Samsung announced it plans to release a 256GB solid state drive next year. The firm is currently shipping 64GB SSDs and 128GB models will arrive this summer.
The 128GB samples will only reach hardware makers, and Samsung will continue to work with PC makers like Lenovo and Dell to deliver SSD drives in capacities from 64G bytes to 128G bytes, Elliott said. He declined comment on when Samsung would make SSD drives available directly to consumers, or to say more about 256G-byte SSDs other than that they could be out next year. Samsung is trying to double SSD capacity every 12 months, he said.
In the long term, SSDs may replace hard drives as primary storage for notebook PCs because they are lightweight, power-efficient and fast. Samsung's SATA II SSD drive is two to five times faster than conventional hard drives, weighs 73 grams (0.07 pounds) and consumes 30 percent less power than a typical hard drive, according to Samsung.
Pricing on SSDs are prohibitive at the moment, but the cost-per-gigabyte equation will improve once the industry moves to multilevel cell (MLC) SSDs by the second half of this year, Elliott said. Most of the drives shipping now are single-level cell SSDs (SLCs), which cost more.
The price of a 64GB single-level SSD is around $600, said Nam Hyung Kim, director and chief analyst at iSuppli.
SLCs are roughly twice as fast and have at least an order of magnitude better reliability than MLCs in terms of endurance cycles, said Joe Unsworth, principal research analyst at Gartner.
However, MLC SSDs are far cheaper, less than half the cost of SLC SSDs, Unsworth said. "MLC SSDs are currently sampling, but are having a difficult time proving the performance and reliability" compared to SLC SSDs, Unsworth said.