Compared to traditional hard disk drives, SSDs possess benefits such as shock-resistance, fast transfer rates, and light mass. While factors such as high price and limited capacityinitially served as obstacles impeding its development, in the past two years or so, the storage system hasbegun to take off, and is now faring much better in the area of pricing and consumer acceptance.
120GB Today, 240GB Tomorrow
As initially projected by DRAMeXchange, the average price per GB has been going on a gradualdecline. Although the 64GB SSDs are set at the lower price range, with their restricted storage capacity, both their adoption and their usage rates have been limited. The overall popularity ofthe SSDs only gradually begun to increase following the release of the 120GB models, whose capacity, reasonable price, and inclusion of the SATA 3 interface are perceived as quality features. As the 120GBformat becomes the market mainstream, it will only be a matter of time before advanced users increase their expectations andbegin setting their sights on the 240GB capacities. With price per GB assumed to continue declining,the 240GB model may eventually be able to overtake the 120GB model as the new mainstream, albeit in an unspecified timeframe.
SATA 3, TRIM Become Necessary Specs
Like the 120 GB storage space, the SATA 3 interface hasbecomea standard feature on all new SSD models,given that it allows for better flow of data andquicker transfer speeds. While there are currently a number of SATA 2 SSDs in the market, many are at one point expected to be replaced by the SATA 3 SSDs. With the continuing support of TRIM by systems like Windows Vista SP1 and Windows 7, market adoption has become so widespread that products no longer have to present any label referring to the inclusion of TRIM functionality.
Controller, flash chips, and Firmware
In addition to the above mentioned features, the other core components of SSDsare the controller and flash chips. At present, sources that actually provide the formercomponent are limited; SandForce (LSI) and Marvell are two well known suppliers, while other manufacturers produce these componentsfor their own specific needs. Following LSI's acquisition of Sandforce, new controller chips are unlikely to be released within the market until 2013.
The situation with the flash chips is quite similar to that of the controller chips. As various manufacturers opt to produce their own chips, most have migrated to the 20nm processes, with only a few still using the 30nm process. At this point, there are also a few who are known to produce 19nm chips. Considering how the chips used by a manufacturer may change due to alterations in the batch and transaction processes, vendors will sometimes label on the packages the specific types of flash chips used in order to avoid mistakes.
The firmware for SSDs generally plays the roleof correcting previous mistakes and of ensuring product compatibility and effectiveness. Whether and when the new firmware should beapplied usually depends on personal judgment, although major manufacturing brands will be more concerned about such issues.
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