Analyst firm Trendforce predicted that the average selling price of NAND Flash would be the basic building block of everything SSD (Solid State Drives) and microSD cards will fall by up to 15% in the current quarter. It’s already down nearly 25% in the last quarter, prompting the biggest manufacturers; Kioxia, Solidigm, Micron and WDC will cut production to reduce supply to the market.
Weak consumer demand and business SSD customers combined with Samsung’s reluctance to continue producing as much NAND as possible means that the price drop we’ve seen for SSD and microSD products over the past 12 months is likely to continue unabated with smaller capacities being phased out.
Samsung is the largest NAND Flash supplier and has already committed to investing heavily in R&D to stay ahead of the competition. SK Hynix and Micron announced in 2022 that they would launch 238-layer And 232-layer respectively products that – on paper – will drastically reduce Terabyte’s cost for solid state drives.
For obvious reasons, no supplier has yet released PLC (penta level cell) NAND, the next technological breakthrough that enables an even cheaper, high-capacity SSD.
Data massacre by Christmas 2023?
The cheapest 1 TB microSD cards are currently selling for around $75 at Amazon, a price drop of nearly 50% from a year ago. While we don’t expect prices to halve, another 30% drop by the end of the year seems reasonable, which would bring the price of a 1TB microSD card closer to $50.
This would have a knock-on effect on smaller capacities (512GB, 256GB, 128GB) and we expect 64GB and 32GB microSD to be pushed out of the market altogether.
The same applies to USB flash drives where the cheapest true 256GB models are currently selling for around $10, with vendors resorting to multi-pack offerings to entice customers with lower capacities. The fact that many recent laptops lack a Type-A connector or microSD card slot also dramatically shrinks the size of the overall addressable market.
The most exciting market remains SSD, where customers are having an absolute field day as prices continue to fall. The cheapest SSD per TB at the time of writing is the Leven JS600 ($74.99 for 1.92 TB), a further drop of about 30% over the next nine months will see it reach parity with hard drives with a smaller capacity, such as the Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM008.
These inexpensive models are 2.5 inches SATA storage devices and because they are actually equipped with a SATA connector, they should also quickly replace external hard drives with a capacity of up to 2 TB. However, there are two trends worth keeping in mind: 2.5-inch drives are on their way and being replaced by M.2 PCIe drives.
Larger capacity hard drives are safe for now, but it’s only a matter of time before the next tier (3 TB, 4 TB) is on its way. A 4TB SSD from Leven costs $180, still about double the price of, say, a 4TB WD Passport hard drive.