SSDs have been making significant gains in market share at the expense of hard disk drives for the past several years. With recent advances in NAND design technology such as 3D NAND, the two key advantages that HDDs have held over SSDs, which were price per gigabyte and storage capacity, are narrowing if not disappearing completely.
Price Per Gigabyte – Lower in 2017
In terms of price, SSDs are about $.25 per gigabyte and HDDs are about $.09 per gigabyte, so the gap in terms of pure cost is still significant. But when resellers base their decisions on a pure price/performance analysis, considering all the advantages of SSDs including significantly higher performance, dramatically greater durability, far lower failure rate, no noise, and less power consumption, many are already choosing SSDs even at the higher price points. So much so that HDD sales are down 17% year over year and SSDs are expected to account for over 50% of the total revenue for the storage market in 2017. In fact, as more 3D NAND is produced many manufacturers are predicting that SSDs will reach a lower price per gigabyte than HDDs sometime near the end of 2017, potentially pushing HDDs further into niche usages such as nearline storage, but even that segment could be in jeopardy from read optimized SSDs.
Storage Capacity Quadrupled in 2017
3D NAND is also erasing the storage capacity advantage of HDDs. In fact, as of today the largest hard drive tops out at 10TB, with predications from Seagate and Western Digital indicating that this could be pushed to 20TB by 2020. By comparison, the largest SSD based on 3D NAND released by Samsung is already 15.36TB with Intel, Micron, Samsung and Toshiba predicting 48TB and 96TB drives in 2017. By 2018 they all expect the capacity to increase to 128TB and 256TB. In addition to the larger storage potential, this is all being done in a 2.5" form factor compared to 3.5" for HDDs, so SSDs take up 40% less volume and 10% less weight which are both very important factors in large storage arrays.
More Advances on the Near Horizon
Of course HDDs still enjoy the cost per gigabyte advantage making the 10TB HDD far less costly than the 15.36TB Samsung SSD, but looking to the future with new NAND technology coming on line, as well as other technical advances such as NVMe and PCIe, solid state drives have far greater potential for delivering more value to the customer no matter their usage model.