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Cache SSD Shipments to Drive SSD Market Growth

By - Source: IHS | B 29 comments

Solid state drives may finally go mainstream in the form of cache SSDs that are becoming an attractive technology for ultrabooks and possibly similarly thin notebooks that are expected to be pushed by AMD later this year.

IHS believes that shipments will climb from 881,000 units in 2011 to more than 121 million by 2015. 2012 shipments are forecast to soar to 25.7 million cache SSDs, which will complement traditional hard drives. A cache SSD cannot be used as the only mass storage device in a PC, but must be used in combination with a separate HDD.

“Intel is continuing to put its eggs into the ultrabook basket,” said Ryan Chien, research associate for memory & storage at IHS. “From the company’s introduction of the Nikiski reference design, to its announcement that more than 60 additional ultrabook designs will enter the market in time for the 2012 holiday season, Intel at CES showed that Ultrabooks have become the centerpiece of its mobile computing strategy."

Cache SSDs are a critical component of ultrabook design and are likely to extend their reach to competing devices with AMD processors, which will not be called ultrabooks, but provide a similar form factor.

Of the more than 25 million cache SSDs to be shipped this year, about 22 million units will be built into ultrabooks, IHS predicts. While cache SSDs had only a small presence in the storage industry in 2011, the market research firm says their impact in the coming years will become "increasingly significant". The cache drive segment is said to turn into the primary reason behind the mainstreaming of the solid state drives and is forecast to jump to 46 million units this year, up from 17 million in 2011.

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  • 8 Hide
    ap3x , January 17, 2012 12:43 PM
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    BS, how does this have anything to do with the topic. Please stop with the spam and the scams that no one will fall for. TomsHardware should also do more to insure that this stuff does not get put into the comments. It really detracts from the conversation.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 17, 2012 12:51 PM
    I purchased an OCZ Synapse drive a while back and I can tell a worlds of difference between that and just using a WD Raptor.
  • 3 Hide
    drwho1 , January 17, 2012 12:57 PM
    This "cache SSD's" should be embedded into Motherboards with a capacity of at least 120GB in the near future.
  • -6 Hide
    velocityg4 , January 17, 2012 12:57 PM
    I assume this is the same or similar to hybrid SSD/HDD. Why isn't this idea killed already? For 95+% of people 64GB is plenty so just include those instead of a regular hard drive. They are cheap enough as they run about the same as you run of the mill hard drive. Especially after the price jump due to the flooding in Taiwan.

    Heck 32GB even 16GB would be plenty if Windows didn't bloat up so much after updates and temp files. Plus if software makers streamlined their software when releasing new versions rather than doubling the size with bloat for a handful of new features. From what I have seen most peoples data can fit on one DVD.
  • 0 Hide
    elbert , January 17, 2012 1:02 PM
    I would like a cache SSD but need it to daisy chain to the HD. The limited number of SATA connectors on many older desktops would benefit from the daisy chain approach. SATA original specs had daisy chaining and I wonder if it will ever catch on. This is the one advantage PATA still holds over SATA until its used.
  • 2 Hide
    Chainzsaw , January 17, 2012 1:45 PM
    I don't like the idea of cache SSDs. Whenever someone asks about it...I tell them to go for a straight SSD rather than a cache/HDD set up. The reason is cache SSD's need to "learn" your habits and it takes about 3-4 good sessions to get them up and running, whereas the straight SSD solution - it's always on and it always give you 100% performance.

    To me cache SSD's seem like a "band-aid" solution for bridging the digital divide between HDDs and SSD's, which in my opinion, would be better to go for the straight up SSD solution.
  • 0 Hide
    southernshark , January 17, 2012 2:10 PM
    Is see AMD doing well in this sector. Intel is trying to position itself at the high end range of thin notebooks, but let's be honest, Apple will always dominate that sector (well at least for the time being). So Intel is going to fail at taking the top end. Maybe it will be able to position itself as a slightly lower priced alternative to a Mac. But for myself, I'd rather have a Trinity model priced in the 500 dollar range.

