Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The SSDs are Fast Gaining Traction as the Preferred Memory Option

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SSDs (Solid State Drives) are becoming the most desired memory options because they are faster, quieter, not susceptible to shock, have low power consuming and less accessibility time with higher productivity and reliability compared to HDDs (Hard Disk Drives). 

How NAND Flash SSDs Work: SSDs store information in memory cell arrays embedded on a circuit board. The memory cells are essentially transistors with floating gates. Each transistor has two gates: one is a source that admits a current and the other is the drain that expels it. The memory cells act as switches to control the energy flow between the source and the drain terminals. Semiconductors called floating-gate (FG) transistors transfer electrical charges to the memory cells, whether connected to an external power source or not (over time a powered-off SSD will leak energy). As long as there is sufficient charge from the FG, the data retains integrity. Memory cells may house one or more bits per cell. In a single-level cell (SLC), the control gate (CG) will sense if a floating gate is charged with electrons or not. In response, the control gate will record either 0 or 1 byte. Multi-level cells (MLC) work in a similar way. The SSD not only houses the interconnected memory cells and circuit boards, but also adds a layer of intelligence with the flash controller.

How hard disks (HDDs) work: A hard disk or drive makes use of the magnetization of particles to save data on its surface. The data is stored in a hard disk drive in the form of a magnetic pattern. A hard disk drive is capable of storing all types of data such as images, audio files, text documents, etc under a variety of file formats such as jpeg, png, WAV, mp3, mp4, MKV, WEBM, and many more. Hard disk drives are advantageous as they have a longer life span as compared to other data storage devices and are available in the market at affordable prices. Also, they have a better data storing capacity than other devices such as SSDs. The limitations of HDDs include heavy power consumption and moving parts that can fail. As compared to RAM, a hard disk allows a slow rate of transferring and accessing the data. The hard disk drives need to be handled carefully as even a minor crack on the surface can cause loss of data.

At NCN, we interacted with several leading memory brands and gathered their opinions on how the SSDs are faring in the market, the latest and projected trends in the SSD segment in India, what are the advantages and disadvantages over HDDs.

The SSD market is rapidly evolving in India!

Over the last three years, storage device market recorded high growth in India, predominantly driven by the demand for primary storage like DDR4 RAM, secondary storage like portable HDDs, microSD cards, flash USBs, and now the SSDs. SSD market in India is presently at a growing stage with major demand being derived from the enterprise application segment. For client SSD applications, consumers primarily prefer low cost SSDs with 120-256GB capacity. Presently, Multi-Level Cell (MLC) SSD segment acquired major share in the overall SSD market of India, followed by Single-Level Cell (SLC), and Triple-Level Cell (TLC) segments. The growing Internet penetration, increasing awareness of the latest technologies, WFH and LFH trends and the need for higher productivity are the key drivers behind the growth in demand for SSDs in the consumer and office segments. Modern PC storage is rapidly shifting from traditional HDD technology to SSDs. Compared to their traditional HDD counterparts, the SSDs are gaining considerable attention due to their performance benefits. Also, during the last 2 years people, particularly the youth, have started spending more time on their PCs for gaming, which in turns involves massive usage of data and need faster memory. This has pushed up the demand of SSDs further, as the trend prompted the consumers to upgrade their storage to SSDs.

The potential to enhance the performance, battery life of PCs & laptops with quiet & low power consuming SSDs, along with faster OS, make SSDs a preferred choice over traditional HDDs. High speed with low latency and multitasking with better reliability of SSDs is catalyzing their growth globally. Working professionals are looking for a compelling PCs for their daily usage and even the students are looking for upgrades in order to have uninterrupted sessions for their online educational classes. Replacing the hard disk drives (HDDs) with a solid-state drives (SSDs) is one of the easiest and quickest ways to enhance the PC performance to the next level. Managing and storing data today is redefining the way we work and play today. Now, many users want to upgrade their PCs from HDDs to SSDs.

