By Joanne De Peralta, BiTMICRO
The release of Apple’s MacBook Air, Lenovo Thinkpad, and Dell Latitude Notebooks — all equipped with solid state disks — have created a strong buzz in the computing industry. Debates of whether or not the era of SSDs has finally arrived have stimulated activity in quite a number of forums. The advantages of solid state disks over conventional hard drives have been highlighted with the stream of products being introduced to both consumer and enterprise markets.
Products utilizing solid-state storage are now offered as a valid option to resolve complicated upgrades to accommodate highly demanding business processes. Upfront, price is the biggest question. Is it worth that much? Are the benefits you’ll get from a gadget equipped with an SSD equivalent to money you’ll need to shell out? Is there no other way to get that benefit without the price tradeoff?
Come to think of it, nobody is pushing us to jump into the SSD bandwagon. The only reason why all these talk have surfaced is because we have been presented with something that can elevate our computing experience to a higher level, something that will enable us to thrive in previously impossible situations and perform really well. Solid state drives, just as any other technology in its early stages, come at a premium. Microsoft offers its Windows Vista but there’s always Windows XP if you think you can get on with your life only with that. There’s also the choice between a standard mobile phone and the iPhone. How about IBM Blade Servers for your business, when you can keep your systems running using standard rack-mount servers? Minus the benefits of class, sophistication, less power consumption, better cooling and ease of management, you can surely get away with the pricey upgrades.
But since there are people and corporations who need these upgrades to achieve higher levels of performance, the supplier’s natural reaction would be to fill in the need and provide the product. Companies like BiTMICRO take pride in the R&D efforts that they put into their cutting edge products, especially when they beat the competition to market. This scenario gives rise to a niche market, one that sees the value in being able to surpass current challenges; early adopters that are willing to see beyond the initial investment of buying the drives but are keen on acquiring the benefits they stand to gain from new technology.
An SSD offers remarkable performance for I/O intensive applications and those that require fast and frequent data access. Examples include database servers,and transaction processing applications that are usually employed by the banking industry and for business-to-business online transactions for the enterprise market on one hand, while you have gaming and animation for the consumer industry on the other. Ruggedness is also perceived as an added benefit, as mobile computing has now become a necessity for people who need to work while on the road.
BiTMICRO has recently announced its roster of upcoming products slated for this year that includes 1.6TB Ultra320 SCSI and 832 GB SATA solid-state drives. Such product announcements that are powered with high level specs and features are expected to draw much attention not just from industry watchers but also from the end users. The capacities of the said flash-based SSDs are way better than what is currently available in the market. Their expected performance, ruggedness and security features are among the industry’s wish list, except for the price. With these products at hand, more breakthroughs can be expected. Phone and MP3 player manufacturers will now have bigger elbowroom to improve their next generation of products. The same goes for players in the enterprise server and storage industry that are as hungry as consumers when it comes to breakthrough products.
Beyond all the fuss and the noise these announcements have made, one thing remains clear: these products may not satisfy everyone’s thirst for new technology. But there’s a specific set of people, corporations and manufacturers whose prayers have been answered with these announcements. The buzz may get too loud, the specifications, features and promised performance may be watched overly but at the end of the day, the product will cater only to a niche market. Who knows? With fast falling flash memory prices, solid state drives may soon evolve to finally become the conventional storage device. Until then, most of us will be on the lookout for the day when SSDs will finally find their way to every computer in every home and office worldwide.