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Flash-based subnotebook question

by thriftyT / March 11, 2007 1:07 PM PDT

There have been rumors that flash-based subnotebooks may enter the mainstream market soon. Toshiba and some other manufacturers have already replaced hard-drives with flash storage on a few models, but as flash memory prices continue downward, the potential for a broader range of NAND-based subnotebooks seems probable due to certain advantages that would justify the higher cost of flash storage:

- more compact
- more shock-resistant
- more energy efficient
- faster startup

Relatively expensive flash storage would increase the utility of subnotebooks while the cost to consumers would be mitigated by the smaller screen and smaller batteries found in subnotebooks.

My main concern is that NAND flash memory has a limited number of read/write cycles. Is this of any practical consequence for its use as a hard drive replacement?

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Think Modular
by Renegade Knight / March 12, 2007 5:15 AM PDT

I think the solution will be to go to a modular design. A hard drive would consist of numberd bays and the hard drive firmware would track the heath of all the bays. As one goes bad it can be flagged the drive removed and the memory replaced and put back into service.

A RAID style memory backup could keep data lost from happening.

The other advantae is that if you need more capacity it would be like upgrading the memory on your present computer. Just add more modules to the empty slots, or if they are all full, larger sized modules.

of course the fist drives won't have any of this and they will go bad just like you imagine.

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This is being done now for mil-spec systems...
by Owyn / March 12, 2007 5:27 AM PDT

Consumer systems will probably need volume availablity of PRAM. Probable packaging is same form factor as 2.5" notebook drive. Internal architecture might include some fault tolerance.

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I thought..
by Pinkmaltese1 / March 13, 2007 1:54 PM PDT

Last time I checked the largest flash drive was a mere 15 would that really sell if the capacity for the darned thing is so low. That is the same capacity of a notebook HDD from...*cough1997cough*

Correct me if im wrong about that because I'd like to know for sure, this is definately a promising idea...

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(NT) Sandisk just announced a 32GB $300 2.5" drive
by Owyn / March 13, 2007 4:37 PM PDT
In reply to: I thought..
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by thriftyT / March 14, 2007 3:15 AM PDT
In reply to: I thought..

For me (and probably other people out there) there are drawbacks to conventional notebook computers:

-startup times

For me it is overkill to have a 60 GB drive, DVD/CD drive, and a 12 or 15" screen and a powerful processor when I'm on the go.

For people that just want personal data / web / email / word processing at their fingertips, the possibility of a flash-based subnotebook is tantalizing.

The flash subnotebook would be more energy efficient using a weaker processor, smaller screen and flash memory (instead of a hard-disk), and possibly forgo the energy hogging optical drive.

The flash unit may be more compact itself, but lower energy requirements may allow a smaller battery, which is usually a significant portion of a notebooks' heft.

The net effect could be a device that is weak when it comes to processing power and storage, but has strong utility in the following departments:

- always on (essentially)
- light
- small

the last two are key, because it makes the difference between carrying a notebook around say 10% of the time vs. 75% of the time. The weak storage would mean that the subnotebook isn't a desktop or notebook replacement, but a syncable accessory to a desktop or notebook PC; analogous to an ipod in that one could pick and choose which data or apps to sync from the main computer.

Well, that's what I want anyway. I'd be willing to pay $800 - $1000 for such a device.

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Palm Foleo
by thriftyT / May 30, 2007 1:18 PM PDT
In reply to: utility

tantalizingly close to what I'm looking for...
But the whole logic behind the Foleo is a bit backwards for me. Since when is something that is physically bigger and has a bigger price tag an accessory? The $600, 10" Foleo is an accessory to a $300, 5" phone?

If the Foleo were just a bit more powerful, one wouldn't need the smartphone to begin with...

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Fujitsu LifeBook P1610
by thriftyT / March 20, 2007 11:34 PM PDT

This subN was noted in the 3/19/07 BOL.
For me, the interesting stat was the 16GB option. It's small, but OK with Windows XP. Practically, it can't run Windows Vista 'cos of Vista's
~13 GB install size.

The question is: will there be a "Vista Lite Edition" or is MS sticking to it's UMPC OS / windows mobile for ultraportables?

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The whole thing has to change.
by fbbbb / May 30, 2007 6:42 PM PDT

I own a Sony G11. It has a 100Gb HDD, weighs 1.1kilos, and has a real-life battery life of 8+ hours - and this isn't really down to the HDD, it's down to building the laptop around the Core Solo and the LED screen. Flash drives are obviously more impervious to movement damage, but the G11 once again has been tested for a 1m drop onto concrete while in operation because it has the HDD protection system.

The entire laptop has to change to really make it even more ultraportable, and the flash drive is only one component. But there's a limit to ultraportability. For example the keyboard on the G11 is the smallest I can type on comfortably, and even then I have to change my finger patterns to compensate.

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