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Intel introduces first solid-state drives based on flash memory

post #1 of 38
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Following reports that Apple Inc.'s plans to build flash memory into an upcoming sub-notebook, Intel Corp. this week announced plans to support manufacturers in the emerging notebook market with its Z-U130 series of Value Solid-State Drives.

The world's largest chipmaker said the drives, which are based on NAND flash memory with industry standard USB interfaces, deliver numerous advantages over hard disk drive (HDD) or removable universal serial bus (USB) storage devices such faster boot times, embedded code storage, rapid data access and low-power storage alternatives for value PCs, routers, servers, gaming and industrial applications.

"Solid state drive technology offers many benefits over traditional hard disk drives including improved performance and reliability," said Randy Wilhelm, vice president and general manager of Intel's NAND Products Group. "The Intel solid state drive technology provides robust performance, while offering Intel's industry leading quality, validation and reliability for a wide variety of embedded applications."

The Santa Clara-based firm said the Z-U130 Value Solid State Drive is its first solution in the Value Solid State Drive family that will eventually offer different industry standard interfaces and densities. The drives weigh just 10 grams and are available in 1 Gigabyte (GB), 2GB, 4GB and 8GB densities.

With read speeds of 28 megabytes (MB) per second and write speeds of 20 MB per second, the higher performing solid state drives offer a faster storage alternative that speeds through common PC or embedded application operations such as locating boot code, operating systems and commonly accessed libraries.

The drives will also be used in a variety of Intel-based computing platforms, such as servers, emerging market notebooks and low-cost, fully featured PCs. In addition, they will be used in the company's embedded solutions for routers and point of sale terminals.

Intel Corp.'s Z-U130 Value Solid State Drive.

Intel says the Z-U130s will distinguish themselves from other solid state product offerings by their extensive validation, including more than 1,000 hours of accelerated reliability testing. The drives are expected to meet an average mean time between failure (MTBF) specification of five million hours.

The Z-U130s are said to easily fit into original design manufacturers' systems because of their USB 2.0 and 1.1 compliant interfaces, 2x5 USB connector and standard single-level cell NAND in thin small outline package (TSOP) devices. The company added that it is also considering next-generation products that could incorporate cost-effective multi-level cell (MLC) technology.

In related news, SanDisk on Tuesday revealed its own solid-state drive for notebooks that employs the faster Serial ATA standard. The 32GB flash drive, which runs on the same drive interface used in Apple's current MacBook line, can sustain data reads of 67MB per second; seek times are said to be even quicker, taking only 0.11 milliseconds to reach data that would take 17 milliseconds to find on a hard disk.

SanDisk's 32GB SATA 5000 Solid State Drive.

Conceived as a drop-in replacement for other notebook drives, the "SATA 5000" fits into a standard 2.5-inch space without any changes but consumes less than half the power. The 32GB drive will run system builders about $350.
post #2 of 38
Sounds perfect for either an ultra light MacBook Pro or a new multiTouch Tablet.
What would be better yet is a combination of the two.
post #3 of 38
I guess that was Apple's other agenda in pushing out 90 million iPods: having the price of this type of storage drop and having manufacturer's take it to the next level.
post #4 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Sounds perfect for either an ultra light MacBook Pro or a new multiTouch Tablet.
What would be better yet is a combination of the two.

This announcement is mostly about Intel's drives, which are starting out pretty small. It's pretty hard to make an 8GB drive useful under Mac OS X. SanDisk is selling 32GB modules, and that's very restricting even if you do a lot of housekeeping to clean out the components that you don't need.
post #5 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

This announcement is mostly about Intel's drives, which are starting out pretty small. It's pretty hard to make an 8GB drive useful under Mac OS X. SanDisk is selling 32GB modules, and that's very restricting even if you do a lot of housekeeping to clean out the components that you don't need.

