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Toshiba this week said it plans to begin mass production of a 256-GB solid-state drive for mainstream notebook PCs in the fourth quarter.
In addition, Toshiba unveiled late Thursday lower-capacity NAND flash devices for smaller notebooks, including the new category of mini-notebooks. The smaller modules will be available in 8-GB, 16-GB, and 32-GB densities, and are expected to be available in volume by the end of the year.
The 2.5-inch, 256-GB SSD has a maximum read speed of 120 MBps and a maximum write speed of 70 MBps. The drive uses a SATA 3.0-Gbps interface. The modules for lightweight, ultraportable notebooks offer maximum read and write speeds of 80 and 50 MBps, respectively.
Samples of the new products are available. Toshiba competitors include Intel, Samsung, and Micron.
Computer makers are increasingly offering notebooks with SSDs as an alternative to traditional hard-disk drives. While HDDs are far less expensive, SSDs are lighter, more reliable, and faster, according to proponents. The drives also are more rugged because they don't have any moving parts.
For computer makers, SSDs carry higher margins than HDDs. Prices for SSDs, however, have been dropping, which could position them to play a bigger role in notebooks, desktops, and data centers in the future.
SSDs are typically offered as options in the lightest, smallest notebooks. They are standard, however, in many of the new category of mini-notebooks launched this year by computers makers, including Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Mini-notebooks are defined as sub-$500 laptops with screen sizes of 10 inches or less. The run a full operating system, typically Windows XP or Linux, but have weaker processors than mainstream notebooks and a less-than-full-size keyboard, which makes them best suited for e-mail and Web browsing.