In this blog we look at a recent announcement by Micron of their 2550 232-layer NAND SSD for the client computer market as well as a comparison of Backblaze HDD average price per GB compared to our Coughlin Associates numbers.

Micron announced that it is shipping its 2550 PCIe Gen4 NVMe version 1.4 SSD, its first SSD product using its 232-layer NAND flash. This product is targeted for mainstream laptops and desktops. The various M.2 product form factors are shown below. It is being offered with storage capacities up to 1TB.

In addition to having 232 NAND flash memory layers, this TLC product features 6-planes of NAND blocks with an independent work line on each of the six planes. Read-concurrency in the NAND allows multiple, simultaneous data reads, which delivers higher performance. It also uses predictive cache optimization with higher endurance, higher performance SLC NAND flash used for the cache. Incoming data is first stored on the SLC flash and then migrated to the TLC flash to reduce wear on the TLC flash and to provide higher performance for fresh data. Host memory buffers are used to reduce SSD power consumption.

The company says that, “The Micron 2550 SSD enables faster, more responsive applications in mainstream PC platforms, including gaming, consumer and business client devices. Micron’s innovations, such as predictive cache optimization, improve users’ experiences and establish new category zeniths for PCMark® 10 benchmarks.2 The SSD transfers files up to 112% faster, runs office productivity applications up to 67% faster, loads major games up to 57% faster, and runs content creation applications up to 78% faster than comparable competing products. It also delivers breakneck sequential read performance of up to 5 gigabytes per second and sequential write performance of up to 4 gigabytes per second, which is 1.4 and 1.3 times faster than the previous SSD generation, respectively.”

Micron expects its PCIe Gen4 products to satisfy market needs for the next few years as shown in the figure below (from Forward Insights).

PCIe Gen5 products will have higher performance, but will first be used for higher performance data center and enterprise applications until after 2026.

Backblaze, a cloud storage company offering lower cost cloud storage recently published an article talking about the price of its HDDs over time. It has records for its purchases going back to 2009 for a total of 265,332 HDDs. These drives increased in capacity from 1-16TB over the years (from January 2009 through November 2022). They say they are currently only purchasing 16TB HDDs at present. The company anticipates purchasing 18-22TB HDDs starting in 2023. Backblaze says that it is not using shingled magnetic recording (SMR) HDDs because they are slower on random writes. Below is a Backblaze chart showing the average cost of their HDD storage from 2009 through 2022.

Note that the data in 2011 and 2012 shows higher drive costs because of the shortage of HDDs during that time as a result of the massive floods that shut down Thailand HDD and HDD component facilities during that time. Backblaze says that the average price per GB for their HDDs went from $0.114 in 2009 to $0.014 as of November 2022. This equates to an 87.4% decrease in the average cost per TB since 2009 or an average decrease of 0.52% per month since January 2009.

This chart is in pretty good agreement with the Coughlin Associates chart of HDD average $/GB shown below. We also see the break in the overall downward trend in 2011 and 2012 due to the shortage of HDDs.

The Coughlin Associates chart also projects continued decline in HDD $/GB prices out to 2027, when the average price is estimated at $0.0045/GB (or $4.5/TB).

Micron’s 2550 PCIe Gen4 M.2 NVMe SSD will enable higher capacity, higher performance and lower power consumption SSDs for client computer applications. Backblaze HDD purchase price information shows the pace of storage cost reduction since 2009.

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