They could ship a device with 2 - one for the OS (and applications, maybe) another for your files... That gives most people enough space.
post #6 of 38
yeah, i was thinking two drives as well.. this is totally doable in a 17inch MBP and probably doable in a 15in MBP

it will really be useful when it doubles to 64 GB.... i think 64 is the magic number for this to really take off....
post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by eAi View Post

They could ship a device with 2 - one for the OS (and applications, maybe) another for your files... That gives most people enough space.

I don't think that makes sense. One can get a 200GB notebook hard drive for less than the price of a 32GB flash drive. For the same storage, it's still cheaper to buy a second one to use as a backup. If I had money and I couldn't lose a day's worth of work, I'd buy an Optibay setup to run mirroring.
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I don't think that makes sense. One can get a 200GB notebook hard drive for less than the price of a 32GB flash drive. For the same storage, it's still cheaper to buy a second one to use as a backup. If I had money and I couldn't lose a day's worth of work, I'd buy an Optibay setup to run mirroring.

How thick is the CD/DVD drive. Can Apple make the computer much thinner even with these things?

I don't see them going after the niche sub laptop market. Steve is all about bringing cool to everyone. So I don't see them dropping the CD/DVD drive.

As far as the only 32GB size I think the ideal aolution is a flash drive of about that size and one of the drives in the video iPod. That would bring total stroage to a dceent level. But the system, apps etc could be on the flash drive with docs on the hard drive. Plus imagine the speed boost if vritual memory is on flash memory!
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by eAi View Post

They could ship a device with 2 - one for the OS (and applications, maybe) another for your files... That gives most people enough space.

Don't even need to do it that way. Could do two or three in a RAID. I was in a pinch one day a few months ago to set up a box and I set up a two discs as a RAID a few months ago because neither was large enough for my need.
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post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I don't think that makes sense. One can get a 200GB notebook hard drive for less than the price of a 32GB flash drive. For the same storage, it's still cheaper to buy a second one to use as a backup. If I had money and I couldn't lose a day's worth of work, I'd buy an Optibay setup to run mirroring.

A few years ago, it didn't make sense to me to put a 5GB drive in an iPod either. I bought one when it got to 20GB. Someone thought 5GB made sense, and because the product was supported, the market bloomed.
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post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I don't think that makes sense. One can get a 200GB notebook hard drive for less than the price of a 32GB flash drive. For the same storage, it's still cheaper to buy a second one to use as a backup. If I had money and I couldn't lose a day's worth of work, I'd buy an Optibay setup to run mirroring.

You're not looking at the benefit of having the OS on a flash drive. The benefit is that you can have faster if not almost instanteous boot up. If you put the applications on it you're looking at faster application load times. We're talking about speed here, not backing up your HD.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post

You're not looking at the benefit of having the OS on a flash drive. The benefit is that you can have faster if not almost instanteous boot up. If you put the applications on it you're looking at faster application load times. We're talking about speed here, not backing up your HD.

I will be first in line to purchase a subnotebook, don't doubt it. But 32 GB hdd is pushing my limits for storage. 64 GB would make me happy.

Omni suite, iPhoto, keynote, MS Office, Transmit, Chicken of the VNC, iTunes and I would be set. That takes care of my essentials. A 10 GB disk image for Parallels running XP would be sweet too but not needed.
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post #13 of 38
I don't understand all these "it's not large enough capacity" posts. The point of the Z-U130 is to compliment your HDD, just like Toshiba's NAND/HDD {S,P}ATA combos soon to be arriving.

I'm really looking forward to see how OS X manages the NAND storage (oft used programs and their accompanying files also reside on the Flash with the OS backup). This is where Apple's history of integrating hardware and software will seriously trump the competition.

From my current POV, it seems better to put the NAND with the HDD instead of on the MoBo like with Toshiba's design, but I really don't have enough knowledge to make any informed decision on the matter.
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post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post

You're not looking at the benefit of having the OS on a flash drive. The benefit is that you can have faster if not almost instanteous boot up. If you put the applications on it you're looking at faster application load times. We're talking about speed here, not backing up your HD.

