Updates to this story
Intel has taken its first steps toward dominating the SSD market.
It said earlier this week that it will be distributing its Solid State Drives (SSDs) through 800 Best Buy stores across the USA and on BestBuy.com.
SSDs can replace or complement a traditional hard drive in a notebook or desktop PC and deliver noticeably faster performance when booting up, opening files and running applications. SSDs, say some, deliver greater reliability and consume less power than conventional hard disk drives (HDDs).
During the past decade, HDD speed has only improved 1.3 times, while Intel claims its processor speeds have improved more than 200 times. An SSD uses flash memory chips and is 100 percent solid state with no moving parts. This, according to Intel, makes an SSD extremely rugged, reliable and energy efficient.
We asked Intel what its future distribution plans were and also what this means for HDDs.
A representative told TechEye: "Intel SSDs are currently available at Fry’s Electronics stores in the U.S. and other select retail stores around the world. Best Buy is however the largest retailer. We are pursuing other retail outlets, but we have nothing new to announce at this time.
"Both SSDs and HDDs are available as options for storage on laptops and desktop PCs. Users will see an immediate and noticeable difference in the speed and responsiveness of their PC by installing an SSD."
But while all the clues that Intel is pushing for SSD domination are there, Seagate is taking it all in its stride. A representative for the company told us: "SSDs represent a very small part of the overall consumer hard drive market, largely because the cost per gigabyte is just too high for most users who require large amounts of storage capacity for their digital content.
"They can cost as much as ten times more than hard disk drives of the same capacity, with the price of a 250GB SSD outstripping even the cost of many laptop PCs. As a result, most consumers are unwilling or unable to pay the high price for the greater speed and quiet operations of SSDs. Additionally, SSDs offer fewer capacity options than hard disk drives."
But, by no means has Intel succeeded in every market it's tried to penetrate. It's had some spectacular failures in the past. But it's shown with the Best Buy deal that it's deadly serious about grabbing the SSD market. Where this leaves companies like OCZ and Kingston is unclear, given that Intel has such marketing and financial clout. Seagate is in a different position than the myriad small players in the market.
What's clear is that the SSD market is here, and here to stay. The real question is whether it can corner a market that will give it yet another stake in the PC real estate - it already owns the integrated graphics market, the chipset market and practically all of the CPU market that counts. Microsoft had better think itself lucky that Intel doesn't own the operating system market too. It certainly wants to own the smartphone market too, although it's had conspicuous lack of success so far with design wins.
The smaller SDD companies must be wondering just where this move by Intel leaves them. But we doubt that giant Korean chaebol Samsung is afraid of Intel's solid state drive moves. Samsung has lofty ambitions.