The most popular storage medium this year for super-thin ultrabooks and similarly built laptops will not be the pricey solid state drives (SSD) that initially created a buzz for their astonishing speeds. Instead, they will be the so-called cache SSD storage consisting of NAND flash memory running outside a hard disk drive (HDD) that will be more economically priced for users, according to IHS iSuppli.
Shipments this year of cache SSD solutions for ultrabooks and ultra-thin laptops are projected to amount to 23.8 million units, up nearly 360% from just 5.2 million units in 2012. This year cache SSD shipments for the first time jump over pure SSDs, which are expected to ship 18.7 million units. Overall, cache SSD shipments will represent 53% of the storage solution for ultra-thin mobile PCs, versus 42% for pure-SSD types. The remaining 5% will come from shipments of a third solution more commonly known as hybrid HDD (or solid-state hybrid drives) – one that employs embedded NAND flash inside a hard disk drive in an integrated form factor, believes IHS.
Cache SSD solutions will continue to maintain their lead in the thin-and-lite PC market until at least 2017. By that time, cache SSD shipments will reach 49.2 million units, compared to 44.6 million pure-SSD shipment units for ultra-thin notebooks. Shipments of hybrid HDD storage will surge from 2.6 million units this year to 20.5 million units by 2017. Markets also exist for cache SSD and pure-SSD solutions for non-mobile PCs, but shipments here are smaller.
Caching SSD in mSATA form-factor by Mushkin
The use of solid state drives or hybrid storage with improved performance is an important weapon being deployed to revitalize the PC space as a whole since it is believed that higher performance of storage sub-systems will enable highly-responsive PCs with rapid boot-up times. While both standalone SSD and cache SSD solutions will deliver fast performance, cache SSDs will enjoy more rapid adoption in mainstream notebooks because of their lower cost. The aim of PC makers this year is to drop the prices of ultrabooks to $500 - $700 this year.
Ultrabooks and ultra-thin notebooks will continue to deepen their penetration of the PC market, IHS believes, despite a slower-than-expected uptake last year that appears to be continuing to some extent in 2013. Two out of three notebooks will be a super-thin PC by 2017, and two out of three of such PCs will sport a hybrid storage sub-system (e.g., employing both NAND flash and rotating magnetic media). As such, both SSD and HDD industries stand to reap substantial benefits for providing the appropriate storage solutions.