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Heated Demand for SSDs Creates Shortages


Fewer moving parts can mean extremely low failure rates. Add to that swift startup times and fast running speeds, and it's easy to see why solid state drives (SSDs) have gained wide use in a vast array of consumer and industrial goods. SSDs, as opposed to traditional hard drives (HDDs), utilize integrated circuit assemblies to store data, not electromechanical disks. They have found their way into ruggedized machinery, having little susceptibility to physical damage or shock, and are even gaining penetration (on the opposite end of the spectrum) in home offices. Increasingly, consumers are switching HDDs out for more-reliable SSDs in their home computers, or electing to include both drives in a hybrid setup that allows the SSD to bear the brunt of heavy bootup while the HDD provides standard storage.

In the current SSD market, we are seeing a shift in demand for product from major suppliers. While Intel has long been the frontrunner in the SSD field, offering a higher-end product for correspondingly higher prices, supplies of these Intel parts have been steady alongside less-expensive alternatives from manufacturers like Toshiba and Samsung. However, strong demand for Intel's new series of SSDs, with new SATA technology and Intel NAND flash, is creating tightness and shortages. While SSDs that are commonly utilized in servers and networking equipment have remained stable, those that are used in popular consumer electronics such as ultrabooks have come into very high demand. Previously only slightly more expensive than its competitors in the SSD field, Intel now holds considerably higher prices on its product since this shortage. Additionally, manufacturers who have specifications locked exclusively onto these Intel SSD series parts are finding themselves placing orders with franchise distributors with lead times of 4 to 6 weeks. 

However, in the midst of this highly-specified shortage situation, customers are finding relief by widening their options and spec'ing in SSDs from alternative manufacturers, such as Samsung and Toshiba. With the same capabilities and comparable quality, these parts are freely available from vendors while supplies of high-demand Intel SSDs are scarce. In situations where a defined bill of materials (BOM) won't allow for substitutions, though, finding these in-demand parts with the aid of a trusted supplier couldn't be more vital. In cases where manufacturers are willing to weather the lengthy lead times on these Intel SSD models, there are parts to be had – but patience and working with reliable vendors are that equation. Shortage situations, whether highly specific – as in this case – or large-scale due to larger economic issues, natural disasters, or other catalysts, are breeding grounds for counterfeiting and other supply-chain pitfalls. Working with a stable, trusted supply chain partner such as Smith & Associates offers an array of benefits, such as access to a global network of trusted suppliers and skilled procurement services that can locate needed parts on short notice. Additionally, leading counterfeit detection and testing laboratories like Smith's go a long way in ensuring quality and authenticity of in-demand product when the risk of inauthentic product is at its highest.

Ultimately, any supplier can take an order, but the ability to fill an order for scarce and needed product and to ensure that this product is of the highest quality is far rarer in shortage situations like this. Keeping constant vigilance on the quality and reliability of vendors is key; when extended lead times are making customers wait anyway, they should take the time to make sure they're sourcing from a reliable supplier who will get them exactly what they need. Even if they are only available in small quantities currently, these in-demand Intel SSDs are out there – and they're within reach of capable, trustworthy suppliers and distributors.

Britt Mindes, Asst. Purchasing Manager
Written on Monday, 20 May 2013 15:00 by Britt Mindes, Asst. Purchasing Manager

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