Toshiba rolls out slimmer form factor for SSDs

Toshiba increased the performance to a maximum 220MB/sec.

Toshiba America Electronic Components on Monday announced a series of solid-state drives featuring a new form factor that's 42% smaller than today's mini-SATA or mSATA SSD modules.

The new drives are the same models used by Apple in its new MacBook Air netbook computer, which allowed the company to create a machine that tapers from just over half an inch to a tenth of an inch in thickness.

Toshiba's new Blade X-gale SSD series is just 2.2mm thick but comes in models capable of holding 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of worth of data. The mSATA version offers 30GB and 62GB capacities in a form factor that's4.75mm thick. The new SSD is almost one-third of the thickness of a 2.5-in. hard disk drive.

Toshiba's new X-gale SSD
Toshiba's new X-gale SSD modules offer up to 256GB capacity.

Toshiba also upped the performance of its SSD module from a maximum read/write speed of 180MB/sec. and 70MB/sec. in the mSATA drive to 220MB/sec. and 180MB/sec. in the Blade X-gale. The new SSDs use the SATA 3Gbit/sec. interface.

Toshiba's latest SSD offerings are designed for mobile devices such as tablet PCs, laptops and mini-mobile and netbook PCs.

"Delivering a product that enables superior user experience in a smaller footprint is the ultimate goal," said Scott Nelson, vice president of Toshiba's memory business unit, in a statement.

The Blade X-gale uses multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash chips, storing two bits per cell.

Toshiba said a new board design that minimizes warping allowed it to increase the capacity of the modules by mounting the flash chips on both sides.

"Until recently, storage designers looking for high-capacity storage had accommodated the size of [hard disk drives] into their designs," Nelson said. "Toshiba's module-based SSDs break with this approach, giving hardware designers greater freedom and flexibility in enabling their product design."

Toshiba would not release a suggested retail price for the drive, as it will be up to equipment manufacturers to set those prices. However, Brian Marshall of Gleacher & Co. said the 128GB SSD in the 13.3-in MacBook Air cost the Apple $154, and the company pays an additional $141 for the 256GB model.

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 e-mail address is

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