Samsung begins producing 1.8-inch SSDs

New drives are latest to make use of flash memory instead of magnetic disc

Samsung Electronics has begun producing a flash memory-based solid-state disk drive for mobile computing applications.

The drive is the latest in a growing line of products from Samsung and competitors that make use of flash memory chips instead of magnetic disc recording technology. Compared to today's hard-disk drives, SSDs are lighter, use less power, and can read and write data faster. They are also more expensive, but the price difference has been narrowing as flash chips have become cheaper so SSDs are now starting to appear in some laptops.

The new Samsung drive has a capacity of 64GB and is the same size as a conventional 1.8-inch hard-disk drive. It's designed to be used in subnotebook class computers, ultramobile PCs, and other devices such as portable media players.

Samsung said it is seeing demand increase for such products, particularly from companies making ultraportable PCs. At the Computex show in Taipei earlier this month, two major contract PC makers, First International Computer and Asustek Computer, both showed prototype ultraportables, and several other companies have already put such machines on sale.

Samsung is one of the world's largest manufacturers of flash memory chips, so the company has a lot to gain from SSDs becoming more popular. It estimated that the market for SSDs will increase 270 percent between now and 2010 to become the largest growth segment in the NAND flash memory market.

The price of the drive, which will be sold to PC makers and not end-users, was not disclosed.

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