However, currently, due to price constraints the major demand for SSDs still comes mainly from the enterprise application segment. Due to the increasing IT spend, growing number of data centers, increasing penetration of on-premises storage systems,  coupled with the proliferation of big data and cloud computing, and the need to upgrade, currently, the Indian  SSD  market  is  driven predominantly by the growing demand for high-end  computing  systems by the enterprise segment.

Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah, Senior Director – Marketing, India & MEA, Western Digital, “The last two years have been transformational for the industry as far as the SSD market is concerned. Today, high level adoption of SSDs is taking place. This is because today people are seeking fast and high performing PCs, demand for high-end workstations to create rich content, growing trend of gaming, etc.  Even medical imaging and digital signages also demand the usage of SSDs. Particularly, the last six months have been very good for SSDs.”

Jaganathan Chelliah, Senior Director – Marketing, India & MEA, Western Digital

Mr. Tejashwar Singh, India Sales Head, Kingston Technology,  “The SSD market is at an all-time high, with the demand for faster and more efficient technology, especially with people adapting to more virtual approach in the last two years. This has led to the emergence of three key opportunities, like the Home Office, formal online education and emergence of more extreme gamers. With a few simple additions in the PC, one can enhance the workflow, productivity, and the speed to the next level. Replacing the hard drive (HDD) with a solid-state drive (SSD) or increasing the memory with the latest DRAM, are some of the easiest and quickest ways to enhance the PC performance. These adjustments help in elevating the work from home, education from home or even play from home, experience to the next level. And apart from this extensive adoption of PCs and people looking at upgrades, there is a huge surge in demand in the enterprise segment. With companies now investing in their data centres, there is a bid market for SSDs and memory in enterprise segment. We have been one of the frontrunners ahead of the curve coming up with a wide range of SSD products and solutions across the segments like gaming, work from home, enterprise etc.”

Mr. Gaurav Mathur, Director, Lexar, “Currently, APAC is the fastest-growing SSD market globally and India is one of the major contributors and key players in terms of the units consumed and in the revenue contribution in this segment. India is one of the major markets for Lexar, especially for the SSDs. Lexar is one of the top global leaders in the memory vertical with in-house manufacturing to offer consumer and industrial solutions. SSDs have already started replacing the HDDs, especially in the consumer product segment like laptops and desktops.”

Gaurav Mathur, Director, Lexar

Mr. Rajesh Khurana, Country Head – Biwin, Consumer Business, “SSD market in India is witnessing a double digit growth rate. This is due to their performance benefits such as higher random access speeds, multi-tasking ability and higher reliability and durability, compared to its traditional counterparts. Low latency and faster access time, owing to integrated circuit design instead of fragmentation, and physical movement, is promoting higher penetration of SSDs in PCs. Other key segments such as high-end cloud computing, data centers, and automotive are increasing the adoption of SSD due to advantages of SSD over HDD.”

Comparison between HDDs and SSDs

Mr Rajesh Khurana of Biwin, “What makes SSDs an increasingly popular choice is their speed. Across the board, SSDs outpace HDDs because they use electrical circuitry and have no physical moving parts. This leads to shorter wait times when you’re starting up and fewer delays when opening apps or doing heavy computing tasks. The higher speeds lead to performance benefits in several areas, such as when logging in and waiting for apps and services to start up or when performing storage-intensive tasks such as copying a large file. HDDs can be a cost-effective choice for ‘cold data.’ At the other end of the spectrum, if your organization is running real-time transactions, editing videos and photos and needs fast access to a database of files, video clips or models, or even just running the operating system, that’s referred to as ‘hot data,’ then SSDs are a must. The SSDs are an ideal choice when speedy access to your data is what matters most. Without the moving parts, SSDs are more durable, run cooler and use less energy. For example, our Acer FA100, M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen3 x 4 SSD, made of the latest technology, comes in capacities from 128 GB up to 2 TB,  with  read- & write- speeds up to 3300 / 2700 MB/s.”

