There are a number of themes that are going to be big next year. During 2010, solid-state drive (SSD) technology's wider adoption was being driven by demand for better performing systems – reducing the cost per GB.
This trend is likely to continue as more enterprises adopt SSD technology and extend the life of existing systems.
It’s expected that SSDs will sit alongside hard drives, where the SSD drive is improving start up times of the operating system and applications, with the hard drive still being used as a place to store data. In 2011, not only will SATA 3.0 become more common, but SSD technology will be integrated into other computerised devices such as ATMs and CCTV.
Virtualisation has been a hot topic for a few years and there have been a number of developments in software services and applications. However, there have been constraints on mass adoption around datacentre bandwidth and security.
In 2011, enterprises will be looking more into virtualisation as they see the benefits of doing more with less in the datacentre, ensuring that they find the most efficient ways to deal with increasing amounts of data.
USB 3.0 technology is going to be adopted by many. Not only is it theoretically 10 times faster than USB 2.0, but it will become a viable option as an external storage device and a high-capacity backup of entire media collections. This is going to be driven by the release of motherboards that will conform to the new USB 3.0 standard.
Mobile tablets are really starting to take off, thanks to the release of touch-screen tablet devices such as the iPad. These devices give users an opportunity to view and interact with content any time, anywhere. The only limitation at the moment is the capacity of these devices.
With fears of a double-dip recession there has been more caution during 2010 when making spending decisions. It is important in 2011 for enterprises to investigate extending the life of their existing systems as a simple upgrade can reduce their TCO, and they can squeeze some extra performance out of their existing equipment.
Companies are dealing with increasing volumes of data, so will need to ensure that their datacentres are set up to deal with it efficiently.
At the beginning of 2010 the memory industry was optimistic. The extremely tough preceding years had helped weed out some frail players – reducing the vendor oversupply that had haunted this market.
Among the financially struggling semiconductor manufacturers, plans to reduce their capital expenditure were implemented just as technological change accelerated.
This further contributes to an expectation that supply and demand will be better balanced in the year ahead.
Very early in 2010, DDR3 component prices increased 20 to 25 per cent, with DDR2 jumping up as much as 50 per cent compared to the beginning of the year. Expectations were that manufacturers would be able to make money for the rest of the year.
Then, however, reality sunk in as new technology meant more efficient production processes on the supply side while the global recession and the increased prices themselves dampened demand. As a result, a 'big slide' started in April and hasn’t stopped yet; DDR2 is down more than 50 per cent from its peak, hitting lows not seen since August 2009.
DDR3 has become the dominant technology now but has suffered a 60 per cent price erosion since April, hitting all-time lows. I believe it is still likely to fall further.
Chip manufacturers are again facing the dire prospect of not being able to recover their production costs, while anyone in the channel needs to watch inventory closely to avoid making painful write-offs due to slow-moving stock.
We believe the market movements create an opportunity to excel in executing efficient processes.
Bernd Dombrowsky is EMEA-inside sales director at Kingston Technology
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