While hybrid drives and Turbo Memory could be thought of as an interim solution, the future will be entire drives constructed out of NAND flash.
A glimpse of that future can be seen with this latest Samsung 32GB solid state drive. Oddly packaged as a 2.5-inch PATA UDMA66 drive with four 8MB NAND chips integrated into its PCD, it installs and works just as with any other PATA drive being recognised by BIOS and Windows.
In use the strengths and weaknesses become instantly apparent. With an access time of 0.2ms, random or sequential data is treated the same, read at just over 50MB/s, while writing is half this, at best around 24MB/s.
This is fast, and the difference it makes to use is immediately evident. Interestingly, PCMark's hard drive benchmarks show this drive running twice as fast as a standard 200GB SATA desktop unit.
Considering the rugged nature of SSDs, the silent operation, and future speed increases, the potential for SSDs is looking tremendous. That is as long as the price comes down, at nearly £10 per GB, flash doesn't have the lead over mechanical in terms of cost. Yet.