Samsung introduces mini-card SSDs suitable for netbooks

The SSDs could significantly reduce the weight and power consumption of netbooks, but would offer lower storage capacity

Samsung on Monday introduced solid-state drives (SSDs) for netbooks that are smaller than traditional SSDs and consume significantly less power.

Samsung's mini-card SSDs are up to 80 percent smaller than SSDs found in most laptops today, the company said. The small drives weigh between 7.5 grams (0.17 pounds) and 8.5 grams, lower than the 75 grams to 85 grams that 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch SSDs weigh.

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The small SSDs are suitable for netbooks, which are thin and light laptops designed for basic computing tasks like Web surfing and word processing. The SSDs could significantly reduce the weight and power consumption of netbooks.

The drives could easily attach to the motherboard and don't need to be plugged special slots, said Brian Beard, product marketing manager at Samsung. They consume about 0.3 watts of power, compared to an average of about 1.1 watts for 2.5-inch SSDs.

One caveat is that the new drives come with lower storage capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The larger SSDs offer larger storage of up to 256GB. Samsung didn't talk about pricing for the SSDs.

Samsung has shipped samples of the drives to PC makers, who may include them in laptops appearing in the second half of this year. Company officials declined to comment on increasing storage capacities for mini-card SSDs, saying that the 32GB storage was the "sweet spot" for the category.

The drive could also be used in netbooks as a second drive to complement hard-drive storage, Beard said. For example, the OS data could be stored on the SSD, while the hard drive could store data like photographs and important documents. The drives could also be embedded as storage in devices like printers and ruggedized mobile devices.

The drive offers a read and write performance of about 200Mbps and 100Mbps respectively, which is slower than the read speed of about 220M bps and write speed of 180M bps for the larger-capacity drives. Larger drives use more chips to makes their read and write speed faster, Beard said. The small drives use the SATA (serial advanced technology attachment) interface to communicate with the motherboard.

SSDs are slowly gaining in popularity as they consume less power and access data more quickly compared to hard drives. However, SSDs are expensive, so people have continued to adopt hard drives for laptop storage, said Jim Handy an analyst with Objective Analysis.

People usually can't tell the performance difference between netbooks with hard drives and SSDs. A hard-drive based netbook with an average of four hours battery may see its battery life increase by half-an-hour with SSDs, Handy said.

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