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Samsung Introduces 64-Gbyte Solid-State Flash Drive

At 64 Gbytes, the new product would have twice as much storage as the largest flash drive used in notebooks today. But its price may slow adoption.
Samsung Electronics on Tuesday unveiled a 64-Gbyte solid-state flash drive that could find a home in power-strapped ultra-portable notebooks, provided the price is right.

Samsung introduced the 1.8-inch drive at its annual Mobile Solution Forum in Taipei, Taiwan. The Korean company said it plans to start mass-production in the second quarter.

At 64 Gbytes, the new product would have twice as much storage as the largest flash drive used in notebooks today. Solid-state drives are particularly useful in ultra-portable notebooks, because the hardware uses less power than traditional hard drives and doesn't have any moving parts, which means they're more durable.

Price is a potential stumbling block, however, in getting the device in notebooks, said Shawny Chen, analyst for Current Analysis. "We have to consider how much of a price premium would be added."

In February, an ultra-portable, which Current Analysis defines as less than four pounds, had an average retail price of $1,750, compared with $2,000 around 10 months earlier, according to the market researcher. With manufacturers competing on price, it's unlikely they would be willing to increase prices for a beefier flash drive, Chen said.

Samsung didn't disclose price, but said the read-and-write performance of the new drive is higher than the company's 32-Gbyte version by 20% and 60%, respectively. As a result, the new drive outperforms conventional hard-disk drives "even greater than had been anticipated," the company said in a statement. Solid-state drives in general are faster than traditional rotating-media hard drives.

Samsung believes the use of solid-state drives will expand beyond notebooks to personal navigation systems and digital camcorders. The company also foresees 100-Gbyte-level SSDs in the server market. Samsung said the overall solid-state driver market is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2010, up from only $200 million this year.

While still far more expensive than hard-disk drives, SSDs have been coming down in price, which has boosted demand. Samsung's competitors include SanDisk, which recently introduced its first 32-Gbyte drive, and Intel, which has introduced an 8-Gbyte drive.