TIAD Project: Solid State Hard Disk

Technology, Innovation, Adoption, Diffusion – Final Project
By Saahil Goel

Solid State Hard Disk Technology

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Contents
Management Summary............................................................................................................. ...3 Introduction.................................................................................................................... ..............4 History......................................................................................................................... .............4 Technology............................................................................................................... ................4 Cost Vs. Performance....................................................................................... .......................5 Value Proposition of SSD...................................................................................................... .......6 For the individual consumer…........................................................................................ ..........6 For the business user…................................................................................... ........................7 For the enterprise…..................................................................................... ............................8 Performance....................................................................................... ..................9 Power................................................................................ .................................10 Adoption Dynamics.............................................................................................. ......................11 Notebook Users............................................................................................................ ..........11 Enterprise Users................................................................................................................... ..13 Obstacles to adoption........................................................................................................ .....15 Conclusion................................................................................................ .............................15 Market Share Dynamics........................................................................................................ .....16 Effect of SSD on current incumbents.................................................................................. ....17 Disruptive or Sustaining?....................................................................................................... .17 Competitors & Complementors................................................................. .............................19 Next generation prediction...................................................................................... ...................20 Conclusion.................................................................................................................. ...............21 References..................................................................................................... ...........................29

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Solid State Hard Disk Technology
Management Summary
Solid-state disks (SSDs) utilize “flash-based” NAND memory arranged in several arrays to form a usable hard disk. The technology has been around for almost four decades but has only recently become viable for application as hard disks due to a reduction in cost and drastic improvements in performance. The underlying architecture that leads to benefits of SSDs is the lack of any moving parts - leading to lower power consumption, lesser heat generation and a much faster (up to 10 times) read access response as compared to traditional hard drives. The absence of any platter media also leads to a much more robust and durable hard disk. SSDs are currently bundled with handheld devices such as MP3 players, SmartPhones, digital cameras and global positioning systems. Since these devices are shock-prone and battery conscious, SSDs are a perfect alternative as compared to traditional hard drives. These products find appeal with the individual consumer and contain relatively small capacity disks, making them economically viable. It is the business traveler’s consumer segment that benefits more from the use of SSDs in their notebooks. Since performance is valued more by business travelers over cost, SSDs are able to provide these users with robust and high-performance notebooks. The segment that stands to benefit (and has benefited) the most from this technology, is the enterprise consumer. Even minor cost savings arising from lower power, cooling and space requirements can mean significant savings for an enterprise making SSD a very attractive technology for them. Traditional hard drives cannot match the input/output requirements imposed on them by CPU’s because of which IT shops use only 10% to 20% of a hard drive’s actual capacity to delivery maximum throughout. However, since SSDs offer a read performance at least 5 times greater, as compared to hard drives, this problem is solved. Not only do enterprises save from the indirect effects of using this technology, they need to spend only one-fifth the capital that they would have previously spent – leading to a lower total cost of ownership. Further, with rapidly increasing performance that this technology offers and the ever-declining prices, the solid-state disk is a must-have for every enterprise today. This technology would be considered a ‘disruptive technology’ as per Clayton Christen’s theory on “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. SSD’s began by serving the military in the early 70’s, an extremely niche market. After that, it was available as flash drive technology. Later it was adopted by enterprises as
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application accelerator technology – up until this point where it is actually well on its way to replace the traditional hard drive. All this time traditional hard drive manufactures concentrated their efforts on improving the existing technology and completely ignored the “threat” posed by SSDs. Now these dinosaurs face extinction as the solid-state drive comet is ready to hit them by surprise.

Introduction
History
Solid State Memory technology has been around for over three decades, however the application of this technology had never been as storage media until recently. In the 70s and 80s, Random Access Memory (RAM) “Disks” where popular as boot media1. Other applications that did involve use of solid-state technology for storage were for specialized industrial use only. For example, solid-state hard-drives were used in the late seventies to accelerate field seismic data acquisition for oil companies. The cost of a gigabyte of RAM chips then was around $1 million2. By the turn of the century, solid-state drive technology had improved in performance to an extent that it became viable for consumer use as “flash drives” or portable Universal Serial Bus (USB) drives. These USB-drives served the same purpose as floppy drives or re-writeable CD’s – temporary storage of small amounts of data for physical transportation or for back up. However, as prices for increased capacities of flash drives came down, other applications became more commonplace for this technology as well. As early as 2004, companies such as BiTMICRO were experimenting with use of SSD as flash solid-state hard disk. In 2005, Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, entered the market with 1.8” and 2.5” solid-state disk drives. In 2006, NextCom became the first manufacturer to sell notebooks with solid-state hard drives instead of the older mechanical ones. Since 2006 up until now, the predictable trend with technology, i.e. increase in performance and decrease in price, has been followed leading to higher adoption of this technology among end-consumers.

