Why do SSDs Fluctuate in Price?

If you’ve been holding off buying an SSD due to the price tag, then there’s some good news – the prices are dropping fast. But why is the price of NAND flash storage dropping so fast?

If you have an older laptop – one older than 2012, for example – replacing the hard disk drive with a solid-state drive is a no-brainer. But for many people, the cost of SSDs is off-putting. For many years, the price of solid-state drives (SSDs) has been incredibly stable, and prices didn’t budge much since launch. There would be the occasional sale from vendors here and there, but ongoing price drops where nowhere to be found. But in the second half of 2018, SSD prices are dropping fast, meaning there’s no better time to upgrade from a hard disk drive than now. The cause of the drop in the price of SSDs is supply and demand, which explains the fluctuation of SSD prices.

Just last year, we wrote about the increase in the prices of solid-state drives. The growth of solid-state drives has broadly followed the typical path for new and emerging technologies – high prices when first introduced, with prices coming down as the manufacturing process becomes more efficient and consumer demand increases. The rise in SSD prices last year was, in effect, down to SSDs becoming a victim of their own success. More and more people were buying SSDs, and there was pressure to improve the technology. The transition from 2D/Planar technology to denser 32-layer 3D NAND technology led to an increased demand for SSDs, but the manufacturing process hadn’t fully caught up; the 3D manufacturing process requires more steps than the 2D process. The result of this was SSD vendors increasing their prices by around 5-10% in response to the shortages of NAND flash.

With the recent move to 64-layer layer 3D NAND technology, which offer increased performance and power efficiency, the price of the older 32-layer 3D NAND chips – which are still powerful enough to market - is going down. If you’re still running traditional mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs), now is the time to upgrade – you likely won’t find a better time to buy an SSD. Even if you do own SSDs, it might be a good idea to upgrade, too. -flash technology is always improving.

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