The only thing that might kick off another wave of rapid cost declines is a totally new technology, Harari said. He believes the most likely candidate is 3D read/write, which SanDisk said last year it is developing with Toshiba. All major NAND vendors are researching 3D read/write, Harari said. Possibly arriving on the market in 2012, 3D read/write might cut manufacturing costs enough to make SSDs a mainstream industry, but it's still early in development, he said.
Another speaker at the conference had a brighter outlook on SSDs in PCs. Flash drive manufacturers shouldn't worry about charging $200 for SSDs, because an SSD can boost a PC's performance more than any other component except the CPU, according to Francois Piednoel, a senior performance analyst at Intel. While PC prices remain relatively stable, SSDs can command a greater percentage of the price because many other components, such as mice, become essentially free, he said.
To demonstrate the benefits of flash, Piednoel zoomed in on a collection of 21,700 photos on a PC, continuously zooming until he was showing close-up details on one image. That continuous zooming wouldn't be possible with a hard drive, he said.