  • -2 Hide
    memadmax , January 17, 2012 2:12 PM
    Like Chainzsaw said:

    Go all balls out SSD, or nothing at all.
  • -3 Hide
    southernshark , January 17, 2012 2:14 PM
    velocityg4I assume this is the same or similar to hybrid SSD/HDD. Why isn't this idea killed already? For 95+% of people 64GB is plenty.


    Ah negative. 64GB is nothing and even if you just download movies and take a lot of pictures, then you can fill that up fast. I mean I've had 8gb of just music on a computer. So no 64gb is not enough for most users. It sure as heck isn't enough for say... STUDENTS, who are going to be major targets for the sellers of such devices. Students would scoff at a computer with that kind of storage, since they could not load it up with music, videos, movies, games and random junk. So it would end up being a computer for boring white guys who don't download stuff. I don't think that's the target market.
  • 1 Hide
    southernshark , January 17, 2012 2:15 PM
    ChainzsawTo me cache SSD's seem like a "band-aid" solution for bridging the digital divide between HDDs and SSD's, which in my opinion, would be better to go for the straight up SSD solution.


    Its better if the cost comes down. Right now though AMD is forced to go after the $500- $600 dollar market so putting a 200 gb SSD in the computer is just not going to happen.
  • 0 Hide
    nottheking , January 17, 2012 2:44 PM
    I will admit some of the puzzlement at combining a SSD with an HDD... After all, isn't space at the biggest premium of all in an ultrabook? It's counter-intuitive to then have more than one drive... Even if the "cache SSD" is smaller than a 2.5" drive.

    I think we all need to keep in mind what each application needs here. Even for the same user, they're going to need a different amount of storage for each device. For a desktop, I don't think HDDs will ever, ever be fully replaced by SSDs, because they offer easily scalable, cheap storage, that offers vastly superior performance to any and all removable media. For storing terabytes of media, such as high-definition video or massed photo albums, (for both personal and hosting use) a SSD makes no sense: the improved performance goes to waste, and the cost-per-gigabyte (Even amidst the aftermath of the Thai floods) is still way too high.

    On the other hand, you have plenty of uses for storage in the rapidly-growing mobile environment: smartphones, tablets, and now ultrabooks are all need storage too, and in their case, they don't need anywhere near as much as a desktop or server. In such a case, the potentially reduced form-factor and power consumption of SSDs can be a boon. The price-per-gigabyte issue can be addressed simply by having the storage space be smaller: after all, given that smartphones and tablets lack an HD screen, they obviously won't be playing HD video. Few (if any) people are complaining "I wish my Android/iPhone had 2TB of storage;" they're generally happy with the 16-64GB size range available today.

    Hence, for an application like an ultrabook, two drives makes little sense. And given the push for extreme slimness, and the bulkiness of even the thinnest consumer HDDs, it'd be best to just ditch HDDs entirely; after all, that's what the current MacBook Air ultrabooks do, and most of the whole point of other companies' ultrabooks is to take the market from Apple.

    Also, as I recall some of the growth in SSD sales is still coming from the price spike in HDDs, which, for some users who'd been on the fence, would give them just enough of a push to take the plunge on SSDs.

    drwho1This "cache SSD's" should be embedded into Motherboards with a capacity of at least 120GB in the near future.

    This begs the question of, "why?" For some that's an unnecessary expense; flash memory cells run in the neighborhood of $1US per gigabyte, so you're basically adding $100US+ onto the price of a motherboard. And for others, that 120 GB may be woefully insufficient.

    So what's the solution? Perhaps motherboards should have a plug-in slot for flash memory, so users can buy individual modules and plug in whatever ones they want- oh wait we already have that: it's called SATA. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    DRosencraft , January 17, 2012 3:20 PM
    Quote:
    This "cache SSD's" should be embedded into Motherboards with a capacity of at least 120GB in the near future.


    I don't know about 120GB, but I agree that this should be a possible direction for the future. Having something small like 16-32GB imbedded on a board would allow you to install just the OS and some apps and still have a free SATA slot to add more conventional storage. It would add a premium onto the price of the board, but hey, it'd probably be a top-end board anyway. In a very narrow example you could use this in a home HTPC to keep the OS and such seperate from the storage side where all your movies and pictures and whatnot.

