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Intel's NAND-based solid state drive
Intel enters the storage market with a solid offering

Intel Corporation announced today its entry into solid state drives with the Intel Z-U130. Aimed at delivering performance and value, the drives are based on NAND flash memory with standard USB 2.0/1.1 interfaces. Intel says that the advantages of its Z-U130 over hard disk drives and removable USB storage devices are faster boot times, embedded code storage, rapid data access and low-power storage alternatives.

Solid state drives enjoy several advantages over traditional hard disk drives, such as faster start-up, faster read times, lower seek times, less power consumption, silent operation and lower weight. Solid state drives should also be more reliable as there are no moving parts involved in the device’s operation. On the flip side, magnetic-based drives may endure better after a great number of read/write cycles and faster write times. For the foreseeable future, traditional hard disk drives will also enjoy the cost advantage at large capacities.

“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 Z-U130 product comes in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and 8GB densities. The 1GB and 2GB versions are already in production, with the 4GB to be added in April. The top-end 8GB drive isn’t slated for production until December.

With reads of 28MB per second and write speeds of 20 MB per second, the solid state drive is a storage alternative for common PC or embedded application operations such as locating boot code, operating systems and commonly accessed libraries. Other future applications of the technology include video game consoles and handheld systems.

Intel is positioning its solid state drives as a hard disk drive replacement technology for emerging market notebooks and low-cost, fully featured PCs and other embedded systems. Current price projections place Intel’s 4GB value SSD on par with 1.8-inch HDDs, but Intel expects costs to fall as it ramps up volume production. Intel predicts that its 4GB product will be priced below comparable 1.8-inch drives by the second half of this year, with it surpassing 2.5-inch drives by 2008. By 2009, Intel believes that its 8GB SSD will cost less than any comparable 1.8-inch or 2.5-inch HDD.

While Intel is labeling its Z-U130 as a value-oriented product, several solutions would receive a performance enhancement with the use of a SSD for system booting. Servers could start up faster if its boot information were stored on flash-based memory. In addition, it will be used in Intel embedded solutions for routers and point of sale terminals, which would also benefit from the faster system boots.

The product can be easily integrated into original manufacturers’ designs because of its 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 is also considering next-generation products that could incorporate cost-effective multi-level cell (MLC) technology.

Intel plans to distinguish its product from other solid state offerings with extensive validation, including more than 1,000 hours of accelerated reliability testing, and is expecting to meet an average mean time between failure specification of five million hours.

Other makers of solid state drives include ASUS, Fujitsu, Samsung, Adtron, SanDisk and Ritek. Last week, an analyst pegged Apple to soon be using solid state drive technology in the next generation of MacBooks. It looks like solid state drives are ready for prime time.

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By shabby on 3/12/2007 6:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
Those read/write speeds arent exactly spectacular, in fact i think some usb drives can read/write at those same speeds and are available now for pretty cheap.

RE: umm....
By Hypernova on 3/12/2007 6:28:05 AM , Rating: 2
While the stream speed may not be that great (my own laptop's can get to 35MB/s) the strength is in the random seeks.

Capacity is still too small though, this is only good for embedded or thin clients IMO. If you put it in an ultra portable there's only just enough space to squeeze in MS office after the OS.

RE: umm....
By semo on 3/12/2007 6:51:46 AM , Rating: 2
the op was referring to other flash based mass storage devices, not hdds. i think the corsair voyager gt has better read/write times and is also built on slc.

i think anandtech should do some testing on removable drives. i have no idea how usb drives compare (flash or mechanic)

RE: umm....
By OrSin on 3/12/2007 7:37:41 AM , Rating: 2
This drive is not made for storage. ITs made for quick access time. Any system needs more then 8GB. Should a regular hard drive. But 99% all data I need quickly would fit on 8 GB easy. Really it could fit on 2-3 GB. OS and program need quick access. Out of all my data 80% is multimedia stuff. Yes, alot is pron so shoot me:). But how fast do you need to access mutlimedia files.

RE: umm....
By Hypernova on 3/12/2007 2:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
Hm... you seem to have complete ignored my first sentence.

RE: umm....
By typo101 on 3/13/2007 5:56:19 PM , Rating: 2
really? he talked about how he would like his OS and program files on the SSD (since they are what your drive is usually randomly seeking) and his multimedia on a magnetic disk drive (since they are large files that are accessed in a streaming manner)...

seems to fit right in with all of your post, especially the first line

RE: umm....
By FITCamaro on 3/12/2007 9:23:01 AM , Rating: 2
Well it'd be plenty for just an XP install and having Office. No it wouldn't be in a desktop replacement notebook though.

Of course almost all laptops now are coming with Vista now and thats what? 6-8GB for Vista Home Premium or Business?

RE: umm....
By TomZ on 3/12/2007 8:26:19 AM , Rating: 1
The read and write times are pretty good if you consider the device has a USB interface.

RE: umm....
By Radeon117X on 3/12/2007 8:43:24 AM , Rating: 2
Seems like a great idea when it comes to the random seeks. I would definitely agree with the fact that most of things that i use a lot could fit in 8GB, but it would definitely be an asset if they would step it up and release much bigger drives. Half Life 2 and Source games are about 9GB so... :P

LOL, USB stick without plastic casing...
By mino on 3/12/2007 11:25:00 AM , Rating: 2
The moment I saw "USB" I knew it is just a pure PR.
No offence Intel, but USB is too slow (esp. for random access) and unreliable for main storage.

Servers? fast startup? ROFL.
Many IBM mainframes(the holy grail of a "server") may take tens of minutes to start ... to stop only for dismantling, of course ;)

Seems author had Windows in mind...

Put it on IDE/SATA/eSATA(or IEE1394b) and we may talk.

