Intel said set to ship five new SSDs, hybrid drive

Reports indicate some of the new solid-state drives will be Intel's fastest to date

Intel plans to release five new solid-state drives (SSD) before year's end, according to reports.

In combination with its upcoming Z68 chipset, any one of the new SSDs could be used as performance-boosting cache in combination with a standard hard disk drive (HDD), the reports say.

According to technology news site VR-Zone, Intel will release its Z68 chipset for Sandy Bridge processors next month. The Z68 chipset supports Intel's Rapid Storage Technology SSD caching, which allows an SSD to be used in combination with a traditional HDD to create a hybrid drive similar to Seagate's Momentus XT.

The SSD would act as a cache, increasing performance for operations such as operating system and application load times.

Intel's hybrid drives require an SSD with a capacity of 18.6GB to 64GB, according to VR-Zone. Like Seagate's Momentus XT, the most frequently used data would also be cached for faster access.

Some of the five new Intel SSDs due out this year will exceed the performance of the company's current top-of-the-line SSD 510 Series products, according to an Intel drive road map obtained by Engadget. According to that road map, Intel plans to release a PCIe-based 400GB single-level cell (SLC) solid-state drive as part of the new "Ramsdale" SSD 720 Series. The company will also ship a new "Lyndonville" SSD 710 series that uses enterprise-class multilevel cell (MLC) memory.

Intel and Micron have established a joint manufacturing entity called IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), where NAND flash technology used in the new Intel SSDs is likely to be produced.

In an interview with Computerworld earlier this month, a Micron official said the company's upcoming PCIe-based SSDs would use its current 34-nanometer NAND flash chips, not its next generation 20nm circuitry.

"This will be the industry's leading drive," Kevin Kilbuck, director of strategic marketing for Micron's NAND product group. Kilbuck, however, referred to the card as the P320h, not the 720 or 710 series.

The published road map also includes a follow-on to Intel's SSD 520 Series that will have as much as 480GB of capacity.

Intel also expects to release a lower-capacity drive called Paint Creek in the fourth quarter. It will only be available in 40GB and 80GB models and in all likelihood will be used as a computer system boot drive.

Kevin Dilbelius, Micron's senior product marketing manager for enterprise SSD, said the emergence of cloud computing is driving the need for higher performance flash products that can help blade server infrastructures serve up things like online streaming video.

IMFT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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