SSD prices set to fall, claims Gartner

Great news for storage geeks – the cost of DRAM and NAND flash is expected to fall significantly in 2019, leading to cheaper SSDs!

The prediction, which has been made by Gartner’s research for semiconductors Jon Erensen, is supported by other tech companies such as Lenovo and could also result in cheaper smartphones and PCs. Erensen, though, is quick to point out that this is not guaranteed stating that whilst a fall in the price of DRAM and NAND will make it cheaper to construct a device, there is no guarantee that manufacturers will pass these savings on to consumers.

In the event that the prices of devices do not fall alongside memory, Erensen predicts that users will get ‘more bang for their buck’ with newer products possessing more memory, more storage and higher resolution screens for the same price as the models they replace.

The cost of DRAM and NAND flash began to rise in the middle of 2016 when a number of manufacturers began producing devices with more and more storage. This resulted in a shortage in both RAM and storage and, with demand outstripping supply, prices inevitably went through the roof.

This demand, though, will push manufacturers to increase production and Erensen expects the market to be flooded by cheap DRAM and NAND flash memory by 2019 as a result.

SSD Review: Western Digital My Passport

Ok, you’re probably thinking there’s a typo in that headline – there isn’t! Western Digital’s renowned My Passport series of portable drives have finally revealed their first SSD. Big news, right? But is it worth your hard-earned dollars?

The drive is available in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB flavors and offers a significant improvement on transfer speeds when compared with its archaic, Neanderthal-like cousins (you know, the ones with those ‘old-school’ moving parts?). In fact, it’ll transfer data at speeds of up to 515MB/s which is, well… quick, though not earth-shatteringly so – but certainly fast enough for 99.999% of us!

It’s a pretty cute looking thing – with its half matt-black and half-chrome shell. Also, it’s impressively diminutive dimensions (it’s just 1.8 inches wide and 3.5 inches high) mean that it’s highly, highly portable which – considering it’s a portable drive – is pretty darn important in our eyes!

Western Digital also claim that their first My Passport SSD can survive a 6.5 foot drop meaning it’s pretty tough. This is complimented by the company’s standard 3-year warranty and – to keep you safe in the non-physical world of bits and bytes – 256-bit AES hardware encryption!

So, that’s the good news. The bad? It’s not cheap: the 256GB model costs $100 whilst the 512GB and 1TB options are $200 and $400 respectively.

In short, if you really, really need a fast portable drive, the My Passport SSD could be for you. If, like most of us, you can live with a slightly slower drive, though, then an old-school spinning My Passport drive will give you a lot more bang for your buck!

The Changing Costs of Storing Data

In 2016, the average cost of a GB of storage was $0.21 for an HDD whereas the same amount of storage would cost you an average of $1 if you purchased an SSD.

What, though, did it cost to store data in years gone by? Few will be surprised to discover that it was considerably more expensive than it is today, but the figures are still likely to shock you – particularly when we take inflation into account.

Let’s start with the world’s very first hard drive, IBM’s gigantic 350 Disk File. It contained 50 24-inch disks, was the size of your average household wardrobe, stored a total of 5mbs of data and could not be purchased outright but leased for $2,425 per month. Let’s put that another way: that’s $29,100 per year. Oh, and remember that a GB of storage cost just $0.21 last year? With this drive it would cost over $5.6 million every year. That’s over $153 million when you factor in inflation.

Don’t think things got any better when personal computing began to go mainstream in the 1980s, though. IBM’s revolutionary 3380 model may have been able to store 2.52 GBs but it still cost $61,000 in 1981 – almost $200,000 in today’s money. Still, at least the cost per GB had fallen; even if you’d still be paying a whopping $24,305; $79,005 when you take inflation into consideration.

Still, what person could possibly have needed 2GBs of storage in the early 1980s? Maybe smaller drives were more affordable. Well, the first 5.25 inch drives designed for the home user generally retailed for around $2,250 ($7,313 today) so they were significantly cheaper than IBM’s monster, but these ‘affordable’ drives stored just 5MBs of data meaning that you’d be paying $450,000 per GB. That’s over $1 million in today’s money. No wonder floppy disks were so popular!

By 1995, costs had fallen significantly with consumers paying approximately $687 per GB of storage ($1,120 with inflation). This fell to roughly $7.50 in 2000 ($10.50 today) then just $0.56 by 2005 ($0.81 today).

Still, as the cost of a GB of storage has plummeted we’ve found ourselves needing more and more space to store our data. In the 1950s (and even the 1980s) few files would have exceeded a few KBs whilst today video footage, music and a variety of other data-rich files take up literally dozens of GBs on drives of all kinds worldwide. Thank God storage media is now more affordable than ever!