updated 12:05 pm EDT, Tue July 21, 2009
Intel 34nm SSDs
Intel today promised a minor upheaval in solid-state drives by launching the first-ever solid-state drives built on a 34 nanometer process. An improved version of the X25-M uses the higher density to provide better performance than the older, 50nm version without having to increase the price. Latency in processing tasks is down by a quarter to about 65 microseconds, while data handling itself is faster at as much as 6,600 transactions per second when writing and 35,000 when reading.
The semiconductor firm also emphasizes price as a key part of its transition. As it can make more flash memory at once with 34nm than it could before and is more experienced with the technology, Intel says prices on the 2.5-inch, SATA II drives have dropped as much as 60 percent depending on the model. The starter 80GB X25-M has dropped from its original $595 to $225 in batches of 1,000, while the 160GB edition plunges from $945 to $440 in similar shipping numbers. Intel hasn't said how readily available the drives will be available outside of pre-built computers.
A version of the X18-M, a 1.8-inch drive intended for ultraportables and handhelds, is due to move to 34nm later this summer. Although the drives work with Macs and other operating systems, a firmware update is due near the launch of Windows 7 that will support the new Microsoft operating system's Trim command, which saves time and wear when clearing files from the SSD.