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For the last few years, a common practice of installing solid state drives (SSDs) onto desktop computers was to pair one with a traditional hard disk drive. SSDs are available in smaller capacities and do not reach to the low price per GB ratio of hard drives. While very large (500+ GB) solid state drives are available, their prices remain much higher than equivalent capacity hard drives. However two important announcements were recently made concerning 3D V-NAND production that may change that fact.

In two separate press releases, an Intel and Micron joint venture and Toshiba both stated each will be producing 3D V-NAND in the near future. As the sole producer of 3D V-NAND currently, Samsung should be concerned about this. Used in their 850 EVO SSDs, 3D V-NAND allowed Samsung to aggressively price their offerings. With three competitors entering the 3D V-NAND market, the South Korean giant will have to price their 850 EVO even more competitively or offer more features to attract buyers.

Intel/Micron announced they will be producing 32-layer 3D V-NAND, matching the technology Samsung currently has on the market. Meanwhile, Toshiba has upped the count to 48 layers, manufacturing by way of what it calls Bit Cost Scalable (BiCS) 3D V-NAND, which promises lower production costs, increase capacity, offer more energy efficiency, with more reliability. And an interesting tidbit, both NOR and NAND flash memory were invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while at Toshiba in the 1980s. Not surprising they are once again poised to revolutionize the industry.

Traditional NAND chips have memory cells stacked side by side, whereas V-NAND stacks those cell vertically. By adding additional layers, manufacturers can increase density and the number of memory cells in a drive. According to Micron, their new technology allows them to make a single 2.5-inch with a 10 TB capacity. With 3D V-NAND, we may see SSDs reach capacities of up to several terabytes at much lower prices.

Currently the price of a Seagate 2 TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0 Gbps 3-inch HDD is $80, which works out to about $0.04 per gigabyte. The Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB, one of the most popular SSDs on the market, costs $185 or $.37 per gigabyte. This is already a marked improvement from when the first mainstream SSDs were priced around $4 for 1 GB. At current prices, using the Seagate 2 TB hard drive and Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB in one desktop would cost $265 for a total of 2.5 TB of storage. To achieve 2.5 TB of storage space with today’s SSDs, you would need well over $600 invested just in storage drives.

Another market that would be affected by falling prices due to increased 3D V-NAND availability would be SSHDs. They combine the large storage capacities of hard drives with SSD-like performance at a price point close that of hard drives. While they may not match SSD levels of performance, SSHDs do offer much faster performance than regular hard drives.

However, their main advantage may be eroding slowly as more chipmakers are beginning to manufacture 3D V-NAND. As SSDs continue to increase in size and drop in price, the minor performance benefits of SSHDs may not be enough for people to use them as alternatives to SSDs.

Even if 3D V-NAND fails to allow SSDs to reach that sub $0.10 price per GB ratio, do we really need all that extra storage space? Cloud storage allows users to save their documents online, thus freeing up a potentially substantial amount of storage space. The practice of storing programs on the hard drive and the operating system on the SSD we recommended in this article may soon be unnecessary.

So what do you think?  Will 3D V-NAND will eventually completely replace the hard drive and be the sole storage device?

New 3D V-NAND To Change What You Know About Storage
Article Name
New 3D V-NAND To Change What You Know About Storage
Intel/Micron and Toshiba's 3D V-NAND announcements may result in lower costs and higher capacities for SSDs. Is it finally time to ditch that hard drive?
Wallace Chu

Author Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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