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Ddawg
5th January 2007, 00:34
SanDisk Intros 32-GB Flash Drive for Notebooks
David Garrett, newsfactor.com

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20070104/bs_nf/49113

Smaller. Safer. Faster. That's how SanDisk describes its new hard drive for notebook computers, a drive that does not use the spinning plates of standard hard drives but the same Flash technology found in MP3 players and digital cameras.

Consumers can't buy the drive yet, and SanDisk has not announced a price. But in a written statement, the firm's CEO and founder, Eli Harari, said the drive will add a hefty $600 to the price of any notebook using it.

But that's nothing compared to the prices of the past, according to notebook expert and research director Samir Bhavnani of Current Analysis.

"The new 32-GB Flash drive that Samsung is offering is important because the price premium that customers will pay for a Flash drive has dropped substantially from when Samsung announced its 32-GB drive earlier in 2006," he said, adding that last year a Flash drive could add more than $1,000 to a notebook's price.

Flash Is Faster

Flash is a solid-state technology, meaning it has no moving parts unlike "normal" hard drives that store data on spinning plates and use an arm-mounted head for reading and writing.

No moving parts means the drive is faster and won't break down as frequently. In fact, SanDisk claims an average of two million hours of use before a failure, and says its new drive can boot Windows Vista in a mere 35 seconds. That will no doubt come as welcome news to notebook users who balk at Windows' long boot times.

Flash drives also use less power than standard hard drives, which can give notebooks an edge as processors are pushed to their power limits with streaming movies, music, and eye-popping presentations becoming the norm for even the average user.

Adoption Curve

Still, the expected high price might slow the new drive's uptake. "The adoption curve for dedicated Flash-based systems will be slow due to the price premium," said Bhavnani, "although the new SanDisk drive makes the cost much more palatable."

With its deep pockets, the military has long had access to solid-state systems, using them in rugged terrains where hard drives' complex spinning plates would be easily damaged.

Today's enterprise customers might look to Flash drives for workers on the go, jumping from taxi to airport to airplane to taxi again, and prizing any device that won't weigh them down. "Computer makers will initially look to offer the drive in ultraportable notebooks, those that are typically carried by road warriors," said Bhavnani.

But adoption by rank-and-file consumers might be slow. Hard drive makers are currently developing hybrid drives -- merging solid-state systems with spinning plates -- that might catch the consumer's eye at some point in 2007.

"Hybrid drives have more potential for the mass market as customers could benefit from the quicker boot-up times, but also maintain the advantage of the greater storage capacity of traditional hard drives