Good-Bye Hard Drives, SSDs Are Getting Cheaper

SSD Prices Are Plummeting, Say Good-Bye to Hard Drives

Solid-state drives are superior to hard drives in every way but one: they're faster, lighter, and less fragile, but they're also more expensive. The last one has been the only thing keeping HDDs alive, and that thread appears to be getting thinner by the day.

According to a report by TrendForce, SSD prices per gigabyte have been making a cliff-like graph over the last few years: from $1.35 a gigabyte in 2012, we're down to $0.53. That's exactly what you'd expect from a technology starting to come of age; the interesting thing is that hard drive prices have stayed more or less the same, as you'd expect from a technology that's been around for decades.

In simpler terms: we are approaching a glorious storage singularity, where hard drives and SSDs cost the same, and spinning magnetic platters cease to be a thing anyone carries around. This will be good for everyone, because it will make our PCs faster, less likely to break, more energy-efficient and quieter.

According to TrendForce, this will happen for smaller drives sometime in 2017, which is when you can expect 256GB SSDs and HDDs to cost the same. Of course, there are caveats: this is classic data extrapolation, which is a fancy way of drawing lines to predict the future; there's also the fact that HDDs are still getting bigger, and at the upper end, SSDs and HDDs have a long way to converge. But still, solid-state drives in cheapo Windows laptops? Sign me up.

[TrendForce via Computerworld]



Comments

    Friend posted a link the other day to an 8 Tb HDD for around $285 after cashback.

    SSD's arent competing with that any time soon, and its at that higher storage level SATA HDD's come into their own. The 8Tb option above is still only 3.5c/Gb, so 53c/Gb isnt even close.

    These days, 256 Gb drives arent going to cut it for much more than boot drives and a few primary programs, which for laptops is great, but for desktops, there is still a need for storage.

    So, two drives in general for desktops. 256 Gb SSD, and massive capacity HDD, price is your limit. If you're lucky, HDD's can be even cheaper if you find a good deal - I got an unused 3Tb drive earlier this year for $70 which is what? 2.3c/Gb?

    SSD's are coming down, and thats great, but as you say, HDD's arent staying still either.

      An unused 3TB drive for $70 hardly counts, that is truly a one-off, and where was the 8TB HDD for $285? 4TB HDDs are typically around $200, and the 8TB drives are very, very slow unless you spend a fortune.

      I bought a crucial 256GB SSD for $89 last week, they are certainly getting cheaper.
      I run 3 x 1TB drives in a RAID for my working storage, and would find it very hard to go back to spinning drives for anything other than archiving.

      Sure for huge capacities HDDs are going to be the choice for a while, but for many people a few TBs is more than enough.

        Yeah, the $70 pricetag was nice, but it wasnt that unusual. The store had a 4 Tb drive for $105 a couple of weeks earlier I just missed on. Technically a second hand store, realistically that sort of hardware comes in unused as excess stock from somewhere, or a business closing down. Not a normal situation to be fair, but still it wasnt hard to find.

        As for the 8Tb drive, this is the link he sent around. Promotion for cashback of $30 ends today, so a $315 pricetag normally which is still a decent price.

        http://www.shoppingexpress.com.au/buy/seagate-archive-8tb-sata-3.5-internal-hard-drive/ST8000AS0002

        Point was more that prices per Gb might become more favorable for smaller drives, but you just wont buy them for desktop machines. Who is going to stick a sub 1Tb HDD in a desktop these days.

        So a fairer argument has to be made around the practical size of drives that will be used, and in that context HDD's arent staying still. I WANT SSD's to be a good price in comparison, but that good price needs to be at the 1Tb size or bigger, not 256 Gb.

          Promotion for cashback of $30 ends today, so a $315 pricetag normally which is still a decent price.I'm not sure that's correct. Given the information displayed:

          *$30 Cash back* Valid until 16th January 2016
          *$315.00 Was $531.00
          *PROMOTION: Sale end 0 days 9 hours 39 mins 41 sec

          I'd say that in 9 hours and 39 minutes it will revert to its normal price of $531.

            Probably, I didnt read it that closely. But if its that price once, it'll be that price again. Even at $531, thats 6.6c/Gb though, a far cry from 53c/Gb.

              Those 8TB archives are have been around $320-330 (PC Case Gear currently $329, MSY $325) for quite a while now. So still about $300 with the current cash back.

              Samsung announced a 16TB SSD a few months back so surely it won't be too long (a couple years maybe?) before we start seeing drives this size become available for the consumer market?

      Not sure why people still compare the two, different purposes, both have their uses, for saving video files, music etc, the extra speed of an ssd is pointless, for launching apps and operating systems ssds are more than enough.

        Good point. I love that the PC boots up in seconds, and when my rig was new I was convinced I was permanently leaving it in sleep mode it was that fast, but apart from that, I havent seen any significant benefit.

          I can't imagine owning a PC that didn't run on an ssd. Games load in no time and everything is much snappier. Hdds for the nas with all my data files. Ssds as boot drives in every PC and you're good to go.

