Like gasoline, the price of SSDs is on a downward trend

In one year, the price per gigabyte has been cut in half.

A slew of solid state drives (SSDs) have been introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show, and they show two trends: smaller devices, and much lower prices.

A lot more drives have been introduced without prices than with, but the few with prices show the drives are becoming much more affordable to the mass market. Crucial introduced a new series of drives in 2.5-inch, M.2 and mSATA form factors, with the 250GB drive priced at $139.99, a 500GB drive at $249.99 and a 1TB drive at $469.99.

Samsung introduced an external SSD, with a USB 3.0 interface, designed for business users. The Portable SSD T1 will come in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities, with the 250GB unit priced at $179.99. The higher capacity drives have not been priced yet.

Then there's Micron, which introduced two new lines of SSDs, the Crucial BX100 for mainstream users and Crucial MX200 for power users. These products are also ridiculously cheap, with the 120GB BX100 costing just $69.99, the 240GB model running $109.99 and the 500GB model costing $199.99. The more rugged, longer-lifespanned MX200 SSD will cost a meatier $139.99 for a 250 GB unit, $249.99 for a 500 GB unit and $469.99 for a 1 TB device.

For a little bit of perspective, I paid $649 for my 500GB OCZ SSD about a year ago.

SSD prices started out 2014 at around $1 per gigabyte of capacity but starting this past summer they have been on a steady decline to about 50 cents per gigabyte. There are a few reasons for this, according to Fang Zhang, storage analyst with IHS.

First, density has increased due to die shrinkage. With SSD memory finally getting below 20nm, manufacturers could put more cells in the same amount of space, thus increasing density. The increasing popularity of SSDs means more sales, and vendors are able to lower prices and make up for it on volume. Finally, manufacturer efficiency and higher competition has also pushed the price down.

Zhang thinks prices will drop even further once 3D stacking takes off, because it will mean 2 and 3 dimensional density increases, thereby greatly increasing the amount of capacity in the same space. NAND flash memory cells won't just be two-dimensional, they will be stacked on top of each other for greater density.

And with increasing production, the price will likely drop further as this year progresses. When they first appeared two years ago, a 1TB drive was at best prohibitively expensive. Now they are more than half the price they used to be. SSDs used to be very low capacity and the typical PC build was to use the SSD as just the OS platform and put all the apps, games, and content on a big hard disk drive. Now it's reaching the point where a HDD isn't even needed thanks to affordable 1TB drives.

So if SSDs drop to around 40 cents per gigabyte, that would mean the proposed 10TB SSD drive Intel and Micron may unleash would cost $4,000. That might be a bit hard to swallow for consumers, but enterprises will love it.

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