By JackPack on 3/12/2007 1:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
Notice the word "value"?

This is the first product out of the Micron-Intel joint venture.

By PandaBear on 3/12/2007 2:38:07 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. How is USB a replacement for HD? Wouldn't this be just yet another USB drive instead?

If it is a SATA with small capacity, it will be a good boot drive for server to save space on the rack. Seriously, rack mount server's boot drive doesn't need high performance or write cycle, just something to boot up and save the room for another real hard drive, thats the way to go.

RE: LOL, USB stick without plastic casing...
By TomZ on 3/12/07, Rating: -1
By peternelson on 3/12/2007 9:48:22 PM , Rating: 2
USB has far too much protocol overhead for this kind of application, and it also hogs cpu and bus time when transferring a lot of traffic because of this, even with a good usb host adaptor.

I agree with mino SATA and/or ESATA would be much better.

I could beat the speed of this using a Sandisk compact flash module. I can stick that on a CF to IDE adaptor and the speeds will beat this. If I want SATA host connections I can put a SATA/PATA adaptor in there too. Those adaptors could be fixed onto a rival module if designed. Better yet would be the memory with native SATA connection.

RE: LOL, USB stick without plastic casing...
By crystal clear on 3/13/2007 2:03:15 AM , Rating: 1
For servers-"real high priority "

"to improve system responiveness-enables users to avoid the hundres of annoying multi second delays they experience everyday when moving within and between frequently used applications."

By TomZ on 3/13/2007 11:21:04 AM , Rating: 1
That problem is already solved with Vista's SuperFetch, which uses available DRAM instead. Preloading in DRAM will be much faster than preloading in Flash.

Comparable drives?
By Frank M on 3/12/2007 7:30:17 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know when the last time I saw a 4 or 8GB 2.5" drive, never mind 3.5".

Wouldn't a cost-per-GB rating be more appropriate?

RE: Comparable drives?
By Visual on 3/12/2007 8:41:21 AM , Rating: 2
yeah, its what i thought too.
and even when there were still some hdds with capacities this small, they were priced ridiculously high, just because they were getting harder to find.

its like right now, you can in theory still find a 40 or 60gb hdd, but they cost almost the same as 80-100gb models, give or take a few bucks.

RE: Comparable drives?
By TomZ on 3/12/2007 8:54:43 AM , Rating: 1
I agree, it is an odd comparison. With 1.8" drives past 100GB and 2.5" drives exceeding that, it doesn't make sense to me to compare this SSD to any magnetic HDD. Also, from the description, I don't think it is even intended to compete against magnetic HDDs. This drive is basically a cheap USB flash key on a board that can be easily integrated into a device or PC.

One other thing I don't understand is the relationship of this device to Intel's Robson technology. Are these modules used by Robson, or is that a separate development?

RE: Comparable drives?
By crystal clear on 3/13/2007 1:23:55 AM , Rating: 1
I dropped in a hint on this- in my response to you earlier.
Timing!!! At the right time & place!!!

RE: The Laptop overhaul...............
By crystal clear on 3/10/07, Rating: 2
By crystal clear on 3/10/2007 11:21:08 PM , Rating: 2


Samsung introduced a 4 GB SSD compatible with ReadyBoost(Vista), to improve system responiveness-enables users to avoid the hundres of annoying multi second delays they experience everyday when moving within and between frequently used applications.

Vista automatically compresses all data stored in a ReadyBoost device,the 4GB drive would in practice act as UP TO 8 GB of user data.

The 4 GB SSD can work in TANDEM with a hybrid hard drive,coming into play as a SECONDARY SOURCE of cached data.

This PERFORMANCE BOOSTER (4 GB SSD) can be located virtually
anywhere on the MOBO connected through the ATA port.

(I intentionally cut short the explainations -look up at Samsung site for more detailed explanation-SAMSUNG 4 GB SSD)

This is good for people like you/me that constantly use their laptops exclusively for Business purposes & LACK THE TIME-where SPEED is the criteria & NOT COST.
Where LAPTOPS are DESKTOPS & the SERVER is your Backup


Now you have the Intel response to Samsung.

RE: Comparable drives?
By crystal clear on 3/13/2007 1:52:46 AM , Rating: 1
Santa Rosa, is being officially unveiled on the 9th of May 2007

8GB ?
By swizeus on 3/12/2007 6:52:33 AM , Rating: 2
8GB only ? don't think you can squeeze Vista in. 6+ gigs for Vista and the rest will be for virtual memory and the space has gone out

RE: 8GB ?
By Scabies on 3/12/2007 10:27:30 AM , Rating: 2
lol, thats if the drive passes ReadyBoost testing :D
(kidding, I know you can page/vmem on anything)

You people are missing the point...
By ProxyOne on 3/12/2007 8:03:06 AM , Rating: 2
Read the article again. These things are not meant for mass storage, they're meant for faster access times for system files.

The future, phase change memory?
By dream caster on 3/12/2007 8:46:13 AM , Rating: 2
Any Intel hint about it?

RE: The future, phase change memory?
By mino on 3/12/07, Rating: 0
how many can be packaged together?
By jp7189 on 3/12/2007 12:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
That's a pretty small package. I bet quite a few would fit in a standard 2.5" form factor. Laptops can have these placed right on the mainboard. Plenty of room in there for 10 or more of these.

Palease....Give me a break
By SunAngel on 3/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: Palease....Give me a break
By peternelson on 3/12/2007 9:52:15 PM , Rating: 2
Negative access times....

That can be achieved with the famous "infinite improbability drive". ie as far as I understand it, the data you want could be read before you even request it.

By threv on 3/13/2007 11:11:08 AM , Rating: 2
Let me know when they can build these on the cheap then I'll be interested

Oh USB? Please..

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