Falling NAND prices will drive PCIe SSDs to 50% market share in 2019

Sales of PCIe-connected drives are expected to reach parity with SATA SSDs this year, as the price premium for NVMe decreases.

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Sharp price reductions in NAND flash used in solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash memory cards is driving sales on both ends of the market, according to reports from DigiTimes and DRAMeXchange. Manufacturers are tailoring new solutions for comparatively lucrative enterprise and data center use cases, while the low cost of client SSDs is driving adoption rates among OEMs for inclusion in PCs.

Most dramatically, the unit price of 512 GB SSDs matches that of 256 GB SSDs "during the same period in 2018," according to the report, with larger price falls anticipated for SSDs from 512 GB to 1 TB for "the remainder of 2019."

This is prompting device vendors to increase the storage size in consumer products. Apple's recent refreshes to the iMac lineup include modest discounts for SSD upgrades, with a $100 price drop on the 1.5 TB SSD for the MacBook Air, a $200 price drop on the 2 TB SSD for the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro, and a $400 price drop on the 4TB SSD for the MacBook Pro. Despite these price decreases, Apple's proprietary SSDs still command a hefty price premium-for example, the 2 TB SSD on the entry-level Mac Mini is $1,400, while the same 2 TB SSD is $1,200 on the higher-end model. (Comparable high-durability PCIe x4 SSDs are presently $500-600.)

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These price drops are also accelerating adoption of NVMe to reach parity with SATA SSDs, partially as price decreases for comparatively higher-performing NVMe drives have outpaced that of SATA SSDs, narrowing the price gap between the two. Limitations inherent to SATA-a connection standard designed for traditional platter hard drives-prevents these drives from meaningfully exceeding 550 MB/s read or write speeds, while NVMe-connected drives such as the WD Black SN750 are rated for read and write speeds of 3470 MB/s and 3000 MB/s, respectively.

The report does note, however, that Silicon Motion is rolling out a high-performance SATA SSD controller supporting a maximum capacity of 16 TB.

For more on the state of the storage market, check out " Micron Technology weathers memory market, sees rebound for data center, mobile, 5G, IoT demand" at ZDNet, as well as "DRAM chip prices plummet due to Intel CPU shortage, prompting retail sales" at TechRepublic.

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