SANTA CLARA, Calif. - SanDisk Corp. claims to have rolled out the first product in a new category of embedded solid state drives (SSD) that are smaller than a postage stamp.
SanDisk's integrated SSD (iSSD) product is designed for use in mobile computing platforms, such as tablet PCs and ultra-thin notebooks. The SanDisk iSSD drive claims to be the first flash SSD device to support the industry standard SATA interface in a small BGA package that can be soldered onto any motherboard.
The SanDisk iSSD offers 160 MB/sec sequential read and 100MB/sec sequential write speeds. Measuring 16mm x 20mm x 1.85mm and weighing less than one gram, the drive uses a BGA form factor and a SATA interface, and is compatible with all leading operating systems. SanDisk iSSD is available in capacities ranging from 4 gigabytes1 to 64 GB, with pricing dependent upon the quantity ordered.
From a systems perspective, the SATA interface has a number of advantages over the windowed method. The greatest of these is that the system will likely have a native driver installed. Even earlier in development, the SATA host hardware is probably pre-canned for whatever hardware bus the ASIC is running, likely has a smaller footprint than the equivalent windowed interface, will be independent of the NAND that is chosen, and will keep the systems OEM out of the NAND flash purchasing circus.
All this means that not only will the SATA unit be compatible immediately, but will bring fewer headaches and be upgradeable for the foreseeable future.
This was inevitable. Laptops should have a relatively small SSD drive for the OS and a larger drive for data storage. The really interesting development will be when the systems restrict write access to the OS drive. This gives the possibility of computers which are much more resistant to malware than the current architectures.
The interesting question, though, is whether SATA is the right interface. Why not a windowed view directly into the flash device? Something like that has to be a more logical end point. I see SATA as a step along the way to it.
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