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iSuppli: Most laptops will come with flash memory soon

Posted: 07 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flash memory laptop? flash data storage? laptop HDD storage?

The number of new notebook computers using some form of flash memory for data storage will soar from a negligible amount today to more than 50 percent in two years, according to research firm iSuppli.

By the fourth quarter of 2009, 24 million notebook PCs, or 60 percent of the total sold, will have flash data storage, compared with only 143,600 in the first quarter of 2007, iSuppli said. The latter number amounts to only 0.7 percent of the total number of new notebooks.

Flash memory has a number of advantages over conventional HDDs. With no moving parts, flash memory hardware uses less power, generates little heat, and is more resistant to shock, all major plusses for use in portable computers. Retrieval of data from flash memory devices also is faster.

The major hurdle for the technology, however, is price. Flash memory today is much more expensive than HDDs. The price is expected to come down as competition and production levels increase. "Enabling the use of flash data storage in PCs is the dramatic decline in prices for NAND-type memory parts employed in such solutions," iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a statement.

Enough to fuel adoption
Four years ago, 1Gbyte of flash memory was nearly 100 times more expensive as an equivalent amount of HDD storage, according to iSuppli. By 2009, the price gap is expected to fall to a factor of slightly less than 14. While still expensive when compared with HDD storage, the lower price, in combination with flash memory's advantages, are expected to be enough to drive adoption.

iSuppli sees three approaches to flash data storage evolving over the next couple of years: Intel's Robson, hybrid HDDs, and solid-state drives. Robson is the code name for a platform technology that uses flash memory to increase system responsiveness, make multitasking faster, and extend battery life.

Manufacturers have been ramping up production of flash memory devices. Samsung, for example, recently introduced a 64Gbyte solid-state flash drive for ultraportable notebooks. It plans to start mass production of the 1.8inch drive in this quarter.

Fujitsu in April said it was halting plans to make a 1.8inch HDD for handheld devices to focus on flash drives, the preferred technology among manufacturers. Fujitsu's HDD had been aimed at ultraportable notebooks and digital media players, such as the Apple iPod.

- Antone Gonsalves

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