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.