Electronic Design

Notebooks And Flash Storage Drive PC Market

Global PC shipments will rise to 264 million units in 2007, up 11.2 percent from 239 million in 2006, iSuppli analysts say. “Notebook PC shipments rose to 21.8 million units in the first quarter of 2007, up 23 percent from 17.7 million in the first quarter of 2006,” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst, compute platforms, for iSuppli. According to Wilkins, first-quarter notebook PC shipments were 3 percent higher than previously anticipated. There were concerns that the second-quarter release of Intel Corp.’s new Santa Rosa notebook microprocessor platform might cause buyers to delay purchases originally set for the first quarter. However, Santa Rosa did not have a significant negative effect on first-quarter shipments, he said. Notebooks will account for almost 40 percent of total 2007 PC market shipments, according to iSuppli. The industry analyst also predicts the penetration of Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in notebooks will reach 12 percent by the end of 2009. In contrast, penetration of Hybrid Hard Drives (HHD) in notebook PCs will reach 35 percent by the end of 2009. SSDs are intended as replacements for conventional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), using flash memory instead of traditional rotating media. HHDs employ flash memory in combination with HDDs to create a hybrid solution. “SSDs and HHDs have a clear performance advantage compared to traditional HDDs,” said Krishna Chander, iSuppli senior analyst for storage research. “Although in the near term, their cost will remain a prohibitive factor for mass-market adoption of SSDs and HHDs, this cost gap will narrow during the coming years, leading to their wider usage.” While SSDs are receiving much attention in light of advancements in their storage capacity, Chander advises that the performance and capacity increases of HHD drives will be faster in the near term than those of SSDs. “The penetration of HHDs in notebook PCs will rise more quickly in the near term than for SSDs, given that HDD vendors are increasing both the capacity and a real density of their notebook products in 2007 and beyond,” Chander said. “Furthermore, HHDs cost less to produce and offer a level of data integrity that can only be delivered by tried-and-true HDD technology. Prices for notebook PC HDDs have dropped dramatically in the first half of 2007, further distancing HHDs from SSDs in the short term, in terms of both absolute capacities and cost per gigabyte.” SSDs and HHDs represent two different forms of flash data storage on PCs. Other solutions are being introduced as well. Another approach to PC flash memory storage, Intel Corp.’s Robson—also known as Turbo Memory—also is expected to take off in 2007. Because any HDD can work with Turbo Memory, this solution will penetrate the market faster than HHDs, which still is undergoing standardization issues. The combination of SSDs, HHDs, Turbo Memory and other solutions will propel flash memory’s penetration of notebook-PC data storage to nearly 60 percent by the fourth quarter of 2009, iSuppli predicts. Complete replacement of HDDs by SDDs will represent a small portion of the total penetration number during this timeframe.

TAGS: Intel
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