Intel Unveils Its First Solid-State Drive - InformationWeek

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Hardware & Infrastructure

Intel Unveils Its First Solid-State Drive

The drive, which has no moving parts and is available in 1-Gbyte to 8-Gbyte densities, will be used in a variety of Intel-based computing platforms for servers, notebooks, and low-cost PCs.

Intel on Monday introduced its first solid-state drive, a device that uses NAND flash memory for common PC or embedded application operations, instead of the slower spinning platters common in traditional hard-disk drives.

The Z-U130 offers a faster storage alternative for locating boot code, operating systems, and commonly accessed libraries. The drive, which has no moving parts and is available in 1-Gbyte to 8-Gbyte densities, will be used in a variety of Intel-based computing platforms for servers, notebooks, and low-cost PCs. The new product will also be used in Intel's embedded technology for routers and point of sale terminals.

Solid-state drives, in general, offer faster boot times and data access, and use less power than hard-disk drives and removable USB, or universal serial bus, storage devices. SSDs, however, are far more expensive.

The Z-U130, which reads at 28-Mbytes per second and writes at 20-Mbytes per second, is Intel's first product in its Value Solid State Drive line, which will offer different densities and industry standard interfaces. The new product can be integrated into the equipment designs of manufacturing companies through its USB 2.0 and 1.1 compliant interfaces. The device has an average mean time between failure specification of 5 million hours.

The product's standard single-level cell NAND is contained in Intel's "thin small outline package". TSOP is one of three surface mount memory-packaging choices from Intel. The company is considering the use of "multi-level cell" technology in upcoming products. MLC involves storing multiple bits of information on a single memory transistor, which increases the density of the device and lowers the cost per mega-byte.

Solid-state drives are commonly used in portable music players, digital cameras and, other devices. Apple, is reportedly getting ready to release in the second half of the year sub-notebooks using flash memory.

Rivals SanDisk and Samsung Electronics are locked in a competitive battle over solid-state drives. Samsung has a 32-Gbyte drive for sub-notebook and tablet PCs. SanDisk offers a 32-Gbyte drive for the enterprise market, but not for consumer devices.

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