Micron readies 256GB solid-state drive

Hot on the heels of a similar announcement by Samsung, Micron says that its drive will be available for consumer use in March.

Micron Technology will bring out a 256GB solid-state drive early next year while it moves, along with Intel, to a new manufacturing process.

Micron SSD
Micron SSD Micron

A Micron representative said Monday that the company will start volume production of a 256GB solid-state drive for consumer use in March 2009.

This follows Samsung's announcement last week that it had begun mass-producing 256GB solid-state drives.

The Micron RealSSD C200 will read data at 250MBps (megabytes per second) and write at 100MBps. It is sampling to customers now. Samsung, by comparison, is claiming sequential read rates of 220MBps, with sequential write rates of 200MBps.

The Micron representative said that the company is slightly behind schedule in delivering the 256GB product, as it was originally targeted for the fourth quarter of this year.

Solid-state drives are generally faster than hard-disk drives, particularly at reading data. Computer makers such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Toshiba all offer laptops with solid-state drives ranging in capacity from 64GB to 128GB.

Intel is due to deliver a 160GB solid-state drive this quarter. The chipmaker is currently shipping 80GB solid-state drives to customers such as Hewlett-Packard, which offers it in its EliteBook 2530p ultraportable.

In related news, as reported back in May, Micron and Intel announced mass production Monday of their jointly developed 34-nanometer, 32-gigabit multilevel cell NAND flash memory device.

The "32Gb monolithic die will give us the ability to cost-effectively produce over 300GB-capacity SSDs in standard 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch form factors," Intel said Monday.

Multilevel cell technology allows makers of solid-state drives to deliver lower-cost devices at higher capacities.

The new Micron 256GB drive will not be based on the 34nm process, however. Drives based on this process will come out later in 2009.

Intel and Micron have a joint NAND flash memory venture, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), which manufactures the NAND chips. The two companies market the products separately.

The companies "are ahead of schedule with 34nm NAND production" and expect their Lehi facility to have moved more than 50 percent of its capacity to 34nm by year's end, according to a statement.

"The results from IMFT continue to exceed our expectations," Randy Wilhelm, vice president and general manager, Intel NAND Solutions Group, said in a statement.

In October, Intel and Micron said they would discontinue supply of NAND flash memory from Micron's Boise facility. The NAND operation shutdown will reduce IMFT's NAND flash production by approximately 35,000 (200-millimeter) wafers per month, Micron said at the time.