Alienware supercharges desktop with 64GB solid-state drives

Plans to add drives to other PCs next year; stays mum on parent Dell's plans

Alienware introduced this week a 64GB solid-state storage option for its Alienware Area-51 ALX and Aurora ALX desktop computers.

Marc Diana, product marketing manager at Alienware said the company plans to add solid-state functionality to its other desktop offerings by mid-2008.

Diana would not say whether Alienware's parent firm, Dell, also plans to use the solid-state storage options in its personal computers. Dell officials could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, Dell announced a 32GB solid-state option for its Latitude D420 and D629 ATG notebook computers. The PC vendor has been relatively silent on the solid-state front ever since.

Unlike traditional hard drives, solid-state drives contain no moving parts that can be damaged or worn over time. While the reliability, improved power consumption and speed of solid-state drives leapfrogs hard drive technology, the flash-based technology's steep price point continues to hamper adoption, analysts say.

"Using solid-state drives completely as a primary solution right now is a significant price premium to traditional hard drives," said Jeff Janukowicz, an analyst at IDC.

Still, IDC foresees growing interest in the emerging storage technology. A report released by the IT research firm in July predicted that sales of solid-state drives will skyrocket from US$373 million in 2006 to US$5.4 billion in 2011.

Despite admitting solid-state technology is "very expensive" and isn't yet "mature enough" for the mainstream market, Diana downplayed swirling interest in hybrid flash memory/disk drives, such as the new Seagate Technology offering announced this week.

"Hybrid we consider to be a Band-Aid approach to solid state," said Diana. "Solid state pretty much puts hybrid in an obsolete class right now."

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