Intel: 160GB solid state drives will be unveiled soon

Chip maker says 1.8-in. and 2.5-in. flash drives will ship in second quarter 2008

Intel this week confirmed that it is close to unveiling a new line of solid-state drives for laptop and notebook PCs that will feature a storage capacity up to 160GB.

An Intel spokesman said that the chipmaker will introduce 1.5-inch and 2.5-inch solid state drives offering between 80GB and 160GB diskless storage during the second quarter of 2008. The spokesman declined to provide further details about the ship date or disclose the storage density of the drives.

Intel had demonstrated the high-performance solid state drive prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. At the time, an Intel spokesman said the manufacturer had not decided whether to sell the drives directly to retailers or through laptop and PC makers.

The spokesman said in January that the solid state technology would be shown off again in April at the Intel Developer Forum, where some observers say it may be officially released.

Intel currently offers ultra-small low-power solid-state storage offerings for mobile devices. These include the 2GB Z-P140 PATA and the 4GB Z-U130 USB offerings. The company has made no secret of its desire to significantly broaden its solid state portfolio along with boosting flash performance for customers.

Last month IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture of Intel and Micron Technology, unveiled a new high-speed NAND flash memory technology they said offers data transfer speeds that are five times faster than conventional NAND technology.

An aggressive move into the laptop and PC notebook flash disk drive business would catapult Intel into direct competition with hard drive manufacturers such as Toshiba and Samsung Electronics who are trying to spark demand before their SATA-based offerings are released in the coming months. Samsung said it will ship a 2.5-inch 128 solid state drive in Q2 while Toshiba Corp. has announced plans to produce solid-state drives ranging in capacity from 32GB to 128GB for notebook PCs by May.

Although analysts do expect that corporations will begin to seriously consider the benefits of solid-state drives during 2008, the high price tag for the technology may keep sales in check for a few years.

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Brian Fonseca

Computerworld
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