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Intel says that its upcoming SSDs will better Samsung's offerings in performance.  (Source: Samsung)
Intel to boost performance of its next generation SSDs

In late December, Intel launched its Z-P140 PATA solid-state disks (SSDs). The tiny drives measure just 12x18x1.8mm and power consumption is equally miniscule with readings of 1.1mW while idle and 300mW during read/write operations.

When it comes to performance and storage capacity, however, the Intel SSDs are a little behind the times. The Z-P140 can only be had in storage capacities of up to 16GB while read/write speeds come in at just 40MB/sec and 30MB/sec respectively.

Intel looks to leapfrog its current offering later this year with new multi-level cell (MLC) chips which will be used in 1.8" and 2.5" SSDs. According to Intel's NAND Products Group guru Troy Winslow, the drives will be available in capacities ranging from 80GB to 160GB.

Intel also plans to take on the best from Samsung and BiTMICRO in terms of performance. Samsung's current MLC-based 128GB SATA-II SSD achieves read speeds of 100MB/sec and write speeds of 70MB/sec. "What I can tell you is ours is much better than that," said Winslow in an interview with CNET.

"When Intel launches its...products, you'll see that not all SSDs are created equal," Winslow added. "The way the SSDs are architected, the way the controller and firmware operates makes a huge difference."

Intel's SSD, like the offerings from Samsung, will use the SATA-II interface.

As more manufacturers step up to produce NAND flash memory for SSDs, one of the few remaining drawbacks for the storage solution will being to subside: the high price of entry. Opting for a 64GB SSD on a MacBook Air will set you back a whopping $999. Adding a 64GB SSD to Dell's XPS M1330 will cost you $650.

Intel feels that pricing will continue to trend downward in the coming months. "Price declines are historically 40 percent per year," Winslow continued. "And in 2009, a 50 percent reduction, then again in 2010." Samsung flash marketing manager Michael Yang recently stated that SSD prices will fall 35 to 45 percent year-to-year.

Hopefully, the estimates on price reductions for SSDs will hold up as production ramps up. Most major manufacturers (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.) offer SSD options on their notebooks. ASUS has shown that it move a large quantity of SSD-equipped notebooks -- when the price is right -- and it looks to go for a knockout punch with its second generation Eee PC 900.





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