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Friday, March 18, 2011

Solid State Drives Boom in 2011

Twin engines of consumer and enterprise usage will fuel growth to over $4bn

By Nick Flaherty

Have we finally turned the corner to see solid state drives start to really take off? IHS iSuppli thinks so, predicting a near doubling of revenues this year to hit more than $4 billion and extending a robust performance in the storage market for the second year in a row.
SSD revenue this year is projected to hit $4.4 billion, up 91.3 percent from $2.3 billion in 2010. Growth in 2011 continues the expansion of the market starting last year, when the industry crossed the $1 billion threshold, figures indicate. This is becoming more apparent with SSD maker OCZ buying controller chip designer Indilinx this week.SSD revenue will continue to push ahead in the near future, even though the succeeding years will yield less impressive growth rates ranging from 7 to 25 percent. By 2014, SSD revenue is anticipated to reach $7.2 billion.

Ramping up in Consumer and Enterprise Segments
A number of compelling factors this year is spurring growth in SSDs—a type of storage technology comprised mostly of semiconductors and without any movable parts, unlike their rival hard disk drives made of magnetic media. Not only has pricing dropped for the NAND flash memory chips used in SSDs, solid state drives also are picking up real traction in both the consumer and enterprise markets.
The industry’s hottest segment in 2011 will be SSDs for consumer usage, IHS predicts, as shipments of SSD-outfitted high-end notebooks skyrocket. Last year’s Apple Inc.’s MacBook Air, for instance, succeeded in highlighting the SSD as a tangible differentiator—as opposed to soft attributes like design and build quality—for high-end notebooks. By designing around a small storage footprint and throwing in the fast performance typical of NAND flash, Apple delivered an attractive computing experience otherwise not achievable through a hard drive, thereby demonstrating the virtues inherent in SSD-equipped computers.
SSD’s other growth segment this year lies in the enterprise, which increasingly employs flash storage to overcome performance bottlenecks. In applications like online transaction processing and financial analysis, SSD drives using single-level-cell (SLC) NAND are preferred in order to enable optimal bandwidth and longevity. In addition, “enterprise-grade” multi-level-cell (MLC) NAND flash also has picked up steam as vendors improve MLC performance and controller sophistication, with a majority of enterprise SSDs now shipping with MLC flash.
Boosting SSD’s cachet within the enterprise segment, transformative applications—such as tiered server and storage system designs—are occurring, made possible by solid state technology. Other new applications capitalizing on the advantages of NAND flash also are getting ready to take off, further distancing SSDs from their hard disk drive legacy.
IHS revenue prospects for SSD this year have been consistent with last year’s outlook, but the sentiment then wasn’t as buoyant coming on the heels of a slow first half. SSDs had struggled earlier in 2010—partly due to a rise in NAND prices, and also because hard disc drives continued to increase their capacity and price advantage. But now, given the star turn for SSDs in ultraportable notebooks as well as an enhanced profile in the enterprise, the success projected by IHS for the industry has become a reality.
Mirroring the notable results in revenue, SSD shipments this year will be on an upswing, projected to reach approximately 15 million units, an increase of more than 118 percent from 6.9 million in 2010. Yet SSD shipments remain miniscule compared to those for hard disk drives, which will total roughly 161 million units in the first quarter of 2011 alone. At the same time, the hard disk drive market is consolidating and seeing much slower growth.

Read More > SSD Boom in 2011 Fueled by Twin Engines

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