Technology
The term “solid-state” refers to electronic circuitry built entirely out of semiconductors originally used to define products such as the transistor radio that used electronic parts rather than mechanical vacuum tubes3. Solid-state hard drives or solid-state disks (SSD) are storage devices with no moving parts. SSDs consist of an array of semi-conductor memory, organized as disk
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drives that are driven by integrated circuits (ICs)4 (See figure 1). These disks retain information (like “flash drives”) even when there is no power. SSDs are designed to look like traditional hard disks with the standard dimension of a 1.8, 2.5 or 3.5-inch hard drive. They utilize the ATA or SATA drive interfaces to ensure compatibility with all electronic devices they may be potential components of, in the future. Since there are no moving parts to a SSD, there are several advantages over the traditional hard drive. There is no motor to spin magnetic platters and drive heads, as in the existing drive, leading to the single most useful advantage of lower seek time, or latency. Since information is stored on flash memory chips, it is instantly accessible. The SSD also uses less power, makes virtually no noise and is more reliable than its traditional counterpart. These advantages have made these disks favorable for portable computing requirements and for applications that require instant access to data. In addition, since SSDs do not have any moving parts they are able to withstand conditions that are relatively more adverse. While a simple jerk can damage a traditional hard drive, SSDs have a much higher tolerance for jerks and other kinds of impact. The need for higher input/output performance has been driving the need for rapid development of SSD’s. High performance computers and other enterprise applications (ex: SAN) that require data to be delivered in near real-time speed are the early adopters of this technology5. Another variant of the SSD is the “Hybrid Drive” which utilizes a small amount of “cache” memory, which is an SSD chip and the rest of the storage utilizes the traditional mechanical technology6. By storing boot processes on the hybrid drive, boot up times for personal computers can be significantly improved. By retaining the traditional structure of the hard drive and trying to provide benefits of the solid state drive along with that, makes this product a potential superstar when it comes to end-consumer adoption.

Cost Vs. Performance
Some key manufacturers such as Intel and Toshiba are aiming to lower the price of SSDs by moving from single-level-cell (SLC) to multi-level-cell (MLC) technology7. SLC-based SSD’s are able to store only one bit of data per memory cell, thereby providing higher performance. On the other hand, MLCbased SSD’s are able to store four or more bits per cell, thereby providing more storage capacity per square inch – i.e. higher capacity for the same

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cost. However, the downside of this is lower performance. MLC’s are usually twice as slow as SLC’s at present.

Value Proposition of SSD
Solid-state drives offer value for mainly two segments of consumers. Corporate enterprises or specialized businesses that require quicker access to data, and notebook users that prefer lighter, faster and more technically advanced mobile computing. For the individual consumer, SSDs also hold value by providing primary storage for mobile handheld devices such as MP3 players, cell phones and Global Positioning System devices.

For the individual consumer…
Individual customers stand to gain from the use of SSDs in notebooks, tablets and other portable computing devices for the benefits of size, reliability, durability, power consumption and speed mentioned above. However, another area where SSDs have found a ready market is handheld devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players, GPSs and digital cameras. In 2007, Intel introduced an Ultra-Small Solid-State Drive that is smaller than a penny in size and weighs less than a drop of water8. These disks range between 2 GB and 16GB storage capacity and are being used for storing mobile operating systems, applications, file data, music and photos. Devices such as the iPhone already utilize large (8GB to 16GB) flash-based SSDs for storing their operating system, applications, music and other data. Since Smartphones are geared towards increasing storage capacities, the SSD market will grow rapidly for handheld devices, in effect lowering the cost and increasing the density of storage. According to Gregory Wong, president of Forward Insights, a consulting and market research firm "Smartphones are increasing storage capacities taking the lead from the iPhone, and the iPhone itself will likely see a 32GB product rolled out soon”9. Handheld devices have the tendency to be exposed to varying temperature levels, are shock, vibration & drop prone, and require ultra fast access to data to be efficient. SSDs can withstand harsh environments (operating temperatures of 0 deg. C to 70 deg. C), and can resist high degrees of impact and therefore are the preferred storage medium for handheld devices10. Finally, since power is very precious for handheld devices, SSD is clearly a
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winner for the handheld market. In fact, some claim that its dominance and demand in the handheld market will bring the prices down overall and make it a viable alternative for use with notebook computers. The only disadvantage for the individual consumer is the cost associated with large SSD hard drives in notebooks. The cost per GB for SSD drives is anywhere between 10 to 20 times that of traditional hard drives11. However, handheld devices have smaller hard drives and the performance benefits can outweigh the costs. Further, as more development goes into the technology and adoption increases, the prices are bound to come down (Please see figure 8 for the comparison between SSD and HDD with respect to $/GB).