The thing is that most of us don't boot up on a regular basis. We put laptops to sleep, where they can stay for days before draining the battery. My Powerbook hasn't been rebooted in well over a year. It's ready for work almost as soon as I open it. 32GB is just too small in today's world. Four years ago, it would have been acceptable. Heck, I can remember buying a Powerbook G3 in 1999 and wondering how I was ever going to fill up a 4GB drive, but time marches on. We need at least 80GB nowadays.
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't understand all these "it's not large enough capacity" posts. The point of the Z-U130 is to compliment your HDD, just like Toshiba's NAND/HDD {S,P}ATA combos soon to be arriving.

I hope you're right, but there are all these reports of a flash-only subnotebook. And this does take a fair amount of volume. I'm not convinced there's enough room inside even a standard Macbook to accommodate a second HD bay, which this basically needs. Maybe if the subnotebook leaves out the optical drive.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post

yeah, i was thinking two drives as well.. this is totally doable in a 17inch MBP and probably doable in a 15in MBP

it will really be useful when it doubles to 64 GB.... i think 64 is the magic number for this to really take off....

64 GB is more than enough, no one will ever need more than 64 GB, in fact Apple should just hard wire this into their OS, nothing above 64 GB for the flash drives.

PS I consulted with Bill Gates on this.
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post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post

You're not looking at the benefit of having the OS on a flash drive. The benefit is that you can have faster if not almost instanteous boot up. If you put the applications on it you're looking at faster application load times. We're talking about speed here, not backing up your HD.

I think the speed benifit has been overstated. Instantaneous bootup is clearly hyperbole, even with almost no seek time, the drives still aren't netting substantial speed increases, the somewhat slower transfer rates still hold them back a bit. I've dropped a fast 512MB CF card into an old machine, replacing a 10 year old 1GB hard drive and the new drive was barely any faster.

Robson supposedly helps because it gets a few files loading while the hard drive spins up, but bootup times usually aren't that long.
post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post

yeah, i was thinking two drives as well.. this is totally doable in a 17inch MBP and probably doable in a 15in MBP

it will really be useful when it doubles to 64 GB.... i think 64 is the magic number for this to really take off....

On a more serious note, yea two drives sounds great along with some software that keeps track of what apps and libraries/frameworks you use most often and then storing them in flash. This could also be very good for those that like to listen to iTunes while they work, iTunes could just be a little smarter and load the music your listening to into flash memory, like an album at a time. When you think about it just making some of the apps and the OS a little smarter could save lots of HD spin-ups, and thus extending battery life. Like what this points out, the next logical step is 64GB and that along with smarter apps and OS, could make hard drive spin-ups much more rare.
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post #18 of 38
Whether a laptop, a workstation or a server, I only reboot during system updates.
post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I think the speed benifit has been overstated. Instantaneous bootup is clearly hyperbole, even with almost no seek time, the drives still aren't netting. I've dropped a fast 512MB CF card into an old machine, replacing a 10 year old 1GB hard drive and the new drive was barely any faster.

I'm willing to bet that CompactFlash is much slower than the standard of the new flash memory being introduced.

Also I am of the camp that says computers should be off when not in use. This statement obviously excludes servers. I just believe that turning it off increases the lifetime of the unit, and leaving it on is an unnecessary power consumption. The equivalent (albeit crude due to Energy Saver technology) is leaving your car running in the garage all the time. Being a tech, I see too many power adapters, power supplies, and hard drives fail.
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post

You're not looking at the benefit of having the OS on a flash drive. The benefit is that you can have faster if not almost instanteous boot up. If you put the applications on it you're looking at faster application load times. We're talking about speed here, not backing up your HD.

