Affordable is the word Intel wants associated with this drive, but the price per gigabyte is the same as that of its higher-capacity consumer SSDs. The new drive simply offers less storage space and lower performance for a lower price. But industry analysts said the trend of offering lower-capacity SSDs for around $100 may spur adoption of nonvolatile memory in what has been a somewhat flat market over the past year.
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"I think consumers will consider this product. Equipment manufacturers definitely will," said Michael Yang, a flash memory analyst at iSuppli Corp.
The X25-V is a 2.5-in., 40GB SSD that is being marketed by Intel as an "entry-level" drive for use in netbooks and as a secondary drive in dual-drive desktop PCs, where it would serve as a "boot drive" to offer users faster boot times and faster access to key applications.
Last week, OCZ Technology released its own "affordable" SSD, the Onyx SATA II drive.
The Onyx is a 32GB SSD that, like other consumer-grade flash drives, is based on multilevel cell (MLC) NAND and offers 125MB/sec. sequential read and 70MB/sec. sequential write speeds.
With SSDs, capacity affects performance. The greater the capacity, the better the performance. That's because SSDs are built with multiple parallel I/O channels from the drive's controller chip to the NAND flash chips that store data. Generally, the greater the number of NAND flash chips, the greater the number of parallel channels or bandwidth to access the data on those flash chips.
SSDs with capacities of 64GB or more are typically built on eight-channel architectures, according to Yang. Micron Corp.'s RealSSD C300 drive, which has a capacity of 256GB, has the largest number of channels for a consumer-class drive, with 16.
Prior to the X25-V, Intel sold two SSD lines, the X25-E for data center server applications and the X18-M and X25-M for consumer products. Both the X18-M and X25-M SSD models are marketed for laptop and netbook computers. They come in 1.8-in. and 2.5-in. form factors, respectively.
The X25-M drive has a 10-channel architecture and comes in 80GB and 160GB capacities and has sequential read/write data transfer rates of up to 250MB/sec. and 100MB/sec., respectively. An 80GB X25-M SSD can be had for around $230 at online sites like Pricegrabber.com.