For the business user…
This product holds considerable value for the business user who values highend technology, faster notebook performance, longer battery life, reliability, durability but is not afraid to pay a price differential. “Road Warriors”, business people that are constantly on the move, and corporate executives may greatly benefit from the increased battery life, better operating system & application performance and higher durability offered by the solid-state hard drive. Solid state drives correct all issues that arose with the use of older mechanical hard drives – for example, excessive heat generation, damage due to dropping the drive, slower access times, required spin-up time12. Since flash based memory drives do not require any spin-up time they greatly help reduce battery consumption that arises from accessing data on the hard-drive, making them perfect candidates for mobile computing. Spinning head drives drain power about five times as much as SSDs (Note: hard drive power consumption ranges between 5 to 15% of the total battery drainage of a laptop)13 (See figure 2 for a comparative chart of battery usage by various components of a notebook computer). Due to lack of moving parts, solid-state drives generate less heat – which means that notebook cooling-fans have to work less and there is virtually no noise originating from these drives. SSDs are electronic in nature and not mechanical which allows them to be incredibly thin and small, thereby reducing the “board real estate” for electronic devices such as laptops and/or MP3 players. Since there is no platter media to harm, the SSD can withstand extremes of temperature and can tolerate much greater impact than the traditional mechanical hard drive can. While traditional hard drives can take

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about 50g of shock when in use, SSDs can take about 1500g. This makes them a lot more robust and durable. The only disadvantages of SSD for business users at this time might be the shorter life spans and slower “write-times” as compared to traditional hard drives. A study found that the write speeds on the MacBook Air (which uses a 64 GB SSD) were less than half as fast as 4200-RPM disk14. Partially, the reason for this slowness has to do with the way current operating systems are designed. Current operating systems are not designed to optimize disk usage based on write access alone – instead, they are designed to utilize equal read and write performance offered by standard mechanical hard drives. In the future, newer operating systems may be able to fix this problem. Also, faster write speeds will be achieved in the SSD arena as more prominent research firms enter the market and more development takes place.

For the enterprise…
For corporate enterprises, the possibilities with SSD are significantly more than those available to individuals. Until a few years back, using SSDs at the enterprise level would not have made economic sense. However, recent improvements in technology have made SSDs more viable than traditional hard drives in the enterprise storage market. “The technology has become economical enough to favorably compare to traditional disk drives—at least in a price-performance context. In addition, many seemingly insurmountable shortcomings have been resolved.”15 At the enterprise level, scale and volume are important words and the benefits offered by SSDs are multiplied. To begin with, the value that enterprises can (and are) drive from SSDs are those of faster response times. Since SSDs have a faster read response time, compared to traditional HDDs, they are apt for enterprise/server-based environments where data needs to be served to users as quickly as possible. There are also other efficiencies such as lower data-center floor space, lower cooling requirements and higher data reliability. “The performance benefits of flash SSDs over traditional hard drives remain very much undisputed, and the almost nonexistent access time seems to turn flash SSD into perfect replacements for enterprise class hard drives.”16

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Up until now, the traditional hard drive has been the bottleneck affecting data delivery speeds in an enterprise setting. No matter how great the improvements in CPU processing capacities were, the critical bottleneck has been the mechanical hard drive17. In light of this fact, it is very beneficial for enterprises to adopt an SSD-based application storage infrastructure to boost their user request response times. Giant hardware manufacturers, such as Sun Microsystems, have already announced their plans and strategies to employ SSDs in their servers for storage media as opposed to the traditional HDD18. Not only will SSDs help boost performance of Sun’s new servers, SSDs will be used to extend the life of legacy server systems as well. Further, many disk array vendors such as EMC and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) are bundling their disk systems with SSD.

