Intel stomps into flash memory

Touts product's big reliability

Intel Corp. today threw down a gauntlet by entering the solid-state drive market with its first NAND flash memory product. The Intel Z-U130 Value Solid-State Drive represents a challenge to Samsung Corp., which is the world's largest producer of NAND flash memory for hardware and gadgets such as USB flash drives.

The Z-U130 comes in capacities ranging from 1GB to 8GB and uses industry-standard USB interfaces, the company stated in a press release. The flash drive comes with reads rates of 28MB/sec. and write speeds of 20MB/sec. Intel expects its solid-state disk to be used in everything from servers and PCs to gaming consoles.

Intel's first entry into the solid-state disk market is still four times smaller in capacity compared with other industry-leading products from companies such as SanDisk Corp. SanDisk announced a 32GB solid-state disk product in January (see "SanDisk shows solid-state drive "). But Intel also touts extreme reliability numbers, saying the Z-U130 has an average mean time between failure of 5 million hours compared with SanDisk, which touts an MTBF of 2 million hours.

Intel touted solid-state disk as a faster storage alternative that speeds through common PC or embedded application operations such as locating boot code, operating systems and commonly accessed libraries. It said its product offers "cost-effective," high-performance storage with advantages over hard disk drives or removable Universal Serial Bus storage devices.

Samsung recently announced its first hybrid drive, which uses NAND flash memory with spinning disk. That drive offers capacities of 80GB, 120GB and 160GB, along with 4GB of flash memory for caching data (see "Samsung ships its first hybrid disk drive").

Solid-state drives deliver faster boot times, embedded code storage, rapid data access and low-power storage alternatives for value PCs, routers, servers, and gaming and industrial applications.

"Solid-state drive technology offers many benefits over traditional hard disk drives, including improved performance and reliability," said Randy Wilhelm, vice president and general manager of Intel's NAND products group.

The Z-U130 solid-state drive is the company's first product in what Intel said will be a family of  value solid-state drives. The Z-U130 comes in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and 8GB densities.

Intel said it has already made deals with server, notebook and PC manufacturers to include the Z-U130. The company's solid-state disk will also be used in Intel-embedded products for routers and point of sale terminals, it noted.

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