            My old machine was 7 years old, SSD's werent really an option when I built it, and it was too much hassle to pop one in later so it never got one. The machine I built this year got a 256 Gb SSD and initially that was it. I added the 3 Tb drive I mentioned above a couple of weeks later, picking it up because it was such a bargain.

            Heres the thing for me. The story goes on about how a 256 Gb drive is going to be about the same cost for either in 2017, but who buys a 256 Gb SATA drive? And where?

            My general go to page for pricing is MSY, like a lot of people. Today, a 500 Gb STA drive goes for $63 while a 120 Gb SSD is about $68. Ignoring the rounding, thats roughly 4 times more expensive to me. And using a drive nobody buys as part of the comparison.

            1Tb SSD's need to be the same price as 1Tb SATA's while we still use them for this story to have any teeth. Until then, both drive types serve two different purposes (as you say, system stuff v NAS stuff), and size is a limiting factor.

              that's why there is 2tb of ssd and 2tb hdd in my desktop and 16tb hdd in my nas. 2 different drives for 2 different purposes. Ssd are getting cheaper but for high capacity storage you still can't beat hdd and in a nas/server application speed is still throttled by your Lan.

              Last edited 06/12/15 5:45 pm

        I think the point is that the ONLY advantage of a HDD is they are available in larger capacities and the cost/GB is cheaper. That is changing very fast, so once size/price for an SSD is the same, HDD's will no longer be needed.

    Awesome news. It pains me to see that the majority of laptops / desktops in the affordable (sub $1200) range have a 500gb / 1tb HDD rather than a 128/256gb SSD.

    Not saying that the SSD would suit everyone, but definitely some choice would be appreciated.

    These days a boot drive really should be SSD, it takes seconds for my i3 laptop to boot, compared to a minute or two for my i7 vPro work desktop. I just pair it with a 2tb portable drive (about $129) for my documents and I have a fast machine with ample storage on the go.

    HDDs are stable many times more read/write cycles and achieve much higher capacity than solid state though. I can't see them displacing the good old mechanical for high-volume storage for a very long time.

      These days, with equivalent usage, a HDD is likely to fail mechanically before an SSD fails for hitting the write/erase limit (reading from the SSD doesn't wear the drive at all). The largest SSD size available (for enterprise) is 16TB, so while the cost is currently prohibitive the potential is there for SSDs to completely replace HDDs.

        Of course both, being magnetic media, will be unreadable in twenty years' time.

        The usefulness of the really enormous media (anything bigger than a terabyte or so) is somewhat limited, so even if hard drives keep getting bigger on a per-gigabyte basis we'll probably reach the point where a terabyte of flash is cost-effective compared to a terabyte of drive shortage fairly soon.

        That's not to say that larger drives are not useful, just that the proportion of people for whom huge drives are worth the extra cost is relatively small. You need to either be heavily into video, or have a LOT of downloaded content, to break that terabyte mark.

        That's assuming that usage patterns don't change, which is never a good bet to make.

          Flash memory isn't magnetic media. The bigger question is whether the SATA interface will be around in 20 years, I'm guessing that since we have already moved on to PCIe SSD drives it won't be.

            While you're correct, strictly speaking, that flash memory isn't magnetic, it is subject to many of the same problems.

            Flash memory works internally by moving electrons between a floating gate and a control gate on either side of an oxide layer; effectively changing the ionisation of the two gates. Over time, the electrons will leak and the flash memory will gradually become blank. It seems the period for this is in the ten to twenty year range, which is longer than for traditional magnetic media such as hard drives and magnetic tapes.

            The twenty year lifetime for flash is the one I quoted.

            Optical media, on the other hand, change the actual substance used for data encoding and if protected from oxidisation and scratching cam be expected to last more or less indefinitely.

            What it comes down to is that if you want to store data in the long term, make sure you're moving protons, not electrons. Electrons are flighty little things; you can't count on them to stay where you put them.

          You really think a terabyte is a lot of data? I have a 16tb nas and still want more storage as its nearly full and that's with mainly 720p and some 1080p content. With 4K becoming the new standard more storage than ever will be required.

            First, to clarify, my home PCs have a total of 22TB of storage online right now. Not counting the RAID redundancy drives.

            I said that 1TB is as much storage as most people need. You and I are not "most people".

            "Most people" is my parents who have a PC that Mum uses to store her photos (and some old video) and do her email. Or my sister, who as a teacher uses it to do her marking and otherwise uses email and occasionally Facetime.

            Basically, some people do need enormous amounts of storage; you and I are amongst them. However, the November Steam Hardware survey shows that only about a quarter of gamers (who I would guess to be more tech-savvy and in general have more storage online than average) have over 1TB in total.

            Second, 4K may be "becoming the new standard", but its adoption rate amongst PC users is very low and not showing much sign of becoming higher in a hurry. The most recent Steam hardware survey shows the adoption rate of 4K as 0.12%; roughly one in a thousand. 4K usage is on the rise (market share in TVs projected to hit 50% by 2025) but most people don't have huge archives of downloaded or stored video.

