Tag Archives | Flash Memory

Intel Cuts Solid State Disk Drive Prices

Intel increasing the performance of its X series of solid-state disks (SSDs), and is reducing its prices by as much as 60 percent, according to reports. The price cut, combined with increased capacity, could lead to SSD adoption in mainstream systems.

Unlike convention hard drives, SSDs contain no moving parts, and significantly reduce latency for data retrieval by behaving more like memory than a disk. They are often used in high-end laptops such as the MacBook Air, gaming PCs, and servers. However, they do use more energy, and have a finite lifespan.

Intel has shifted to a new manufacturing process that provides higher density data storage, compressing more data into chips. Consequently, its costs are lower, and it can pass some of the savings onto customers. A 80GB X series drive now costs 60 percent less than a year ago, and 160GB units are 47% less, according to CNET. The prices are $225 and $440, respectively.

Microsoft’s Windows 7 is optimized for SSD drives, and could help them become more common in mid-range consumer PCs over time. Pricing has been a significant factor in SSD adoption in notebooks, as price increases have wrought a corresponding decrease in sales.

As sales increase, Intel and other memory manufacturers will inevitably reach economies of scale, resulting in further reductions. Affordable, higher capacity SSD drives will arrive; it is just a matter of when.

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The World Probably Doesn’t Need slotMusic

Music is about to get microscopic. Flash storage kingpin SanDisk is launching slotMusic, which it calls an “innovative, new physical music format.” Actually, what it is is DRM-free albums sold on MicroSD cards, along with a USB adapter. According to the New York Times, the albums may cost $7-$10 apiece; according to GigaOm, the format will launch with 29 (count ’em!) albums. SlotMusic has the support of major labels EMI, Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner, as well as physical music behemoths Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

SanDisk presumably sees slotMusic (whose site, incidentally, barely mentions SanDisk) as an opportunity to sell millions more flash cards a year. For consumers, though, I’m not sure if the format passes the “why?” test. Here’s SanDisk’s pitch:

“slotMusic cards enable consumers to instantly and easily enjoy music from their favorite artists without being dependent on a PC or internet connection. Users simply insert the slotMusic card into their microSD-enabled mobile phone or MP3 player to hear the music – without passwords, downloading or digital-rights-management interfering with their personal use.”

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