There are also new SSD categories. For example, hybrid drives combine NAND flash cache memory with a spinning disk in a hard-drive form factor. In addition, in adherence to Intel's new ultrabook computer specifications (PDF), manufacturers are beginning to produce laptops with two drive slots, one for a hard drive and the other for a low-capacity cache SSD that works with hard drives to speed up boot and application load times.
Even with the dramatic price drops, SSDs as aftermarket PC upgrades are still seen as niche purchases. "Though HDDs and DRAM are not sexy, they do far more aftermarket business than SSDs," IHS' Chien said.
When it comes to companies making and shipping consumer-grade SSDs through channel partners, Intel and Samsung continue to lead the market in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. They are followed by OCZ, Micron (Crucial), and Kingston, according to Chien.
As for those shipping SSDs to system manufacturers of PCs, laptops and arrays, the top players are Samsung, Toshiba, Intel, Micron, and Sandisk. Shipments to equipment manufacturers will remain the dominant market for SSDs, Chien said.
"Samsung hadn't really been a big aftermarket SSD player until its 830 SSD came out; a combination of aggressive pricing and improved drive performance has catapulted it near the top fairly quickly," Chien said. "Intel drives are dependable, but not as fast; OCZ products have always struggled with reliability and the recent shakeups have not helped."
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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