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Data Storage The Almighty Buck

Why Aren't SSD Prices Going Down? 249

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the more-is-more dept.
Lucas123 writes "NAND flash memory makers took an economic beating from 2007 through the first quarter of 2009 due to supply outstripping demand. During that time, solid state drives dropped in price 60% year over year. But after the economic meltdown, fabricators pulled back on production and investment in new facilities and the price of SSDs have remained flat or increased over the past year, and that is not expected to change until 2011. Until that time, SSDs remain 10x more expensive than hard disk drives. SSD vendors, however, are using a few tricks to get sales up, including selling lower-capacity boot drives that hit a sweet spot in the techie/gamer market."
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Why Aren't SSD Prices Going Down?

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  • It's going to be really really hard to convince me that Asian electronics manufacturers aren't engaged in price fixing [slashdot.org] en masse against the rest of the world whenever a technology cost remains unnaturally high. Hell, after realizing how many times I was the victim of it with LCDs I pretty much expect it.

    I mean, really, I feel like a moron for ever knowing that they allowed price fixing -- even promoted it [asiabizblog.com] -- inside their borders and then believing that stopped at the rim of the continent. Right now the only question is how many markets is this happening in [businessweek.com]? They're obviously very good about it, little chance the regulators in other countries will catch it let alone the easily bribed authorities isntalled there.
  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:59PM (#31898200)

    Intel's SSDs are made in the USA with Micron....

  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by HFXPro (581079) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:07PM (#31898340)
    A 5.25" drive would have significantly higher stresses placed upon the platter. There would also be more area to have to physically move the head across.
  • by odin84gk (1162545) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:09PM (#31898386)

    Thanks to everyone shutting down factories during the recession, there is a severe shortage of analog parts, electrolytic capacitors, and some FET's. It is typical to see a 4-8 week lead time on an order of 20k. A 16 week lead time makes you Very uncomfortable and you start looking for second sources or redesigns.

    Some analog/digital companies are shipping at 16-24 week lead times.
    Some electrolytic capacitors are at a 40 week lead time.
    And at least one major company stopped accepting new orders.
    In the mean time, some distributors are starting bidding wars on parts that they do have.

    Right now, demand is far greater than the supply. It is going to be at least another year before prices start to come down.

  • Re:Because... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:13PM (#31898464)

    A lot of the cost is the raw cost of the processed silicon wafers. Making the pure crystals and then slicing/cutting/polishing them to a workable state takes a lot of time.

    Where the processing technology comes in is the ability to make more chips for a given wafer size.

  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:30PM (#31898780)

    When you have something spinning, the smaller the better.

    Let's do some simple Math:

    For a 7200RPM Hard Drive@ 3.5" Diameter or .0889 meters you have a velocity of
    V = Pi*D*RPM = 3.14*.0889*7200 = 2009m/min or 33.5m/s.
    Now the centripetal acceleration:
    a = v^2/r = (33.5m/s)^2/.04445m = 25243m/s^2.

    Or in other words: 2573g

    Yeah, that's a hell of a lot of acceleration at the outer edges. The smaller the better.

  • by Killall -9 Bash (622952) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:20PM (#31899586)

    I offer SSDs as an option on my new builds, and even after explaining the speed benefits don't have any takers, why? Because folks want bigger more than they want faster, that's why.

    I do the same, and 90% of the time, they want SSD. You're not explaining it right.

  • by viper66 (412839) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:51PM (#31900062)

    I think your facts are out of date. The latest SSDs beat hard drives in every category, sequential reads/writes and random reads/writes. SSD random write performance has been superior to the fastest hard drives for quite a while now. Performance is even better with TRIM and 4K alignment in Windows 7. It is sequential write performance that has typically been weak, but even that is no longer the case.

  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:53PM (#31901202)

    That's not true at all, a quick check on newegg:

    Intel X25-M 80gb: $225 or $2.8125/gb
    Corsair Extreme 64gb: $239 $3.73/gb
    Mushkin 64gb: $214 $3.34/gb
    Kingston SSDNow V+ 64gb: $205 $3.2/gb
    Kingston SSDNow V 64gb: $145 $2.25/gb

    Considering the performance and reliability edge you get with Intel compared to the other drives, it's well worth it.

  • by sunspot55 (305580) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:02PM (#31901314)

    I work in the semiconductor industry. I don't deal with memory, I deal with ASIC chips but I can absolutely assure you that the current situation in the semiconductor business is exactly as described. Picture this, you are a manager in a semiconductor company approximately one year ago. You are facing an unprecidented once-in-a-lifetime global economic downturn. You can feel it. The press feels it and reports on it non-stop. Nobody knows when the world will pull out of it but it is obvious to everyone that it hasn't ever, in anyone's lifetime, "been this bad". You know, as a semi company manager, that you have *tremendous* capitol costs (a new factory costs in the billions). What are you going to to? Continue to invest billions in capitol for factory expansion and improvement in the face of unprecedented plummeting demand? Your company's billions are already evaporating in the economy. If you keep spending as you were you would quickly exhaust your company's finances and in addition cause a glut in the global supply of chips (where demand is shrinking) driving down prices like a rock. No, you do what every other company in every other productive sector of the economy does. Cut back production to match demand. The thing is, you can't quickly turn the huge ship of semiconductor production. I'm sure you'll find that semiconductor capacity *always* lags demand. I'm sure in the downturn there was a glut as they realized and as quickly as they could (albeit relatively slowly) responded to market conditions. I can assure you that right now we have the problem that we can not produce enough parts. We are leaving money on the table in the form of unfulfilled demand at the moment. Is that ideal? No, better than the alternative but still a problem. Is there collusion in the industry? Hell if I know but in sum, take it from an industry insider that the factors mentioned in the article are absolutely real and more pronounced than they have ever been in my career.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:59PM (#31902076)

    Intel's SSDs are made in the USA with Micron....

    And...?

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2003 WWW.USDOJ.GOV WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An executive for Micron Technology Inc. (Micron) has agreed to plead guilty to obstructing the grand jury investigation of a suspected conspiracy to fix the price of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) products sold in the United States, the Department of Justice today announced.

    http://www.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel03/micron121703.htm [fbi.gov]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @06:39PM (#31903494)

    Whatever you do, don't design with Maxim parts. You will get immediate samples, get it prototyped and then find out later the the parts are pure Unobtainium. Further, nothing from the company is available from a second source.

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