Intel unveils Flash-based hard drives

Intel has unveiled a new solid state hard drive based on Flash memory that aims to provide a low cost alternative to mechanical hard drives. The Z-U130 is currently shipping in 1GB and 2GB models, and the company is scheduled to add 4GB and 8GB versions in the coming months. Models with capacities of 20GB and 40GB are slated for release by the second half of this year, followed by 80GB and 160GB versions next year.

The units are attached to computers through USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 connectors which in most cases will be integrated on the motherboard. The low capacity drives target inexpensive desktop and notebook computers as well as systems for emerging markets such as Intel's Classmate PC, according to Peter Hazan, a marketing manager with Intel. "The intention is to drive to the lowest cost with good enough capacity," said Hazan during a meeting with reporters at Intel's corporate headquarters last week. "If your application requires 8GB or less [a solid state hard drive] can deliver that at a bill of materials that is lower than a hard disk drive."

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News source: vnunet

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Wouldn't eSata/Sata be better than USB?
Although, Intel is probably going for max compatibility.

160GB next year!!!!!!! yeah!!

why USB integrated? USB uses processor time to do things, why not use an existing connector that has a dedicated processor for it? like firewire or IDE/SATA does?

I'm sure they are using USB in this case due to the increased bandwidth of the 2.0 standard. IDE would be a bottleneck for a flash hard drive, and firewire and SATA are often not integrated into a southbridge, thus requiring additional circuitry. Many chipsets have USB 2.0 support build in, so this allows Intel, and other device manufacturers to integrate one of these solid state drives without the hassle of finding space or money for additional circuity. While space is not an issue on desktop machines, these have to potential to be extended to many portable and compact devices, where space is at a premium.

IDE (PATA) is bottleneck for flash HDDs? You don't have any clue. IDE can be 100/133 MBps, while USB 2.0 is only 480 Mbps, which is nearly 60 MBps. Sustained read speed of the fastest HDDs are not enough to be completely saturate the IDE (PATA) interface. But max. sustained speed of HDDs can be bottlenecked by USB 2.0 interface.

Flash memory is still slower than HDD. Fastest USB keychain drives usually don't have higher than 25 MBps read speed, while USB HDDs can max out at 40+ MBps.

they are using USB in this case due to the increased bandwidth of the 2.0 standard. IDE would be a bottleneck for a flash hard drive,

Err what? That is just not true.