The invasion of the SSDs (Solid State Drives) has begun. Although hard disk drives (HDDs) will likely survive – some contrarians even expect the 50-year-old technology to beat back the flash memory challenge – the fact is that SSDs are poised to sweep most HDDs into the dustbin of history. An SSD will no longer be just a high-end choice on a MacBook Pro rental or mobile device, either. Dropbox and Amazon are both deploying SSDs in their data centers now, and others companies big and small are jumping on the bandwagon. So what gives?
Time for a paradigm shift?
The veep that runs Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, Rob Crooke, puts it succinctly: “We’re not talking 10, 20 percent improvement here. [SSDs] can be 10 times more reliable [and] a thousand times faster than a hard disk.” This means that web searches – on your desktop PC rental, smart phone, or tablet – return increasingly accurate results with every letter you type. The newer, cheaper, faster type of flash memory in today’s SSDs that makes all this progress possible is called NAND.
Industry analysts predict that shipments of NAND flash memory for SSDs will hit 16.3 billion gigabytes in 2015, an astonishing increase from the 1.6 billion in 2011. Intel’s Crooke says the growing capabilities of SSDs will increase demand and “disrupt” the computing industry in a big way. The new svelte PC “ultrabooks” (based on the trailblazing MacBook Air) demonstrate that disruption and exemplify the superior characteristics of SSDs:
speed and responsiveness,
cooler and quieter operation,
reduced power consumption,
greater reliability and
The future is now
At its data centers, Intel has deployed some 80,000 SSDs. Company records show HDD failures of around 4 percent per year, but for SSDs it is a mere one-half of one percent. So why doesn’t everyone just convert right now? It’s more expensive, at least for now. But CRE’s iPad rental holds the answer: With Apple’s tablet as a top seller, and numerous competitors coming out of the woodwork, the Cupertino firm is a big part of the growth in SSDs. Even at today’s prices, many companies have demonstrated that the total cost of converting to SSDs gradually decreases over time as employees become more productive.
Samsung and Toshiba are Intel’s major competitors in this niche, but the dramatic growth in SSD demand has encouraged a lot more companies to enter the fray. Some target specific segments like server SSDs and “commodity SSDs” for widespread use in embedded systems. We will keep you posted on the progress of SSDs, as the scope of their influence ranges from enterprise storage and high-end computing to phones, gadgets, and tablet PC rentals. There will be few high-tech niches untouched by this future-is-now technology. Stay tuned!