Various reports today are pointing to rumors that Intel will be launching solid state drives (SSDs) based on the company's new 32nm NAND flash memory. Although the SSDs were originally scheduled to hit the market in Q4 2009, apparently the company bumped up the schedule with plans to release the new SSDs in just a matter of weeks instead; the company did confirm that it was ahead of schedule as far back as Q4 2008. Unfortunately, no real specifics were provided with today's report, and Intel has not released an official announcement.
Along with its memory-making partner Micron, Intel began mass-producing the 34nm NAND flash memory chips back in November 2008. The smaller manufacturing process enables the two companies to build individual chip layers with 32 gigabits (4 GB) of data in large batches using regular 300-mm wafers, all crammed into a standard package. In turn, the technology can provide eight cores per layer, allowing for a two-layer stack to provide up to 64 GB without additional chips.
For consumers holding off on changing out the standard hard drive, Intel's upcoming SSDs should be good news, as the drives will offer lower power consumption and lower prices thanks to the smaller (and cheaper) process node. On the performance front, the drives will benefit from SSD specific optimizations built right into Microsoft's upcoming operating system, Windows 7, when it's released this October.
According to The Inquirer, Intel will provide three versions: 80 GB, 160 GB, 320 GB and possibly larger sizes that are expected to replace most--if not all--laptop hard drives. The report also said that Intel seems quite optimistic about its SSD prospects in 2010. If everything holds true, expect an official announcement from Intel soon.