Although the flooding in Thailand greatly reduced output of hard disk drives (HDDs) by Seagate Technology and Western Digital, it is highly unlikely that this will catalyze skyrocketing demand towards solid-state drives (SSDs) by PC makers. Moreover, as a result of rapid transition to 20nm-class process technologies by NAND flash makers and thus increased supply of multi-level cell flash, SSDs may even get more affordable than today.
The HDD shortages created by the flooding in Thailand should temporarily increase interest in SSD products, according to DRAMeXchange, a research department of TrendForce. However, as the price gap between SSD and HDD remains high, and the process of redesigning models to equip SSD will require from two to three months in many cases, SSD adoption will mostly occur in the high-end corporate market; specifically, models that were designed to support both HDD and SSD. Therefore, the Thailand flooding incident will have a relatively limited effect on SSD demand in Q4 2011.
If the HDD inventory shortage continues into Q1 2012, although the proportion of SSD-equipped models may increase, DRAMeXchange believes that ultimately, the extent of the effect on the NAND flash market will depend on the level of consumer acceptance. Therefore, due to limited impact of HDD replacement by SSD, low restocking demand from makers, and increased supply due to continual technology migration to 20nm-class processes, NAND flash contract price is expected to decrease in November and December and thus make solid-state drives cheaper.
According to DRAMeXchange, mainstream NAND flash contract price for the second half of October fell by 4-8% due to lower than expected demand for year-end retail sales. Demand for high-density products remained weak as well due to slower than expected smartphone and tablet PC sales as well as sluggish UFD and memory card sales. Not only did the lackluster sales affect suppliers’ inventory restocking, but contract price declined as well.