They are loud, consume a lot of power, have high chance of failing and are just slow. Flash memory has no such disadvantages but as for now the prices are quite high.
Declining prices on flash memory may soon allow solid state drives (SSDs) to compete aggressively against hard disk drives (HDDs) in the mobile market. According to a research from In-Stat, SSDs, which boast increased reliability and performance, may be found in half of all notebooks shipped by 2013.
“The HDD industry has done a phenomenal job of driving areal densities; however, it is clear that there are user segments for which drive capacities far exceed the user’s need. When one examines the declining cost trends for Flash, the user's need for storage and the premium that consumers place on the benefits provided by SSDs, it is easy to see that there will be a clear demand for SSDs,” said Frank Dickson, In-Stat analyst.
Given that there are no moving parts, solid state drives are generally more reliable compared to conventional hard disk drives. Additionally, SSDs are serious faster: average access time of the world’s fastest desktop WD Raptor HDD is 3.99ms, whereas flash memory chip may have access time of just 50ns. Finally, flash memory consumes a lot less power compared to hard drives.
According to In-Stat, SSDs have the potential to dethrone HDD as the top laptop storage choice within 10 years. The research leads the company to believe that the SSD market share in mobile computers could reach 50% by 2013.
The research was driven by In-Stat’s survey of 389 mobile computer users, which allowed primary insight into consumers' valuation of SSD in mobile computers. From this research, In-Stat weighed the perceived benefits of SSDs with the rapidly declining cost/gigabyte trends of flash to develop a demand sensitive forecasting model. The market inflection point begins in 2010 for In-Stat’s expected forecast, as SSDs start to become an economically viable alternative to a wider base of consumers.
Meanwhile, market research agency IDC believes that hard disk drives will remain the most cost-efficient storage technology through 2015. The prediction may be based on the facts that hard drive makers will boost capacity, reliability, performance and energy savings utilizing new technologies, such as perpendicular recording or embedding large flash caches into so-called hybrid hard drives.