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Intel Ships Solid-State Drives For Desktops, Notebooks

The X18-M and X25-M SATA drives are now available in 80-GB capacities; 160-GB models are slated for late 2008.

Intel on Monday started shipping two solid-state drives for desktop and notebook PCs.

X18-M is a 1.8-inch drive and the X25-M is 2.5 inches. Both are SATA drives available in 80-GB capacities. Intel plans to introduce samples of 160-GB models in the fourth quarter.

Computer manufacturers are offering SSDs in ultralight laptops and mini-notebooks, which are used primarily for e-mail and Web browsing. SSDs are particularly useful in these machines because the drives are lighter and use less power than hard disk drives. Major computer makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo offer SSDs in notebooks.

The X18-M and X25-M are based on Intel's multilevel cell memory. The technology that differentiates the SSDs from competitors, according to Intel, includes highly parallel 10x NAND flash channels and "native command queuing" that enable up to 32 concurrent operations for faster performance.

The 80-GB version of the drives achieves read speeds of up to 250-MB per second and write speeds up to 70-MB per second, according to Intel. The drives have a read latency of 85 microseconds and cost $595 each in quantities of up to 1,000. Intel expects the drives to be available in customers' products in the next few weeks.

Intel plans to introduce a line of single-level cell SSD for servers and storage environments within 90 days. The X25-E SATA drive, which uses less energy, runs cooler, and takes up less space than disk drives, will reduce overall infrastructure costs while increasing performance per square foot by as much as 50 times, according to Intel.

Intel first introduced the new drives in August during its Developer Forum in San Francisco.

While SSD proponents herald the higher performance and lower energy consumption of SSDs, the drives cost considerably more per gigabyte than traditional hard disk drives, which also get high marks for reliability. In the data center, experts say, SSDs make sense for high-performance workloads, but recommend using traditional disk arrays to meet other storage needs.

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