Adtron to offer 160 GB 2.5" flash drive

Phoenix (AZ) - Adtron last week announced that it will begin offering what will be the largest solid-state disk (SSD) drive on the market - matching the capacity of the upcoming mainstream hard drive capacity in notebooks. Unfortunately, the drive will be priced well out of consumer reach.

NAND Flash will move from being a purely memory-card focused technology into the mass storage market over the course of this year. During Q1, Samsung will launch its 16 GB and 32 GB SSD 1.8" drives, Sandisk is expected to make its 32 GB 1.8" disk available in early Q2. And, of course, we will be seeing the first commercial hybrid hard drives, which combine flash memory with a traditional hard drive. For example, Samsung's hybrid drive is promised to ship with 256 MB of memory in a 2.5" form factor in Q1.

Of course, SSD technology is not new to industry users and has been in use in high-end computing systems for many years. And while mass market applications make SSD affordable, industrial strength SSDs will lead the way with higher capacity solutions, more reliability and higher performance.

Adtron announced that it will be shipping 96 GB and 160 GB versions of its 2.5" Flashpak models for customers, who typically use the drives for industrial or military applications. According to the company, the drives will products deliver a sustained read/write performance "in the 70 MB/s range," which is substantially higher than what consumer drives will be able to deliver. For example, Samsung's SSD is expected to top out at a read speed of 57 MB/s and a write speed of 32 MB/s.

The downside of the Adtron drive, at least from the consumer's view, is that it is pricey. While the official price is kept under cover and we would have to speculate about a possible price, we know that a 96 GB or a 160 GB version will be deep in the five-figure territory. 32 GB Adtron Flashpak drives are currently offered through Internet shops for around $10,000. 56 GB drives currently retail for about $16,000. SSDs from M-Systems, a subsidiary of Sandisk, are offered with up to 64 GB of capacity for about $10,500.

Commercials SSDs are expected to be substantially cheaper, with Sandisk expected to price its 32 GB drive at around $600. PQI is currently the only manufacturer to offer consumer-grade SSDs at this time with prices of the 32 GB version ranging from about $1600 (IDE) to $2200 (SATA). The 64 GB SATA version is available for about $3300.