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Hitachi, Intel Partner On SSDs For Data Centers

Hitachi and Intel on Tuesday said they would partner in developing a solid-state drive for servers, workstations, and storage systems.

The partnership makes Intel the sole supplier of NAND flash memory technology for Hitachi's upcoming line of high-end solid-state drives for corporate use. The drives, which will be available with serial attached SCSI and Fibre Channel interfaces, are scheduled for release in early 2010. Under the partnership, the two companies also will work together in research and development.

Intel develops memory chips for SSDs through a partnership with Micron Technology. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, formed in 2003 after Hitachi bought IBM's storage business, is the third-largest maker of hard-disk drives, following Seagate Technology and Western Digital, respectively.

The low-margin memory chip business has been hammered this year by overproduction and the economic downturn, which has led to a drop in orders for consumer electronics and PCs. Flash memory is used mostly in smartphones, digital cameras, portable music players, and other consumer devices.

Manufacturers have begun to target corporate data centers as potential buyers of more profitable, higher-end SSDs, which are expensive, but are also faster, more reliable, and consume less energy than hard-disk drives. To justify the much higher cost of SSDs, vendors are pitching them for use in storage applications that require higher performance than an HDD.

Hardware makers, such as EMC and Sun Microsystems, are starting to offer the drives in storage systems. Major manufacturers of SSDs for businesses include STEC and Samsung. Other SSD makers include Samsung, Toshiba, and SanDisk.