|Silicon Power 32GB SLC SATA-II SSD|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 08 November 2008|
Page 12 of 13
SSD Final Thoughts
EDITORS NOTE: Please read Solid State Drive (SSD) Benchmark Performance Testing to understand how the benchmarks used in this article should be interpreted.
New technology always has one major hurdle to face: the consumer. I have long maintained my opinion that DDR3 system memory is every bit an excellent replacement to the aging DDR2 standard, but the argument of high price and limited adoption by manufacturers has hushed my position. Faced with a similar situation, Solid State Drive technology has suffered the same difficult transition towards widespread use. Like most electronics, it wasn't a question of how much of a technology improvement was evident, it was price.
For the past year, or at least since Reno Hosted the SuperComputing Conference SC07, I have been on the prowl to test every SSD I could get my hands onto. For all intent and purpose, the biggest obstacle was actually getting my hands around these expensive products. What I later understood about this problem is that if a popular computer hardware website was having a difficult time securing samples, then how is the average consumer going to approach these products?
So when OCZ mentioned that their 64GB Core Series SSD would sell for $259, I really wasn't sure what to think. It didn't take long to realize these claims were all true, because shortly after the launch NewEgg began to sell the 64GB CORE series SSD for only $259.00. This in itself should have started the dawn of widespread consumer acceptance for SSD products... but there's always a catch. As it turned out, the OCZ Core Series SSD I touted in my review was prone to data corruption and the mail-in rebate nullified consumer ability to return the defective product for a refund. Nothing hurts progress more than an angry customer, and this incident created plenty.
Around this same time, a certain well-respected hardware website published an article that claimed SSDs didn't consume less power after all. Although this report was later recanted on account of testing errors, I have to wonder what kind of impact my news of higher heat output will cause the adoption process? After all, I like these products, and completely endorse the technology. But the bad publicity, even when it's disproven, still has a lasting effect thanks to the angst a premium price tag creates. Which raises a lasting concern for me and the rest of the consumer market: price.
As a product analyst, I often get to have my hands on expensive product that I would otherwise never spend my own money to purchase. Certainly without argument, Solid State Drives fit perfectly into this category. There are many products which I feel are so new that it's better to let them ripen on the vine, and with a little time they will mature into something everyone wants. However early adopters never follow the pack, and scoff at the notion of waiting out the next technologies maturity. So when Benchmark Reviews began testing SSD's last year en mass, it seemed like we were doing very little more than toying with the untouchable. But that was before you could replace your existing high-performance Hard Disk Drive for a SSD product for almost the same cost (sacrificing a small degree of capacity, of course).
As I previously mentioned, OCZ has managed the "impossible" by offering top-performance SSD products at only $4 (less after rebate) per gigabyte of storage space. Even if I consider this to be a fluke occurrence, the Super Talent MasterDrive MX hits a reasonable $6 per gigabyte ratio their own SSD. Both of these product perform well, even if they do not occupy the very top-most position in our benchmark results. These particular prices are getting very near to the Western Digital Raptor compared in this article, which is available for about $2 per gigabyte of storage. So why are there still Solid State Drives for sale at twice the cost? That's a very good question that only a particular group of manufacturers can answer.
Back when I reviewed the OCZ SATA-II 32GB SSD it seemed like $17 per gigabyte was a relatively good price for SSDs at the time. Consider for a moment that before now, SSD's such the elite-level 32 GB MemoRight GT cost on the level of $33 per gigabyte. Even products like the entry-level 32 GB Mtron MOBI 3000 still cost $14 per gigabyte, making the price of admission seem quite high for even the lower-level SKU's. So will consumers still accept a $24 per gigabyte price tag on SSD products like the Mtron Pro 7500 MSP-SATA7525? Probably not. In fact, it's pricing like this that will cause the market to flood with less expensive items like the OCZ CORE series SSD, even despite its flaws.
The good news is that Samsung is planning to launch 64 GB DRAM IC chips based on a 30 nm fabrication process some time in 2009. I see this as writing on the wall: get competitive or get out of the business. Samsungs MLC IC's already created the foundation for vastly more affordable SSD products, and now they're about to only get better... especially with the price of DRAW in decline.