We’ll, it was apparently just a matter of time, because it looks like game consoles are finally embracing SSDs as well. Sony will be releasing its new PS3 “Super Slim” any day now, and will offer a variant which includes, you guessed it, long overdue solid state storage. The new, skinnier, PS3 will be delivered in three versions, two with 250GB and 500GB of mechanical storage, and the 12 GB SSD model. It looks like the 250GB, 500GB and 12GB consoles will be priced at $269, $299 and $229 respectively, and should be avialable any day now.
I know what everyone is thinking, that 12GB of storage space is barely enough to contain a few installed games, let alone any extra videos or photos (does anyone actually use their PS3 for this?) you might want to store on the system. However, Sony’s decision to offer SSDs does mark a major milestone in the evolution of game consoles, and I expect there will be much more to come as the major players in this field become more aggressive in their embrace of solid state storage . In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see next gen systems forgo mechanical storage altogether and rely on SSDs exclusively (in fact, Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U appears to do just that). On the other hand, when it comes to consoles, cost really is a major factor, and there are numerous examples showing that, historically, high priced systems don’t generally do very well in the marketplace. Those of you old enough to remember 3DO hardware will know exactly what I’m talking about.
However, if SSDs do see widespread adoption in the console segment, it could be a major catalyst in driving down the cost of solid state storage. Indeed, it may actually end up being the biggest boost the industry has ever seen, especially if the “big three” start to rely on SSDs exclusively. If this scenario comes to fruition, it seems there may be no stopping SSDs from reaching critical mass, as their price will likely very quickly achieve parity with mechanical storage. Even though it’s likely that console manufacturers will be selling at cost for a period of time, at this point, I think it’s safe to assume they are quite used to this type of situation. Certainly, it will be worth if it helps hasten the departure of mechanical drives from users’ homes. PC gamers, say what you will about consoles, but they may be just the tipping point we were waiting for in the transition from magnetic storage devices to their solid state counterparts .
All in all, it appears that Sony has seen the writing on the wall in the storage segment and responded in kind. Even taking the drive’s small size into consideration, the fact that an SSD has been integrated into a gaming console speaks volumes about just how far the solid state storage industry has come. Once restricted to applications where price was no object, we are now seeing companies employ their use in markets which are particularly sensitive to pricing. This is excellent news, and bodes well for the industry as a whole. The winds of change are blowing in the storage world, and if Sony’s console competitors follow its lead, we may just end up seeing this strong breeze develop into a veritable cyclone. Batten down the hatches!