NEW YORK July 20, 2011
This report explores the performance of NAND flash versus DRAM in PCs as measured by industry standard benchmarks and finds that NAND flash provides more performance per dollar spent than does DRAM. This somewhat surprising result leads to Objective Analysis’ natural conclusion that DRAM’s position in the PC is threatened by NAND, and that changes that will undermine the DRAM market will start to evolve in the near term, forcing the DRAM market toward a foundry model over the longer term.
• NAND flash already brings a greater performance boost per dollar to the PC than does DRAM.
• This has been verified through an exhaustive series of 288 benchmarks performed by Objective Analysis that are detailed in this report.
• Software is being developed to magnify this advantage.
• The price gap between NAND and DRAM is widening, to further amplify the difference.
• The price gap between HDD and NAND varies between 20-40 times and has settled into that ratio for the long term. This will prevent SSDs from displacing HDDs in PCs.
• Existing consumer purchasing patterns will help rather than hinder the adoption of NAND in PCs while it works against SSD adoption.
• NAND’s adoption in PCs will cause DRAM bit growth to slow.
• DRAM is entering a phase of protracted overcapacity that will last from late 2011 well beyond the term of the forecast (2016).
• Between the market’s revenue declines and the growing costs of installing new production capacity DRAM vendor consolidation will accelerate, pushing this market to a foundry model by 2020.
Executive Summary 1
General Observations 2
DRAM Yields Diminishing Returns 3
NAND Is Now Cheaper Than DRAM 6
NAND GBs Will Always Cost More than HDD 10
Benchmarks Run Faster on NAND than DRAM 13
Is Price a Legitimate Measure? 14
A Chart that Summarizes the Argument 14
How NAND Price Decreases Impact These Curves 18
PCIe Survey: Less DRAM 25
Cutting DRAM Cost & Power 25
DRAM Cache Replacement 25
From the Enterprise to the PC 26
How Consumer Behavior will Support NAND Use 27
OEM Decision Matrix 29
MLC: A Legitimate Choice? 30
Software Changes Will Drive NAND Adoption 31
Upgrades to Exisiting Software 31
Automatic Data Placement 32
Manual vs. Automatic Data Placement 33
Caching Firmware on a Hybrid Drive 35
Intel Smart Response Technology 37
NVELO’s Dataplex 38
New Software Custom-Written for SSDs 41
University Research 41
University of California San Diego
How Will the DRAM Market be Impacted? 45
The Long-Term Outlook 48
PCs’ Impact on NAND 49
The Tests 51
SYSmark 2007 Preview 54
HDxPRT 2010 56
PCMark Vantage 57
To order this report: