Intel Pads MID Launch With Tiny Solid State Drives

Santa Clara (CA) - We have no doubt, the Mobile Internet Device will turn out to be what the UMPC was intended to become - a mass market pocket computing platform. And Intel finally develops the components such a platform needs to have, including a compact and economical mass storage device.

Solid state drives aren't new to Intel's product line-up and are a logical expansion of the company's portfolio, especially since the company has become heavily involved in NAND flash production with the help of Micron. In that sense, it is good to see that Intel is taking advantage of this capability and today said that it has developed "ultra-small" solid state drives (SSDs) for use in "MIDs, digital entertainment and embedded products". Foremost, we expect these new SSDs to become part of Intel's "Menlow" platform.

The Z-P140 SSDs will be offered in 2 GB and 4 GB capacities, with a possibility to be extended to 16 GB, and is promised to weigh only 600 milligrams and is about "400 times smaller than a 1.8" hard drive". Intel did not provide the exact measurements of the SSD. The device, however will integrate a PATA interface, which means that it will not provide quite the data bandwidth of SATA SSDs that become more and more common these days, but indicates that Intel aims to produce these drives with little cost involved. Intel says the SSDs will be able to read data at 40 MB/s write at 30 MB/s, which is less than half of the performance the fastest consumer SSDs are able to provide today.

But then, speed may not be that important for MIDs - at least less important than power consumption. According to Intel, the drive's "active power usage" is only 0.3 watts. In sleep mode, the drive uses 1.1 milliwatts. For comparison, 1.8" hard drives consume between 1 and 1.5 watts when active, and about 10 milliwatts when idle. Another advantage of SSDs could become reliability: While hard drives are rated at a mean time between failure (MTBF) of typically several hundreds of thousands of hours, Intel says that the MTBF of its SSD is 2.5 million hours, which translates into roughly 290 years.

The Intel Z-P140 is currently sampling with mass production scheduled in the first quarter of 2008.