Mr. Tejashwar Singh of Kingston, “Today, SSDs are becoming a better bargain over HDDs. As the benefits of SSDs over HDDs are enormous, more people want to upgrade from HDDs to SSDs. Some of the benefits that are leading to the shift are: Higher durability and reliability of SSDs– Heat is one of the biggest issues with HDDs as a lot of heat is generated by the consistent movement of the moving parts which also cause breakdown after a few years. As the SSDs don’t have such moving parts, they generate less heat besides giving best-in-class performance. SSDs are much faster than HDDs – SSDs need shorter boot times for your computer, faster data transfer and higher bandwidth, which are the necessary features in today’s business world, especially when running programs that access large amounts of data such as an operating system. Also, SSDs are very stable, which ensures that stored data is secure. Moreover, SSDs are the best for storing gaming apps, operating systems, and heavy files. The SSDs can seamlessly handle the huge amounts of data a game needs to shuffle consistently. Power and energy efficient– Since an SSD has no moving parts, it needs less power to operate compared to an HDD. Energy efficiency is a big benefit in using an SSD when it comes to PC and mobile devices where battery longevity is a highly marketable and requested feature. Moreover, SSDs are shock resistant as compared to HDDs, as the latter is more fragile given that it has movable parts.”

Tejashwar Singh, India Sales Head, Kingston Technology

Mr. Gaurav Mathur of Lexar, “Lexar is focused on the SSD business with an entire portfolio of SATA, NVMe and PCIe products for the India market. Shift has already started toward SSDs worldwide and also in India for consumer and industrial products.”

Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah of Western Digital, “Today, both HDDs and SSDs are equally important technologies that will stay and offer specific solutions depending on the use-case of the customer. Big use-cases for HDDs are video surveillance storage, traditional desktops, and large capacity storage. Where high-capacity storage at lower cost is needed, HDDs fulfil the requirement. So HDDs will continue to exist.  When it comes to high speed computing, the SSDs are the preferred ones.”

The cost gap between HDDs and SSDs is decreasing with time

When it comes to the data centers, SSDs are an answer to enterprise workloads whose performance suffers disk-based storage arrays and server storage subsystems. With the growth of hybrid and all-flash arrays, SSD storage serves intensive workloads with very high I/O performance. SSDs have the added advantage of low energy usage, which helps data centers to keep the energy budget items under control. The SSDs have the same external form factors as HDDs, because they are marketed as replacements for HDDs. Using the same form factors does not require massive re-engineering of storage arrays at the factory or data center levels. Next, since SSDs have no moving parts, they run considerably more quietly, enjoy faster access time, and lower power consumption over HDDs.  The most special feature of SSDs is their sequential read-and-write speed making them much faster than the conventional HDDs. Such impressive features result in the extended battery life for PCs, tablets and laptops making them a popular option among consumers.

Mr. Rajesh Khurana of Biwin, “SSDs are more expensive than HDDs per amount of storage (in gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB)), but the gap is closing as SSD prices decline at a faster pace that HDD prices year over year. Due to higher demand and factory output, SSD prices are dropping fast and they are currently in the affordable segment.”

Rajesh Khurana, Country Head – Biwin, Consumer Business

Mr. Tejashwar Singh of Kingston, “While SSDs can be more expensive than HDDs at present, the overall gap is narrowing and the SSD cost per GB has gone down considerably in the past several years. All considered, the benefits of upgrading to an SSD outweigh the cost.”

Mr. Gaurav Mathur of Lexar, “As shared earlier, there is a global shift from HDD to SSD and most of the manufacturers are also in line with the trend. With higher demand, higher production of SSDs, the cost gap is decreasing, which is nearly double at present and set to decrease with time.”

Mr. JaganathanChelliah of Western Digital, “The SSDs are winners when saving time is a priority like in gaming because of short boot time, high productivity and faster actions are needed to give a better experience.”

Users want to upgrade their old PCs to SSDs from HDDs?