            Both of these numbers will go up over time; there's a tech truism that disk usage expands to fit the space available. However, we are reaching the point where the limiting factor is the time required to generate or download content. Probably half the people out there will never use more than 200GB or so. Roughly 80% of the remainder won't need more than 1TB.

            Personally I have no desire to upgrade to 4k when regular HD is fine-grained enough for my purposes. When the prices start to drop that may change.

        In the last 5 years I've had 1 hdd fail (an external drive) and 3 ssd fail.

          What brand were those SSDs?

            2 ocz and 1 Kingston.

              I've never used OCZ or Kingston SSDs before so, I am not 100% sure how reliable they are. However, I have used Samsung before and they are very reliable... The important thing here is, to always keep a backup of your data.

                Samsung, weren't my pick with known firmware issues though that has been resolved and you can fix older drives. Plus when the ocz's were bought I don't know if Samsung even had there range of drives out.

    Wait what? Since when were SSDs not also "Hard Drives"?

    I got a 4TB "hard drive" the other day for $150 = 3.75 cents per GB
    Some of the cheapest Solid States i've seen have been 500GB for about $150 = 30 cents per GB

    So... about 10 times more expensive still?
    I have no doubt that they will become close to, or cheaper than, traditional drives eventually, but not quite yet.

      SSD is technically not a "DRIVE" at all, it doesn't drive any platters, it is really "just" memory/storage, of a solid state non-volatile or pseudo-nonvolatile type (is it really non-volatile for long tern of-line storage).

      And Definitely NOT a Hard-Drive (no hard platters there).

      People are just comfortable calling storage devices "Drives", that will probably change over time.

      Last edited 03/12/15 3:30 pm

        Like when we went from 8.3 format file naming to what ever it is now we stopped using program instead of programme. Na the naming convention I don't see changing.

    you realise an SSD IS a hard drive right? as in its not a floppy drive? maybe you are thinking we should say goodbye to hard disk drives, particularly the ones with platters?

      No, they're not hard drives. "Hard Drive" is derived from the fact that the disk platter is rigid, as distinct from the flexible media used for floppy drives. SSDs have no disk platter; they are Solid State Drives, ergo SSD.

      An SSD is a chunk of electronics pretending to be a hard drive. They are no more a hard drive than a floppy drive is a hard drive - the media used differs, although the function is basically the same.

        My OS disagrees . It says a Ssd is a hard drive.

          I think some OSs are just generally confused... my Win 8.1 still refers to my SSD as a "Disk Drive" when its obvious this is not correct given the absence of a disk.

          That's because there's a chunk of electronics in the SSD which is trying hard to make it LOOK like a hard drive, even though it isn't one.

          I can create a virtual system with a virtual hard drive and my OS on the virtual system will report it as a hard drive. That doesn't mean it is one. It just means that the OS sees it behaving like one.

        I disagree - the difference between disk drives was denoted by their media back when floppy drives were 5.25 inch and disk drives were measured in 10's of megabytes.

        by your logic, an sd card is also a hard drive, yet it is never termed as such.

          I don't really follow your version of my logic. SSDs have no drive platter; therefore they cannot by definition be disk drives. As hard drives are a type of disk drive, they also cannot be hard drives.

          As SD card is a hard drive to the exact extent that an SSD is; the only difference is the physical and logical layer used in presenting the media to the operating system. That is, neither having a disk platter, neither are hard drives. As SSD, as it pretends to be a hard drive, could with some accuracy be described as a virtual hard drive - but that term is normally reserved for a different usage.

          If you look up the definition of the word "drive" you'll have trouble finding one that can be applied to SSDs at all. If you squint a bit, they do involve "the transmission of power to machinery or to the wheels of a motor vehicle." Regardless, the industry calls them Solid State Drives, so we all call them "drives" just so we all remain on the same page.

            1. to send, expel, or otherwise cause to moveby force or compulsion

            2.
            to cause and guide the movement of (avehicle, an animal, etc.):

            Both would fit for an ssd, you are forcibly moving data and you are causing guided movement of that data.

              You're looking for a noun. Those are verb usages. "Drive" as a verb as you have quoted refers to what the thing does, not what it is. It's like calling a person a breathe. or calling a car a drive (or a park).

              Nouns and verbs are not interchangeable; while "nouning verbs" isn't entirely uncommon these days, I don't know anyone who would call it correct English.

              In any case, I'm not arguing that an SSD is not a drive (it's there in the expansion of the abbreviation), and the "transmission of power" definition sort of fits and is listed as the base definition behind the use of "drive" as a computing term.

              Despite being (a) hard and (b) a drive, it is not a "hard drive" as that is long-accepted nomenclature for a hard disk drive, and an SSD contains no disks. If you look up the definition of "hard drive" you will have difficulty finding a reputable dictionary which does not clarify it as such. The OED, for example, defines "hard drive" as "A disk drive used to read from and write to a hard disk."

              Similarly, a hard drive (i.e. a hard disk drive) is not an SSD (Solid State Drive) despite "making use of the electronic properties of solid semiconductors (as opposed to valves)."

              It's a bit like Pluto being a "dwarf planet"; apparently a dwarf planet is not a planet. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds that strange, but English is an odd language.

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