Intel gets into the flash drive business


Now we know how Paul Otellini is going to sell all that flash memory like he promised. Intel announced at the Intel Developer Forum it is entering the solid state drive (SSD) market with a trio of drives aimed at laptops, desktops, and even servers.

The latter is remarkable, as SSDs are usually targeted at notebooks. But the company feels it has a winner in its drives. The X25-M and X18-M drives are targeted at desktops and notebooks. They will come in 2.5 inch and 1.8 inch designs, with 80GB and 160GB capacity and very fast access.

The drives will have a read transfer rate of 240 Mbytes per second and a write speed of 70 Mbytes per second. Write speeds are slower than a standard hard drive but the read speed is faster than the 180 Mbytes/sec of Western Digital’s Velociraptor drive, which spins at 10,000 rpm.

Intel has new controllers with ten parallel channels and a function called Native Command Queuing (NCQ), something rarely used on SSDs, that allows for up to 32 simultaneous transactions. The drives are power-friendly, too consuming 0.15 watts in use and 0.06 when idle.

The X25-E Extreme is slightly faster than the X25-M, with read/write speeds of 250Mbytes and 75 Mbytes, respectively. It will also be smaller, only 32 or 64GB of capacity. Intel claims it can handle up to 35,000 read operations per second, while write operations are only 3,500 per second.

The drives will be available later this year. Intel said HP and Lenovo have already signed on as OEMs.

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