Flash hard drives: four quick thoughts


Sandisk_ssdWith all of the CES and travel preparations (James is in flight this very moment), we’re a little behind from our normal posting habits. However, in all of the craziness, I didn’t want to overlook significant news from yesterday. No, not my new glasses….I’m talking about the SanDisk flash hard drive news reported by CNET.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head:

  • Watching another player join Samsung in this space is GOOD for mobile device users. Competition spurs innovation and more importantly can help drive down the price faster when there are less players in the market. Here’s hoping more manufacturers join in.
  • CNET notes that the 32 GB SanDisk drive will add $600 to the price of a mobile device. That’s also good news, not because the devices that use the drive will cost you more, but because that 32 GB option added $1,300 to a device just four months ago. Yes, this technology will cost you more, but the price premium is decreasing.
  • Aside from watching the prices go down, we really need to see the capacity increase. Of course, a 64 GB flash drive will cost more than a 32 GB drive, but that’s just the way it works. We need to see the cost per GB decrease while the capacity in GB increase…and we will.
  • As mobile users, we’ll need a new way of comparing and choosing our storage options. We can’t just sit there and say "I’m buying a standard hard drive because I can get so much more capacity for less money". There’s a subtle paradigm shift here and that’s the speed of information access with the solid state drives. There’s also the added benefit of device stability. Drop a hard drive-based device from too high a point and good bye hard drive (among other things). Flash drives have no moving parts, use less energy and access information faster, so these attributes need to be factored into the price premium. There’s still the open question (in my mind) of how many reads & writes the flash equipment can stand, but my gut tells me that I don’t keep my devices long enough for that to be a factor.



I’ve had flash drives that have lasted years, although not with the kind of usage that an hdd has gotten in my computer. But the lack of moving parts leads me to believe, I hope not erroneously, that they should last longer than the drives that have friction and inertia working against them. I’ve certainly have had more hard drives go out (several) than ram chips (none). If the tolerances are well above the juice that moves the data (those ohms or watts or volts or whatever they are), I’d think they’d last until the techno-relic who bought it is in the nursing home. But I’ll also admit I have a 128 mb flash drive kicking around here too small for my needs, and until recently an 8-track tape player I could have gotten a fortune for it on ebay if I’d had a little more patience.

Right now I need more than 32gb, and I can’t quite afford double the $600 if they released a 64 for double the price, but it’s pretty darn close, and I’d pay the $600 in a minute for a 60 or 80. Don’t tell my wife, of course. She’s starting to catch on that my mobile tech (so much more respectable than saying “gadget”) somehow stops working or meets with an accident when the next REAL toy, er, tool, comes out.

But no moving parts? More battery life? Faster performance? I’m beggin’ ya, OEMs, jump on! Guys, can you say fewer warranty repairs?

Bill Pytlovany

Anyone have data on the lifespan of data on a Flash Disk?

Sounds like these could eventually be a great backup devices if the lifespan of the data can be guaranteed.



Its about time!

With 4GB USB keys selling for roughly $70 that $600 price point is price competitive. I’d buy one just to have a large durable bucket to haul data around in.

Andy Broyles

Assuming that the manufacturers start using these drives, the price will not ADD $600 (that is the anticipated consumer price of the drive), but probably closer to $400 net change on the device.

Regardless, this is excellent news, SSDs are more reliable, less power hungry, and at least an order of magnitude faster, and no spin up lag.


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