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SSD prices plummet again, close in on HDDs

Lucas Mearian | March 4, 2016
Prices dropped by 12 percent. in just the last quarter alone

The price computer makers paid for solid-state drives (SSDs) dropped by as much as 12% over the last quarter, and the most popular drives are now within striking distance of their hard disk drive (HDD) counterparts.

In the first quarter of this year, MLC-based and TLC-based SSDs respectively saw price declines of 10%-to-12% and 7%-to-12%, respectively, according to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce.

A 128GB SSD now retails between $38 and about $49 (Amazon price). A 250GB SSD runs anywhere from $52 to $81 (Amazon price).

Last June, the average retail price consumers pay for a 128GB SSD was $91.55; for an SSD in the 240GB to 256GB range, the price was about $165.34, DRAMeXchange's data showed.

Based on DRAMeXchange's analysis, the price difference between 128GB SSDs and 500GB HDDs will shrink to less than $3 this year. The price difference between 256GB SSDs and 1TB HDDs is also expected to be less than $7. That said, at a per-gigabyte cost, SSDs are still about five times pricier than HDDs.

The SSD sweet spot

The market for SSDs with a capacity of 250GB to 500GB is expected to grow at the highest annual rate between 2016 and 2022.

The price of TLC (triple-level cell) SSDs did not fall as much as MLC (multi-level cell) counterparts because most SSD manufacturers are just starting to ship their TLC products (Samsung being the exception).

TLC SSDs store three bits of data per NAND flash cell; MLC SSDs typically store two-bits per cell (though MLC can be a general term for any drive that stores multiple bits per cell).

At the same time, SSD adoption rates in laptop computers will by more than 30% this year, DRAMeXchange said.

The SSD market is expected to grow by 9.5% a year through 2022 from $13.29 billion to $25.3 billion, according a report released today by MarketandMarket in India.

Factors affecting SSD growth include the proliferation of cloud computing, performance advantages of SSDs over HDDs, an increase in the number of data centers, and rising big data applications, MarketandMarket said.

SATA my name

SSDs using the SATA interface, which allows notebook and desktop users to make simple changeovers from HDDs to flash, are expected to account for the largest share of the SSD market over the next six years.

SSDs using SATA interfaces are also lower cost than those using serial attached SCSI (SAS) and PCIe interfaces, which is also driving growth in the SATA segment, MarketandMarket said.

That said, the market for SSDs with PCIe interfaces, which are used by laptop makers such as Apple to attach flash directly to a motherboard, is expected to grow at the highest annual growth rate ever over the next six years.


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