Performance As per Joseph Reger, CTO of Fujitsu Siemens Computers, in an enterprise setting SSDs are shown to deliver 200 times more performance as compared to regular HDDs19. Also with trends of rapid fall in prices, and exponential improvements in capacity and density, the SSD technology holds much promise for the enterprise world. SSDs offer read speeds that are much faster than hard drives, but write speeds that are only considerably higher (or even lower in some cases) there are very specific applications for SSD in the enterprise. For example, SSDs are frequently used for database indexing while a regular hard drive may be used for storing the actual data 20. Since database indexes are written on a much lower frequency than the actual data itself, a faster read access time can vastly improve the performance of data delivery for applications. Other applications include Directory Services that use the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) for user authentication, which also requires lesser number of writes compared to the number of read operations. Enterprise applications that require random read operations such as online transaction processing, stock transaction history, data warehouse queries and data analytics applications all can benefit greatly from SSD-enabled server systems due to the “read-intensive” nature of these applications21. Specialized applications could range from fingerprint matching and highly encrypted authentication systems for the military and government.
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Power Another key value that SSDs bring to the enterprise is their low power consumption. SSDs require about a fifth of the power required for a similar sized hard drive22. With server storage running into terabytes, SSDs can introduce significant cost savings for large enterprise data centers. In addition to use of less direct power, since SSDs generate less heat, cooling requirements for these hard drives are also lower. For example, a study concluded that SSDs use 15% less power as compared a 7200-RPM hard drive23 (Please see figure 3 for a comparative chart between power consumption data for SSD and a traditional 7200-RPM hard drive). Power savings occur in two ways – first, there is lower power consumption per drive because there are no moving parts and second, fewer drives are required for the same operational performance24. As a by-product, expensive data-center floor space is also saved by up to 99% due to the small size of these disks and the requirement of fewer disks for equivalent storage size as compared to a platter hard drive25. In conclusion, the Solid State Disk holds promise for each of three consumer segments – individual, business and enterprise – analyzed above. The following table explains the various aspects of the SSD that appeal to the different user segments.
Consumer Segment Individual Consumer SSD Feature Business User SSD Feature Enterpris e Data Center SSD Feature Performanc e V. Important Power Savings Not Important Reliability Important Durability Important Space Savings Important Price Very Importa nt

X V. Important V. Important X V. Important X

X V. Important X V. Important X

X V. Important X Not Important

X Not Important Not Importa nt

X V. Important

Very Important X

Not Importa nt

X

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As per the above table as far as all consumer segments are concerned, SSDs add maximum value through their superior performance and higher reliability. SSDs are currently expensive and only the “Individual Consumer” market segment is affected by this factor.

Adoption Dynamics
Since there are two distinct applications of SSDs – i.e. as storage for notebooks and as storage space for servers and business applications – adoption dynamics will also be different for the two segments.

Notebook Users
The segment of consumers that would adopt the SSD technology fairly early will be the ‘innovators’ or the “geeks”. While the Road Warriors segment will adopt this technology fairly early for economic benefits, “geeks” or technology-loving individuals will take it upon themselves to pay the extra premium for the technology for exploration and learning benefits. Since this segment of users intends to dispose of their income towards new gadgets and technology, they would be the first one to ride the wave of adopting solid-state-disks. Their motivation is to experiment with new technology and be the first ones to do so. They are the trend-setters for any new technology in the marketplace. The “Road Warrior” segment of notebook users, or business professionals who are constantly on the move – including consultants, corporate executives, sales professionals, etc. stand to benefit greatly from this technology. This is the consumer segment that is meant to be the ‘early adopters’ of this technology. As described in an earlier part of this paper, these professionals use “power notebooks” that weigh less, consume less power and are more durable. A hard drive, that radically boosts performance, weighs tremendously less, is more durable and reliable and is noiseless, would be an obvious choice for any of these consumers26. SSDs offer speeds up to the equivalent of 40,000 rpm as compared to a traditional hard drive top speed of 7,200 rpm. Therefore, business professionals that use power notebooks would be one of the early adopters of notebooks. The fact that SSDs are modular in nature and can be plugged directly into an existing laptop, is luring manufacturers towards bundling these drives and marketing
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even more rugged, powerful and efficient machines to their customers. Even though companies will have to bear slightly higher costs for this technology at this point, the savings that arise from user satisfaction and increased productivity actually decrease the TCO (total cost of ownership). Thus, support from companies (those that employee road warriors) will also greatly drive adoption of this technology by this consumer segment. The ‘early majority’ of adopters will include light travelers and/or selfemployed consultants. These are users that do not want to be on the cutting edge of new technology. While they do not want to take the risk of being pioneers, they do however want to benefit from tested technology27. These are the users will tip the market over to start mass production. Since these users are likely to a little price sensitive they will wait till the prices are somewhat similar to the traditional hard drive and will then make their decision to purchase this new technology. This market segment does not have a company paying for their technology needs, thereby increasing their risk. Yet, they want to experience the tested new technology. Therefore, even though they will adopt a little later, they will adopt in huge numbers. The ‘late majority’ of adopters will include users such as students and professors who do not want to even think of investing in a technology that will not yield them the most benefit28. At best, they are followers at worst they are laggards. This group of users are the quintessential “imitators” and they follow suit once the majority has accepted and adopted the solid-statedisk technology. Since SSDs do not offer significant a performance-price factor for individual notebook users, they are likely to be ‘laggards’ when it comes to adoption of the solid-state disk drive. The “Average User” is usually price sensitive, and weight & performance insensitive. Since she does not lug around her computer from day to day, she need not concern herself with the performance efficiency that is brought about by SSDs at a much higher price29. However, these users are indirect early adopters since this same segment also uses portable MP3 players, handheld cellular phones. However, for the scope of discussion, this section concentrates on individual notebook users only. Based on the above discussion the curve for adoption of SSDs for notebook users is presented in figure 430.

