LAS VEGAS — SanDisk is making it possible with a 32-gigabyte, 1.8-inch flash memory drive it presented at the show today. The “SSD” (solid-state disk) drive is designed as a drop-in replacement for the delicate hard drives now used on portable computers.
The drives have no moving parts so they should last at least six times longer than a hard drive, and better withstand extreme conditions, vibration and jarring.
Until now big capacity flash drives were esoteric and expensive products used mostly in military and aerospace applications, the Milpitas, Calif.-based memory company said in its release.
The drives are now available to PC manufacturers and will be appearing in Vista laptops.
Besides durability, flash memory also offers speed and reduced power consumption. SanDisk claims the SSD is 100 times faster than most hard drives, and allows a Vista Enterprise laptop to boot up in as few as 35 seconds.
SSD uses 0.4 watts compared with 1 watt used by a hard-drive, the company said.
They’re still expensive, but not outrageous when you think of the cost to replace and restore data lost to hard drives that fail when laptops are dropped or banged around too much. SanDisk estimates that the drives will add about $600 to the cost of a PC in the first half of 2007.
I was going to attend the press conference, but the line to get in was a block long, perhaps because SanDisk was luring reporters by giving out 1 gigabyte portable media players.