SSDs are certainly getting ever more affordable. Drives which would have cost thousands, even tens of thousands of pounds, three or four years ago are suddenly into the low hundreds - and they look set to nose dive much, much further...
Taking its cutting edge partnership to the next level, Intel and Micron have jointly announced they are sampling the first two-bits-per-cell 25nm MLC NAND flash. In English? Larger, cheaper and faster SSDs are on their way.
How much larger and cheaper? A third generation Intel X-25 line is expected to launch in 160GB, 320GB and 600GB sizes and while pricing hasn't been discussed we can look at gens one and two for an idea. An 80GB first gen X25-M was manufactured using the 50nm process and cost approximately £340. Gen two dropped to 34nm and a 80GBer fell to $225 (£137). Are we getting excited yet? Oh and did I mention they will use even less power too so you'll eek a little extra battery life out of your laptops.
Performance? Sequential read/write speeds should sit around 200MBps which isn't snappier than the top end read speeds we've seen before, but the real potential lies in even quicker random writes - which are far more relevant to real world performance. Again history helps us out here: gen two Intel X-25Ms performed twice as fast as gen one delivering up to 6,600 4KB write IOPS and up to 35,000 read IOPS. Read and write latency scores were a mere 65 microseconds. Your average HDD? Several hundred IOPS and a latency of circa 4,000 microseconds.
In terms of timescale patience will be required. Volume production of the new NAND will take place during Q2 with the first 25nm SSDs (from Intel, Micron and third party partners such as Kingston) not ready until Q4. Widespread availability may not even be until 2012. Still, chin up, the blisteringly quick second gen X-25M will be dropping like a stone between now and then - so soon there should be no excuse not to relegate HDDs to a secondary role of storage and back-up.