Plain and simple, solid state drives (SSDs) still cost too much for mainstream adoption. That epiphany seems to have hit Kingston's Scott Chen, VP of sales for Asia Pacific, who says that the price premium of SSDs over hard drives needs to drop by about 20 percent from the current 40 percent to drive widespread adoption.
Great, step one is identifying the problem, and step two would be fixing it. Sometimes it takes a give-and-take between consumers and manufacturers to prove there's a market for certain technology, but in this case, the ball is squarely in the manufacturers' court.
As it stands, the average cost of 1GB of NAND stands at $2.50, which would explain the horrible price-to-capacity ratio of SSDs compared to hard drives. According to Chen, the cost of 1GB of NAND needs to drop below $1 before we'll see any kind of widespread adoption of SSDs.
Chen isn't the only one who thinks so. Back in August, market research firm pegged $0.40 per GB as the price point NAND memory will need to hit before SSDs can become competitive with traditional HDDs.
LaCie has expanded its lineup of USB 3.0-enabled external hard drives (maybe because the Rugged USB 3.0 mobile hard drive it launched in late April had begun pining for siblings). The Minimus and Rikiki are the company's latest USB 3.0-powered HDD offerings. If you believe in love at first sight, then an innate predilection for “sturdy brushed aluminum”will surely boost the odds of you falling for these two drives.
"The Minimus and Rikiki USB 3.0 offer our customers easy and affordable options to access the super speeds of USB 3.0," Philippe Rault, LaCie Consumer Product Manager, is quoted as saying in a release. "Since these products offer backward compatibility with USB 2.0, they will work on any PC or Mac with no worry."
Fair warning folks, if you write on your hard drives with a permanent marker, you may be blacking out the warranty. Take it from Scott (last name withheld) who wrote to The Consumerist complaining that his HDD warranty is now void for having written on it with a Sharpie.
Scott claims the serial numbers on his SATA hard drives weren't being recognized by Seagate's online RMA system and so he called them instead. He was then asked to provide a sales receipt and a photo of the drives.
"Thank you for the pictures," Seagate responded in an email. "Unfortunately, I am unable to read the serial number for either drive, and the writing on the one drive would void any warranty for that drive. If you can please send more clear pictures, I will do my best to have this issue resolved."
Scott didn't upload any pics to The Consumerist, but he insinuates the markings aren't any worse than the ones repair shops put on HDDs to keep from getting them mixed up.
This is not the actual drive Scott tried to RMA. It is, however, an old hard drive we had laying around, and though as some readers have pointed out we didn't use a Seagate unit for this shot, we can assure you that the marker is a genunie Sharpie.
Has something like this ever happened to you? Hit the jump and post your RMA stories, good or bad.
Market research firm iSuppli expects declining NAND flash memory prices to fall to $1 per gigabyte at the end of 2010. This is significant as the $1 per gigabyte level is deemed critical to the success of SSDs. Interestingly, the last time the price was below the $1 threshold the year on the Gregorian calendar was 2008; MLC pricing averaged 90 cents per gigabyte in the fourth quarter of 2008.
iSuppli anticipates 3-bit per cell (TLC) NAND flash memory to average $1.20 per gigabyte during the fourth quarter of 2010 before ending the year at around $1.00. The research firm feels this would be a “precipitous drop from the first quarter of 2010, when pricing for TLC averaged $1.80 per gigabyte and 2-bit per cell (MLC) flash was at $2.05.”
Even though plummeting prices are expected to breathe new life into the SSD market, NAND flash memory prices will have to decline even further for SSD adoption to reach critical mass. According to Michael Yang, senior analyst for memory and storage at iSuppli, NAND flash memory prices will have to plummet to 40 cents by 2012 to pose a threat to HDDs.
“With NAND pricing having returned to per-gigabyte pricing levels not seen in two years, there’s likely to be a lot of new buzz created for the solid state storage market at the end of 2010,” Yang said. “However, traditional HDDs gained a lot of additional ground during the past few years in terms of rising capacity and falling prices. In fact, HDDs have gained so much ground that SSDs now are in danger of never regaining their competitive footing.”
