There’s been a lot of chatter online recently about advances in storage. But what’s really going on in the market?
It’s been an exciting time for solid state drives. Back in 2011, these were still more than a dollar per gigabyte, making them unaffordable for the majority of PC owners. But they’ve since come down in price dramatically, busting through the $0.25 per gigabyte mark in some instances. While it’s true that the larger models still command a price premium, the growth of the industrial SSD segment is likely to push prices down at the high end even further. According to some reports, SSD prices fell by more than 75 percent in the 18 months to 2015, and those trends have largely continued to the point where cost per gigabyte will soon reach parity with regular HDDs.
All of this is good news for gamers and people who rely on their PCs for productivity. SSCs provide much faster loading times than regular hard drives, and they are able to read from the disk much faster, meaning that boot times have also come down dramatically. Games like Battlefield 1 have enormous maps that need to be pre-rendered, and so anybody who is playing on a regular HDD is likely to be left in the dirt.
Another cool technology we’re starting to see in the storage space is NvME drive: drives that connect directly to the motherboard through the PCIE interface. The problem with regular hard drives that connect via SATA II is that they are limited to a mere 6 Gbps throughput, meaning that even if the drives get faster, the SATA II standard limits the data rate.
Now some OEMs are looking at ways to get rid of this bottleneck and give PC owners a quantum leap in performance and speed. So far, these drives have remained very expensive. But the fact that many more manufacturers are jumping into the market is good news. What’s cool about these drives is that they are really, really small. In fact, they don’t look like drives at all: they look more like small storage cards you’d put in a portable device. Because they fit away so neatly on the motherboard, it gives enthusiasts more space in their cases for other things, like cooling loops or extra graphics cards.
NvME drives typically have a read speed of more than 1 Gbps and similarly good write speeds, making them an excellent addition to any rig used for gaming or multimedia.
The final innovation in the segment has been cloud storage: the ability to hook your PC up to an external server over the internet and just drag and drop files. According to estimates, the cloud storage market will grow at around 30 percent per year up until 2019, thanks to the need from companies for somewhere to store all their data. Server efficiencies should keep bringing prices down, especially since other technologies in the sector are themselves falling in price. Organizations will soon find that moving their data around becomes a lot easier.