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SSD vendors finally see 'killer app'

Posted: 14 Aug 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solid-state drives  high-volume market  hard drives  ultra mobiles 

For some time, suppliers of solid-state drives (SSDs) have been searching for a high-volume market for their products, among them are notebooks, servers and other systems but cost has been a major stumbling block. Hard drives remain cheaper and more reliable, some argue.

However, vendors may have finally found a ''killer application'' for SSDs, which are based on NAND flash memories. The ultra mobile PC, netbook and related sub-notebook segments could become a big driver for SSDs, said Doreet Oren, director of product marketing for SSDs at SanDisk Corp., during a presentation at the Flash Memory Summit here on Tuesday (Aug. 12).

In this segment, the SSD market could hit 3.3 crore (33 million) units by 2012, according to Gartner Inc. Ultra mobile systems sell from Rs.10,714.62 to Rs.25,715.08 ($250 to $600). Acer, Asus and Intel are among the pioneers in ultra mobiles, which use SSDs.

SSD capacities in ultra mobiles range from 4- to 6GB. Many of the early models use single-level cell (SLC) NAND technology. Going forward, an 8GB drive based on multi-level cell (MLC) NAND devices is expected to be the mainstream technology for noetbooks, said Don Larson, product line manager at Intel Corp., during a presentation at the event. "Maybe 16GB [will be feasible] next year,'' he said.

There are still issues with SSDs in general. Prices for SSDs remain more expensive than traditional hard disc drives, SanDisk's Oren said. "SSD costs are coming down,'' thanks to die shrinks, 3bit-per-cell (x3) and related technologies, she said.

Other improvements are being made with SSDs. ''We seeing improvements in controller technology,'' said

Todd Dinkelman, senior applications engineer at of Micron Technology Inc. ''Early shortcomings for reliability and endurance are being overcome.''

According to Dinkelman, there are several design considerations with SSDs: bit error rate; raw bit error rate; uncorrectable bit error rate system; and meantime between failures.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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