Intel introduces first solid-state drives based on flash memory

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 37
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 37
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 37
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 37
    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....
  • Reply 6 of 37
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 37
    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!
  • Reply 8 of 37
    wtfkwtfk Posts: 47member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 37
    wtfkwtfk Posts: 47member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 37
    leonardleonard Posts: 528member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,572member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 37
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 37
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 37
    brendonbrendon Posts: 642member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 37
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    brendonbrendon Posts: 642member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 37
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,137member
    Whether a laptop, a workstation or a server, I only reboot during system updates.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    jamesgjamesg Posts: 63member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 37
    lantznlantzn Posts: 240member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 37
    kenaustuskenaustus Posts: 885member
    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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