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SSDs find place in ultramobile apps

Posted: 14 Aug 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solid-sate drive? SSD market? ultramobile PC?

For some time, solid-state drive (SSD) suppliers have been in search for a high-volume market for their products. Notebooks, servers and other systems are among the potential high-volume markets for SSDs, but cost has been a major stumbling block. Hard drives remain cheaper and more reliable, some argue.

However, vendors may have finally found a "killer application" for SSDs, which are based on NAND flash memories. The ultra mobile PC, notebook and related sub-notebook segments could become a big driver for SSDs, said Doreet Oren, director of product marketing for SSDs at SanDisk Corp., during a presentation at the Flash Memory Summit.

In this segment, the SSD market could hit 33 million units by 2012, according to Gartner Inc. Ultra mobile systems sell from $250 to $600. Acer, Asus and Intel are among the pioneers in ultra mobiles, which use SSDs.

SSD capacities in ultra mobiles range from 4- to 6Gbyte. Many of the early models use single-level cell NAND technology. Going forward, an 8Gbyte drive based on multi-level cell NAND devices is expected to be the mainstream technology for notebooks, said Don Larson, product line manager at Intel Corp., during a presentation at the event. "Maybe 16Gbyte [will be feasible] next year," he said.

There are still issues with SSDs in general. Prices for SSDs remain more expensive than traditional hard disk drives, SanDisk's Oren said. "SSD costs are coming down," thanks to die shrinks, 3bit-per-cell (x3) and related technologies, she said.

Other improvements are being made with SSDs. "We seeing improvements in controller technology," said Todd Dinkelman, senior applications engineer at of Micron Technology Inc. "Early shortcomings for reliability and endurance are being overcome."

According to Dinkelman, there are several design considerations with SSDs: bit error rate; raw bit error rate; uncorrectable bit error rate system; and meantime between failures.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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