Seagate CEO Bill Watkins announced his firm will introduce its first solid state disk (SSD) in 2009. However, Watkins says Seagate has no plans yet to introduce SSDs for consumers. He says the cost per gigabyte of SSDs is still way too high and therefore the company's first SSD products will be targeted at enterprises. Another interesting thing Watkins revealed is that Seagate will introduce its first 2TB HDD next year.
While there is no competition now between hard drives and SSDs, Seagate is thinking of going to SSDs in the long term to replace hard drives.
"SSDs are not price-competitive yet," Watkins said. The storage market is driven by cost-per-gigabyte and though SSDs provide benefits such as power savings, they won't be in laptops in the next few years, Watkins said. Low-power consumption capabilities and high speeds make SSDs useful for laptops, but the cost-per-gigabyte won't come down at least for the next few years, Watkins said.
"If the cost-per-gigabyte comes down to 10 cents, maybe," Seagate will focus on SSD storage for consumers, Watkins said.
A 128G-byte SSD costs US$460, or $3.58 per gigabyte, compared to $60 for a 160G-byte hard drive, said Krishna Chander, senior analyst at iSuppli.
"It will take three to four years for SSDs to come to parity with hard drives," on price and reliability, Chander said.
Besides price, other issues will keep SSDs from the consumer space, Watkins said.
Users seek fat storage to carry data and hard drives can store terabytes of data, something SSDs can't do, Watkins said. SSDs also have write issues, with cells in the drives deteriorating quickly and reducing storage capacity, a general problem that plagues flash drives.
Even enterprise adoption of SSDs could be slow, Watkins said. "People are still trying to get tape out of the enterprise," Watkins said.
Seagate's SSD would be mainly for data centers that rely on processing data quickly, like indexing servers or search servers, that can temporarily store data until it is ultimately moved to permanent storage on hard drives or tape. Solid-state drives can move data up to 10 times quicker than hard drives, but data has to ultimately be moved to larger and more reliable storage, Watkins said.
The SSD drive could also be useful for data centers looking to save on energy consumption and costs.