Solid State Disks
Flash solid state disks (SSDs) have undoubtedly gained a strong foothold in
the military and enterprise markets. Its capacity to withstand extreme
conditions made it fit for on and off ground military operations while speed has
been its passport to the enterprise market. Right now, SSDs are moving past
these two markets to capture a slice of the consumer electronics market.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association's Annual Industry Forecast,
factory sales of consumer electronics in the US alone is expected to reach a new
high of $135.4 billion by the end of 2006. It will be an eight percent increase
from the previous year and is expected to post growth consistently over the next
few years. Current technology trends show a great deal of opportunity for flash
Technology hybrids sprout from everywhere, where mobile phones get to
store more photos and video clips or TV sets can record programs for later
viewing. By this, gadgets are bound to increase storage capacities as devices
get packed with more functionality. Logically, the industry will continue to
break new boundaries as buyers demand smaller, more powerful, higher capacity
and longer lasting gadgets and equipment. These in turn will drive demand for SoC components. A report entitled System-on-a-Chip: Technology, Markets
estimated the worldwide SOC market at nearly $14.4 billion in 2005. Expected to
grow at an verage annual growth rate of 24.6%, this market will reach $43.2
billion by 2009. Unit growth will average 18.4% on average per year to reach 2.2
billion in 2009, and average unit prices will increase from a current level of
$15.2 to $19.6 by the end of the forecast period.
benefits of speed and ruggedness work well with consumer electronics as it does
with the military and enterprise markets. As the age of mobility and instant
access to data is ushered in, buyers have put a premium to devices that would
allow them to get through their network fast and easy even when on the road.
Portable devices have become a commoner's device to send and receive data, enjoy
music and store photos and video clips. This trend is further aided by
developments in high-speed wired and wireless connectivity protocols, such as
USB, FireWire, WiFi, WiMAX, and Bluetooth -- tools that facilitate ease in
connecting media devices. With the advancement in technology, an increasing
number of memory intensive applications have also been developed to meet consumer
demand. For example, the resolution of digital still cameras has increased from
approximately 1 mega pixel to 7 mega pixels or greater. Correspondingly, greater
capacity is required to store the increasingly larger size of digital photo
collections, personal digital audio libraries and digital movies. Flash memory
is the predominant memory medium to store such increasing digital media content.
Digital technology advancement has likewise enabled audio, photo and video
content to be digitized, transmitted, stored and catalogued. As the accessibility
of digital media content continues to proliferate, demand has increased for a
range of new digital consumer devices that incorporate semiconductor solutions,
such as MP3 players, PC cameras, car navigation systems and broadband video
phones. Due to the proliferation of these devices, consumers will demand the
ability to create, store, exchange and play back more digital media content than
ever before. Flash SSD fits the terrain perfectly with the offer of larger
capacities in small form factors.
Best of Both Worlds
Just recently, Microsoft
published a white paper entitled Hybrid Hard Disk Support in Windows Vista where
the software giant endorsed the move to hybrid hard disk drives by notebook
users. This move by one of the industry's key players only puts solid-state
memory on the vantage point by integrating it with conventional magnetic media
in what is considered as the fastest growing segment of the personal computer
market. Microsoft has obviously seen the benefits of flash memory over other
storage media. For one, the notebook's battery life will last longer as the disk
is spun up only when data in the cache needs refreshing or writing to the hard
drive. Another benefit is that system boot time can be significantly speeded up.
Judging by the way things are going, there is no doubt that flash SSD deployment
in consumer electronics is inevitable. Market data by Gartner Dataquest Inc.
shows the NAND flash market can hit $16.2 billion in terms of revenues for 2006,
up 42 percent over 2005. But just like any technology, its dominance comes with
volatility. An aggressive supply, fierce price erosion, overwhelming maturing
demand and contracting elasticity in some applications are among the hurdles it
needs to overcome in its bid to take over the consumer electronics market.
author: Joanne De Peralta