updated 02:05 pm EDT, Mon March 10, 2008
Intel SSD Plans for 2008
The very small Z-P140 solid-state drive is just a prelude to a series of much more significant announcements over the course of 2008, Intel's flash memory marketing head Troy Winslow says in a recent interview. The senior official explains that one of the chipmaker's introductions this year will be a series of 1.8- and 2.5-inch drives targeted at ultraportables that not only hold more but are also faster. While they will hold between 80GB and 160GB versus today's 64GB and just-shipping 128GB drives, they should also outperform the claimed 100 megabytes per second reading speed of the Samsung Flash SSD, which itself is already much faster than most rotating hard disks, the Intel executive boasts.
The increase primarily stems from an improved memory controller, which is key to the performance behind SSDs. Intel's is more optimized and draws on the firm's experience with building very quick interconnects between processors and chipsets, according to Winslow. Most media players, cameras, and other portable devices often lose some of the performance advantage inherent to the technology by using simpler and less expensive solutions, such as all-in-one chips that handle other tasks.
At least some of these drives will also use the quicker, computer-friendly Serial ATA II format to interface with a given device. The connection both allows for a larger amount of storage in a given drive and also adds to the available bandwidth for transferring data, which is often far more critical on SSDs than conventional hard disks. The Z-P140 uses Parallel ATA but is generally meant for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) driven by the Atom and other limited but low-power components.
Intel has not set prices for the newer SSDs but plans to ship both of them in the spring, months ahead of wider availability for the Samsung drive. Costs should also come down versus previous technology and will continue to drop over the next few years, according to Intel. Customers have not been named for the drives, though they are expected to help in the performance-heavy server market as well as for notebook producers. A sudden surge of interest has seen relatively mainstream notebooks with SSDs ship from Apple, Fujitsu, and Lenovo in addition to early efforts by Dell and Sony.