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2013: A Big Year for SSDs?

Solid state drives have been around for a while, but their older counterparts the hard disk drive is still the bigger seller. That may set to change in 2013; some analysts predict SSD revenues to more than double this year. Hard disk drives may set to reign for a little while longer, but SSDs aren’t going to stay far behind for much longer.

For those not in the know, a hard disk drive operates using mechanical components. All data is stored on a rotating platter, above which a read and write head floats above in order to access the data. This is different to a solid state drive which uses a memory chip and has no moving parts. It is similar to USB sticks, which have been popular for a while. A SSD is 30% faster than a HDD when it comes to opening files because there is no wait for the platters to spin up. There is also a reduced chance of failure with an SSD as damage to the delicate platters in a HDD is a common cause of hard drive crashes.

According to IHS’ research in to storage space, worldwide shipments of SSDs will increase from 39 million units in 2011 to 83 million units in 2013. They claim that by 2016 around 239 million SSDs will be shipped, making up around 40% of the entire drive market for that year. That would account for more than $20 billion of revenue worldwide just for SSDs.

These estimates have been made due to the continually falling price of flash memory. Alongside smaller storage space, one of the biggest factors stopping people using SSD is the price. SSD prices have fallen by around 38% over the course of 2012. A terabyte SSD from Micron Technology costs less than $600 now, for example, which is much less than what it would have been even a year ago. Now with a drop in price, computer manufacturers are now more willing to use SSD drives in their machines – especially since the decreased power consumption and reduced heat and noise are great selling points.

IHS believes that popularity of Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs that use cache drives (which SSD does) will be the driving force for the increased popularity of SSDs. In fact, in 2012 the shipments of SSDs fell short of predictions (despite growing 124%), something IHS puts down to the poor sales of ultrabooks. With consumers now more aware of Windows 8, however, predictions for sales could well meet targets this year.

The benefits of solid state drives are clear when put against hard disk drives. They are quieter, produce less heat and have a lower failure rate. The only thing that has put manufacturers and consumers off is the amount of storage space on offer and the price. Both of these disadvantages seem to be disappearing quite rapidly and it makes sense to predict that sales of SSD are going to continually rise. 2013 is looking to be a big year for SSDs if ultrabooks and other devices that use solid state sell well in the market.

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