SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Seeking to expand its efforts in the solid-state storage drive (SSD) arena, Intel Corp. is quietly sampling a product line, based on the mini-SATA interface technology.
The drives, codenamed Soda Creek, are 40- and 80-GB SSDs. The products have not been officially announced, but Intel tipped them at the Flash Memory Summit here.
Instead of a traditional hard-disk form factor, Intel’s Soda Creek line of SSDs are based on a mini-PCI form factor, commonly known as the mini-SATA or mSATA.
Others have also rolled out SSDs with the mSATA interface. In a system, a traditional SSD is aimed to replace a hard drive. But in many cases, the SSD is too expensive for many consumers.
With an mSATA-based SSD, the unit resides in a smaller PCI slot and complements a hard drive in a system. In other words, a system makes use of both hard drives and SSDs. MSATA-based SSDs are said to be less expensive than traditional SSDs.
In a configuration with both hard drives and an mSATA-based SSD, the hard drive may store the data, photos and music, while the SSD handles the OS and other functions, said Rob Larson, product line manager for the NAND products group at Intel.
The idea is having ''your cake and eating it too,’’ Larson said. The mSATA format will ''expand the appeal of SSDs’’ among consumers, he said.
Last year, the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO), the consortium dedicated to serial ATA (SATA) technology, announced it is developing a specification for a mini-SATA (mSATA) interface connector.
MSATA will support 1.5 Gb/s and 3.0 Gb/s transfer rates. ''MSATA leverages the speed and reliability of the SATA interface to provide a high-performance, cost-effective storage solution for smaller devices like notebooks and netbooks,’’ according to the group.
''The specification maps SATA signals onto an existing small form factor connector, enabling more compact integration in a wide variety of applications for both hard disk (HDD) and solid state drives (SSDs). The mSATA connector allows companies to increase the storage offerings of their products without compromising valuable space,’’ according to the group.
Meanwhile, Intel and Micron Technology have begun sampling 3-bit-per-cell NAND flash memory implemented in 25-nm process technology by their NAND joint venture.
So it takes a slot away from the system.
Why do that when there are usually at least 4 SATA connections on a MoBo? The only reason that could justify this product is if its xfer rate exceeded SATA by a significant margin.
I wonder how much of the potential SSD performance is eaten up in translating between the FLASH and an interface system designed around a rotating disk of metal. It has been expedient to use an HDD emulator to get data in and out, but maybe the time for that is past?
The mSATA sounds like a good step in the right direction of better optimizing for the solid state media, but perhaps now might just be a good time to develop a new interface system created from the ground up to take best advantage of solid state memory.
This sounds like an evolution of Intel's "Turbo Memory" that seemed to have a similar function and also utilized Nand. (My 2 year old Lenovo is equipped with 2Gb of Turbo memory.) However, I think that it was difficult to get much of a premium for it when thought of really as a cache for the hard drive. I believe it ended up being a "throw in." I think that they are hoping to get some of the SSD revenue stream with lower performance memory..
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.