Print 38 comment(s) - last by mckirkus.. on May 12 at 3:15 PM

Pricing cuts will spur greater SSD adoption

Intel is lowering prices on several of its SSDs in a response to increased competition in the burgeoning SSD market. The world's largest semiconductor company makes SSDs using NAND flash produced by IM Flash Technologies, an Intel joint venture with Micron Technologies.

The X25-M series of mainstream 2.5-inch SSDs, which use Multi-Level Cell flash, is the target of the price cuts. The 160GB model will receive a $100 price cut off the MSRP, while the 80GB model will drop $50 in price. However, the street prices are much lower, as retailers react to demand for the popular Vertex series of SSDs produced by OCZ Technology.

Increased production and competition has forced a dramatic drop in prices. Intel launched its 160GB X25-M drive for $945 just four short months ago. Today, it is available for two-thirds of its original price, a savings of over $300. The price for the 80GB model has been cut almost in half since its launch.

Intel will also be making available more 80GB and 160GB SSDs in the 1.8-inch form factor. The retail supply of the X18-M series has been limited since its launch. These drives are used mostly in netbooks and smaller laptops which are space constrained.

Meanwhile, the X25-E series targeted at the enterprise server market will also soon face pricing and capacity pressure from OCZ and Super Talent.

Super Talent will soon be shipping SLC-based SSDs with up to 256GB of storage, which OCZ will counter with their Vertex EX series targeting the enterprise server and tiered storage markets.

Intel will fight back in this lucrative market, with designs for a 128GB SLC drive and a 320GB SSD using 34nm MLC NAND chips. They are expected to be released later in 2009.



December 2008

February 2009

April 2009

 X25-M 80GB




 X25-M 160GB




X18-M 80GB




 X25-E 32GB




 X25-E 64GB




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RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: RAM drive
By HotFoot on 4/28/2009 12:40:41 PM , Rating: 2
These things exist. The last time I saw one, though, it was for plain DDR, not even DDR2. I think the card itself was going for $100 to $150.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/2009 3:27:22 PM , Rating: 1
DDR is even more insanely overpriced than 4GB sticks or DDR3 sticks, it's out of the question. Are there any similar cars for DDR2? Nope, I don't think so. DDR instead of DDR2 and a low amount of memory slots are the problems that killed this excellent idea. Poor implementation kills excellent ideas all the time, unfortunately :-(

RE: RAM drive
By afkrotch on 4/28/2009 4:41:59 PM , Rating: 3
Gigabyte designed an i-Ram for DDR2 that allowed up to 8 GB of memory. I don't think it ever hit the market though. Just the original i-Ram for DDR that allows up to 4 GB of memory.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: RAM drive
By mckirkus on 5/12/2009 3:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Are there any similar cars for DDR2? Nope, I don't think so."

See the Acard ANS-9010 and a 9012. Reviewed by many major tech sites.

RE: RAM drive
By Jansen on 4/28/2009 12:53:43 PM , Rating: 4
The main reasons RAM drives aren't popular are cost and volatility. Gigabyte tried it out with their i-drive, but it didn't catch on because people would rather buy more RAM than get a $100 RAM drive and have to configure it.

RAM drives designed for the enterprise market are readily available, though.

RE: RAM drive
By rudy on 4/28/2009 1:21:40 PM , Rating: 2
Ya the main thing is now days if you care you can get a i7 board and slap 24 gb of ram on it and set up a ramdrive with no added hardware. Reserve 4 for the OS and you can have 20 for the ram drive.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/2009 3:16:08 PM , Rating: 1
Why pay big $$$$$$$ for overpriced i7 and even more overpriced 4GB or DDR3 sticks when you could be getting even more RAMdrive space for MUCH less money if that add-on DDR2 RAMdrive card were made? Your solution is absolutely insanely priced compared to mine.

