Solid-state drives (SSDs) are the holy grail of computer
storage. The drives promise fast, sustained data transfer speeds, low access
times, lower weight and less heat output (for mobile applications). The main
downside to the technology is the extremely high price of entry.
The high prices of today's mainstream 64GB SSDs hasn't
stopped companies like Dell, Apple and Lenovo from offering the drives on their
laptops. Dell has offered SSDs since
April 2007 and Apple's
MacBook Air can be equipped with a $999 64GB SSD option. Lenovo's
ThinkPad X300 and the upcoming Dell
Latitude E4200 are SSD-only machines.
With SSD prices expected to drop 40% to 50% per year, the
interest in the drives for other computing platforms is sure to increase.
Seagate, a company firmly entrenched in traditional hard
disk drive (HDD) storage, unsurprisingly is not impressed
with SSDs. "Realistically, I just don’t see the flash notebook
sell," said Seagate CEO Bill Watkins. "We just don’t see the
It's understandable that Watkins would want to protect his
company's investment in mobile HDDs, but it shouldn't be too difficult to
appreciate the advantages on mobile platforms.
Watkins is known for making somewhat outlandish
statements. In late 2006, he stated that, "Let's face it, we're not
changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap -
and watch porn."
Watkins, however, has a response for SSD manufacturers
should sales take off: lawsuits.
According to Fortune, Watkins is
convinced that SSD manufacturers are infringing upon Seagate and Western
Digital patents dealing with how storage devices communicate within a computer
-- it's just a matter when the lawsuits will pop up, Gibson
With Intel throwing
its massive weight behind SSDs, the future does indeed look bright for the
storage medium. With SSDs finding their way into low-cost machines like the
ASUS Eee PC on up to high-priced offerings from Apple, consumers hopefully will
have more affordable SSD choices as the technology matures.