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As displayed in the above graph, for the “early majority” to adopt the SSD technology there will need to be a significant momentum or the “bandwagon” mentality to cross the chasm from the “early adopters”31. The drop in price and increase in SSD performance may bring about this. The historical trend so far has been in accordance with what the lifecycle model expects and therefore it is expected that the “early majority” will soon adopt this model. Since its inception in 2007, SSD technology is only beginning to be adopted by “early adopters”. Following this trend, the early majority should embrace this technology around 2011 to 2012. According to David Reinsel, group vice president for storage and semiconductors research at IDC, the SSD technology will “probably not be available and adopted en masse until 2010.”32 According to the technology lifecycle adoption graph, the ‘late majority’ should adopt SSDs around 7 to 8 years after the ‘early majority’ has adopted it – i.e. around 2020 and laggards would follow thereby diminishing new adoptions and replacing traditional hard drives completely from the market (Please refer to figure 4 for adoption lifecycle estimates with year).

Enterprise Users
Since the value proposition of SSD for enterprise users is very different from that of notebook users, the adoption cycle followed by enterprises will be very different as well. One of the chief reasons for quick adoption of SSDs in the enterprise market is the fact that the traditional hard drive acts as a bottleneck in the enterprise technology infrastructure. While server processors double their computing capacity every 18 to 24 months (as per Moore’s Law), even high-end hard disk drives, with spin rates of 10,000 to 15,000 RPM cannot keep up with the Input/Output requests generated by a server processor33. To combat this problem, system administrators typically hold less data on each hard-drive, but host many hard-drives to ensure that adequate throughput is achieved. With exponential increases in random read times, a few SSDs can replace dozens of high-end disk drives. Therefore, the use of “cost per MB” as a comparison parameter is inaccurate in the enterprise setting. A more appropriate measure could be “total cost of storage per application” or total cost of ownership. In addition to performance, other factors such as lesser data center floor space, lower power and cooling requirements make SSDs a good option for any enterprise.

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The “innovators” and “early adopters” in this case will be enterprises who are heavily dependent on random read data. For example, banks that allow their customers to interact with ATM machines can get improvements in response time up to 30%. With increasing records to maintain in enterprise databases, this would be a must-have improvement, especially at minimal extra or even less cost34. Other enterprises who can greatly benefit from higher I/O performance from storage devices can be “On-Demand” AntiVirus/Email scanning35, marketing analytics companies, etc. Even companies that are not wholly dependent on applications that require faster random read times from storage devices can take advantage of SSDs. Many companies have already moved to a “hybrid” model where they use SSD for applications which can benefit, and stick to the traditional hard drive system for other applications. These companies would be classified as “early majority”. One of the factors that has helped crossing the chasm from early adopters to early majority, is that equipment and server manufacturers have started to bundle their products with SSDs. This instills confidence and trust in risk averse organizations about the authenticity of the new technology and promised savings. Besides, there are practically no down sides – not even costs. As described earlier, some server manufacturing giants such as Sun Microsystems have already taken the bold step. Also, with the current rate of decline in SSD prices and exponential improvements it will not be long before the early majority is saturated. That being said, many risk averse, or “late majority” organizations will delay implementation of SSDs in their environments until other successful companies have pioneered and proved it to be successful. This seems to be the current phase (2009) that the enterprise SSD market is in – i.e. moving from early majority to late majority. As per Mary Shacklett, “This may be the year when SSDs move from niche technology for a select few that need the highest performance to one that gains a larger foothold in more data centers.”36 The “laggards” in this case will be smaller enterprises that do not have mission critical technology requirements or that do not rely on storage disk performance. These users will slowly migrate one the market absolutely forces them to do so by way of SSDs becoming the standard storage mechanism.