RE: RAM drive
By TomZ on 4/28/2009 4:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
But hanging more RAM directly onto the CPU will also be an order of magnitude faster than putting it at the other end of a PCIe or SATA link.

Furthermore, the Core i7 only seems overpriced if you can't afford it. :o) There is a slight price premium - mainly due to the motherboard and DDR3 - but if you want the best...

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: RAM drive
By TomZ on 4/28/2009 9:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
Why are you pouting about Core i7? Doesn't Apple have Core i7's for you Jobs worshipers yet?

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: RAM drive
By SlyNine on 4/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: RAM drive
By BeastieBoy on 4/29/2009 10:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
The drive wouldn't be persistent though would it.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/29/2009 2:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
It would with a mirror hard drive partition that's backed up to when the battery is low.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: RAM drive
By Kougar on 4/28/2009 3:08:16 PM , Rating: 2
Some people did. Besides the Gigabyte iDrive there is the DDR2 ACARD ANS-9010B ramdrive. You might check out the reviews on it...

The Acard Ramdrive is a nice unit, but making a drive controller that can make use of RAM's fast speeds isn't easy. For the costs involved (Ramdrive + 32GB of RAM) Intel's SSD's would be a better buy and significantly cheaper. Not to mention offer more capacity.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/2009 3:41:27 PM , Rating: 1
Nah, this Acard is a lousy ting too. The Real Thing should connect to PCI-e, not to slow SATA link. And it should have 16 slots, because with 16 slots you'll pay $300 for 32GB or DDR2, so this becomes totally price competitive with fastest Intel SLC SSD drives.

Now if such an add-on card could be made for $100, I think it'd decimate Intel drives and just laugh at their SATA limited uberslowness. SATA vs PCI-e link? Yougottabekiddinme :) I agree that's somewhat of an investment, but it's upgradeable! Replace the RAM later and double the capacity!

RE: RAM drive
By Jansen on 4/28/2009 6:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
You will still need to cache the RAM drive though, so it only really makes sense when you are accessing an application constantly. In such cases, more system RAM is better.

Software to create a RAM disk is available and cheap though, so if you wanted to you can load a game DVD completely into RAM.

RE: RAM drive
By Pirks on 4/28/2009 7:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
No need to cache RAM drive, OS should be configured not to cache it -> write through and no read cache either.

More system RAM is impossible due to slot amount limitations - most mobos have just 4 slots which allow for 4GB RAMdrive at most (+4GB for OS itself), this is joke and useless. You can grow memory to 16GB if you use _ULTRA_ expensive 4GB sticks but what's the point when we talk the best bang for buck kind of solution?

I was discussing 16 slot solution which makes really large and hence useful RAMdrives possible. Less that 16 slots -> useless, because with Vista and apps/games anything less than 32 gigs for a boot/app partition is a waste of money.

No 16 slots -> can't make decent/cheap RAMdrive with enough capacity (32GB minimum). Plain and simple.

16 slots right now -> ultra expensive server mobo -> ultra expensive server memory like FB-DIMM -> a couple of additional grand just to get 32GB RAMdrive.

My solution -> a couple of additional HUNDRED, NOT GRAND, to get THE SAME 32GB hard drive.

So my solution is ten times cheaper with the same benefits. Plain and simple :-)

RE: RAM drive
By CommodoreVic20 on 4/29/2009 10:18:05 AM , Rating: 2
Lets not forget the big difference is the card would have a BATTERY to keep the data even while the computer is off while system memory would be lost. So a 16GB ram card could boot your OS in a couple of seconds everytime.

RE: RAM drive
By Kougar on 4/29/2009 10:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
Even the Acard battery only lasts just over four hours on a charge with 16GB of RAM. You'd need a huge battery if you want to store data in the RAM overnight let alone a full day for quick booting.

