come.

Other analysts agree, and even disk drive makers, including Fujitsu, do not see themselves producing SSD for at least another two years. That's how long it will take before the cost-vs.-benefit ratio makes sense for SSD to be a viable alternative to hard disk drives in laptops and PCs.

"I think you need to get to 128GB for around $200, and that's going to happen around 2010. Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage," says Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner, referring to the fact that a 1TB hard disk drive today can cost under US$200. A 1TB SSD would cost tens of thousands of dollars, he says.

Today, consumer-grade SSD costs from US$2 to $3.45 per gigabyte, hard drives about $0.38 per gigabyte, according to Gartner and iSuppli. Just two years ago, SSD cost US$17.50 per gigabyte, so it's obvious that consumer NAND flash memory will soon be a true contender to hard disk drives -- it's just not there yet.

"As a percentage of the whole solid-state drive industry, it'll remain pretty light for now," says Joel Hagberg, Fujitsu's vice president of business development. "Pricing needs to get better."

Intel's and Micron Technology's upcoming SSDs will be based on 32Gbit chip technology. Each NAND flash chip will cost just shy of US$4.00, which works out to about US$0.99 a gigabyte. The companies will be the first to break the US$1.00 a gigabyte barrier with their upcoming consumer SSD products, according to Jim Handy, an analyst at Objective Analysis.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucas Mearian

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?