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Based on the above discussion the curve for adoption of SSDs for enterprise users is presented in figure 5.

Obstacles to adoption
Despite the various benefits that SSD offers for business users and for enterprises, there are obstacles that must be overcome for broad adoption. First and foremost is the requirement for better write endurance37. The number of write cycles to any block of flash memory is limited – i.e. it becomes unusable after a certain number of write operations. The problem is exaggerated in applications of SSD which have a high write-to-read-ratio. Even though for some applications SSDs may have longer life spans compared to traditional hard drives, for others – such as in an enterprise environment – they may be lower. For example, Intel has designed a SSD for notebooks with a guaranteed 5-year lifespan (with estimated 100GB of writing every day!)38. Manufacturers are also developing technology where “hidden” spare memory is provided with the disk which are transparently employed the moment a sector of the SSD goes dead. Another important limitation to broad adoption is the absence of standards in the SSD market. With absence of standards in the SSD market, there might be compatibility issues and a lot of re-invention, hampering the growth of SSDs in the enterprise market39. One of the factors hampering adoption is the presence of multiple vendors in the market – each offering different qualities of product, and each offering the same promises. Therefore, a bad reputation of one vendor can hurt other vendors as well. Introduction of standards will help make product claims more credible and testable. Organizations such as Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) are working towards common standards for SSD40. Many hard disk (Hitachi, Western Digital & Seagate) and server manufacturers (Sun, EMC and IBM), are also beginning to adopt SSD as their preferred choice and will spur creation of industry standards and substantiated product characteristics.

Conclusion
The notebook user adoption lifecycle of SSDs will take longer and will have smoother rises and falls. On the other hand, the enterprise user adoption lifecycle will be shorter in duration and will have a very steep rise but a
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smoother fall (Please see figure 6 for a superimposed lifecycle adoption graph for Notebook and Enterprise users of SSD technology over the next two decades). Therefore, SSDs will penetrate the enterprise use market much quicker as compared to the notebook user market. The momentum gained from penetration into the enterprise market will bring down prices and improve technology which will eventually help both the market segments. There are some barriers to adoption, such as “write endurance” and lack of standards. However, with the rapid pace of development in this technology, these barriers should go away. Please note that the above analysis related to predictions about adoption may not be totally accurate. The technology adoption lifecycle curve makes perfect sense when a technology is introduced and then no incremental technological advancements take place. While in the case of SSDs, there are several efforts underway to improve the quality of the product, the capacity and the density (which would decrease the cost). Therefore, the entire lifecycle might be shorter than the current period highlighted above. Since it is difficult to predict the rate of technological advancement in the years to come, it is difficult to predict how fast the ‘early majority’ and the ‘late majority’ will adopt this technology. The above time estimations can be assumed worst-case estimates.

Market Share Dynamics
The current U.S. market for SSDs – both for notebook users and for enterprise users is $10B41. This is mainly because enterprises have readily adopted SSDs for use as “server accelerators”. Where IT managers would spend double the capital on more CPU’s, they can get the same or better performance with utilizing SSDs. With Sun, IBM and EMC adopting SSDs as the standard server “performance” storage, the future for SSDs looks very bright.
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Effect of SSD on current incumbents
The top hard disk manufacturers up to 2007 were Seagate (34.6% MS), Western Digital (20.5% MS) and Hitachi GST (17.2% MS)42. In the 1990s there were about 60 HDD Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Today, there are less than 50. Similarly, SSDs had about 10 OEMs in 1990 and today have around 50. Even though a lot of the OEMs have become larger by consolidation, there is definitely a trend of the rise of SSDs43 (Please see figure 7). After the introduction of SSD, all three have decided to enter the SSD market to ensure they ride on top of the wave. Hitachi GST was the first one to declare its entry into the SSD market in 2008 in partnership with Intel. Hitachi plans to provide the market with a 1TB SSD by 2010. Hitachi’s EVP John Fowler recognizes that the SSD market is still in infancy, but it is bound to become the most exciting innovation in system and storage design44. Seagate entered the market in 2008 and declared that it would produce high capacity SSDs target only to the enterprise user for now. Seagate CEO Bill Watkins also mentioned, “Seagate is thinking of going to SSDs in the long term to replace hard drives.”45 Western Digital also followed suit by entering the SSD market in 2009 by acquiring “SiliconSystems” for $65M46. This gives Western Digital a lead over Seagate and Hitachi as they are ready provide consumers with SSDs immediately47. However, all three ex-HDD manufacturers need to be mindful of the strong competition they are going to face from new entrants in this market as they may already have a lead.

