Seoul (Korea) - Samsung today said that it has begun mass producing 1.8" and 2.5" multi-level cell (MLC)-based solid state drives (SSD) with 64 and 128 GB storage capacity. Samsung also promises "more attractive" pricing, which indicates that SSD technology will become more competitive with traditional hard drives and be in reach for more consumers.
Samsung’s announcement has written "mainstream" all over it - it does not offer those speedy data transfer rates we have heard in recent weeks and there is the note about "attractive pricing". Of course, that brings up the question how much these drives will cost. Samsung traditionally does not comment on price and, not surprisingly, spokesman John Lucas declined to comment on possible pricing. But we can speculate.
Before we do that, let’s have a quick look at the specifications of the drives. Samsung claims that MLC based SSD has a write speed of 70 MB/s and a read speed of 90 MB/s, which are performance levels that are well below single-level-cell (SLC)-based SSDs which can achieve read speeds of 130 MB/s. In fact, Samsung’s new SSDs are even a bit slower than today’s fastest hard drive, WD’s 3.5" Velociraptor.
Samsung claims that the 128 GB SSD, which is built from 64 MLC NAND flash memory chips of 16 GB each, is energy efficient at 0.2 watts in standby mode and 0.5 watts in active mode. Probably most interesting is the drive’s expected life: Samsung claims the drives will last 20 times longer than the average 4-5 years of hard drives - which would mean that the SSD is rated at 80-100 years.
So, what about the price? Considering the fact that these drives are in mass-manufacturing, the fact that there is talk about "more attractive" pricing in an environment where entry-level 64 GB SSD notebooks can be purchased for about $1600 (check Dell) sounds to us like SSDs are finally ready to take a first shot at the upper mainstream segment of computers. This would mean that vendors such as Dell would have to drop the current $600 price of 64 GB substantially: Flash prices typically fall by about 40% every year and $300-$350 for a 64 GB drive sounds realistic to us.
In any case, you may want to begin looking a bit more seriously at this segment if you are interested in purchasing a SSD or a computer with such a drive.
But don’t get too excited just yet. Hard drives are still cheaper and Samsung’s vice president of memory marketing, Jim Elliott, said in a statement that these 64 GB and 128 GB MLC SSDs are aimed at "business users and many PC enthusiasts". So far, the company is not talking about "value" PCs.
Samsung said it will introduce a later this year.