There's no doubt that SSD drives are improving day to day. One major area that SSD manufacturers are focusing on is drive capacity. Mainstream SSD drives tend to be limited to 80 GB or less for affordability. There are drives that have larger capacities, but the cost is significantly higher than a similar HDD, which is what is keeping SSD drives out of the hands of many at this point.
Despite this, capacities are ramping up fast!
Intel is prepped and ready to start shipping 160GB offerings of its 2.5-inch X25-M solid-state drive. The company plans to launch a 160GB 1.8-inch version, the X18-M SSD, next month. It’s no secret that Intel’s solid-state devices are speedy, but the bigger question is whether Intel has enough clout to get its products into consumers’ hands. The catch? Rivals Samsung and Toshiba have stepped up to the place with some bulky offerings of their own.
Samsung is coming into the picture with a clear SSD roadmap well into 2009. The company has already begun mass-producing 256GB multi-level cell drives as of late November, which should become available to consumers around a similar time as Intel’s X18-M SSD. And if that’s not enough, Samsung expects to have 512GB SSDs out the door in 2009 as well.
Toshiba, whose 256GB SSD offerings pull in nearly half the maximum read and write speeds of Samsung’s, is pushing toward high-capacity as fast as the company can go. It’s already announced that it will be debuting the world’s first 512GB SSD at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show. The company claims that this new generation of MLC SSDs—also including 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions—should be able to hit maximum read and write speeds of 240 MB/s and 200 MB/s respectively. If true, that will make these drives the fastest MLC-based drives you can buy. Given Toshiba’s SSD track record, we’ll wait and see.
Pricing will be the final factor that helps determine which drive ultimately wins out. But with all three expected to reach the thousand-dollar price tag (more for Samsung’s 512GB offering: $1,652), will questions of performance and size ultimately matter? High solid-state storage prices are still a tough pill for consumers to swallow given the comparatively inexpensive price of magnetic storage. For the enterprise market, however, a giant capacity could very well win the day.
For the notebook market, we're expecting to see SSD drives make a big splash here, sooner than on the desktop market.