Disruptive or Sustaining?
A sustaining innovation is one that improves a product or service that creates a continuous market by allowing customers greater benefits 48. On the other hand, a disruptive technology is one that creates a new or unexpected market by applying a different structure or application of a technology. Thus, while hard disk manufacturers were providing sustaining innovations all through the 90s by increasing the density (and hence capacity) of storage medium, flash based storage acted as a disruptive innovation by catering to

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only a small customer segment initially – handhelds, military application and mobile phones were the only first customers for flash drives. Even though SSDs might be currently worse off in some comparisons with traditional hard drives (such as $/GB), there are other areas (jolt protection, durability, low power consumption, no moving parts) which the traditional hard drive just cannot match. The market segment is interested in the aforementioned characteristics, will be the first one to replace HDDs with SSDs. When flash memory was first available in the mid-nineties, it had very small storage capacities and appealed only to handheld manufacturers. Over the years, technological improvements have made it a potential storage medium standard for the coming years49. Since the flash-drive technology was not an improvement over the traditional hard drive, it attracted only a small customer segment and offered lower margins and returns initially. The big hard drive manufacturers did not invest in the technology and continued to innovate around the traditional technology. In fact, up until recently, manufacturers such as Western Digital were complacent to enter the market – even after there have been several reports of the high adoption rates of SSDs. Hard drive manufacturers do not distinguish much between end consumers (notebook/desktop users) and between enterprise customers. Their rate of innovation for each market segment has been mostly equal. However, with the introduction of flash-based storage, enterprise customers have found a fringe benefit of exponentially better performance. Also, for some applications (high random read speed), SSDs are the most suited technology in the market currently. SSD is disruptive in nature in that it was able to replace hard drive technology in the enterprise segment in only 2-3 years – a segment that hard drives took three decades to penetrate. While in the past enterprises relied on SSDs only for application acceleration, with the sharp decline in prices, the corporate world is likely to save greatly on total cost of ownership by use in other applications as well. This will boost adoption ever further, thereby causing eventual replacement of hard drives. SSD technology may not be disruptive for the notebook user right now due to high costs, but rapid technology improvements will soon make that a reality.

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Competitors & Complementors
Even though there are as many as 50 SSD players in the market, primary competitors are chip and semi-conductor manufacturers such as Intel, SanDisk, Toshiba, Micron and Samsung50. There is bound to be consolidation amongst many of these over the next few years as happened with traditional HDDs in the 80s51. The above-mentioned competitors have an obvious first-mover advantage in the market as compared to the traditional hard drive manufacturers. In addition, since many of them are well established semi-conductor companies and possess the necessary marketing prowess and research & development capabilities to succeed. While traditional hard drive manufacturers such as Seagate and Western Digital have years of experience with mechanical hard drives, Samsung, SanDisk and Toshiba have years of experience with semiconductors. With SSDs set to replace traditional hard drives in the marketplace, semiconductor experts definitely have an upper hand. While Samsung and SanDisk entered the market years ago, traditional hard drive manufacturers are beginning to do that only now. Further, traditional hard drive manufacturers are still complacent towards spending too many resources on developing the new SSD technology, since they are still generating revenue from their older technology. The effect is exacerbated by the fact that traditional hard drive sales are also still growing. SSD manufacturers, who already have the upper hand, are simply doing what they must do to continue the upward trend in development and growth of the SSD sector. For example, Samsung has been concentrating on both enterprise and notebook user segment and recently launched a 100 GB capacity hard drive with much better accuracy for enterprise users52. SanDisk has recently launched its “G3” line of SSDs that provide performance equivalent to that of a 40,000 RPM hard drive53. With the introduction of this new range, SanDisk has also eliminated some of the fears associated with the life of SSD products. SanDisk guarantees a life of approximately 100 years for its new SSD product. So-called “complementors” also help SSD manufacturers greatly. Hardware manufacturers such as Dell, IBM, Intel and EMC have realized the potential of
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SSD and have adopted this technology in their servers and their notebooks. This move has brought a great amount of trust in the eyes of the consumer. It has also helped hardware manufacturers to market their products better by claiming the use of cutting-edge technology that helps its customers boost performance – especially in the enterprise segment. Samsung has partnered with Dell to target the “Road Warriors” market segment to sell its rugged line of notebooks54.

