TechEye spoke to Steve Hall, European Product Development Manager of Flash at Kingston, who disagreed with the findings of Michael Yang at iSuppli, which we covered last Thursday. Yang stated that NAND prices would drop to $1 per gigabyte by the end of the year, but he revealed that prices would have to drop to $0.40 if SSDs are to offer any real competition to HDDs.
Hall told us that over the last two years there have been significant advances in SSD technology and also significant changes in price. He said that for the rest of 2010 and into 2011 we should see the performance per pound ratio changing in the SSD market and he cited an IDC report from December 2009 that suggested that the SSD market would grow by 54 percent by 2013, which may mean that the SSD market is not as doomed as Yang predicted.
Hall said that over the last 18 months there has been a lot of hype in the press about SSDs, but that over the next year or so we should see more people coming to the realisation that SSDs are not as much of an expensive luxury product that they once were. He said that we should also expect to see advancements made with products, including better firmware, more availability, and more affordable options.
One of the key matters he stressed, however, was that there was more to an SSD than price. He said that the difference between an SSD and a HDD is huge and if you were to walk into a room with both on show you would immediately realise they are two entirely different products. He said that HDDs are easy-access, affordable storage, but SSDs are about optimisation and a performance upgrade, offering speed and stability, which is a different matter entirely.
Hall was keen to point out that while SSDs are admittedly more expensive at face value, they are one of the cheapest ways to improve performance on a computer. He said that upgrading RAM and the processor is an obvious choice for improving performance, but many notebooks do not have an option to change the processor, since they are built-in. He said that after the RAM has been changed the next most viable option for improving performance is upgrading to an SSD. This is much cheaper than upgrading the processor or buying a new laptop, he revealed.
Hall cited internal tests that showed the increased performance that results from using an SSD, one of which was on a two-year old Dell laptop with 1GB of memory, an 80GB HDD, and running Windows XP. Kingston replaced the HDD with an SSD and found a 50 percent increase in performance.
Businesses, in particular, can benefit considerably from upgrading to SSDs, he said, with a £200 to £300 SSD upgrade being considerably cheaper than replacing a PC entirely to avail of a similar percentage performance increase.
We asked what needed to be done to make SSDs more appealing to a wider consumer audience, particularly considering the recession’s effects upon people’s limited finances. Hall said that continuing drops in prices will help here, as will a wider range of SSDs which are now beginning to hit the market. He said that Kingston has already seen a sharp increase in consumer purchases of SSDs over recent months, suggesting that they are not as unsuccessful as others believe.
We asked what Kingston’s plans are for the future in terms of SSDs and he revealed that over the next three to four months we should see new SSDs with greater capacity, format additions, changes to technology, including die and memory controller changes, and upgrades to performance, along with more affordable ranges and refreshes of current products, which he said will provide cost-effective performance upgrades for businesses and consumers.