Imation takes plunge into SSD drives

New drives come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities

Imation has become the latest storage giant to jump into the burgeoning market for computer drives based on SSD (solid state drive) technology.

The company's first products based on SSD are the SSD MOBI 3000 and SSD PRO 7000, which use SATA 1.0-based drives manufactured by Korean startup newcomer, Mtron. Each family has two 2.5 inch drives for laptops in 16GB and 32GB capacities, mirrored by three 3.5 inch equivalents for desktop computers in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities.

Although both claim a 0.1 millisecond average access time, the difference between the families is performance. The business-oriented PRO 7000 can handle sustained reads of up to 120Mbytes/s, and writes up to 90Mbytes/s, while the lower-end MOBI 3000 is specified at a still impressive 100Mbytes/s and 80Mbytes/s, respectively.

Fast they might be, even by SSD standards, but none of this comes cheap. Prices quoted for the 32GB models were US$699 for the MOBI 3000 and US$1,159 for the PRO 7000. Interestingly, the MOBI 3000 has a warranty of three years, while the PRO 700 is guaranteed for five years.

"Many storage applications can benefit from the increased performance, reliability and power savings that SSDs are able to provide in the computing and enterprise environment," IDC's Jeff Janukowicz has said, perhaps bolstering Imation's argument that SSDs are now ready for demanding applications such as data center storage.

That remains to be proven -- data centers are rightly fussy about mean time between failure (MTBF) statistics, and in that respect SSDs are something of an unknown quantity. Imation quotes an MTBF of 1 million hours for the PRO 7000.

The choice of Mtron as disk supplier is an interesting one in a market in which much larger companies such as Samsung, Micron, and SanDisk ply their trade. The announcement gives relatively tiny Mtron more credibility.

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John E. Dunn

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