Mr. Rajesh Khurana of Biwin, “We strongly recommend consumers to upgrade their existing laptops/desktops with SSDs to increase performance multifold. The new Acer-branded SSD portfolio offers a range of 2.5″ SATA, M.2 SATA and M.2 PCIe NVMe drives. The entry-level 2.5″ SA100 offers performance and reliability and is available in capacities from 120 GB to 1.92 TB. The RE100 is available as a standard 2.5” SATA drive as well as in a smaller M.2 SATA form factor. With capacities from 128 GB up to 1 TB (M.2) and 4 TB (SATA) and with read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 520 MB/s, the RE100 performs close to the SATA interface’s maximum speed and is an extremely reliable solution in terms of speed and capacity to upgrade any desktop PC or laptop to the latest SATA technology. In terms of maximizing performance, an Acer-branded M.2 PCIe Gen3 NVMe drive, the FA100—is available in capacities from 128 GB up to 2 TB, reaching up to 3300 MB/s read and 2700 MB/s write speeds. This exceptional performance is six times faster than standard SATA SSDs.”

Mr. Gaurav Mathur of Lexar, “SSDs are faster than HDDs by a factor of 5 to 25. Consumers want shorter boot time and load time, for which SSDs are the perfect solution which load files and booting programs instantly. As I mentioned earlier, SSD prices are dropping and fast becoming affordable products. Lexar has a complete range of SSD product line, even for the first time consumers of SSDs. Earlier, Lexar has launched 2.5 internal SSD and M.2 2280 SSD with capacity ranging from 120 GB to 2 TB that offer speeds from 500MB/s to close to 7500MB/s and superior form factors for both PC enthusiasts and gamers.”

Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah of Western Digital, “Today, even consumers want to do more in short time on PCs. Working professionals today are using productivity linked applications on a regular basis. Recently, we did a survey to find out how PCs are being used. The study reveals the demand for higher productivity is increasing and people are using their PCs more for entertainment, online education, social networking, video conferencing, gaming, multimedia creation, etc compared to the previous years, which all need faster responses; people want high-performance devices. A PC has four critical components, a CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage. Today, we talk about multi-core CPUs and GPUs, which was not the case earlier. People want CPUs, GPUs and RAM to store and transfer data in the order of gigabytes, which SSDs alone can deal; in case of HDDs, the capability of doing this is in megabytes. SSDs can make a significant difference with respect to overall experience while working on PCs. Therefore, more and more people want to upgrade their PCs from HDDs to SSDs. The opportunity in India for SSDs is huge because we have a huge install base of laptops and PCs that still run on HDDs.”

The role of channel partners in taking the SSDs to customers

In India, SSD is still a new technology with which many people are not yet familiar. Partners and customers need to be educated about the advantages of SSDs. However, the awareness on SSDs among partners is far better today than 2-3 years back. Companies are following various strategies to educate their partners such as by giving technical specs of the products who in turn can educate the customers. Conducting webinars & roadshows, use blogs, technical forums, providing the technical brochures, etc about SSDs and its advantages are some of the activities companies are following to educate partners and customers. They organize group training sessions in different cities from time to time, upload videos on Youtube showing the advantages of using SSDs. Then this education is passed on by the partners to the end customers. System Integrators also play a vital role in educating the end user hence it is important to have the benefits known to that channel.

Mr. Rajesh Khurana of Biwin, “Channel partners are the brand ambassadors of our brand. We, at Biwin, acknowledge and value our channel partners. Though we launched recently in India, within one year of our launch, our channel partners have helped Acer and HP branded SSDs and DRAM solutions reach almost every city in India. Biwin is an extremely channel-friendly company. We have been releasing attractive programs at both Tier 1 and Tier 2 level cities through our distributers. This has helped us win many awards in various channel forums time to time.”

Mr. Tejashwar Singh of Kingston, “We at Kingston staunchly believe in growing with our channel partners, and our partners are an intrinsic part of our growth story since the beginning of our journey in India. They play an imperative role in taking forward our products and value proposition to our end users. Hence, we work towards providing compelling business opportunities to our partners. On an ongoing basis there are customized training sessions for our channel partners to educate them about new products and share useful first-hand information about the industry trends. This in turn helps us in getting more end-users educated about our products. Recently, to reward our partners for their dedication, diligence, and stellar performance, we felicitated over 48 channel partners for their stellar performance and support. Over the years, the channel partners have been one of the key growth drivers for Kingston Technology. Our engagement with the partners is a win-win partnership, and we will be coming up with exciting initiatives to keep our channel partners motivated.”

