Samsung has begun shipping a flash memory-based solid state disk drive (SSD) that it says offers better performance than many of the flash drives currently available.
The 64GB drive has a SATA II interface that can support data reading at speeds of 100MB per second and writing at 80MB per second. That makes it 60% faster than SATA I drives of the same type and two to five times faster than conventional hard-disk drives, according to Samsung.
SSDs use flash memory rather than magnetic storage, which means faster reading and writing of data, lower power consumption and zero noise. They've been around for several years although it is only recently, after flash memory chip prices fell, that they have become practical for use in laptops.
The drives were announced in November; commercial versions are now available and will be offered as options on some Dell and Alienware laptops in coming weeks, according to Samsung.
The company is also planning to target the enterprise server market and other applications that demand high-speed data transfer.
Despite their advantages over hard-disk drives, SSDs are only taking off slowly, because they are much more expensive. To get around this problem, Samsung showed a 128GB SSD based on MLC (multi-level cell) NAND flash at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's a cheaper — but less powerful and efficient — version of flash chip than the SLC (single level cell) used in most SSDs drives until now. The SLC-type memory chips last about 10 times as long as MLC chips.