Intel is introducing new solid-state drives with increased performance as these devices find a more welcome home in Windows 7.
Intel said Tuesday it is moving to a more advanced 34-nanometer manufacturing process for its X series of solid-state drives (SSDs). To date, Intel has built drives on a 50-nanometer process. The more advanced process allows for higher data densities, enabling Intel to pack more data onto the same number of flash chips and reduce cost.
Solid-state drives typically offer better performance--in some cases, dramatically better performance--than hard disk drives. But SSDs cost more per gigabyte than hard drives, limiting their use to performance-sensitive applications such as high-end laptops, gaming PCs, and servers.
The new price for the 80GB version of the X25-M drive is $225 for quantities up to 1,000 units, a 60 percent reduction from the introduction price of $595 a year ago, Intel said. The 160GB version of the Intel X25-M drive is now $440, down from $945 at introduction.
However, the actual price drop in the market will be lower, Troy Winslow, marketing manager for the NAND Products Group at Intel, said in a phone interview. Intel had already announced an interim price reduction in January, below the original $595 and $945 price tags, he said.
"In the marketplace it will be around a $100 drop on the 80GB drive and almost a $200 drop on the 160GB drive," he said. The X25-M comes in a standard 2.5-inch form factor, which is the size of most hard drives used in laptops.
Winslow also addressed rumors circulating on Monday about higher-capacity drives. Intel will not introduce a 320GB SSD this year, he said. "What we decided to do is split 34-nanometer into a two-step process," he said. The first step will be to cost-reduce existing 80GB and 160GB drives. "And what we'll do later--and it's not even going to be this year but first half of next year--we will introduce, also on 34 nanometer, a performance enhancement and a doubling of the capacity," Winslow said, meaning that larger capacity drives, such as those over 300GB, won't appear until next year. … Read more