Samsung launches 256GB solid-state drive

Electronics maker begins mass-producing its largest-capacity SSD product to date. Its single-platform design includes a chip controller, NAND flash, and special drive firmware.

Samsung on Wednesday night said it has begun mass-producing 256GB solid-state drives. This size tops the largest-capacity SSDs found in laptops today.

Samsung currently offers 64GB and 128GB SSDs for laptops.

The new 256GB drives are faster too, the company claims, more than doubling the performance rate of Samsung 64GB and 128GB SSDs.

The drives combine sequential read rates of 220 megabytes per second, with sequential write rates of 200MBps. "This sharply narrows the performance gap between read and write operations to only 10 percent, compared to a read-write speed difference of between 20 (percent) and 70 percent for other SSDs," the company said.

Samsung did not mention random write performance, however. Despite being generally faster than hard-disk drives (particularly at reading data), solid-state drives fall short of hard disks when they randomly write data. Random writes are generally considered to be the Achilles' heel of solid-state drives.

Getting this 256GB SSD in a notebook "is analogous to having a 15,000-(revolutions-per-minute) drive, without all of its size, noise, power, and heating drawbacks," Jim Elliott, vice president of memory marketing at Samsung Semiconductor, said in a statement.

The 256GB SSD boosts data transfer when large multimedia files are simultaneously read and stored. "It can store 25 high-definition movies in just 21 minutes, a significant advancement over a 7,200rpm hard disk drive (HDD), which takes about 70 minutes," the company said in a statement.

The drive's performance is derived from a new single-platform design consisting of a chip controller, NAND flash, and special drive firmware developed by Samsung. "This single platform is designed to easily adapt to Samsung's 40-(nanometer) class NAND flash memory," according to the company.

It consumes 1.1 watts of power, versus 2 or more watts for a comparable HDD. Similar in weight to a 128GB SSD, at 81 grams, the 2.5-inch multilevel cell 256GB SSD has the same 9.5-millimeter drive thickness.

Samsung's 256GB SSD is also available with optional proprietary encryption programming that provides full-disk encryption, a key feature for some corporate users.

Pricing was not immediately available.