How awesome would it be if your hard drive securely erased sensitive data whenever it's powered down, or when it was removed from your system? Not only would that be rad, but it's now a reality thanks to Toshiba's new Wipe technology for its line of Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) models.
There are a number of scenarios where something like this could prove useful, including obvious ones like your notebook becoming lost or stolen. But that isn't all Wipe is good for.
"Many organizations are now realizing the critical importance of maintaining the security of document image data stored within copier and printer systems," Toshiba explains. "Wipe is a technology that can automatically invalidate an HDD security key when its power supply is turned off, instantly making all data in the drive indecipherable. Toshiba's innovative new Wipe Technology adds advanced storage security features to enable system makers to transparently and automatically secure private data."
On the pedestrian side, Toshiba's Wipe technology can also come in handy when returning a leased system, disposing of a system and/or hard drive, or re-purposing a drive, Toshiba says.
Look for Samsung to soon begin shipping the EcoGreen F4EG, a 2TB 3.5-inch hard drive the company claims is the world's highest density HDD, and environmentally friendly to boot.
"Storage-hungry multimedia professionals, gamers, and home PC users continue to increase the amount of video, music, photo, and other personal data they store and back-up," said I.C. Park, vice president, Storage Sales, Semiconductor Business, Samsung Electronics. "The F4EG delivers all the benefits of a low-power drive yet features top performance quality and is environmentally friendly."
In order to claim the density crown, Samsung packed 667GB of storage space onto three platters. Combined with "advanced technology," Samsung says the F4EG is 19 percent better in standby time performance, and boasts a 23 percent lower power consumption in standby compared to the previous four-disk F3EG model.
Other features include SATA 3.0Gbps, NCQ, and a 32MB buffer. The F4EG will ship in September for $120.
Lian Li has come up with a new line of enclosures, only these are for your hard drive, not your entire PC. Dubbed "EX-10Q," these external drive enclosures provide a colorful home for your 2.5-inch hard drive (or SSD).
Constructed of thin aluminum and available in a variety of colors (red, silver, black, and blue), the EX-10Q connects via a USB 3.0 port allowing it to reach speeds of up to 5Gbps, or up to 480Mbps if you're still rolling old school with USB 2.0 (and thanks to Intel dragging its feet, most of us are).
The EX-10Q enclosures measure 75mm x 12mm x 130mm (or 2.95in x 0.47in x 5.12mm for those of you who shake an angry fist at the metric system) and will start shipping soon for $30.
Hard drive makers and memory vendors alike continue to charge a king's ransom for solid state drives (SSDs), which if there's a silver lining to this, it's that HDDs are more affordable than ever, and they're about to come down in price even more.
Citing un-named sources from major hard drive players, Digitimes says HDD quotes in Taiwan at the of June dropped 10-20 percent from where they were at the beginning of the second quarter. While the steady march of SSDs is no doubt playing a role, the bigger reason is that HDD makers adjusted their shipment forecast for the third quarter due to Europe's bond crisis.
This seems to affecting all levels of hard drives, especially the larger models. Capacities over 500GB were down an average of 20 percent at the end of June compared to one quarter ago, while 250GB and 320GB capacities dropped an average of 10 percent.
Even though most computers are not designed to fully utilize a 3TB drive, Seagate could not resist the temptation of launching “the world's first 3 Terabyte (TB) external desktop drive.” According to Seagate, the 3.5-inch FreeAgent GoFlex Desk external hard drive can hold up to 120 HD movies or 1500 video games.
Hard drive makers living high on the hog will find themselves in a bit of rut in the second half of 2010, which sources say is the result of Europe's ongoing bond crisis. Both third and fourth quarter HDD shipments are now expected to be 5-10 percent lower than originally forecast.
This is the same time period that's traditionally been considered the peak season for the IT industry, but hard drive makers are already starting to feel the pinch. Citing a research firm's figures, shipments once expected to reach 165 million units in the second quarter have now been reduced to 152-155 million.
If there's a silver lining, it's that 2010 has been particularly strong overall. Even though none of the HDD players are likely to reach their original shipment goals for the second half of 2010, shipments for the entire year should still end up seeing growth compared to 2009.