Solid state drives (SSDs) have become increasingly popular in recent years as a replacement for traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) due to their faster speeds, lower power consumption, and lack of moving parts. As SSD technology continues to advance, manufacturers have been able to steadily increase the maximum capacities available to consumers and businesses.
Introduction to SSDs
An SSD is a storage device that uses flash memory chips to store data, rather than the spinning platters found in traditional HDDs. The lack of moving parts enables SSDs to operate silently and provides much faster access times and data transfer speeds than HDDs. SSDs connect to computers and other devices through standard interfaces like SATA and PCIe.
Some key advantages of SSDs over HDDs include:
- Faster read/write speeds – SSDs can achieve sequential read/write speeds over 500MB/s, while HDDs max out at around 100-200MB/s.
- Lower latency – SSDs have much faster access times typically under 0.1 ms, compared to 3-15 ms for HDDs.
- Greater shock resistance – The lack of moving parts makes SSDs much more durable if dropped or transported.
- Lower power consumption – SSDs consume much less power than HDDs, extending battery life in laptops.
The disadvantages of SSDs include lower capacities and higher costs per gigabyte compared to HDDs. However, capacities and cost per gigabyte have been improving rapidly.
History of SSD Capacities
The first SSDs that were sold to consumers primarily targeted the low-capacity notebook market. In 2007, 32GB and 64GB SSDs became available with maximum capacities quickly ramping up over the next few years:
- 2009 – 256GB
- 2010 – 512GB
- 2011 – 1TB
In the early 2010s, SSD adoption began accelerating as capacities increased and prices declined. More consumers purchased SSDs as boot drives for desktop PCs and to upgrade older laptops. The transition from hard disk to solid state storage had clearly begun.
2010-2015 – Moving to the Mainstream
From 2010-2015, SSD capacities targeted for consumers and businesses continued expanding:
- 2012 – 2TB
- 2014 – 4TB
- 2015 – 8TB
With capacities hitting multi-terabyte levels by 2015, SSDs could now rival or beat the capacities of 3.5″ desktop hard drives. High-end desktop PCs, power users, and enterprises increasingly adopted SSDs as primary storage.
2016-2020 – Mass Market Transition
By 2016, SSD prices had fallen low enough to enable mass adoption. Capacities also approached the 10TB milestone:
- 2016 – 10TB
- 2017 – 14TB
- 2018 – 16TB
- 2019 – 20TB
With HDD replacements readily available, the majority of new laptops and desktops came equipped with SSDs as the primary drive. Even budget systems now tended to have at least a small SSD boot drive. External SSD storage became popular for devices like game consoles and media streamers.
2021-Present – Pushing Maximum Capacities
SSD capacities continue to grow thanks to improvements in NAND flash technology. Consumer SSDs are now available with huge multi-terabyte capacities rivaling and even surpassing some HDDs:
- 2021 – 30TB
- 2022 – 40TB
- 2023 – 50TB
For enterprises and data centers, specialized SSDs now reach enormous capacities over 1 petabyte using new form factors like EDSFF.
Largest Consumer SSDs
Let’s take a look at some of the highest capacity SSDs currently available for purchase by consumers and businesses.
Samsung 870 QVO – Up to 8TB
The Samsung 870 QVO is a 2.5″ SATA SSD targeted at mainstream consumers. It uses Samsung’s 4-bit QLC NAND flash memory to deliver capacities up to 8TB. Sequential read/write speeds are rated at up to 560/530 MB/s. The 8TB version retails for around $700-$800.
WD Black SN850 – Up to 4TB
The WD Black SN850 is a high-performance M.2 NVMe SSD for gaming and workstations. It leverages Western Digital’s latest 3D NAND and controller technologies to hit read speeds over 7,000 MB/s. The SN850 is available in capacities up to 4TB and retails around $700-$800 at 4TB.
Seagate FireCuda 530 – Up to 4TB
The Seagate FireCuda 530 is an M.2 NVMe SSD focused on offering fast speeds and RGB lighting. It uses Seagate’s 3D TLC NAND to deliver read speeds up to 7,300 MB/s and capacities up to 4TB. The 4TB variant has an MSRP around $950.
Corsair MP600 Pro XT – Up to 4TB
Corsair’s MP600 Pro XT is an high-performance M.2 NVMe SSD with capacities up to 4TB. It uses 3D TLC NAND with an optimized controller and heatsink to achieve 7,000 MB/s sequential reads. The 4TB model retails for around $650-$700.
Addlink AddGame A95 – Up to 4TB
The Addlink AddGame A95 offers fast M.2 NVMe performance on a budget. It uses 3D TLC NAND and reaches read speeds up to 7,000MB/s. Unique among consumer SSDs, it offers a high capacity 4TB model priced competitively around $500.
