Is the SSD Ever Going to Take Off?

Solid state disks. Those hard drives without moving parts, that we commonly call SSDs. We started hearing a couple of years ago that standard spinning hard drives were soon to be a distant memory. The SSD would replace hard drives in notebooks first, and then follow onto the desktop. The SSD is faster, runs cooler, is gentler on batteries and can fit in smaller spaces than the old-school counterpart. Costs would soon come down to the point that the SSD would the only viable option for computers. Fast forward to the present and this hasn’t happened. The standard hard drive (HDD) is still the primary storage on most everything sold currently, with SSDs relegated to pricey options for those who are willing to pay a premium. So what happened?
I remember sitting with a friend in a local coffee shop two years ago, and the topic of discussion was the HDD vs. SSD debate. My friend worked for Western Digital (s wdc), a major supplier of hard disks for computers. I was predicting the death of the HDD, and warned him that his company better be prepared for the rise of the SSD. Western Digital didn’t make or sell SSDs back then, and my concern for his job is what led to the discussion. I remember clearly my friend looking at me and telling me that I was crazy, the HDD was too cheap and would remain so for the foreseeable future.
My friend was right. It’s two years later and still my prediction has failed to come true. That is further evident by a report out of Asia that a major supplier of SSDs for the computing industry is now predicting it will be another two years before the SSD will take off. This is what I was hearing two years ago. The reason it is still two years away is the same as my friend told me two years ago. Price. The flash memory used in the SSD is still much more expensive than the components used in standard spinning HDDs. It’s as if nothing has changed in the two years that has passed since my conversation with my friend. Will pricing for SSDs ever drop low enough to make it a serious threat to HDDs? I’m not so sure anymore.
Image credit: OCZ and Western Digital
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