With professionals and businesses increasingly turning to slimline laptops and portable devices like tablets and high-performance Blackmagic cameras, innovation in the commercial SSD market has taken off, resulting in higher capacities and better speeds. The SSD market appears poised for further breakthroughs in the immediate future, as users grow more accustomed to the daily benefits of high quality storage.
Currently, SSD drives can most quickly interface with a computer via PCI Express. However, future hardware developments may enable SSDs to utilize the memory channels typically reserved for communications between memory and the CPU, according to ITWorld contributor Andy Patrizio. Accordingly, communication latency between drives and computers may be reduced by more than 85 percent.
Another promising development is a possible change in how NAND cells are grouped. Most consumer and professional SSDs arrange their cells horizontally, which makes them slightly larger than drives with vertical arrangements. With vertical grouping, the physical profile of SSDs can be diminished, even as capacity and speed are increased. Vertically stacked cells may also reduce cell interference, argued Patrizio.
In the past, some businesses were reticent to take up SSD drives due to a perceived gap between their read and write performance levels. Although early-generation drives could write data quickly, they sometimes read it more slowly, perhaps due to wear and tear from numerous write operations. Fortunately, Vertical NAND storage promises improved durability that will enhance the value of SSD drives as fast and reliable storage media.
How quickly will PC OEMs move to mainstream SSDs?
Writing for The Verge, Vlad Savov stated that SSDs are preferable to HDDs on any device and that momentum from recent mobile devices and Mac models was gradually making flash-based storage the norm.
"SSDs should be used by everyone: they're both technically and practically better than hard drives and they have a higher ceiling for future improvements," wrote Savov, echoing Patrizio's optimism about innovation in the SSD sector.
While Apple has aggressively instituted SSDs in newer MacBooks, some cost-conscious PC OEMs have clung to HDDs for now. Savov cited an industry expert who expected SSDs to overtake HDDs as a mainstream option by late 2014, in large part because of attitudes honed by smoother SSD performance on mobile devices.
"[M]obile users have been trained by their phones and tablets to expect instant-on and quick startup times," PC Magazine analyst Joel Santo Domingo stated, according to Savov.
SSDs may continue to gain in popularity and benefit from additional refinement, but businesses can already benefit from drives like DIGISTOR's mSATA Solid State Drives, which offer high density and speeds at an efficient size.