The Data Center, HotHardware's new community for IT professionals, is sponsored by Dell's Future of Storage. This article is part of our ongoing series of topics and discussions related to IT, Enterprise Storage and related storage technologies.
While other hard drive manufacturers have been busy churning out Solid State Drives (SSD), Seagate has been sitting on the SSD sidelines because it felt that the cost was still too high to produce and sell drives using this relatively new storage technology. The company has announced that it will finally be getting its SSD feet wet when it releases a its first SSD drive sometime in 2009.
Before consumers get too excited about the prospect of another hard drive manufacturer producing SSDs and helping to bring the price down with increased competition, Seagate's initial foray into SSDs will focus only on drives for the enterprise market, where companies "need speedy storage and can afford to pay a premium for the expensive drives." PC World reports:
"SSDs are not price-competitive yet," [Seagate CEO, Bill] Watkins said. The storage market is driven by cost-per-gigabyte and though SSDs provide benefits such as power savings, they won't be in laptops in the next few years, Watkins said. Low-power consumption capabilities and high speeds make SSDs useful for laptops, but the cost-per-gigabyte won't come down at least for the next few years, Watkins said.
"If the cost-per-gigabyte comes down to 10 cents, maybe," Seagate will focus on SSD storage for consumers, Watkins said.
In addition to the high price of SSD storage, the technology faces other hurdles. The storage capacity of SSDs are limited, compared to today's conventional hard drives. The largest capacity SSD currently available is 256GB (incidentally, which sells for over $5,000). Additionally, "SSDs also have write issues, with cells in the drives deteriorating quickly and reducing storage capacity, a general problem that plagues flash drives."
Even Seagate envisions the use of SSDs in the enterprise for functions that require speedy access and temporary storage. The data would "ultimately [be] moved to permanent storage on hard drives or tape."
Until prices come down substantially, storage capacities increase, and reliability improves, don't expect SSDs to make large inroads into general consumer products anytime soon. You'll see them available in ultraportables like the MacBook Air and the Toshiba Portégé R500-S5004--but even there, the SSDs are pricey upgrades.