One week ago Samsung introduced its new 850 PRO SSD by giving evaluation samples to a number of bloggers who regularly review SSD technology.
For any one unfamiliar with the term, an SSD is a box that looks, feels, and works like a hard disk drive (HDD) from Seagate, Western Digital, or Toshiba, but with one important difference: The inside has no moving parts. SSDs are made using NAND flash technology which stores bits similarly to the way that an HDD does, but significantly faster for about ten times the price.
A lot of PC enthusiasts see this as a worthwhile way to spend their pay, but the bulk of PC users still hesitate to buy new PCs that offer SSDs rather than HDDs.
But what was most interesting about the Samsung 850 PRO introduction was that it uses a flash technology that heretofore hasn’t seen the light of day. Samsung’s V-NAND is an embodiment of 3D NAND, a technology that the industry knows must inevitably be introduced, but that Samsung’s competition is postponing for the moment. Only Samsung has announced mass production of the technology, giving the company an apparent lead over their competition since V-NAND was first announced last August.
This announcement gave Samsung a reputation for being an innovator well ahead of its competition. The only snag in this was that it was impossible to find anyone who had seen any of this product until last week, when Samsung provided reviewers with real V-NAND based SSDs. Samsung announced that these SSDs would become available to the general public within the month.
3D NAND technology is not mature, and it involves myriad manufacturing processes that have never previously been implemented. In a nutshell: I am skeptical that production of this SSD will satisfy demand.
For the moment, though, Samsung can bask in the sunshine of some very glowing reviews of its new SSDs, and the notion that consumers and investors are likely to value the company as a leader ahead of its competition. It appears, though, that the investment community is not taking this announcement all that seriously. There was no negative response from this announcement in either Micron’s or SanDisk's stock prices, which would have undergone a sell-off had the investment community considered V-NAND a real threat to these companies’ business.