Intel's tiny new flash drives

Data on your fingertipDisk drives are going to offer the best $/GB ratio for years to come. Flash drives have to offer something else.

Data on your fingertip Disk drives are going to offer the best $/GB ratio for years to come. Flash drives have to offer something else. A case in point: Intel's new flash drives. Tinier than disks How tiny are they? The Z-P140 measures 12 x 18 x 1.8 mm and weighs 0.6 grams - 400 times smaller and 75 times lighter than a 1.8" hard disk drive. 12 mm is about half an inch. The Z-P140's big brother, the Z-P230 PATA SSD, is only 1/4 the size and weight of a 1.8" drive. Much of that is due to the size of the PATA connector. Intel provided pictures:
Flash drive at your fingertips

This is the PATA drive - taken at a different scale.
Tiny capacity too The drives are available in 2, 4, 8 and 16 GB capacities. These are aimed at the folks who manufacture cellphones, media players, Eee-class notebooks and the like. 2 part niche Part of Intel's pitch is size. The other is cost. They've priced the drives below where disk drives can go due to unavoidable hardware costs like heads and motors. The pricing for 1,000 units available Q3 2008 for the 4GB is $25 and the 8GB part is $45. The 16GB will be available in Q4 2008. I suspect the later availability of the 16 GB part has more to do with getting prices below disk prices than manufacturing ability. The Storage Bits take Notebook flash drives are costly per GB and offer mediocre performance and minimal battery life improvement over disks. So vendors have to go where disks can't either due to size, power or cost. I hope this announcement means that the low-end flash drive vendors will stop making promises their products don't keep. Instead they should focus on applications, as Intel has, where disks can't compete directly. Comments welcome! I wish my 16 GB iPhone had 32 GB. I'm ready for more flash - where it makes sense.


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