March 13, 2007 6:15 PM PDT

SanDisk drops prices with new flash drive

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SanDisk rolls out flash hard drives for laptops

January 4, 2007
SanDisk has released a new hard drive made of flash memory, and the price won't completely break the bank.

The flash memory maker's new flash drive sports 32GB of memory and is delivered in a package the same size and shape as a 2.5-inch diameter hard drive. Earlier this year, SanDisk released a 32GB drive in a 1.8-inch diameter package. Drives that size typically are used in MP3 players, while most notebooks come with 2.5-inch drives.

SanDisk is selling the 2.5-inch drive for $350 to large volume buyers. That's far more than a 32GB hard drive typically would cost. Still, it's less than SanDisk's previous 1.8-inch drive, which cost $600 more than a conventional 32GB drive, according to SanDisk.

Chalk up the decline in price to the drastic pricing reduction experienced by the flash industry. After a few years of bounding revenues, bad news for flash makers began to crop up in August 2006, when reports showed that revenue wasn't growing as fast as in the past and that flash prices were dropping faster than expected. Supply started drifting upward while demand stabilized, and prices started dropping at 60 percent, faster than the historical norm of 42.7 percent.

Flash memory makers like SanDisk and Micron Technologies have laid out plans to make flash-based drives that will start to displace hard drives in notebooks over the next few years. Flash memory is more reliable than hard drives and can store more information in a smaller space, which will allow notebook makers to reduce the size of their computers. Flash makers produce 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch drives now so that their products will fit into existing notebooks.

Flash memory also consumes far less power than hard drives.

Unfortunately for flash manufacturers, flash also costs far more than hard drives. One gigabyte of hard drive space at retail costs less than 50 cents. A 1GB flash card probably costs close to $20. A 1-terabyte drive at retail, which holds more than 31 times as much data as SanDisk's 32GB drive, costs $500, or less than the SanDisk drive.

In the wholesale market, flash costs seven to eight times more than hard drives, according to some analysts.

Drive makers also point out that laptop manufacturers are putting 80GB and 120GB drives in their notebooks so users can store video and music; flash makers can't match that kind of capacity without raising the price of notebooks sky high.

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SanDisk Corp., flash memory, notebook computer, pricing, USB flash drive

10 comments

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Can't wait...
For now... Give me a 32GB flash drive for the OS and a hard drive for my data.

In the near future, ditch the hard drive altogether. With more and more information being stored online (not locally), for business, do I really need 120GB on a notebook? Nope.
Posted by rturner2 (125 comments )
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Flash drives more reliable?
In my personal experiences, I have had one hard drive cause me problems - I've had SEVERAL flash drives lose my data and crash. I'll stick with the hard drive for now.
Posted by NeilKelty (9 comments )
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Best of both worlds
I think many laptops will have a compact, light-weight, reliable, low-power flash drive inside in the coming couple of years. For users who then want more storage for their library of films or music - they'll plug in an external drive. There's no need to carry that around everywhere and have it constantly sapping your battery life.
Posted by sirpeter (11 comments )
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What about speed ?
Flash should be CRAZY fast if implemented correctly

I would love to see a comparison of IDE, SCSI, SATA, and flash drives. Id love to see if it is faster than 10k drives.
Posted by Silver_2000 (51 comments )
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You mean harddrive?
The SSD drives still use the same interface, the difference is that they use solid state storage opposed to rotating disks. But I agree SSD has a far greater potential that a rotating disk.
Posted by rallyprox (1 comment )
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Flash has a limited lifetime
Flash has a limited number of writes. If your software doesn't know this and writes to the flash drive whenever it needs to, you could exceed this. The figure is given at APPROXIMATELY 300,000. For personal documents, that's ok, but if your application is autosaving, has a database built in or makes use of temporary files, you could easily exceed it.

Then Dead Data.

This important point has been overlooked by overexcited journalists and tech kiddies busy telling us 'Flash is in'.

I'll keep my HDD thanks.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompactFlash" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompactFlash</a>
Posted by HandGlad2 (91 comments )
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Compact Flash is the oldest Flash technology
Not all Flash is compact flash. And not everything on Wikipedia is true

Here is quote from Sandisk site
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3732" target="_newWindow">http://www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3732</a>
"The key benefits of SanDisk SSDs for computer manufacturers and their customers are:

* Reliability. SanDisk SSDs deliver 2 million hours mean time between failures (MTBF)2, approximately six times more than notebook hard disks. With no moving parts, SanDisk SSDs are also much less likely to fail when a notebook computer is dropped or exposed to extreme temperatures.
* Performance. In notebook computers, data moves to and from an SSD more than 100 times faster than data moving to and from a hard disk. SanDisk SSDs offer a sustained read rate of 67 megabytes (MB) per second3 and a random read rate of 7,000 inputs/outputs per second (IOPS) for a 512-byte transfer4. As a result, notebooks equipped with a 2.5-inch SanDisk SSD can boot Microsoft® Windows® Vista? Enterprise in as little as 30 seconds5 and access files at an average speed of 0.11 milliseconds6. A notebook using a hard disk requires an average 48 seconds to boot and an average 17 milliseconds to access files. "

Finally Im pretty sure that Gartner looked at Lifetime
"?There are several reasons computer users and manufacturers should consider SSDs as prices become more affordable,? said Joseph Unsworth, Principal Research Analyst for flash memory at the Gartner research firm. ?For example, Gartner research shows hard disk failure is tied for first place with motherboard failure as the leading cause of overall hardware failure in notebooks, with each accounting for 25 to 45 percent of the total8. The higher reliability of SSDs lowers total cost of ownership, and could be a driver for adoption of SSDs. This is part of the explanation of why Gartner projects global consumption of SSDs in consumer and business notebooks to leap from about 4 million units in 2007 to 32 million units in 20109.?"
Posted by Silver_2000 (51 comments )
Link Flag
Sure they could!
Flash has virtually no seek time. That means that boot-up becomes CPU-bound!

However, the transfer rate is not top-notch. 20MBytes/sek is considered good performance..

Luckily, this can be alleviated if the manufacturer sticks several smaller modules inside the disk drive along with a RAID controller!
Posted by jpsalvesen (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WD Portable Hard Drive
I recently paid $69.98 at Staples for a Western Digital 80 gig portable hard drive - 3 x 5 x 0.5 inches. I almost got a 4 gig flash drive for $50 when I noticed it. Is this a "Best Kept Secret"?
Posted by mcroglevee (3 comments )
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