Intel has starting shipping a solid-state drive that can speed Windows 7 and app load times.
Intel says the drive is aimed at "dual-drive/boot drive desktop set-ups" as well as Netbooks. 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, a fact, which, to date, has limited SSDs to performance-sensitive applications such as high-end laptops, gaming PCs, and servers.
The Intel X25-V is a relatively low-capacity SSD at 40GB, but claims performance that is four times faster than a 7200RPM hard disk drive. And at $125, it qualifies as an inexpensive SSD, but on a dollar-per-gigabyte basis of about $3 per gigabyte, it's comparable with, if not a little more than, competing products.
Intel says consumers can use the SSD as an add-on to a hard-drive-equipped desktop PC by configuring a dual-drive or "boot drive" set up. "In a dual-drive configuration...the SSD is loaded with the operating system and favorite applications to take advantage of the speedy performance," Intel said in a statement.
For example, with 40GB of boot drive capacity, a user could load the SSD with the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft Office applications, and a favorite gaming application. Users keep their existing HDD for higher capacity data storage, according to Intel.
Though SSDs are still an esoteric technology for some users, Intel-branded SSDs are popular at retail sites. "The Intel solid-state drive is our top-selling SSD," said Stephen Yang, product manager for solid-state drives at e-tailer Newegg.com, in a statement provided by Intel. And brand is important because some lesser-known SSD manufacturers do not meet quality and reliability standards, according to a report from DRAMeXchange Technology, a firm that does market intelligence on major electronics components. Intel was rated as one of the top brands for quality and reliability, DRAMeXchange said.