Micron Technology held a press conference today regarding the future direction of Micron and of the solid state storage industry in general. They touched on several interesting aspects of the industry, going into detail on both the consumer and enterprise SSD markets, both of which are becoming important staples in Micron’s bottom line. This is excellent news for the industry, as it seems SSDs are beginning to permeate every aspect of the market.
In particular, Micron discussed the exponential trend when it comes to the number of flash devices shipped, and even went so far as to make a prediction of 160 Billion units shipped in 2016, up from around 40 billion today. That really is a lot of flash, and if Micron’s forecasts are in line with what happens in the industry as a whole, the days of mechanical storage may be numbered, especially with the talk of SSDs eventually reaching price/GB parity with their magnetic counterparts. With growth of hard drive capacities slowing down in recent years, it appears that this kind of equalization is, for the most part, inevitable, being more a matter of when than anything else. The day this happens will mark the completion of the paradigm shift which quietly began in 2007, and I have to say, it can’t come soon enough.
In this vein, Micron also touched on TLC flash, which could go a long way toward helping supplant HDDs as the pre-eminent storage medium. This is due to the ability of TLC flash to store 3 bits per cell, which could help reduce overall product cost quite substantially. Of course, cell endurance will only be around half of what it is for current MLC based SSDs, though this shouldn’t be an issue for many entry level client applications. Considering the slump the flash industry is in at the moment, now might be an excellent opportunity to consider catering to new market segments, and Micron actually alluded to as much during the presentation.
Also, Micron was anything but shy when it came to promoting its own virtues. What I’m talking about, specifically, is Micron’s ability to control every aspect of their hardware from start to finish. Such are the benefits of controlling your own NAND supply and controller design, which also has the advantage of allowing a firm to provide their products at the lowest possible cost to consumers, be that enterprise or otherwise. Indeed, Micron’s P320h PCIe SSD is a perfect example of this, being adopted by EMC for use in its SSD caching solutions precisely due to the excellent (relatively speaking) price/performance ratio of Micron’s offerings over its competitors. You gotta love vertical integration; not since the breakup of Ma’Bell has there been such a fervor about the benefits of being largely self-sufficient, though the advantages do pretty much speak for themselves.
Overall, Micron’s presentation was a pleasure to listen to. The only thing I didn’t mention was Micron’s acquisition of Virtensys, which should go a long way toward helping Micron SSDs in their takeover of the enterprise segment. When it comes down to it, it appears that Micron and the rest of the solid state storage industry has a bright future ahead of it.
I can’t wait to see what else is in store…..