Even as the DRAM market is broadening from PCs to the portable and embedded market, nonvolatile solid state memory is busy moving into the enterprise space
. The flash memory industry continues to focus on extending endurance and reliability to pry away market share from the spinning-disc folks. Whether based on single-level cell (SLC) or enterprise multi-level cell (e-MLC) flash
, solid state drives (SSDs) are grabbing an ever a larger segment of that lucrative business market.
SSDs provide a speed advantage that can be essential for executing big data applications with a limited number of servers, for example. Flash memory is also a good fit for hybrid drives, in which an HDD handles the large volume storage but an SSD cache allows rapid access of key data. Some implementations keep all the data on the hard drive and use the SSD cache to temporarily mirror the data requiring speedy retrieval. Others take the concept one step further, not just using flash memory as a cache that mirrored data already on the hard disk drive but acting as a complete separate memory.
Cost remains somewhat of an issue—it’s unlikely that flash memory will ever achieve price parity with spinning-disc media. That said, it doesn’t necessarily need to. For applications that need ultra-high-speed access, the decision is based not on dollars per gigabyte but on dollars per I/O or I/O per dollar metric. Look for SSDs to continue broadening their foothold in this market.