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A new generation of lower-cost and more appealing ultrabooks are expected to help cause global shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) to more than double in 2013, according to an IHS iSuppli report. The main drivers for SSD adoption by PC makers and end-users are declining prices of NAND flash memory (the main component of SSDs) as well as popularization of ultra-thin PCs.

Worldwide SSD shipments (including consumer, enterprise and cache SSDs) are set to rise to 83 million units this year, up from 39 million in 2012. Shipments are set to continue to rise 239 million units in 2016, amounting to about 40% of the size of the hard disk drive (HDD) market.

Upcoming ultrabooks based on Intel Corp.’s Core i-series 4000-family “Haswell” microprocessor architecture have the potential to catch on with consumers. Besides, various ultra-thin designs powered by Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8 are also gaining traction on the market.

“The fate of the SSD business is closely tied to the market for ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs that use cache drives. While SSD shipments rose by 124% last year, growth actually fell short of expectations because ultrabook sales faltered due to poor marketing, high prices and a lack of appealing features. However, if sales of the new generation of ultrabooks take off this year as expected, the SSD market is set for robust growth,” said Ryan Chien, analyst for memory and storage at IHS.

Another factor driving growth is that average selling prices for NAND flash memory have come down, in the process establishing new price expectations. The lower prices are attracting deal-seeking consumer enthusiasts, as well as an increasing number of PC manufacturers that are now more willing to install the once-costly drives into computers. Furthermore, in the enterprise sector, SSD use is growing thanks to product introductions from major vendors and startups alike.

Recent developments around nonvolatile memories like STT-RAM and resistive RAM also hint at sustained performance improvements for SSDs beyond the drives’ current use of NAND flash memory.

Tags: SSD, NAND, Flash, Business, OCZ, Samsung, Corsair, Plextor, Micron, Crucial, Toshiba, SanDisk

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