Pain at the Manufacturing Level
Any flash shortage will increase prices for consumers; we went through the cycles in the DRAM market for years. Until recently though, consumer SSD prices were going in one direction. The transition from $1 per GB to 50c per GB was rapid, but just as fast, prices shot back up. Finding quality SSDs for less than a dollar per GB is still possible, but some products designed to sell closer to the 50 cents per GB are closer to $1 per GB mark.
One company we think is feeling the pain is OCZ Technology. OCZ hasn't released a consumer SSD with Toshiba Toggle flash since the Vertex 3 Max IOPS. Every product since then has shipped with IMFT flash, either 25nm or 20nm. The new OCZ Vertex 3.20 released as a low-cost SSD. OCZ has a long history of kicking every other companies' asses in the low-cost market. Not only did OCZ own that market, they drove other companies to lower flagship product prices just to compete. The new OCZ Vertex 3.20 uses IMFT 20nm flash and as you can see above, the price is much higher than the MSRP of $219.99 at this time.
We think that the 20nm flash shortage is hurting OCZ more than anyone else still in the consumer SSD game at this point. Patriot Memory, G.Skill and Monster Digital have already pulled out of the consumer SSD business and there are rumors of more companies to follow. The combined efforts of Patriot, G.Skill and Monster Digital don't equate to the volume of products shipped by OCZ Technology, but less competition in the consumer space hurts consumers.
... and for your Wallet
We don't expect consumer SSD prices to return to late 2012 prices anytime soon. This should worry anyone looking to purchase an SSD. Products designed for the mainstream performance market will hover just under $1 per GB, but high performance parts could surge when demand picks up in three to four months.
In our OCZ Technology Vertex 450 review we stated that OCZ plans to release a Vector 150 product and that production of the existing Vector product with 25nm flash was ending soon. Vector 150 could bring a new price premium that we haven't seen in many years.