As Intel ships 160GB SSD, pricing nags buyers

Solid-state drives are still a pricey alternative to hard disks, even as drive makers jockey for position with ever more capacious offerings.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Updated at 1:40 p.m. PST with pricing information.

Intel is now shipping 160GB solid-state drives as it vies with Samsung and Toshiba to deliver high-capacity SSDs that rival hard-disk drives in capacity. Price, however, remains a big obstacle for many consumers.


Intel said Monday that it will add 160GB versions of its X25-M and X18-M Serial ATA (SATA) solid-state drive. To date, Intel has limited shipments to its 80GB versions. Laptop-size 2.5-inch versions of the 160GB drive are shipping now; 1.8-inch models for ultraportable laptops will ship next month, Intel said.

Larger-capacity drives from other SSD suppliers are also on the way. In November, Samsung said it had begun mass production of 256GB SSDs. And Toshiba recently said it would show a 512GB drive at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that would ship in the second quarter of 2009.

Solid-state drives are generally faster at getting data than hard-disk drives (and in some cases, much faster) but pricing is a big hurdle for consumers. Toshiba indicated last week that sample quantities of its new solid-state will range in price from $220 for the 64GB drive to $1,652 for the 512GB drive.

That kind of pricing--even if it's for pricey sample drives--is hard to swallow when a laptop-class 500GB hard-disk drive sells for well under $200.

"Introductory" pricing for the Intel 160GB solid-state drives is $945 for less than 1,000 units, Intel said.

Currently, adding an Intel 80GB solid-state drive option to an HP EliteBook 2530p ultraportable laptop adds $659 over the cost of a 5400RPM 1.8-inch 120GB hard disk drive.

Adding a 128GB solid-state drive to an Apple MacBook Air ups the price by about $500.

Additional comments:: Note that the only first-tier PC vendor to publicly say it is using Intel SSDs is Hewlett-Packard. This is a significant customer for Intel since HP is the largest PC vendor in the world. HP offers Intel SSDs in all of its EliteBook notebooks.