Flash drives may replace hard drives in notebooks - analyst

Despite their lack in capacity and lofty price tags, Flash hard drives may become a serious threat for traditional hard drives in notebook computers. In-stat analyst Frank Dickson believes that solid state disk (SSD) storage may "dethrone the hard drive as the top laptop storage choice within 10 years."

Flash will make its way into notebook computers with the launch of Windows Vista, as Microsoft has announced that so-called hybrid hard drives - storage devices that combine Flash memory with a hard drive - a requirement for notebooks that come with Windows Vista Premium pre-installed. Flash hard drives have been announced by Samsung and PQI. Samsung will soon be offering a 32 GB drive and PQI said it will be selling a 64 GB version later this year - for about $2000 (see the Tom's Hardware video about the PQI drive here).

"The hard drive industry has done a phenomenal job of driving areal densities; however, it is clear that there are user segments for which drive capacities far exceed the user's need," Dickson said. "When one examines the declining cost trends for Flash, the user's need for storage and the premium that consumers place on the benefits provided by SSDs, it is easy to see that there will be a clear demand for SSDs." Dickson believes that the SSD market share in mobile computers could reach 50% by 2013.