RE: RAM drive
By danrien on 4/30/2009 8:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
while nice in principle, it does have two major drawbacks: battery life and the unreliability of the battery. Batteries are much more susceptible to physical wear and tear than transistors, and also run the risk of exploding (especially li-ion technology, not sure about li-poly). with transistor based storage, or magnetic storage, these types of risks can be quantified, and r/w cycles given before breakdown, etc. exploding battery packs? completely dependent on the environment the battery lives in.

also, li-ion batteries (once again, not sure about li-poly) dramatically lose their charge hold time after not so many cycles (from a grand perspective).

While these risks and drawbacks are considerably smaller than before, the mere fact that they exist probably rule out the technology for most people for the foreseeable future.

By Spuke on 4/28/2009 12:16:24 PM , Rating: 5
Almost there. Need to slash that $320 in half and I'm in.

RE: X25M
By dubldwn on 4/28/2009 12:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm gonna do the slc thing, but I don't understand why the 64gb is over double the price of the 32gb.

RE: X25M
By PrezWeezy on 4/28/2009 1:19:39 PM , Rating: 1
Because it's not actually 2x32 gb drives. The 32 GB drive actually has a capacity which is closer to maybe 36 for wear leveling. So the 64 has to have closer to maybe 72-75 GB. It's a percentage which does not increase linearly. Plus they fit more into the same size box so it takes more engineering. They are still overpriced a bit, but you get what you pay for.

RE: X25M
By gfxBill on 4/28/2009 4:52:46 PM , Rating: 1
Umm, last I checked 2x36=72. What's not linear about it? Agree somewhat about the extra engineering though I suspect it would be trivial.

RE: X25M
By icanhascpu on 4/29/2009 1:43:57 AM , Rating: 2
Because it's not actually 2x32 gb drives.


RE: X25M
By PrezWeezy on 4/30/2009 8:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
72 was a bad number to use. I don't know the exact numbers, but from what I understand you have quite a bit more headroom in a 64GB drive than a 32. And if the engineering was trivial you would think they wouldn't have such small drives to begin with wouldn't you?

RE: X25M
By lennylim on 4/28/2009 2:50:54 PM , Rating: 4
Because they think that is what people are willing to pay. May not necessarily be due to material cost (impossible to tell without examining the components).

Continue that trend!
By Kibbles on 4/28/2009 12:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, so in 4 months they dropped the price by 33%. If the trend continues in Aug it'll be $420, Dec it'll be $280, and next April will be $187. I'll definently buy it by next April, if the trend continues that is.

RE: Continue that trend!
By Kibbles on 4/28/2009 12:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I forgot to clarify that I meant the X-25M 160GB

RE: Continue that trend!
By HotFoot on 4/28/2009 12:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
Aye, this is great. I remember not so long ago (well a few years) I paid $90 for a 512 MB USB flash stick. Those things are so cheap they're practically disposable now.

I wouldn't mind this getting cheap enough to put on my Christmas wish list this year (and not feel greedy).

RE: Continue that trend!
By Helbore on 4/28/2009 3:27:34 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be surprised if that trend continues.

SSD seems to have reached that point where enough manufacturers have decent products on the market for economies of scale to start positively impacting the price. NAND flash production is going up, whilst its production techniques are improving. Add to that a bit of healthy competition and that puts SSD right in the bracket of "rapidly-emerging market."

I wouldn't be surprised if we see drives twice the size at half the cost in 12 months time.

Magnetic hard drives better get their capacity rocketing up and fast, or they'll likely be a dead technology in five years or less. (personally, I expect they will, though, based on what I've read - and then we'll have two different drive technologies in the market, confusing the hell out of all the laymen out there!)

lower capacity
By Visual on 4/29/2009 6:55:54 AM , Rating: 2
Why won't Intel make smaller drives?
80GB for $300 sounds great for a boot drive, but I would prefer to have 2x40GB or even 4x20GB in striped raid, while keeping the total price similar.

Short months?
By Calin on 4/30/09, Rating: -1
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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