Flash memory vs. magnetic storage

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The mass production of flash memory to power USB drives and Apple's iPod and iPhone has made this once-costly technology a good deal less expensive. This price drop has fueled speculation that flash memory, with advantages in speed and power consumption, could displace traditional magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs) in computers. Flash memory is also known as solid-state drive technology.

But will magnetic storage go extinct? Despite some predictions that within three or four years HDD will be a thing of the past, there remain doubts. It's still expensive today to replace laptop HDDs with flash--the difference could be as much as US $300 more per laptop--and HDD's demise has been predicted several times before, prematurely. One alternative route is that of coexistence--manufacturers have begun introducing hybrid drives that incorporate both flash and magnetic storage.
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Flash's future: can these minute memory devices take down the HDD industry?

Who wins if flash memory replaces Hard Drives?

  • Sandisk is the industry leader in flash memory technology, providing flash drives for Apple's iPods and a variety of other consumer electronics.
  • Samsung also manufactures flash drives.

Who wins through HDD/magnetic storage?

  • Seagate is the independent mainstay of HDD technology, its products appearing in an unparalleled across-the-board array--everything from Xboxs to rival PS3s to most laptops on the market.
  • Western Digital is Seagate's only meaningful competition (beyond large "captive" companies like Toshiba and Hitachi, whose sales are many times larger than the independents').
  • Nidec Corporation (Nihon Densan Kabushiki Kaisha) (NJ) is a HDD spindle motor manufacturer with a near monopoly, over 70% market share. Important supplier to Seagate and Western Digital but, because of dominance of their particular niche, see less pricing pressure.
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