SanDisk offers super-tiny flash drives

Why bother flash drives as big as a hard drive with rotating platters? SanDisk's iSSD is 2cm long and can be soldered straight to a motherboard.

SanDisk's iSSD is a flash drive that can be attached directly to a computing device's motherboard.
SanDisk's iSSD is a flash drive that can be attached directly to a computing device's motherboard. Capacities are up to 64GB. SanDisk

Solid-state drives, the flash memory devices that can replace traditional hard drives, are taking a step away from their roots.

SanDisk announced on Wednesday it's begun testing small SSDs that can be soldered directly to motherboards. This "iSSD" approach contrasts with the prevailing method--building them into hard drive enclosures that look the same from the outside as that of an ordinary hard drive--by offering the smaller size so prized by mobile device manufacturers today.

Each iSSD measures 16x20x1.85mm, weighs less than a gram, and uses the SATA interface used by conventional hard drives, SanDisk said. Its data-transfer speeds are 160MB/sec for sequential reading and 100MB/sec for sequential writing.

Capacities range from 4GB to 64GB, which sounds small to me for a Netbook or laptop, but fine for hot-market areas such as tablets, phones, or media players. In any event, the capacity will increase with time, said SanDisk spokesman Mike Wong.

The iSSD products are available for sampling by customers, and are "being evaluated by top-tier manufacturers," SanDisk said.

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