Mr. Gaurav Mathur of Lexar, “Channel partners play a pivotal role in Lexar’s distribution model in taking forward all our professional solutions to the end-users. Currently, we are in the process of restructuring our distribution and sales model and planning to work closely with Tier 1, 2, 3 partners so that we can offer a valued and profitable proposition to all our channel partners through better price support, schemes and incentives.”

SSDs are becoming essential in the gaming segment to offer better experience

In digital gaming speed, compactness, high performance, quiet operation and low power consumption are the most important requirements. Hence, the SSDs are the best suit for the gaming segment. With the advent of the next-gen consoles and games that need very high speeds, the SSD-based storage has become a necessity and SSDs are becoming mainstream especially for gamers. SSDs can access data from the storage on to the computer much faster and games will boot faster.”

Moreover, gamers today are looking at immersive experiences, and hence the game developers are highly dependent on technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, AR/VR and more, which all need faster and heavier operations. It is remarkable that NVMe SSDs enable games to boot up two to three times faster than those installed on a traditional HDD. With SSDs, the games will not only load faster, there will be hardly any time wasted on loading screens from the game’s menu to the game itself. Gamers will also notice how much faster their games load compared to other players’ when playing online. Gaming is all about speed and adrenalin rush, so NVMe SSDs truly help enhance the experience and make it limitless. Additionally, installation times are also significantly reduced. SSDs in general can’t make downloading games any faster but they do install and store them in your storage system quickly and efficiently, especially when using an NVMe SSD.

Mr. Rajesh Khurana of Biwin, “The gaming community in India is growing at a rapid pace, with young Indians vying to create new milestones. They can, however, succeed in their tryst only if they find new-age solutions for their memory and storage needs. The Predator branded memory and personal storage solutions are just the perfect pick for hardcore PC gamers and esports professionals who seek high-end gaming solutions to ensure a competitive edge. The new high-end flagship memory and storage portfolio under the Predator brand begins with state-of-the-art memory modules and blazing fast solid-state drives.”

Mr. Tejashwar Singh of Kingston, “Gamers constantly need super-fast SSDs, which is not only going to significantly speed up player experience, but will also mean developers can enhance the gaming experience with better graphics. While gaming traffic is on the rise in the last couple of years, the downside to this situation is that gaming systems are generally data starved. Moreover, discerning gamers today are looking at immersive experiences and the game developers are highly dependent on technologies such as AI, ML, AR/VR and more. This has made the gaming experience compelling for the gamers on the one hand but has also resulted in making the games heavier. Games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2, and Modern Warfare taking up well over 150GB each, which implies that it needs a lot of storage space. Hence, to make room for the new games, the gamers have to delete the old games, which is an agonizing decision for them. Moreover, it is remarkable that NVMe SSDs or the new Gen4 SSDs enable games to boot up much faster than those installed on a traditional HDD. The games will not only load faster, but there will also be hardly any time wasted on loading screens from the game’s menu to the game itself. One SSD that has been receiving overwhelming response is, Kingston FURY RenegadePCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD. It provides cutting-edge performance in high capacities for gaming and hardware enthusiasts seeking extreme performance for PC builds and upgrades. By leveraging the latest Gen 4×4 NVMe controller and 3D TLC NAND, Kingston FURY Renegade SSD offers blazing speeds of up to 7,300/7,000MB/s read/write and up to 1,000,000 IOPS for amazing consistency and exceptional gaming experience. From game and application loading times to streaming and capturing, it gives system a boost in overall responsiveness. Not just this, it is also PS5 ready, giving it an extra edge amongst the gaming enthusiasts in the country for their storage requirements.”

Mr. Gaurav Mathur of Lexar, “Gaming industry is a very professional and niche market and also have entry restrictions and barriers due to specialized and professional solutions. Lexar gaming products are globally accepted and are preferred in the gaming industry as we offer specialized memory solutions for the segment. Lexar gaming products offer all the required features like speed, heat sink, RGB, overclocking, and white/black RAM with sleek design. On top of that, Lexar has launched the latest DDR5 globally, which is ready to excite the professionals and gaming fraternity. We understand this niche segment and the needs of the gamers well and we will keep upgrading and developing new products for the gaming segment. Gaming segment is a fast growing segment in the Indian market and we will keep introducing new range of gaming products and upgrading them continually.”

Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah of Western Digital, “Gaming has been a big contributor to the overall growth of the PC industry in India. A lot of people have taken into gaming and upgraded from their mobile experience to have a much larger experience using PCs. SSDs today play a very important role in providing the best experience to gamers. We have a purpose-built gaming solution under WD Black brand. We have both internal and external SSDs to meet the different needs of gamers. Our internal SSD portfolio comprises of WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD and WD_BLACK SN770 NVMe SSD. While WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD is meant for professionals and gamers, WD_BLACK SN770 NVMe SSDs is meant for gamers. For our external portfolio, we have WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD, which helps gamers store additional games for which they do not have space within their computers. At Western Digital, we are really focused on looking at the existing and emerging needs of the gamers and then build in it the necessary features. To highlight specific features or benefits, there is a heatsink version, for when all the parts get heated up, including SSDs, gamers can use this version and have an extended gameplay by managing the thermals of the SSD. There is also a gaming dashboard software which helps gamers optimize their gameplay. We also have a version with RGB that adds up to the overall jazz of gaming. It is not just about SSDs as we understand what the gamers needs are and we’re building the right type of solutions to help them have the right gaming experience.”

How safe are SSDs regarding data recovery?

Security and Data Recovery Associated with SSDs: Some customers do consider that data recovery could be a problem with SSDs so they still prefer to use HDDs. To be wise, the customers should always keep their important data in more than one device because anything can happen whether you are using SSDs or HDDs. The operating systems that support TRIM feature (e.g. Win 10) automatically zero out the empty cells from which the data has been deleted by the user/application. This makes data recovery much harder in SSDs as compared to HDDs wherein in HDDs the data remains there even after deletion by user/app till it is overwritten. Though SSDs are susceptible to memory deterioration and physical faults, they are durable and less prone to mechanical failure. Since SSD do not have any moving parts and they tend to come with fewer manufacturing defects and age slower.

Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah of Western Digital, “We conducted a study to understand the data backup habits of consumers in India and found that backup is quite low. One out of two PC users are not doing full backup, one out of five do not do any backup at all and one out of four people have had an experience with respect to data loss. The way I see, consumers need to put conscious effort to back up their data, no matter what technology they are using in their computer. Today, data is very valuable, be it personal or professional, people need a structured data management model even if it is personal data. As a leader in the in the data storage industry, we have taken it upon ourselves to educate the consumers about the importance of backup and over the past three years we have been consistently driving this message across all avenues. Whether one is using HDDs or SSDs, the wisdom says one should always have back up important files and information.”

Different technologies in the SSD segment and how the SSD market will be after 2 years

With increasing demand for performance, NVMe demand is growing much faster and set to overtake 2.5 inch SATA and M.2 segment in the near future. The driving force behind increasing adoption of SSD is the increasing adoption of the advanced technologies such as cloud computing, Big Data, AI and edge computing. SSDs help data intensive applications access and process data much faster as compared to the traditional HDDs. SSDs are designed and optimized to handle critical workloads.  Accelerating technology advancements will help SSDs to soon crossover the critical curve of cost per GB resulting in higher attach rates over time and making them a preferred choice for consumers.

Internal SSD is poised to grow in the future owing to its outstanding features. Growing internet penetration, e-commerce, digitization creating large amount of data will contribute in the growth. Rise in the number of gamers requiring super fast and smooth access is also an added factor. Extensive adoption of desktop, laptop and tablet will create a rise in demand for this highly efficient affordable option.

Technocrats are constantly upgrading the technology to bring higher innovations to the consumers. The SSDs, down the years, will become more mainstream as the awareness about their benefits will increase manifold. Our lives in the next few years will become more dependent on technology, and we will become more digital, hence the need to manage and store data will also increase. SSDs – both SATA and NVMe – are reliable, faster and safer to manage and store data, and therefore we will see more demand for the SSDs in India as well as across the world. Even for the enterprise customers, our range of Data Centre SSDs will be a boon to move forward. Customers who upgrade from SATA/SAS SSDs to NVMe SSDs will enjoy the similarities in implementation but with much faster data rates and lower latency. Our compelling range of Data Centre SSDs will take the growth story of the enterprise segment to the next level with high-storage capacity and best-in class enterprise performance.” 

