A new generation of lower-cost ultrabooks could help cause global shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) to more than double in 2013, according to an IHS iSuppli Storage Space Market Brief. Worldwide SSD shipments are expected to rise to 83 million units this year, up from 39 million in 2012 with shipments set to continue to rise to 239 million units in 2016, amounting to about 40 percent of the size of the hard disk drive (HDD) market.
SSDs can serve as an alternative to hard disk drives in personal computers, storing data by using NAND flash memory semiconductors rather than by employing traditional rotating media.
The SSD data presented covers traditional solid state drives in both the consumer and enterprise segments, as well as cache SSDs that along with an HDD component make up a composite storage solution—such as that found in Intel Corp’s ultrabooks. Not included is revenue for hybrid HDDs, in which the NAND component lies inside the hard drive.
“The fate of the SSD business is closely tied to the market for Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs that use cache drives,” said Ryan Chien, analyst for memory and storage at IHS. “While SSD shipments rose by 124 percent last year, growth actually fell short of expectations because ultrabook sales faltered due to poor marketing, high prices and a lack of appealing features. However, if sales of the new generation of ultrabooks take off this year as expected, the SSD market is set for robust growth.”
The newest wave of ultrabooks loaded with Windows 8 has started to generate enthusiasm, with the superthin computers likely to pick up more steam this year. Upcoming ultrabooks based on Intel Corp.’s Haswell microprocessor architecture also have the potential to catch on with consumers. These factors should boost SSD prospects this year.
Another factor driving growth is that average selling prices for NAND flash memory have come down, in the process establishing new price expectations. The lower prices are attracting deal-seeking consumer enthusiasts, as well as an increasing number of PC manufacturers that are now more willing to install the once-costly drives into computers.
Furthermore, in the enterprise sector, SSD use is growing thanks to product introductions from major vendors and startups alike.
As NAND rides out variable cost and scale curves in ever-more efficient manufacturing processes, such things as solid-state PCs, servers and storage arrays become more achievable and attainable. Recent developments around nonvolatile memories like STT-RAM and resistive RAM also hint at sustained performance improvements for SSDs beyond the drives’ current use of NAND flash memory.