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Intel to build flash drives into servers

Intel will speed servers by building in flash-memory drives beginning in 2008, Intel exec says: Less capacity, but faster communications.

SAN FRANCISCO--Intel will begin building flash-memory drives into servers in 2008, starting with 32GB models that the company promises will boost system performance.

Flash drives can perform 10 to 50 times as many input-output transactions per second as conventional magnetic hard drives, said Pat Gelsinger, general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, in a speech at Intel Developer Forum here. In addition, they consume 4.5 times less power and write data at twice the speed.

Of course, the flash-drive capacities are much smaller. "The cost per bit is clearly going to be higher," Gelsinger said in a meeting with reporters. But some customers are bound much more by performance, he said, often running lots of hard drives in parallel but filling them only to 10 or 20 percent capacity.

Intel will offer samples of the technology this year and sell production models in 2008, Gelsinger added in an interview.

Intel will start with 32GB models, using NAND flash memory. "We'll have nice progression as we go to 64GB and 128GB over time," he said.