Next generation prediction
Currently the underlying technology for solid-state disks is NAND or “Not AND” which is a logical binary operation or gate for semi-conductor operation. All flash based storage devices on the market are currently based on the NAND architecture. However, another technology being researched on since the 70s, called “Phase Change Memory”, has the potential to address the shortcomings not only of traditional hard drives but also of NAND based solid-state storage devices55. While the phase change memory (PCM) will not replace SSDs altogether, it will replace the underlying architecture once it is tested and commercially viable. One of the key benefits that PCM has over NAND architecture is its superior “write endurance” which NAND-based flash drives currently lack. In NAND, there is a two-step write process: first, the storage area that will be used to record data is erased and second, the data is actually written to it. Using PCM, this process can be done in a single step. The way PCM is being designed is that it may not replace NAND flash storage at all. PCM could be used in addition to NAND flash storage to enhance its performance. This would greatly benefit enterprises that would not have to replace any of their existing flash-based storage hardware. “This architectural approach would allow PCM to perform the quick reads and writes and then push other writes into NANDs, which are better suited for heavy and consolidated block writing.”56 PCM could have a lot of potential when used with network routers and switches in the enterprise data center setting. Since there is a large amount of log data that needs to be written and transferred, a storage medium that can greatly speed up that process will improve the performance of network
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traffic as well. PCMs are likely to be available to enterprise users over the next 7 to 10 years. The market for PCM will be small initially – with only a small segment of customers finding the technology attractive. As more development and technological improvements take place mass adoption will take place. This is very similar to what happened with SSDs. Therefore as per Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma theory, PCM will behave as a sustaining innovation by improving the already existing NAND based storage devices.

Conclusion
SSD based technology is disruptive in nature and has a huge potential to improve the overall market for storage media. SSDs will add value to SSD manufacturers, enterprises and to consumers and therefore create a win-winwin situation. The only losers in the game will be the traditional hard drive manufacturers. Its adoption is already very rapid in the enterprise market and will soon gain enough momentum, by way of reduced prices and better technology, to be adopted by the end consumer market as well. Semiconductor giants such as Samsung, SanDisk, Toshiba and Intel will dominate the SSD market. The older incumbents such as Seagate and Western Digital will most likely see a sharp decline in market share in the next several years. Certain adoption-hampers still exist, such as high costs and low “write endurance”, but the rate at which this technology is developing, these issues will be resolved and will not become showstoppers. Already manufacturers have claimed to solve the life-expectancy problem of the SSD. The SSD manufacturer industry will see major consolidation over the next few years with the initial vendors taking over the newer startups. This will also lead to establishment of standards related to SSD. Solid-state disk technology is here to stay.

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Figure 1 Arrangement of semiconductors and ICs in an array to form a SSD

Figure 2 Relative distribution of power drainage amongst various components of a notebook computer

Graphic courtesy Aqeel Mahesri and Vibhore Vardhan http://dvice.com/archives/2008/02/shift_are_solid.php

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Figure 3 Power savings using Intel’s SSD vs. using a standard 7200 RPM hard drive

http://www.gottabemobile.com/2008/08/21/intel-ssd-power-savings/

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Figure 4 Adoption lifecycle of SSDs amongst notebook users
Geeks R Light oad Traveler Warr s iors Students Average User

Figure 5 Adoption lifecycle of SSDs amongst enterprise users

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Figure 6 Adoption lifecycle

of

SSDs

amongst

notebook

and

enterprise

users

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Figure 7 Change in the number of OEMs for HDDs and SSDs between 1990 and 2007

http://www.flashmemorysummit.com/English/Collaterals/Presentations/2008/20080813_ExecUpd_Januk owicz.pdf

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Figure 8 $/GB for SSD and HDD over the years and projections into the next few years

http://www.flashmemorysummit.com/English/Collaterals/Presentations/2008/20080813_ExecUpd_Januk owicz.pdf

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