Samsung quietly testing mini SSD for laptops, netbooks

Netbook makers currently testing Samsung's mini-SATA drive (see image, below)

Samsung Corp. said during an interview today that it is testing a new consumer-class solid state drive (SSD) with computer makers that's about one-third the size of a business card and that would plug directly into an internal PCI Express (PCIe) slot in a desktop, laptop or netbook.

Samsung told Computerworld at the Storage Networking World show that its new SSD conforms to the new mini-SATA (mSATA) interface that the SATA International Organization (SATA-IO) announced at Intel's Developer's Forum last month.

The new drive's form factor leaves behind the hard disk drive case that most solid state disk (SSD) drives come in today that require serial ATA (SATA) slots.

Samsung's new mSATA drive currently has capacities of up to 64GB. Industry observers have said that the 2.5-in and 3.5-in disk drive casings used to house solid state chips that make up SSDs are only a stop-gap measure until makers modify mother boards to include PCIe slots.

While the drive may not contend with today's traditional hard disk drives (HDD) that are approaching 2TB in size, it can be used to run the PC's OS and higher performance applications right next to a slower, higher capacity HDD that would be used for mass storage of things such as photos, video, music and slower applications.

The mSATA drive uses a PCIe slot that does not currently exist in today's desktops, laptops and netbooks. So hardware makers would need to modify their products to include a PCIe slot. The mSATA drive, however, still uses the serial ATA (SATA) protocol, which would allow data and applications to be moved seamlessly between a hard disk drive and the smaller SSD.

"mSATA will eventually be an industry standard," said Brian Beard, flash marketing manager for Samsung Semiconductor.

Samsung's new mSATA solid state drive is exactly one third the size of a business card
Samsung's mSATA SSD is one third the size of a business card and about one-quarter the size of a 2.5-in SSD (top).
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