Solid State Disks gather momentum - 32 GB, 64 GB and now 128GB

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January 17, 2007 With flash storage technology catching up to traditional disc platter storage devices and the price of NAND flash dropping quickly, Solid State Disks (SSD) look set to finally make their mark in 2007. It’s only eight months since we reported on Samsung’s World first PC with NAND flash-based solid state disk – a 32 GB affair. Then, at CES last week, Sandisk announced a 32GB 1.8-inch SSD and now Taiwanese manufacturer PQI has announced a 64GB 2.5-inch SSD which will be available before the end of 2007. A-DATA showed a 128GB 2.5-inch SSD behind closed doors at CES according to the Enquirer.

The benefits of using SSD drives as opposed to standard mechanical hard drives include lower power usage, faster read times, and complete silence – prior to now, large capacity flash-based drives have been used primarily by the military, aerospace and telecom industries, which demand high performance and reliability under challenging environmental conditions. But now the declining cost of NAND flash memory is making SSD a viable and economically attractive alternative to existing technologies in a wider variety of applications, including mobile PCs.

Pricing and specs are not available on the 128GB and ^4GB versions mentioned, but we do have data on the Sandisk 32GB SSD - it achieves a sustained read rate of 62 megabytes (MB) per second and a random read rate of 7,000 inputs/outputs per second (IOPS) for a 512-byte transfer – more than 100 times faster than most hard disk drives. Taking advantage of this performance, a laptop PC equipped with SanDisk SSD can boot Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise in as little as 35 seconds compared to 55 seconds for a normal hard drive. It also can achieve an average file access rate of 0.12 milliseconds, compared with 19 milliseconds. Another advantage of SanDisk SSD is its extremely low power consumption rate compared to the hard disk drive: 0.4 watt during active operation versus 1.0 watt. This is particularly important to extend the battery life for the benefit of enterprise road warriors.

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