As the market for NAND Flash stabilizes in the latter half of the year, consumer and enterprise demand for solid-state drives is expected to surpass hard drives.
Sound familiar? The topsy-turvy world of predictions surrounding the storage market has swung back from peril to optimism. Industry research firm DRAMeXchange is reporting that the oversupply of NAND flash weakening the global solid-state-storage market is scheduled to balance out toward the latter half of 2009. This will allow the price gap between traditional hard drives and their expensive, solid-state counterparts to narrow, ultimately launching the HD-to-SSD replacement cycle that was delayed as a result of the worldwide economic crises.
Computer manufacturers have been foreshadowing the transition, especially in the context of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Not only have we seen the usual flurry of SSD price cuts and size increases, but there’s been more talk about the enterprise market and its use of solid-state technology. SanDisk expects flash-based laptops to penetrate the market in 2009, and has launched its third-generation line of SSDs to be ready to meet the expected demand. According to the company, these drives would allow a business to convert a standard, Windows XP-based laptop to a 60GB “flashtop,” as they’re being branded, for only $150. Rival Samsung is pushing its new SSDs toward the server markets, rather than portable computing. But company representatives also agree that 2009 is going to be a big year for SSD-only business notebooks.
Seagate has also given some insight as to how flash-based storage plays a role in the company’s storage roadmap. According to Seagate CTO Robert Whitmore, the company plans to launch its first solid-state enterprise drive later in 2009. Industry critics are doubtfully responding with, “about time” to the announcement. Seagate’s been dragging its heels with flash-based technology compared to its peers, offering more conjectures – the growth of hybrid storage in 2009 and potential SLC and MLC combination SSDs – than tangible products. Although the company has been busy with the SSD market in one context: Suing solid-state drive manufacturers for alleged patent violations.