Intel Unveils Tiny Flash Drive, Tips End Of The Hard Disk

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker on Friday unveiled the Intel Z-P140 PATA solid-state drive at a San Francisco hotel in conjunction with a pre-briefing on its agenda for January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The first of the new drives will come in 2GB and 4GB flavors, with extensions to 8GB and 16GB available, said Don Larson, product line manager of Intel's NAND Products Group.

The Z-P140 PATA SSD weighs 0.6 grams, measures 12x18x1.8mm, supports Intel NAND flash memory SD54B and SD58B and hums along at 40 Megabytes-per-second of read throughput and 30 Megabytes-per-second of write throughput. It is also an important component of Intel's Menlow platform for Mobile Internet Devices (MID) and Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC), Larson said. Menlow, due to ship in the first half of next year, comprises Intel's forthcoming 45nm processor and second-generation chipset for MIDs and UMPCs, codenamed Silverthorne and Poulsbo, respectively.

According to Larson, solid-state drives utilizing flash memory like the Z-P140 are going to eventually spell the end of hard disk drives, though it may take "a long time."

"NAND is the fastest growing silicon market segment in the world, going from $0 in the late '90s to $15.2 billion today," Larson said. "It's a disruptive technology and we think SSDs are the next big thing. The question you have to ask is, when is the last time you will hold a CD?"

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Intel also stressed its forthcoming refresh of its Santa Rosa desktop/notebook platform at Friday's briefing. Updating the chipmaker's Centrino notebook platform, the refresh will include support for Intel's first 45nm mobile processor, codenamed Penryn (not to be confused with Intel's codename for the entire family of 45nm-process CPUs, which is also Penryn). That's due out in January, while on the desktop front, Intel promises "a variety of smaller, cooler and quieter, stylish desktop designs" resulting from cross-over advances in the refresh of its current mobile platform.

Intel also announced that an integrated Wi-Fi/WiMAX module will be available as an optional part of Montevina, the fifth generation of the Centrino platform that is set to succeed Santa Rosa in mid-2008. And finally, the chipmaker said next year it will deliver its first IA-based "system-on-a-chip" for consumer electronics devices, codenamed Canmore, which will include two IA processors along with A/V processing and graphics on a single chip.