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Intel Unveils Solid-State Drives For PCs, Servers

Intel on Tuesday introduced two solid-state drives as alternatives to hard-disk drives in PC desktops and notebooks, and it unveiled a server SSD.

The X18-M and X25-M mainstream SSDs and the X25-E Extreme for servers were unveiled at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The new drives, which are all SATA drives and have no moving parts, are billed as more durable, lighter, and quieter than HDDs. In the case of the PC SSDs, they save up to 30 minutes in battery life, according to Intel.

The X25-E Extreme SATA is based on Intel's single-level cell NAND flash memory. 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.

In addition, Intel has proprietary technology for reducing wear of the chips on reading and writing operations. The X25-E has read/write speeds of 250 MB per second and 170 MB per second, respectively. The SSD has a 75-microsecond read latency.

The X18-M and X25-M have read/write speeds of up to 250 MB per second and 70 MB per second, respectively, and a read latency of 85 microseconds.

The X18-M and X25-M will be available in 1.8- and 2.5-inch models of either 80 GB or 160 GB of storage. The 80-GB versions are scheduled for production in 30 days, and the 160-GB versions are scheduled for production in the first quarter of 2009.

The X25-E for server, storage, and workstation applications will be available in 32-GB and 64-GB models. Both will be 2.5 inches. The smaller storage model is scheduled to ship in 90 days, and the 64-GB version is set for production in the first quarter of next year. Pricing was not disclosed.

Computer manufacturers are offering solid-state drives 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 HDDs. Major computer makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo offer SSDs in notebooks.