With each passing day, it becomes easier to convince businesses of the superiority and inevitability of solid-state drive (SSD) technology over hard disk drive (HDD) as reliability, speed, performance, and durability continue to increase. 2016 is already shaping up to be a year of bigger, better, and faster in terms of where SSD technology is going.
While HDD still clearly dominates in terms of sheer numbers, SSD technology is closing the gap. This can be seen in the fact that SSDs are on track to ship more than 190 million in 2016, with forecasts of 227 million in 2017, according to Statista. This growth is being driven by plummeting prices and increasing capacity.
The most recent InformationWeek report states that SSD prices continued to decrease over the last year and should reach near parity with HDD by the end of this year. Two areas of technology improvements in 2016 that are driving this involve the fact that manufacturers have moved beyond 2D NAND and PCIe 2.0 x4.
The advent of 3D NAND has increased SSD capacity while simultaneously decreasing its prices. This in turn is fulfilling the need for greater capacity and speed in the consumer market as well as in the enterprise.
Some of the SSD technology advances we’ll see in 2016 are:
- 2 TB portable SSD with data transfer speeds of up to 450 MB/s
- SSDs that will feature capacities of 6 TB and 8 TB
- A 13 TB SSD small enough to be installed even in a laptop
- A 16 TB SSD to be available this year and projections for a 128 TB SSD by 2018 through the use of 3D flash technology
Last year, manufacturers introduced 3D NAND technology that stacks flash cells vertically in 32 layers in order to achieve a 256 GB multi-level cell and 384 GB triple-level cell die that fit within a standard package. This year, there is even a new kind of SSD based on a technology called 3D XPoint that can operate up to 1,000 times faster than the NAND flash used in today’s SSDs.
As for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) Gen3x4 SSD, it makes production of 2 TB and larger SSD technology easier. Currently, it allows read/write performance up to 2,900 MB/s and 1,300 MB/s, which is more than triple the throughput of standard SATA SSD. It’s all about performance, low latency, and Quality of Service (QoS).
Each PCIe Gen 3 lane can move data at speeds of up to 985 MB/s, and some vendors are shipping 20-lane PCIe-based storage devices. That blistering speed is making PCIe-based SSDs very attractive to businesses that move a lot of data-heavy, low-latency content, like streaming video.
In the long term, SSDs have the potential to outgrow HDDs in terms of capacity, with the first 30 TB SSD coming into existence in 2018 and 256 TB SSDs predicted to become available within the next five years.
Businesses and consumers have plenty of ways in which they will use the new SSD technology in order to improve everything from gaming, mobility, and workstation users to medical research done by supercomputers. SSDs are already having a big impact on how system architects build systems and how developers create applications. Every day, more and more 15,000 rpm drives are being replaced by enterprise SSDs.
Not only can the latest SSD technology reduce storage bottlenecks in virtualized environments, but it has the power to change the nature of database applications and big data systems in a world soon to be dominated by the Internet of Things. The accessibility and growth of cloud storage and service offerings will dictate the need for storage in local devices for applications as diverse as file access, media streaming, and surveillance storage and analytics.