Tuesday, 27 September 2016 13:50

Thanks for the memories


ANALYSIS Every electronic device relies on silicon – memory, storage, and compute. Whether that is a computer, mobile, TV, IoT, M2M, autonomous car, or a child’s toy, thanks to Moore’s Law advances in this field have enabled so much more.

I remember in the 80s when dynamic random access memory (DRAM) was on discrete DIP (dual in-line chips with two rows of 8 pins). That graduated to 30 pin SIPP (single inline pin package), to 72 pin DIMM (dual in-line memory module), to 168 pin SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory) and then to 184/240 pin DDR2, DDR3 and PC, laptop, and embedded versions thereof. Now it is DDR4 …

In 1980, I bought 64KByte chips from the US for about $1000. In 1995, 512KB cost about $500. I won’t step through all the memory types and prices (you can reminisce here) but simply say that today 1GB of DDR2 is about $15, 4/8GB of DDR3 is about $25/45, and 16GB of DDR4 is about $85.

Similarly, my first spinning disk hard drive (HDD), a 26MB 5.25” full-size monster cost me US$5000, and that is nearly $200,000 per GB. Today a 1TB (that’s approx. 1024GB) HDD costs about $65. SSDs (solid state drives) have not yet come down to the price of HDD – a 1TB Samsung SSD 850 Pro (superseded model) in a 2.5” Notebook form factor will cost about $550.

I was a guest at the Samsung SSG Global Summit 2016 and was privy to Samsung’s view of the future of SSD.

Ryan Smith, Samsung’s director of AHQ NAND Product Marketing, said the storage decision is not based on overall capacity or dollars per GB – it is about a whole range of issues that Samsung refers to as “dominoes” that fall.

SSD Dominoes

In comparison between HDD and SSD

  1. Performance - HDD is about 140MB/s - SSD wins at up to 3200MB/s (theoretical maximum is 4000MB/s).
  2. Noise – HDD is about 25DB – SSD has none, so it wins.
  3. Power consumption – HDD is .5W idle and 1.7W active. SSD is .05W idle and .25W active, so it wins.
  4. Reliability – SSD now has reached 2 million hours mean-time-between-failure (MTBF) whereas HDD is about half that, so SSD wins.
  5. Form factors – 2.5” is currently the smallest commercial form factor for HDD – a 1TB SSD drive including LPDDR4 memory and a controller occupies the same space as a U.S. penny, so SSD wins.
  6. Capacity – Samsung has introduced a 32TB capacity SSD – typically the largest HDD is 8-10TB, so SSD wins.

Smith said the final domino was price — dollars per GB — and even that was becoming comparable. The first wave is now – where a 128GB SSD is the same price as a 500GB HDD. No, it is not solely about the price but the other six dominoes. The next wave will be where 256GB SSD becomes lower than a 1TB HDD and then by 2020 a 512GB SSD will cost less than a 1TB HDD.

Smith says that the new gold rush is the collection, analysis and monetisation of massive amounts of data. For example, an autonomous car will generate 40GB of data a day and a connected plane about 50TB per flight. Add to that photos, location GPS, text and flash (NAND) plays a critical role in accessing, manipulating and monetising that data.

He spoke of Samsung’s new Z-NAND that fits into the performance gap between DRAM and SSD and will come with a PCIe controller, LPDDR4 DRAM, and V-NAND SSD on the same board.


Willow You, Samsung’s director of branded product marketing (SSD), said SSD sales had grown by a factor of six since their introduction in 2012 to 130 million units today. Prices had dropped by 69% to about US$0.36/GB.

SSD adoption

In mobile and tablets, it was ubiquitous. In desktop/laptop use it was currently in 40% and this figure would grow to 55% by 2018. The aftermarket (upgrade) market where HDDs were being replaced accounted for 40 million units. In fact, it was the preferred upgrade over CPU as it delivered more immediate speed benefits.

In enterprise use SSD has allowed data centre storage to reduce the footprint and energy/cooling consumption to better than HDD levels. 2016 marks the start of enterprise SSD adoption, and she sees it growing exponentially due to a 40% decrease over HDD in total cost of ownership (in a typical 100PB data centre).

By 2018 SSD will outsell HDD by nearly five to one and it is form factor and TCO that would drive it – 1TB in a package the size of a penny.

SSD Form factor

 The major announcement was for Samsung's new PCIe, NVMe, 960 Pro and Evo SSD. iTWire has the article here.

SSD 960


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!



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