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Intel offers compact SSD for 'dual drive' laptops

Intel announces solid-state drive targeting dual-drive laptops that use the SSD for speeding up certain common tasks.

Intel has rolled out an ultrasmall solid-state drive, targeting dual-drive laptops that pair an SSD with a hard disk drive.

Intel's ultrasmall Solid-State Drive 310 is aimed at dual-drive laptops.
Intel's ultrasmall Solid-State Drive 310 is aimed at dual-drive laptops. Intel

Intel's Solid-State Drive 310 Series delivers "full SSD performance in 1/8th the size," according to Intel's announcement today. The SSD contains 34-nanometer (one of Intel's most advanced chip manufacturing processes) Intel NAND flash memory and is available in an m-SATA form factor (see photo) in 40GB and 80GB capacities. It weighs just 10 grams.

In addition to dual-drive laptops, Intel said it is targeting single-drive Netbooks and tablets.

In a dual-drive laptop, an SSD is used to "accelerate boot time and access to frequently used applications or files," Intel said. High-end gaming laptop vendors have been offering dual-drive configurations for some time. A typical configuration consists of a large-capacity HDD and smaller-capacity SSD.

SSDs can be extremely fast, leaving traditional hard disks in the dust when reading data. And in ultrathin laptops, they are being used as the primary drive due to space and heat considerations. Apple has moved its entire MacBook Air line to SSDs. And ultrathin designs like the Sony Vaio X series use SSDs because, like the MacBook Air, they cannot accommodate the relative bulk of a standard hard disk.

Lenovo said it will tap the new Intel SSDs. "The Intel SSD 310 series will allow us to provide the advantages of a full-performance Intel SSD paired with the storage of a hard disk drive in a small, dual-drive system," said Tom Butler, director of ThinkPad product marketing, in a statement.

There are competitors out there, too. Seagate, for example, offers a 500GB Momentus XT hard disk with integrated flash memory for extra speed. And Toshiba is supplying the compact solid-state drives--what Apple calls "flash storage"--in the new MacBook Airs.

Intel's SSD 310 is priced at $99 for the 40GB model and $179 for the 80GB version, both in 1,000-unit quantities.