Adding a solid-state drive to your PC may be one of the most powerful upgrades you can perform, but there's been a catch: They simply don't offer the capacity of a spinning hard drive. That could change.
Japanese drive manufacturer Fixstar says it plans to offer a 6-terabyte SSD in July, complementing 1- and 3-terabyte drives the company announced earlier this year. Here's the real selling point: the drives are shipping in a 2.5-inch form factor, which means they'll serve as drop-in replacements to your existing notebook drives, though not the slim flash sticks that ultrabooks use as internal storage.
Now there's another catch: the price. While the 1TB drive might sound right up your alley, chances are that it will cost about the same as your entire PC--about $800, that is, according to MyCE.com. It's important to note that $800 is way over market price for a 1TB SSD; a number of them are available via Amazon for under $400.
Fixstar hasn't said what price it will charge for the 3TB or larger models--but you'd better believe the price will be at least double that of the 1TB drive. (The 1TB, 3TB, and 6TB drives will be known as the SSD-1000M, SSD-3000M, and the SSD-6000M, respectively.)
What this means: if Fixstar believes it can squeeze a few terabytes of storage onto a 2.5-inch drive form factor, other vendors undoubtedly can as well. Competition should work to drive down prices. At some point, the market will also probably settle on a "good-enough" capacity point, which will lower prices further.
Stretching SSD capacity to feed a need
The need for an $800, 1TB SSD--let alone anything bigger and more expensive--seems niche considering that you can always back up photos and videos on cloud services, or on cheap, slower external storage--DVDs, writable Blu-ray or mechanical hard drives. Right now, I suspect that the market for a large, fast local hard drive is driven by one reason: games.
Will the storage space those new games demand outpace what SSDs can supply? If they do, there's likely to be a vibrant market for new SSD upgrades for years to come. Otherwise, SSDs, like their hard drive cousins, may increasingly move to servers to power the cloud services we all know and use, and simply be an afterthought when we price out a new PC.