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.