As the quest for slimmer, compact -- but superfast -- devices continues, Toshiba is offering the solid-state drives used in Apple's new MacBook Air to other manufacturers and resellers.
The drives, which replace spinning hard drives or optical drives in some devices, are available in 64GB, 128GB or 256GB capacities and the Tokyo-based company said they are "ideally suited" for small laptops and netbooks. The new Blade X-gale Series drives are only 0.68 of an inch thick, or 42 percent thinner than similar drives. They are only 0.94 of an inch wide and 4.28 inches long, weighing about 0.34 of an ounce.
"Delivering a product that enables superior user experience in a smaller footprint is the ultimate goal," noted Scott Nelson, vice president of Toshiba America's Memory Business Unit. "The density of MLC NAND enables the creation of smaller form factor high-density storage solutions, and Toshiba, as the technology leader for NAND storage solutions, will continue to innovate in this space." MLC stands for multilevel cell, a format that allows more storage than single-level cell technology.
The 256GB capacity, attained when both sides of the drive are mounted, is "the largest density in the industry for small-type modules," Toshiba said.
NAND flash storage is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the technology market. Toshiba is reportedly working with Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker, and South Korea-based Samsung on a project partially funded by the Japanese government to reduce the size of NAND flash memory to 10 nanometers by 2016.
Intel announced last January that IM Flash Technologies, its joint venture with Micron Technologies, had created a 64-gigabit NAND flash die based on 25-nanometer process technology. The process doubles the density of the partnership's previous milestone, a 32-gigabit die based on 34-nanometer technology.
In its forecast for 2010 through 2012, released last week, the Semiconductor Industry Association projected record worldwide semiconductor sales of $300.5 billion in 2010, an increase of 32.8 percent. SIA predicts growth of six percent in 2011 to $318.7 billion, and 3.4 percent to $329.7 billion in 2012.
"We experienced record sales this year due to strong global demand across a broad range of end markets," said SIA President Brian Toohey.
In a statement on Toshiba's web site, Shin-ichi Kanno, lead developer of Toshiba's solid-state design group, said "SSDs offer a high data-transfer rate and are resistant to shock and vibration. They use NAND flash memory, so your data is safe even when your computer is switched off. The SSD is a result of our search for the optimal solution for data-storage devices to be used in mobile equipment."
Posted: 2010-11-08 @ 5:24pm PT
This feedback from analyst Charles King of Pund-IT, in reaction to the Toshiba announcement, arrived after deadline. "The most interesting thing about the drives, besides their highly innovative performance and form factor, is the fact that delivery to the broader market is proceeding so quickly. That should increase competitors' ability to deliver ultra-thin laptops to compete with the new MacBook Air machines. It won't lead to significant price reductions in the short term but could do so over time. [It] may also force Toshiba competitors to rethink the way they configure SSD's."