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SanDisk, Samsung tout new Netbook, server SSDs

SanDisk and Samsung are introducing new solid-state drives for the Netbook and enterprise markets, respectively.

Both SanDisk and Samsung announced solid-state drives on Tuesday--though that's where the similarity ends. SanDisk's SSDs are aimed at Netbooks, while Samsung's new SSDs are for the high-performance server market.

SanDisk Gen 2 pSSD drives for Netbooks are available in capacities up to 64GB
SanDisk Gen 2 pSSD drives for Netbooks are available in capacities up to 64GB SanDisk

SanDisk is debuting its new 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB pSSD-P2 and pSSD-S2 solid-state drives at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Samsung's 100GB SS805 drive, on the other hand, is being introduced on Tuesday at the Storage Visions 2009 Conference, also in Las Vegas.

The second-generation SanDisk drives, designed as drop-in replacements for hard-disk drives, use the Serial-ATA or SATA interface. First-generation drives were based on a slower Parallel-ATA or PATA interface.

New Netbooks such as the Acer Aspire One and the HP Mini 2140 use the SATA interface. (Many ultraportable notebooks, like the first-generation MacBook Air and HP Compaq 2510p, however, used the slower PATA interface.)

"Netbooks represent the fastest growing PC segment in 2009 and 2010 yet widespread adoption of SSDs in netbooks has been limited by speed, capacity and cost constraints," Rich Heye, senior vice president and general manager for solid-state drives at SanDisk, said in a statement. "With the significant improvements in performance, capacity and low pricing, these SSDs are a perfect fit for the exploding Netbook market."

SSDs are generally faster than hard-disk drives, particularly at booting and launching applications, taking about half the time of an HDD, according to SanDisk.

SanDisk's drives, slated to be available in February, 2009, are built using the company's 43-nanometer Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash memory. MLC technology generally yields lower-cost SSDs compared with more traditional Single-Level Cell or SLC technology. SanDisk manufactures the flash memory in Yokkaichi, Japan with its partner Toshiba.

SanDisk did not provide pricing information but said its 32GB modular SSD is "priced at parity" with 80GB 2.5-inch HDDs in OEM quantities. HDDs with this capacity range in price from about $50 to $100 (depending on speed) so this is rather vague pricing guidance.

Unlike SanDisk's consumer SSDs, Samsung's SSD is targeted at the very-high-end corporate enterprise market. Samsung uses more pricey (and faster) SLC technology since its drives are targeted as a replacement for the high-performance 15,000 rpm hard-disk drives that are the staple storage device of large corporations. These drives are typically used for applications such as video on demand, streaming media content delivery, internet data centers, virtualization, and on-line transaction processing.

Samsung claims its 100GB Enterprise SSD can process IOPS (input/output per second) more than 10 times faster than the fastest 15,000 rpm SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) HDD available for transactional data workloads.

The high-performance 2.5-inch enterprise drive reads data sequentially at 230 megabytes per second (MB/s) and writes sequentially at 180 MB/s, Samsung said. The 100GB SSD's performance is derived from an 8-channel controller, improved NAND flash and special drive firmware, all developed by Samsung.

The 2.5-inch drive will be available this quarter.

Samsung did not provide pricing information.