    I still think this whole cache-SSD thing is a stop-gap until capacities go up and prices come down more on pure SSDs, but that's not a bad thing. As others have already said, if it brings the price down on the larger capacity pure SSDs then why not? Most people are basically using their SSDs as a cache anyway.
  • 1 Hide
    theuniquegamer , January 17, 2012 3:24 PM
    Yeah keep it up. More market=more competitors = more production =cheaper and better ssds
  • 0 Hide
    nikorr , January 17, 2012 3:38 PM
    Timing is everything, HDD $$$ are up + SSD's are on the market long enough.

    This is great time to push the SSD's to the masses : )

    I was sold 2+ years ago and love it! Vertex2 and still works like new.
  • 0 Hide
    JimmiG , January 17, 2012 4:16 PM
    ChainzsawI don't like the idea of cache SSDs. Whenever someone asks about it...I tell them to go for a straight SSD rather than a cache/HDD set up. The reason is cache SSD's need to "learn" your habits and it takes about 3-4 good sessions to get them up and running, whereas the straight SSD solution - it's always on and it always give you 100% performance.To me cache SSD's seem like a "band-aid" solution for bridging the digital divide between HDDs and SSD's, which in my opinion, would be better to go for the straight up SSD solution.


    Straight SSD will be a better option once 500GB-1TB SSD's become affordable. Right now, a 64GB cache SSD is a very affordable option if you want to boost the performance of your system.

    While it's true that cache SSD's need to "learn" your habits, a regular SSD+mechanical disk needs to be *taught* your habits. You do this by manually installing the things you *think* you will need to access to at high speed on the SSD. If you change your mind, you'll have to uninstall the application or game from one drive (e.g. the mechanical HDD) and then re-install it on the other drive (SSD).
    A cache SSD seamlessly adapts to new usage patterns in the background. If I stop playing Skryim, it gets removed from the SSD to make room for something else while still being available in case I want to revisit it later. Also it doesn't guess wrong as much as humans do. The applications you *think* you use the most might not be the ones you actually use most of the time.

    Because of the Pareto principle (80-20 rule), a small cache SSD paired with a much larger HDD will give you almost the same performance as a very large SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    waethorn , January 17, 2012 4:57 PM
    You don't need 120GB for SSD caching. 16-32GB is more than enough! Consider that your hard drive has probably only 1/10th of the cache, and a caching SSD offers another caching level (like an L3 cache in a CPU, since you have the L1 cache in the drive, and Windows will use your fast RAM for L2 disk caching), and it really does improve the performance of just a straight hard drive without costing as much as a "full-sized" SSD (meaning something in the 128-256GB size, considering that 512GB SSD's are far more money than the now low-average hard drive size of 500GB).

    I think AMD should go to Seagate and aggressively market Barracuda XT's under the AMD brand, just like they did for RAM. Heavy marketing will translate to more sales, and will bring the price down. No more specialty controller cards or chipsets for SSD caching when the drive has it built in, just like SSD's that come with built-in garbage collection that don't require OS support for TRIM.
  • 0 Hide
    ben850 , January 17, 2012 5:12 PM
    drwho1This "cache SSD's" should be embedded into Motherboards with a capacity of at least 120GB in the near future.


    My tower is ready.
  • 0 Hide
    waethorn , January 17, 2012 5:31 PM
    One thing that people forget:

    RAM is really cheap right now. Windows (and pretty well every OS on the planet) will use unused RAM for disk caching. Why not just add more RAM to your system? 4GB of DDR3 is like ~$25 right now (AMD Entertainment RAM in 4GB DDR3-1333 and 1600 are the same price), and most desktop motherboards support 16GB or more now. The cost of a 16GB 2.5" Kingston SSD and one of those caching SSD controller cards is more than $100 though. As I said: 16GB is fine for a caching SSD. RAM is faster though. So just upgrade to 16GB of RAM and let Windows play with it. Retail RAM also includes a lifetime warranty. Let's see you get more than a few years from any SSD. Something to think about....
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , January 17, 2012 6:22 PM
    This is more about hitting low price points and battery life rather than storage space and performance. Obviously a pure SSD solution would be better, but that would drive the price up a couple hundred $.
  • 0 Hide
    51l3n5t , January 17, 2012 6:23 PM
    DRosencraftMost people are basically using their SSDs as a cache anyway.


    So true
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