Samsung announced Thursday it has begun mass production of a 256 gigabyte (GB) solid state drive (SSD) designed for use in notebook an desktop PCs. The drives round out Samsung’s line of SSDs, which includes 8, 16, and 32 GB SSD models for low-density designs and 64 and 128 GB for higher densities, the company said.
“The significance of this launch is in that Samsung is improving SSD performance and it shows that the industry is still improving SSD technology. If we look back to SSDs from last year to the SSDs of today, such as the one that Samsung is announcing, we see a significant improvement in SSD performance, and it is these types of improvements that benefit end users. Ultimately, it is the benefits of SSDs that drive their adoption,” Jeffrey Janukowicz, an analyst at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.
Performance Is Key
Samsung’s new 256GB SSDs combine sequential read rates of 220 megabytes per second (MB/s) with sequential write rates of 200 MB/s. This, according to Samsung, narrows the performance gap between read and write operations to just 10 percent. In other SSDs, that read-write performance gap can range between 20 and 70 percent.
“This is the highest-density SSD in production for notebooks and desktop PCs,” Gregory Wong, founder and principal analyst at Forward Insights, told TechNewsWorld. [*correction] “The performance, especially the sequential write performance, is impressive and very close to the read performance, especially considering it is an MLC (multi-level cell)-based SSD. Typically, the gap between the read/write performance is very large due to the [greater than] two-times gap between the read/write performance of NAND flash chips.”
Although Samsung did not offer details on random write performance, the company said the new SSDs have erase cycles of 100 GBs per minute. In addition, the SSDs can also store up to 25 high-definition movies in 21 minutes, considerably faster than the 70 minutes it would take with a 7,200 rpm hard disk drive. The drives also launch applications roughly 10 times faster than their HDD counterparts.
With a power consumption rate of less than 1.1 watts, the SSDs require less power then HDDs, which consume two or more watts of power on average, Samsung claimed. The drive’s high operating speed equals longer periods in which the SSD is in either stand-by or idle mode and can extend a single battery charge by as much as 40 minutes.
Samsung did not provide information on pricing for its new 256GB SSDs; however, buyers should be prepared for a significantly higher price than they would pay for an HDD.
They may be priced in the US$1,000 range, according to Joseph Unsworth, a Gartner analyst. “You could buy terabytes of storage with $1,000,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Price is still a factor for SSD adoption, noted Janukowicz.
“Today, price points remain high, especially for high-capacity SSDs. However, we continue to see large price declines in flash memory, and this continues to make SSD more affordable,” he said.
Still, technology aficionados like hardcore PC gamers may provide a willing market for the pricey drives.
“The fact that the 256 GB SSDs are being mass-produced less than two months before CES (The Consumer Electronics Show) and MacWorld suggests there may be some announcements upcoming at those venues,” Wong remarked. [*correction]
Until prices come down, though, SSDs will not be a common component in laptops and other devices, Unsworth said.
“It’s important to note that this is an SSD, not a component, so it is an HDD replacement. Enterprise storage/servers is the other big area for SSD, but this is a whole different discussion and value proposition. I would say potentially replacing HDDs in cars being used for infotainment — a small market — and perhaps game consoles [are other devices SSDs could be found in]. Prices need to come down,” he stated.
*ECT News Network editor’s note: The original publication of this article incorrectly attributed certain statements to Greg Schultz and Jeffrey Janukowicz. We regret the errors.