I see that I haven’t mentioned solid state drives in nearly two years, but it is one area where technical advances are coming hot and heavy as indicated by yesterday’s announcement by Samsung of a 256GB SSD which could be shipping in products by the end of 2008:
Samsung late on Sunday promised what it says is a breakthrough in solid-state drives with the launch of its first 256GB SSD. The drive offers twice the capacity of the Korean firm’s previous 128GB SSD but is also much faster. The 256GB edition reads sequential data at 200MB per second, twice the rate of the original model, while also seeing an even greater increase in write speeds: where the earlier drive writes at 70MB per second, the new SSD writes at 160MB per second.
The big question of course is the cost and while Samsung isn’t quoting prices yet, there is some good news:
Rather than use costly single-level cell (SLC) technology, the company has managed to develop a multi-level cell (MLC) storage drive that transfers as quickly as the best SLC storage while costing much less to produce than past SSDs. Improvements to the storage controller have also extended the longevity to as long as SLC drives, giving the 256GB drive longevity as good or better than some rotating hard disks.
SLC and MLC refer to how much information can be stored in one flash memory cell. A multi-level cell stores more than the single bit in a single-level cell providing a greater areal density and lower cost per bit.
Samsung expects its new drive to be sampling for computer manufacturers by September and shipping to those clients by the end of the year; this applies to both a 2.5-inch drive for more traditional notebooks and a 1.8-inch drive for ultraportables and other much smaller devices.
No customers have been announced, but it will be interesting to see who jumps on board and how inexpensive these beauties really are.
Solid state, non volatile disk storage replacement has been a dream for a lot of years and while flash disks are finally killing the floppy, advances in hard disk technology have always kept the price per byte low enough that solid state didn’t have much leverage except for special use devices. That may be starting to change as laptop manufacturers have started introducing new models with flash disks instead of hard drives in some notebook models. Martyn Williams at PCWorld:
Sony will replace hard disks with flash memory when it launches a new model of its Vaio U laptop next week, it said today (June 27 – ed.).
Flash has long been eyed as a potential replacement for hard drives because it is lighter, runs silently, offers faster data access, and uses less power, but price has always been an obstacle.
The Vaio UX90 will come with 16GB of flash memory storage in place of the 30GB hard drive on the original model. It will cost around $1805, or about $345 more expensive than the disk-based model, and go on sale in Japan on July 3.
The UX Micro PCs look like a PDA on steroids, but they run Widows XP Professional and regular Windows applications as well as having some media player functionality.
Samsung Electronics launched a couple of PCs with flash storage earlier this month. The Q30 laptop and Q1 ultra mobile PC both use Samsung’s “solid state disk,” which packs 32GB of NAND flash memory into a case the same size as a 1.8-inch hard drive.
Sammy just announced that their sweet, sweet NAND-based Q30-SSD we first got down and dirty with at CeBIT will hit the shelves in Korea (only) from early June onward. Yeah, it’ll fetch a steep $3,700 US-equiv (a roughly $900 premium) on that aging 1.2GHz Celeron M Q30 platform, but that 32GB of NAND reads 300 percent faster (53MB/s) and write 150 percent quicker (28MB/s) than normal hard drives while offering better protection against shock, 25-50% faster boots and sleep recovery times, longer battery life and reduced weight all in a completely silent, fanless package. Hoozah!
To which, I guess I have to add, ouch! The prices still have a way to go to attract the average consumer. More on Samsung’s solid state hard drive here.