Just as MP3 players, and in particular iPods, boosted NAND flash sales from the mid-2000s through last year, ultrabooks are expected to lead a more than doubling of global shipments of SSDs in 2013.
Worldwide SSD shipments are expected to rise to 83 million units this year, up from 39 million in 2012, according to a new report from IHS iSuppli.
SSD shipments are expected to continue to rise to 239 million units in 2016, and will represent 40% of the hard disk drive (HDD) market, iSuppli said.
Not included in IHS iSuppli's report was revenue for hybrid HDDs, which combine NAND flash chips and a rotating hard drive in one form factor.
"The fate of the SSD business is closely tied to the market for ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs that use cache drives," Ryan Chien, an analyst for memory and storage at IHS, said in a statement. "While SSD shipments rose by 124% last year, growth actually fell short of expectations because ultrabook sales faltered due to poor marketing, high prices and a lack of appealing features. However, if sales of the new generation of ultrabooks take off this year as expected, the SSD market is set for robust growth."
According to Chien, the newest wave of ultrabooks loaded with the Windows 8 operating system is generating enthusiasm, with the superthin computers likely to pick up more steam this year.
Upcoming ultrabooks based on Intel Corp.'s Haswell microprocessor architecture also have the potential to catch on with consumers. "These factors should boost SSD prospects this year," Chien wrote.
Additionally, as sales soar, the average selling prices for NAND flash memory has come down. The better deals for SSDs are now around 80- to 90-cents-per-gigabyte of capacity, though some sale prices have been even lower, according to Chien.
For example, Micron recently released what is arguably the lowest cost SSD on the market today, a 1TB drive that retails for $599.
The lower prices are attracting deal-seeking consumer enthusiasts, as well as an increasing number of PC manufacturers that are now more willing to install the once-costly drives into computers,
In the enterprise data center market, SSD use is growing due to product introductions from major vendors and startups alike, iSuppli stated.
Recent developments around nonvolatile memories like STT-RAM and resistive RAM also hint at sustained performance improvements for SSDs beyond the drives' current use of NAND flash memory.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com.