Consumer SSDs and hard drive prices are nearing parity

2 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HDDs, SSDs Grow Seasonally to 143 Exabytes: TRENDFOCUS 3rd Calendar Quarter Analysis.

Solid-state drives are superior to hard drives in every way but one: they’re faster, lighter, and less fragile, but they’re also more expensive. TRENDFOCUS recently released its latest quarterly analysis, which showed that 143 exabytes of HDD and SSD capacity shipped in CQ3 on a total of 145 million units. According to a report by TrendForce, SSD prices per gigabyte have been making a cliff-like graph over the last few years: from 99 cents a gigabyte in 2012, we’re down to 39 cents. That’s exactly what you’d expect from a technology starting to come of age; the interesting thing is that hard drive prices have stayed more or less the same, as you’d expect from a technology that’s been around for decades.

In simpler terms: we are approaching a glorious storage singularity, where hard drives and SSDs cost the same, and spinning magnetic platters cease to be a thing anyone carries around. When you do something on your computer, it goes from RAM, which is super fast, like nanoseconds fast, into the CPU’s cache, which is even faster still. Of course, there are caveats: this is classic data extrapolation, which is a fancy way of drawing lines to predict the future; there’s also the fact that HDDs are still getting bigger, and at the upper end, SSDs and HDDs have a long way to converge.

Within the client SSD segment, modules (mainly M.2 and ‘M.2 like’) did increase as a function of the slight rebound seen in the notebook PC market. Even though we are measuring fractions of a second, that fraction of a second makes a discernable difference as to how your computer reacts when doing all things it does with storage – caching, loading, saving, indexing. The top three enterprise SSD suppliers for all interface offerings, Samsung, Intel, and HGST, represented a combined total equal to 78% of all enterprise SSD units shipped in the 3rd calendar quarter. HDD component markets, specifically disks and heads, recorded higher sales for the quarter; however, flattish client and nearline HDD volumes tempered growth.

Looking forward, escalating storage capacities of nearline HDDs will lift disk- and head-per-drive ratios, resulting in possible supply tightness in three or four years time. Founded in 1993, the TRENDFOCUS method blends both “top down/bottom up” and 360° statistical analysis to provide clients with the exacting data sets needed to make complex decisions in today’s environment. This sort of performance is less discernable day to day than latency, but still makes a difference when copying data around or an app or the OS deciding to read or write a bunch of data, preventing you from doing much else until it’s done. NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is an all new standard designed from the ground up for SSDs and talks to the rest of the computer of over the PCIe bus.

On a traditional hard drive you might set your BIOS to use the AHCI standard – using the NVMe standard instead results in better latency and using PCIe instead of SATA opens up gigabytes per second of bandwidth SATA just doesn’t have. NVMe support also requires use of the latest Z100 series chipsets from Intel, so a CPU and motherboard upgrade is required if you want to take advantage of the fastest SSDs around. Latency wise, it can write data in 4K blocks with only 0.021ms of latency, half as fast as a SATA based SSD and orders of magnitude faster than the practically vintage magnetic spinning disks.

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