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Average cost of a 128GB SSD is now US$50 for PC makers

Lucas Mearian | June 4, 2015
The average price that computer manufacturers pay for a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) dropped to $50 in the second quarter, while the average price of a 256GB SSD plunged to almost $90, according to research from DRAMeXchange.

"The [system manufacturer] market for client-SSDs has experienced a rapid price decline due to the increasing adoption of SSDs based on triple level cell (TLC) technology," said DRAMeXchange's assistant vice president Sean Yang. "Among the OEMs, Samsung Electronics Co. especially has been aggressively promoting TLC-based SSDs since their memory chips and controller chips are developed in house."

Starting in 2014, the rising price-performance ratios of Samsung's TLC products have led to a rapid expansion of their share in the system manufacturer market for PCs.

Additionally, SSDs that incorporate both 3D NAND and TLC technologies have completed the client verification process in the first half of 2015 and are set to begin mass production and shipments in the second quarter.

Shipments of TLC products will grow faster in the second half of 2015 when Intel Corp. introduces its latest processor platform, Skylake. Hence, other SSD vendors will be in a hurry to develop their TLC-based SSD products, and this in turn will drive the transition of NAND flash production to the 15nm and 16nm processing technologies.

DRAMeXchange expects TLC-based SSDs using NAND flash from suppliers besides Samsung will be sent to PC manufacturers for testing in the third and fourth quarter.

A push for faster interfaces

Intel is also becoming more active in ensuring its processors support different SSD architectures via different interfaces.

Another bit of good news for users is that chip manufacturers are ramping up production of higher speed interfaces based on the PCIe serial bus standard. According to DRAMeXchange, PCIe SSDs are steadily making inroads in the market that is dominated by interfaces belonging to the mature SATA 3.0 technology.

Both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptop models adopted PCIe in 2014, encouraging other PC-manufacturers to design products with the same interface and urging NAND flash suppliers to develop SSDs that match the application.

The market penetration of PCIe interfaces is expected to reach around 20% over the next year, based on DRAMeXchange's projection.

With Skylake and subsequent Intel processor platforms supporting SSDs with PCIe interfaces, SSD controller chip vendors will roll out more related, price-competitive integrated circuits. The SSD market therefore will see a noticeable increase in the share of products with PCIe interfaces next year.


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