SSD vs. HDD: How Low Will Hard Drives Go?

A couple of years ago, no one would have imagined hard disk drives being so inexpensive as to attract headlines. The more speedy solid-state drives face an uphill challenge in keeping up with the low costs.

The cost of laptop hard disks has been rapidly dropping making mobile HDDs far cheaper than solid-state drives. It is the laptop market that is one of the primary areas for flash memory-based SSDs which on the whole are faster than HDDs.

The two-figure pricing that many laptop makers provide only serves to make SSDs look like luxury commodities when compared to HDDs. Jim Handy, prinicipal analyst at Objective Analysis said "HDD and NAND (flash memory) cost per gigabyte are destined to remain an order of magnitude apart for the foreseeable future. SSDs will remain from 10 to 20 times as expensive as HDDs of the same capacity."

Apple provide an excellent example of the disparity in cost. In the MacBook Pro Line, upgrading from a 320GB HDD to a 256GB SSD increased the cost by $650.

Retail SSDs are slightly lower in cost from suppliers such as Crucial - part of Micron Technology; their 256GB SSD is $514.99. However, this is still a long way off the cost of a HDD of the same capacity.

Handy thinks that "SSDs will not gain prominence in PCs as long as consumers continue to fixate on price and HDD capacity at the same time."

The acquisition of Hitachi's hard drive unit by Western Digital will probably result in a slowing in the decline of average HDD prices which might help bring SSDs more in line.

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