In the 1980s a billion bytes of RAM cost over a million dollars; whereas, today, one gigabyte (a billion bytes) of high-speed RAM storage can be acquired for less than $300.00. Some other pricing points are outlined below:

Year Cost per GB of flash memory in solid state disk
1998 $9,000
1999 $6,000
2000 $5,000
2001 $5,000
2002 $3,000
2003 $2,500
2004 $1,500
2005 $300

All the prices come from Texas Memory Systems and are reproduced from a book: 'Oracle RAC and Grid Tuning with Solid State Disk' by Mike Ault and Donald A. Burleson, published in 2005 by the Rampant press.

We can extrapolate the trend above such that a GB of flash memory will cost less than $100.00 in a couple of years.

Already the flash memory/hard drive cutover point is around the 3GB area. With the rate of decline of prices in the table above we can expect that cutover point to increase, to 10GB perhaps.

Already there is a flash memory tier of storage in certain applications where very high speed access is required and where hard drive reliability isn't good enough; things like military satellite applications and certain high-speed database access applications.

We now see that intelligent mobile devices are also using flash memory up to the 3GB point at which there is a cross-over to hard drives. (This is a variable figure as factors like power consumption and shock resistance affect the choice as well as price/GB.)

What we might be seeing in the table above is an indication that flash memory might enter the mainstream of computing as a storage tier between server and desktop RAM on the one hand and primary disk on the other. A kind of flash cache as it were.

Bookmark the idea of solid-state memory servers when you browse future storage ideas. They might be coming from Dell in five years time.