Intel has dashed the prices in its line of solid-state drives. The company didn't detail the reason behind the drop, which saw its X25-M 80 GB notebook drive drop from $595 to $390 and its X25-E 32 GB enterprise SSD drop from $695 to $415. The 160 GB X25-M has also dropped from its $945 launch price to $765, a savings of nearly $200 for eager solid-state consumers.
We’ve talked about the oversupply of NAND flash in the market before. In an interview with PC Magazine, Fusion-io CTO, David Flynn speculated that the price cuts could be Intel’s attempt to leap out in front of the imbalanced market. Market research firm DRAMeXchange has called for the oversupply of NAND flash to balance out toward the latter half of 2009. This would push hard drives and solid-state drives closer to one another in their price points, even though the former will still dominate the cost-per-gigabyte ratios for some time.
The price cuts could also signal Intel’s desire to pave the way for a less expensive solid-state drive to come. The company is expected to launch its largest solid-state drive yet, a 320 GB variant, in the fourth quarter of this year. By the time that hits, 512 GB solid-state drives will already be on the market and terabyte SSD might very well be available as well.
Intel has secured the performance crown with its consumer-focused X25-M solid-state drives, but it’s in line to be crushed by competing capacity points. If the company is able to lower its price-per-gigabyte ratio for the drives, it could remain competitive against (assuredly) more expensive, higher-capacity models. After all, consumers’ chief criticism of solid state drives isn’t their capacity points or speeds. Few outside of the enterprise market are willing to pay four-figure sums for speedy, high-capacity solid-state storage. Although it has a ways to go before it can stand against the price points of competing solid-state drive manufacturers, Intel’s cuts represent an understanding that the war of the solid-state drive isn’t going to be over the fastest bits and bytes, rather, the fewest dollars and cents.