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Gran Storismo: Prospects of Solid State Drives

If Intel’s Robson is projected to speed up loading of frequently used data and is not expected to boost performance of a storage sub-system as a whole, then solid state drives (SSDs) are developed to turbo-charge PC’s performance overall: any data can be stored on an additional Serial ATA flash-based drive that is as fast as a Porsche 911 when compared to a Ford Focus.

We’ll Wait, We’ll See – Flash Product Makers

At CeBIT 2007 there were a lot of talks regarding the SSDs in general and manufacturers of flash memory devices currently have no clear opinion on the matter, as nobody seems to be really confident regarding the demand towards rather expensive solid state drives, which currently cost about $350 for 32GB in 2.5” form-factor (when shipped in large quantities) and $600 for 32GB in 1.8” form-factor. Meanwhile, there are rumours that end-users may be charged approximately $750 for 64GB and roughly $2000 for 160GB SSD.

It is clear that prices for flash memory have been gradually decreasing for several years now, but recently a number of manufacturers of flash reallocated their manufacturing capacities to dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and spot prices on flash either stabilized or even increased. While 1GB, 2GB and even larger memory cards and USB sticks are sold at pretty affordable price-points, 32GB SSD requires much more memory chips and additional controllers, something, which makes the products pretty expensive.

Solid state drives from Super Talent. Click to enlarge

So far only Sandisk and SuperTalent have unveiled their Serial ATA solid state drives, whereas companies like Corsair Memory, OCZ Technology and Patriot Memory have decided to keep to the “wait and see” strategy.

“We are planning to make solid state drives with capacities from 32GBs to 160GB once the price becomes reasonable,” said OCZ’s chief technology officer Michael Schuette. The reasonable price, which mass end-users are going to pay, is from $150 to $250 and currently this range is far from existing SSD pricing. Corsair Memory even believes that to some extent it is more reasonable to manufacture a 32GB USB flash stick rather than to make a 32GB SSD.

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