And think of the heat and noise issues or lack thereof, especially when you have 4 drives in a tower like I do! This rocks, can't wait for larger sizes and price drops.
post #21 of 38
In terms of price per GB ScanDisk has a long way to go - but I think they are working hard to get there. On the ScanDisk side I think that the OEM price (even adding Apple's discounts) will be too high for a sub-notebook. Intel's offering might open up some interesting user benefits if it is in addition to the HD, but a HD is still going to be needed

In a few years the price may well come down to the point where HDs will face some very stiff competition, but then the HD manufacturers will be working very hard to stay ahead.
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post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesG View Post

Also I am of the camp that says computers should be off when not in use. This statement obviously excludes servers. I just believe that turning it off increases the lifetime of the unit, and leaving it on is an unnecessary power consumption. The equivalent (albeit crude due to Energy Saver technology) is leaving your car running in the garage all the time. Being a tech, I see too many power adapters, power supplies, and hard drives fail.

Why would putting systems to sleep rather than shutting down cause hard drives to fail faster? Don't the drives spin down in either case? Are you sure you're a tech? As for power consumption, even a sleeping Mac Pro draws only about 5 watts. The various wall warts around your house almost certainly draw more collectively. Sleep it for a full day and you'll eat about the same power as a 100 watt light bulb in one hour. Macs don't draw 0 watts even when shut down, either. They're always drawing at least a watt or two since they don't have hard power switches, so the power supply is always active, unless you actually unplug it or switch it off with a power strip. For some of us, the increased productivity of being able to get back to work instantly with exactly the files and applications we've been working on still open is worth a few watts. And what about all the drive activity required to cold boot a Mac? Wouldn't that reduce HD lifetime?
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

Why would putting systems to sleep rather than shutting down cause hard drives to fail faster? Don't the drives spin down in either case? Are you sure you're a tech? As for power consumption, even a sleeping Mac Pro draws only about 5 watts. The various wall warts around your house almost certainly draw more collectively. Sleep it for a full day and you'll eat about the same power as a 100 watt light bulb in one hour. Macs don't draw 0 watts even when shut down, either. They're always drawing at least a watt or two since they don't have hard power switches, so the power supply is always active, unless you actually unplug it or switch it off with a power strip. For some of us, the increased productivity of being able to get back to work instantly with exactly the files and applications we've been working on still open is worth a few watts. And what about all the drive activity required to cold boot a Mac? Wouldn't that reduce HD lifetime?

Google has over 100,000 PATA and SATA drives in their storage cluster.
They recently released results on a study on hard drive reliability.
Their conclusion was that drives that spin up and spin down will fail faster than drives that don't.
They also found that heat had almost no effect on reliability.
They also found that drives are most likely to fail in the first 6 months.
Failure rates then drop down for a period of 18 months.
Once the drive is two years old the failure rate begins to increase at an appreciable rate.
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by lantzn View Post

And think of the heat and noise issues or lack thereof, especially when you have 4 drives in a tower like I do! This rocks, can't wait for larger sizes and price drops.

It's a few years too early for that. Flash storage is still about 10x more per GB than desktop hard drives. For me, most hard drives are quiet enough. If you have a drive that's making a little bit too much noise, usually replacing it with another hard drive will get you a quieter drive. Heat doesn't seem to be a problem.
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Google has over 100,000 PATA and SATA drives in their storage cluster.
They recently released results on a study on hard drive reliability.
Their conclusion was that drives that spin up and spin down will fail faster than drives that don't.
They also found that heat had almost no effect on reliability.
They also found that drives are most likely to fail in the first 6 months.
Failure rates then drop down for a period of 18 months.
Once the drive is two years old the failure rate begins to increase at an appreciable rate.

Some of that is a bit of an oversimplification. Reading one of their charts (fig 2), it looks like the failure rates in the second year exceeds the failure rates of the entire first year, adding up the rates for the first three time periods (all first year) still doesn't exceed the 2yr point. Other charts in the same paper say things a bit differently, depending on use and, and less on temperature. I haven't read the paper in a bit and only reskimmed it today, so I may be a bit off-base on it.
post #26 of 38
What size is your average OS X install these days?

1.5GB+?
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post #27 of 38
I was just doing some looking, but it would be possible to purchase the 32GB flash drive, buy an external 2.5" sata house, and then plug it in via esata, firewire800. My question then is, can it still sustain its fast read speeds over a esata, firewire800? My initial thought would be yes, as both of those have enough bandwidth (firewire800 can support up to about 95MBps). So these could be used as very fast external drives (out the door for about $450 including housing).

