Western Digital: The Economics of SSDs Simply Sucks

Paul Lilly

There's no question solid state drives (SSDs) are fast, especially now that the latest controllers have all but eliminated the stuttering problem that plagued first generation drives. The problem is SSDs are still expensive, forcing system builders to choose between performance (SSD) or storage space (HDD). Western Digital recently acknowledged as much during a recent conference call with financial analysts, XbitLabs reports .

"We have taken a look at and in fact shipped product in the SSD, in the client environment, and we do not find a compelling value proposition there either for manufacturer or for customer because the economics do not work," said John Coyne, chief executive officer of Western Digital. "The cost of the storage/performance is too high."

There was some hope that SSD pricing would have dropped by now, and while it has somewhat, the more popular trend seems to be to release lower capacity SSDs that cost less and market them as boot drives. The price-per-gigabyte ratio is still high, prompting Western Digital to consider hybrid drives as an alternative.

"We also continue to evaluate the opportunity to combine rotating magnetic storage with flash into hybrid solutions... We look at client environment and look at what might be an attractive offering that combine the best of both worlds in terms of performance of solid state with the capacity of rotating media," Coyne explained.

This, Coyne says, would "provide an accessible price point," but would also need operating systems to play ball with native support. According to Coyne, hybrid solutions are "not really supported well today," but could be in the next couple of years.

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