News that a 512 gigabyte SSD (solid state drive) has fallen in price to under a thousand dollars in the US is great news. Pricing has always been perceived as something of an obstacle to the adoption of SSDs and – whilst solid state drives attract a premium over magnetic hard drives – the advantages are significant.
Corporates are now adopting SSDs for the operating system, basic programs and critical systems data, alongside a larger magnetic hard drive for data storage. This gives companies the advantage of rapid boot up times and, interestingly enough, by moving the SSD to a read-only setting, higher levels of security against system problems.
By storing the customised set-up files for a PC on the magnetic main drive, even if the worst happens and the main drive is trashed by malware, the IT department can simply swap the magnetic drive out and, with no appreciable configuration changes, the SSD will boot the PC up as normal.
The real advantage of SSDs to a company with several hundred PCs is the time saving in terms of bootup time. If, for example, a company uses a 32 or 64GB SSD on employee’s office PC for the operating system plus program data, and only stores data on the magnetic drive – securely backing up that data into the cloud every evening – the machine’s bootup time each morning is a lot faster than if a single magnetic drive were to be used.
There are also good energy savings to be had – by powering down each employee’s computer each evening, rather than leaving them running through the night and at weekends, as many companies do to save on maintenance costs.
With SSDs there are no problems with stop-start cycles that you get with magnetic drives. And with the latest cloud technology, it also becomes possible to use just a 32 or 64 GB SSD drive on an office PC for the OS and programs, and then store the rest of the data wholly in the cloud.
This is what Google’s upcoming Chrome OS is all about – better speed and efficiency, and a reduced need for processor power on the local desktop or notebook PC. The days of magnetic drives are far from being numbered, but the price breakthrough now being seen with 512 GB SSDs is also starting to push the prices of smaller capacity SSDs in the right direction.
The price depression effect is slow but steady, but I think that we will see more and more corporates moving on up to the benefits that SSDs now offer. There is already an increase in demand for SSD products from Dell for notebooks and netbooks. And that’s no bad thing on several fronts, not least in terms of the energy saving possibilities.