A few days ago, German site computerbase.de\ (translated link) leaked what looks to be an official looking roadmap for Intel’s CPU and SSD production for the next four quarters.
Intel’s X25-E solid state drive, which currently comes in 32GB and 64GB flavours, is getting a capacity upgrade to 100, 200, and 400GB models by Q1 2011. This means that the current X25-M model, which comes in a capacity of either 80GB or 160GB will be seeing a bump to 160, 300, and 600GB respectively.
This is a major capacity improvement for solid state storage, and don’t forget that these are 2.5 inch (laptop size) models, so already we’re seeing solid state storage encroaching on hard drive capacity, which could see some interesting price battles in the future.
The current X18-M, which is Intel’s 1.8 inch model, is getting a capacity boost from 80GB and 160GB to 160 and 300GB respectively. For a full view of the leaked roadmap, take a look at the image below, which contains all the details of Intel’s supposed upgrades.
With all these planned improvements to Intel’s solid state drive lineup, it begs the question: is it time to upgrade our hard drives to solid state drives? I’m currently using a Macbook Pro with a 250GB 2.5 inch hard drive, and due to the capacity limits of solid state storage in the past, I’ve never given much thought to upgrading. Firstly, the base models have always been around 64GB in size, which isn’t really enough for much media in my machine alongside the operating system and other files that I have.
However, with the capacity of solid state drives increasing, it may be worth a second consideration. Generally speaking, Intel’s X25-M drive (160GB model) can cost over £300 in the current market, however, this is their top of the range product for the X25-M series. Once the planned upgrades take place to this line, and we can purchase them by Q1 2011, the roadmap indicates that the 160GB model will be replaced by a newer, 300GB model, with the 160 replacing the current 80GB model, which is available for below £200.
Presuming that the pricing structure for these models will remain the same, with the 600GB model demanding a premium from customers wanting the most capacious model along with the speed that a solid state drive delivers, that means that we’ll be able to pick up a 160GB model solid state drive for less than half of what it currently costs in the market.
At these kind of capacities (and speeds), it opens up some interesting options for USB 3.0 SSD-based external drives for storage – if these had high performance combined with the convenience of an external drive, then would this make you want to upgrade to a USB 3.0 interface as well?
Admittedly, the 160GB capacity level may not be enough storage for everyone’s media that they have on their computers (my iTunes library alone weighs in at over 90GB at the moment), but there is another solution. If you don’t need the optical drive in your machine (I can’t remember the last time I used the DVD drive in my Macbook Pro), you could swap this out for a solid state drive?
This way, you still have all of your media files stored on your main hard drive, with the SSD simply containing the operating system and any applications that you use on your machine. Not only is boot time significantly improved, but so is the loading time of all the applications that you use when compared with access times from your hard drive.
It may not be everyones cup of tea, but it’s certainly an affordable way to significantly increase the speed of your computer without having to purchase a new one or spend money upgrading the RAM or swapping out the CPU. Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!