Stec unveils first 1-inch solid state drive

32GB Mach4 NAND memory drive costs US$45 and will be in production by the end of May

Stec this week unveiled its first 1-inch solid-state drive, which is designed to enhance the performance and add capacity to ultra-mobile PCs, blade servers and small portable devices. The 32GB Mach4 NAND memory drive costs US$45 and will be in production by the end of May.

The new solid-state drive includes four independent flash channels enabling sustained sequential read times of 90MB/sec and write speeds of 55MB/sec, the company said. The Mach4 supports serial ATA and ATA interfaces and offers encryption, write-protect, data purge and power-down protection, said Stec.

Pat Wilkinson, vice president of marketing and business development at Stec, said that the company expects to double the drive's capacity to 64GB by the second half of 2009.

Wilkinson said that Stec expects the use of solid-state technology will revive the dormant 1-inch drive industry. Manufacturers have abandoned the mechanical 1-inch drive technology in recent years due to capacity and latency issues, he noted.

"The 1-inch hard disk drive category is truly dead," Wilkinson said. "But we think we've figured out a way breathe new life into that storage form factor."

In January, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies announced plans to phase out its 1-inch hard drive business to focus on development of 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives due to the growth of flash memory technology and declining demand for small hard drives.

John Rydning, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, agreed that NAND flash memory doomed the future of 1-inch hard drives by providing more capacity, lower costs and an ability to better deal with shock and temperature extremes.

Wilkinson said Stec's Mach4 SSD will probably be embedded in OEM products by the end of the second quarter. Wilkinson refused to identify OEMs planning to resell the product.

Early this year, EMC unveiled a line of solid-state drives that offered Stec technology as a flash memory option.

Just last week, Seagate Technology filed a lawsuit charging that technology used in Stec solid-state and DRAM devices infringe on its patents.

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