Intel to Offer Solid-State Flash Drives

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Chipmaker Intel announced today that it plans to enter the solid-state drive market with its Z-U130 flash-based drives. Although these devices aren’t aimed at consumers—sorry, no thumb drives with “Leap Ahead” emblazoned on the side—Intel plans to offer the systems to computer manufacturers and embedded systems makers as a way to offer low-power, high-speed storage and let them achieve better performance than they would with traditional hard disk systems.

Intel plans to initially offer the charmingly-named Z-U130 in 1, 2, 4, and 8 GB capacities with a USB 1.1/2.0 compliant interface. Intel claims read performance will be at 28 MB per second, write performance will reach 20 MB per second, and the units will offer an average mean time between failure (MBTF) of a whopping 5 million hours. The company plans to integrate the Z-U130 into its own computing systems, including services, notebook systems aimed at developing markets, plus full-featured PCs. It also anticipates a market for value PCs, routers, servers, gaming devices, industrial technology, and point-of-sale systems.

With the Z-U130 design, Intel seems to be wanting to offer manufacturers the benefits of currently-hot hybrid drive technologies (which combine flash-based storage with traditional hard drives to increase performance, reduce power consumption, and improve startup times) while offering a flexible solution systems integrators can use in a variety of systems—some of which may not even require hard disk storage. The move represents yet another step in the transition to the widespread use of flash memory in an ever-expanding array of technologies.

“Solid state drive technology offers many benefits over traditional hard disk drives including improved performance and reliability,” said Randy Wilhelm, VP and general manager of Intel’s NAND Products Group, in a statement. “The Intel solid state drive technology provides robust performance, while offering Intel’s industry leading quality, validation and reliability for a wide variety of embedded applications.”