I know personally, I don't shut down my laptop ever. So I could case less about the "increased startup time". But having a nice fast external drive would be nice.
post #28 of 38
That sandisk drive is cool, I'm interested in watching these things grow, with the rate of technology these days that capacity could triple in a year. When it triples is when I'll heavily consider it.
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post #29 of 38
I haven't seen anyone mention this yet:

NAND flash has a finite number of read/write cycles, something in the order of 100,000. For storing digital photos, this is entirely adequate, as the memory will unlikely to be refreshed more than once or twice per day.

However, most modern operating systems create a paging file, which is frequently written to, erased, written, in a much more frequent cycle.

Replacing a computer's boot drive with a flash unit, WITHOUT OS MODIFICATIONS TO TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE R/W LIMITATION, is likely to prematurely age the flash drive.
post #30 of 38
^^^ I am pretty sure Intel took care of that flash memory r/w thingy everyone wants to bring up.

Check out the article again. Intel has made a big stride here in progress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Intel says the Z-U130s will distinguish themselves from other solid state product offerings by their extensive validation, including more than 1,000 hours of accelerated reliability testing. The drives are expected to meet an average mean time between failure (MTBF) specification of five million hours.
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post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

Why would putting systems to sleep rather than shutting down cause hard drives to fail faster? Don't the drives spin down in either case? Are you sure you're a tech?

I think that last comment is a bit uncalled for.

However, I will address the previous sentences anyway.

It is ludicrous to assume that any piece of technology that remains on 100% the time is going to be just as reliable as the equivalent device that is powered up 25% of the time or less depending on usage, or have as long of a lifetime. Your laptop in precious "sleep mode" still draws electricity, still generates heat, and heat has effects over time. I will listen to your argument when electronic equipment generates zero heat, has zero chance of condensation damage, has zero change of being susceptible to other environmental factors like accidental dropping, water penetration, dust...the list goes on. And spin down is not the same as power down.

Only when sleeping laptops use no power, generate no heat, and have no moving parts that are susceptible to weardown will I tell people that it's ok to leave them on all the time. Until then, I will continue to recommend to shut down computers when not in use. Thankfully, I work with respectable people who ask for my humble recommendation and don't go around asking if I'm really a tech when I give it. They can then choose to follow it or do whatever they want.
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Messiah View Post

What size is your average OS X install these days?

1.5GB+?

It's more than just the base OS. As shipped, before I did anything with it, my MacBook Pro had 30GB already taken. If you don't use iLife, you can probably clean out 10+GB there if you uninstall it, but that means gutting some of Apple's selling points of having that software included. The iWork apps take 2GB (included as demos), probably more with the sample themes that are in the library somewhere. 32GB really isn't much to work with when it comes to Macs.
post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

^^^ I am pretty sure Intel took care of that flash memory r/w thingy everyone wants to bring up.

Check out the article again. Intel has made a big stride here in progress.

I really don't believe they've really addressed it. The press release and product brief don't discuss the write cycle limitation of flash memory. Intel did demo PRAM recently, which I think does take care of it, but that's not flash, but they have not mentioned it in the product information.
post #34 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesG View Post

Only when sleeping laptops use no power, generate no heat, and have no moving parts that are susceptible to weardown will I tell people that it's ok to leave them on all the time.

I don't think it is necessarily clear cut. Even parts that don't look like they are moving do have to deal with thermal expansion on use, and contraction on cool down. This fatigues the metals, joints and contacts in a circuit, and something may eventually fail. Hard drive motors are rated for a certain number of start cycles because they have to expend a lot more energy per unit time spinning up than they do maintaining the spin through inertia. Notebook hard drives are rated for a lot more start/stop cycles because drives are supposed at every reasonable opportunity to save power.

