Why Are Solid-State Drives So Expensive?

Ever since solid-state drives (SSDs) came out, the hype around them has been overwhelming. Media outlets were talking about how much faster they are than hard disk drives (HDDs) due to the lack of moving parts. In a way, they’re not wrong. But since SSDs went into the market, people have been asking themselves whether they’re worth their hefty price tags. More so, people have also been asking why these drives are 5-10 times more expensive than HDDs to begin with. There are multiple reasons for this, and I’ll explain why Are solid-state drives so expensive below.

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Flash memory is a very widely-used concept. It’s in your USB drive, your memory cards for video game systems, and your phone. Negated AND (NAND) logic gate flash is special in the sense that it maintains storage without needing continuous electrical power. This is a requirement for SSDs, since there’s no residual energy running through them when you turn off your computer. There’s one problem with NAND: it generally has a finite number of write cycles, meaning that each transistor will wear out over time.

If your hard drive wears out its NAND transistors, you may end up with anything from slight malfunctions to serious catastrophic data loss! To mitigate this, SSD manufacturers make use of very sophisticated processes that would prolong the lives of their transistors. They still will die at some point, but not as soon as they have been known to. One of their techniques consists of including more transistors to compensate for the dead ones.

It’s difficult for manufacturers to get over the NAND transistor limitations, and they probably never will completely eliminate the issue. Writing to an SSD constantly will destroy it eventually. That’s why you should just store your operating system and core programs on it and keep everything else (documents, invoices, pictures, etc.) in a hard drive.

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Aside from the whole NAND issue, the assembly process of an SSD is a highly complex process. The controller and firmware must both sit inside of a small space and then must be tested for hours for stability and compatibility with the computers they will be inserted into. This adds significantly to the cost of production.

The manufacturing cost is also the reason why their prices get progressively higher per GB for higher-storage units. The opposite is true for HDDs, which have little problem storing more memory within a small space due to its mechanical function.

While the demand for solid-state drives is increasing, as compared to the HDDs, it only occupies a very small market share. As more and more computer manufacturers include SSD as the default storage device in laptop and computer, we will definitely see a drop in the price in the future (in fact, the price has already dropped when you compare the price between now and a year back). But as of now, the price of SSDs remains high.

There’s good news, though. The rise of mobile devices creates a larger overall demand for solid-state storage. This creates significant incentive to make these technologies cheaper.

A combination of expensive raw materials, low market demand, and costly manufacturing processes make for the hefty prices of SSDs. As with all electronics, SSDs get cheaper as time passes, but the fight against the price is significantly challenging. Be sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts on SSD prices!