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Intel Unveils Smaller Solid-State Drive For Mini-Notebooks

The mini-notebook market is expected to show strong growth over the next few years with worldwide shipments on pace to reach 5.2 million units this year.
Intel has introduced a smaller version of its solid-state drive for mini-notebooks, an emerging PC category that's showing strong market growth worldwide.

The smaller version of the Z-P230 PATA SSD, which Intel unveiled at the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday, is about a half inch narrower than the larger model and weighs three tenths of an ounce.

Both drives are available with 4 GB or 8 GB of storage, with a 16 GB version scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter. The 4 GB version sells for $25 and the 8 GB version for $45. Both prices are in 1,000-unit quantities.

In comparison, the Z-P230 is roughly a quarter the size and weight of a 1.8-inch hard disk drive typically used in a mini-notebook. SSDs in general use less power than HDDs and are more rugged because the former does not have any moving parts. Both Z-P230s consume a maximum 314 milliwatts of power and have read/write speeds of 38 MB per second and 10 MBps, respectively.

Mini-notebooks are defined as low-cost, lightweight laptops with screen sizes ranging from 5 inches to 10 inches. The notebooks run a full version of a client operating system, such as Windows XP or Linux, and cost less than $500.

The mini-notebook market is expected to show strong growth over the next few years. Worldwide shipments are on pace to reach 5.2 million units this year and 8 million units next year, according to Gartner. Manufacturers could ship as many as 50 million of the devices in 2012.

To help foster the smaller form factors with SSDs, Intel this year released the Atom processor designed for mini-notebooks and other low-cost handheld computers for accessing the Web. Stacy Smith, chief financial officer for Intel, told Reuters news agency that the market is too young to determine how large it will become, but Atom sales so far have exceeded the chipmaker's expectations.