SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The battle is heating up in solid-state drives (SSDs). An endless stream of companies are expanding or entering the SSD fray, leaving many to predict a shakeout in the arena.
Intel, Micron, SanDisk, Stec, Toshiba and countless others have recently rolled out new SSDs. On Tuesday (Aug. 27), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said that it has begun sampling a new line of low-cost SSDs, said to be only 30 percent of the size of 2.5-inch products.
Samsung's new, lower-density SSDs are going after the emerging ultra mobile PC market. By unit sales, the low-density SSD market is expected to increase annually by 57 percent until 2011, according to the Korean chip giant.
Based on NAND flash memory, SSDs are supposed to replace hard drives in select applications, such a mobile PCs, notebooks and enterprise servers. But SSDs are still more expensive than hard drives and the price delta between the two technologies remains wide.
Besides the cost issues, the SSD market is due for a shakeout. Some 50 companies are competing in the overcrowded SSD market, said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective Analysis.
And there is still a lot of hype in the arena. Low-capacity SSDs are being used in some ultra mobile PCs. SSDs are also being used in notebook PCs, but those systems are expensive and generally carry $2,000 price points, said Jim Cantore, president of consulting firm JLC Associates.
The ''sweet spot'' in the notebook PC market is generally considered systems that sell from $800-to-$1,000, Cantore said. Those systems use cheaper hard drives, it was noted.
The missing piece in mainstream notebook PCs are higher-capacity, lower-priced SSDs, he said. Many SSDs in the market are expensive 120-GB units. A low-priced, 256-GB SSD is required for today's notebooks, he added.