Yesterday SanDisk announced a new low-end family of SSDs that the company said would sell: “at a price point on par with HDDs. (Pricing comparison dependent upon capacity.)” The sub-headline states: “Z400s SSD Brings New Levels of Affordability to Replace Hard Drives…”
The release provided no actual prices to back up this claim.
So how does this work? Can you actually now buy a 1TB SSD for cheaper than a 1TB HDD? Not at all. Instead you have to look at things a little differently using a concept that I frequently explained five years ago when SSDs were pretty new – that very low capacity SSDs can be cheaper than HDDs.
This post’s graph plots this out. It’s a chart of HDD and SSD prices over a range of capacities. It’s on a log-log scale, but it works well on a standard linear chart as well. Note that prices are for 2010, and prices have come down significantly for both SSDs and HDDs since then. This means that the numbers on the X and Y axes need adjustment to bring them to today’s levels, but the shape of the curves would remain the same.
The red line represents SSD costs over the range of capacities, and the black line represents HDDs. Although HDDs are cheaper than SSDs at higher capacities on the right side of the chart, the red SSD line is cheaper toward the left where capacities are low.
The HDD line levels off at the lowest capacity that currently ships. Today that would be a 160-320GB model, at a price of $50 or so (although I have heard rumors of numbers significantly lower than that.)
At an SSD price of $0.50/GB the same $50 would buy you 100GB of flash, making flash a less economical choice for 160GB, but a 50GB SSD would cost only half as much – $25 – or half the price of the cheapest HDD. This appears to be the market that SanDisk is going after. The company implies this in the release by saying it can: “help embedded application designers avoid overpaying for un-needed space,” and naming a number of end markets, telling us that: “these applications only require low capacities.”
So we’re not there yet, friends – SSDs are still more costly than any currently-available HDDs. The SSD Guy has consistently shown over the years that SSD and HDD prices are not on a collision course, but are travelling along parallel paths that are unlikely to cross over in the foreseeable future. This means that SSDs can only sell at HDD prices in systems whose storage needs are significantly lower than the capacity of the lowest-capacity HDD on the market.
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