I don't know how much of a problem start/stops are, it can happen, but I really don't think it's a major problem so long as one isn't stupid about shutting down too often. I figure once a day is probably fine. If you want to keep your workspace, hybernation will do the trick.
post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesG View Post

It is ludicrous to assume that any piece of technology that remains on 100% the time is going to be just as reliable as the equivalent device that is powered up 25% of the time or less depending on usage, or have as long of a lifetime. Your laptop in precious "sleep mode" still draws electricity, still generates heat, and heat has effects over time. I will listen to your argument when electronic equipment generates zero heat, has zero chance of condensation damage, has zero change of being susceptible to other environmental factors like accidental dropping, water penetration, dust...the list goes on. And spin down is not the same as power down.

Then what is power down? Do you really think motherboards keep power flowing to hard drives for no reason whatsoever? You must really think electronic engineers are fools. Sleep generates internal heat? How much heat? Less than 10ºF on any given day. Most of the heat will be in the transformer in the power adapter, and transformers don't wear out. You'll have more temperature variation between day and night or when taking the laptop outside. All your "concerns" about condensation, dust, water, dropping, etc. would seem to be better arguments against taking any laptop off its desk. Is that what you're advocating?

Quote:
Only when sleeping laptops use no power, generate no heat, and have no moving parts that are susceptible to weardown will I tell people that it's ok to leave them on all the time. Until then, I will continue to recommend to shut down computers when not in use. Thankfully, I work with respectable people who ask for my humble recommendation and don't go around asking if I'm really a tech when I give it. They can then choose to follow it or do whatever they want.

Ah, so only "respectable" people agree with you. Maybe we're just not as susceptible to being impressed by anyone who comes along using self-invented "tech" terms like "weardown." If you can cite any REAL information other than your "learned personal opinion," I'd be happy to accept it. Otherwise, I'll treat it no differently than any other old wives' tales and urban legends, all of which have staunch supporters who swear they're indisputable.

Besides, I don't hold "techs" in very high regard, having dealt with way too many ignorant ones in the past. In fact, one of my closest friends is not only a technician, he's the system administrator for a medium-size newspaper. And even he admits he would never have made it past the first week in an engineering college.
post #36 of 38
FWIW.

This would be ideal, IMO, if it were combined with a dock having a larger HDD and optical drive. That would be sweet.
post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesG View Post

I'm willing to bet that CompactFlash is much slower than the standard of the new flash memory being introduced.

Also I am of the camp that says computers should be off when not in use. This statement obviously excludes servers. I just believe that turning it off increases the lifetime of the unit, and leaving it on is an unnecessary power consumption. The equivalent (albeit crude due to Energy Saver technology) is leaving your car running in the garage all the time. Being a tech, I see too many power adapters, power supplies, and hard drives fail.

I agree! That's why I disconnect the battery from my car when I park, lest the motor in the clock wear out.


Seriously, even a small flash drive complements a HDD and I want one. For a sub-notebook, a 32 GB flask drive and a WiFi connection to a 'virtual' remote drive on my desktop for rarely-accessed files. Keep Apple TV, give me a Mac I can comfortably use on my lap.
post #38 of 38
[QUOTE=Brendon;1054973]64 GB is more than enough, no one will ever need more than 64 GB, in fact Apple should just hard wire this into their OS, nothing above 64 GB for the flash drives. /QUOTE]

InfoWorld:

"Flash memory-based solid-state disks look poised to quickly replace hard-disk drives in laptops"
http://www.infoworld.com/archives/em...ming-on_1.html

For example, SanDisk debuted its first SSD, a 32GB model, at January's CES but a mere six months on at Computex it's showing a 64GB model. The company says much higher-capacity drives are possible today but will be too expensive for most enterprise users, so it's increasing the capacity of its drives while keeping them at what it considers the sweet-spot of price and storage space.

Apacer Technology is demonstrating a 128GB industrial SSD that can replace a 2.5-inch hard drive and operate at temperatures between -40 degrees Celsius and 85 degrees Celsius. It will be available in the fourth quarter, and a second version with double the data read speed of 200Mbps will be available in early 2008.
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