Mr. Rajesh Khurana of Biwin, “Since SSDs hit the market, capacities have grown larger and larger. Latest industry trends are to reduce costs while increasing storage capacity. This has led to the development of denser memory cells while slowly approaching the cost of traditional hard drives. The number of bits stored on a NAND flash memory cell determines the type of flash memory used. Single-level cell (SLC) flash memory contains one bit per cell. Multi-level cell (MLC) doubles the capacity with two bits per cell. Triple-level cell (TLC) contains three bits per cell, while quad-level cell (QLC) contains four bits per cell allowing for four times the capacity of SLC flash memory.The pursuit of cheaper and larger drives has caused the decline of SLC and MLC-based SSDs. TLC is now mainstream and holds the largest market share. QLC is still relatively new, but we expect its low costs will draw in buyers, especially since it is often pitched as an HDD replacement. The essential difference between TLC and QLC is a trade-off between performance and capacity. In particular, QLC provides:

  • Lower cost per bit, i.e., cost per unit of capacity.
  • Higher density, i.e., more capacity in the same physical footprint.
  • Fewer flash devices per system of the same capacity, which can lower total cost of ownership.

TLC in contrast offers:

  • More writes per cell (endurance); although, due to the density difference, QLC drives usually spec a higher number of total bytes written.
  • Higher performance, particularly for small block sizes.
  • Slightly better reliability; although, the gap is narrowing due to improved error correction algorithms and the ability of QLC devices to sacrifice a greater number of cells for redundancy without significantly degrading overall capacity.

The capacity advantage of QLC is so compelling that we see  vendors have started to adapt their controller software and cache design to mitigate, if not entirely eliminate, its drawbacks compared to TLC and SLC. We see a growing number of enterprises use QLC as the medium of choice.”

Mr. Gaurav Mathur of Lexar, “Currently, the major types of SSDs available are SATA, NVMe, M.2 and PCIE. In the coming 2 years, SSDs will replace a major share of HDDs and we can also expect SSDs with ultra-large capacities of 15-20TB or more which would also replace data centers in the near future. Consumer external HDD business has already started to shift to external SSD. With higher capacity SSDs, prices will drop which will increase the affordability, and the market would shift further towards SSD. We are expecting an overall shift in the memory ecosystem towards SSDs and Lexar is ready to bring the entire range of SSD basket for the Indian consumer at valued proposition.”

Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah of Western Digital, “The current technology which is prevalent in the market is the SATA and this was a protocol designed for hard drives. You can have a maximum throughput of about 500-560 Gbps depending on the use case. Today, there is NVMe technology, a protocol designed specifically to take advantage of the power of essence, and I expect that to transition into mainstream in the coming months. At Western Digital, we have taken the lead and are creating the right type of NVMe SSDs across portfolios. We have the best-in-class solutions based on NVMe technology to give the consumer a very seamless experience in terms of boot time, no lagging, little-to-no latency and a very smooth graphical experience.”

To Sum Up

Advantages of SSDs, compared to HDDs, higher speeds, higher performance, low power consumption, quieter activity as there are no moving or rotating parts and lesser space occupied as SSDs are compact. Enterprises are still the largest consumers of SSDs, but consumer and office segments are catching up fast. On the other side, SSDs still cost higher than HDDs, but the price gap is expected to narrow further with the increasing demand, mass production and new innovations that can make SSDs commercially competitive to HDDs in the coming times. Most providers believe that SSDs will replace a significant share of HDDs in the next 3 to 5 years. However, today, both HDDs and SSDs are equally important.  For video surveillance storage, traditional desktops, and large capacity storage, where lower cost is needed, HDDs fulfill the requirement. When it comes to high speed computing, the SSDs are the preferred ones.


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