Sabrent Rocket Q4 – Up to 4TB
The Sabrent Rocket Q4 pairs high capacities with budget friendly pricing. It leverages QLC NAND to reach up to 4TB. Performance is still respectable with read speeds rated for up to 3,200MB/s. The 4TB variant is priced around $400.
Largest Enterprise/Data Center SSDs
Cutting edge SSDs for enterprise and data center usage are pushing maximum capacities even higher through new technologies and form factors.
Samsung PM1731a – Up to 15.36TB
The Samsung PM1731a is a high performance U.2 PCIe SSD targeted at enterprise usage. It leverages Samsung’s latest 128-layer V-NAND flash and a 12Gb/s SAS interface to deliver capacities up to 15.36TB.
Seagate Exos CORVAULT – Up to 14TB
The Seagate Exos CORVAULT is an enterprise SATA SSD offering high capacities in a secure, rugged enclosure. It’s rated for 24/7 operation and leverages Seagate’s 3D TLC NAND to hit 7GB/s speeds with capacities up to 14TB.
WD Ultrastar SN640 – Up to 15.36TB
Western Digital’s Ultrastar SN640 data center NVMe SSD provides leading capacity in the standard E1.S form factor, up to 15.36TB. It combines high random read performance with low power consumption and a compact design.
Intel D7-P5510 – Up to 15.36TB
The Intel D7-P5510 offers cutting-edge capacities in the new EDSFF E1.L form factor. Intel’s 144-layer QLC memory enables capacities up to 15.36TB. Performance is optimized for mixed read/write workloads at up to 7.6GB/s.
Samsung PM9A3 – Up to 30.72TB
Samsung’s PM9A3 SSD packs up to 30.72TB into the EDSFF E1.S long and slim form factor. It’s based on Samsung’s sixth-generation V-NAND technology and can deliver speeds over 6.4GB/s.
Seagate Exos AP 5U13 – Up to 57.6TB
The Exos AP 5U13 leverages Seagate’s latest 20TB conventional magnetic recording HDDs to deliver an enormous 576TB of flash capacity in a 3U enclosure. It combines multiple Exos drive modules with advanced data protection features.
SSD Density Improvements
SSD capacities have benefitted enormously from improvements in NAND flash density over time. Here is a look at the timeline for SSD density milestones:
|Max SSD Density
|256Gb per NAND die
|512Gb per die
|1Tb per die
|2Tb per die
|4Tb per die
|8Tb per die
|16Tb per die
This steady doubling of per die density around every 2 years has been key to enabling higher capacities. Die stacking methods like TLC and QLC have provided further density improvements.
Factors Influencing Maximum Capacities
There are several factors that determine the maximum capacities achievable for SSDs:
- NAND flash technology – Improved process nodes and 3D stacking allow packing more storage per die.
- Interface – Interfaces like SATA impose limits around 2TB. NVMe enables much higher capacities.
- Form factor – Larger form factors provide more physical space for NAND packages.
- RAID configurations – SSDs can be combined in RAID 0 stripe sets to increase capacities.
- Compression – Data compression technology can effectively boost usable capacities.
- Market demand – Consumer willingness to pay higher prices enables greater investment.
Manufacturers are constantly developing new techniques like QLC memory, PCIe 4.0, and EDSFF to push maximum SSD capacities higher.
Outlook for the Future
SSD capacities will continue expanding in the coming years to meet growing storage demands from consumers and enterprises. Here are some predictions for the future of maximum SSD capacities:
- 2025 – Consumer SSDs up to 64TB, data center SSDs up to 1PB.
- 2027 – PCIe 5.0 interface enables consumer SSDs over 100TB.
- 2030 – Multi-TB consumer SSDs cost under $100.
- 2032 – NAND flash density hits 1Tb per die, enabling 10PB+ datacenter SSDs.
SSD technology will continue evolving to offer greater capacities. Breakthroughs like HAMR, SMR, and MAMR may be adopted in SSDs to further boost density. Maximum capacities will scale to meet high-demand applications like AI, machine learning, and surveillance video storage.
SSD capacities have increased enormously over the past decade, from 32GB up to 50TB for consumer drives today. Enterprises can leverage specialized SSDs up to 1PB for managing huge datasets. Improvements in NAND flash like QLC memory and new form factors will push maximum capacities even higher in the future. While HDDs retain a cost advantage for bulk storage, SSDs are quickly catching up and benefiting from their inherent performance advantages. For applications requiring fast access to more than 10TB of storage, SSDs are likely to be the preferred option going forward.