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    Dell gets flash with SSD option for laptops

Latitude D420 and D620 ATG models to get 32GB of solid state storage.

By Simon Aughton, 25 Apr 2007 at 12:26

Dell has begun shipping ultra-portable laptops with solid state drives (SSD).

The two models, the Latitude D420 ultra-mobile and D620 ATG semi-rugged will be the first from the company to offer a flash-based drives instead of hard disk drives (HDD) on corporate notebooks.

A SSD is a hard drive alternative based on flash memory. Unlike a traditional HDD which uses spinning discs and read/write heads, a SSD is designed with flash memory with no moving parts. As a result they provide better reliability and generate less noise.

The new drives can also increase system performance by up to 23 per cent and decrease boot time by up to 34 per cent, said Dell, compared to the standard HDDs available with the Latitude D420 and D620 ATG.

Dell's engineering tests show that the SSD has an operating shock tolerance of up to 1,300 Gs, which is twice the rating of mechanical drives. During extreme impact testing the surrounding notebook hardware broke before the drive.

In addition, the drives are predicted to reduce the probability of failure by three-and-one-half times compared to standard mechanical drives. This will help reduce costs associated with hard drive failures, one of two top sources of system malfunctions in notebooks, according to research firm Gartner, and something that accounts for up to 45 per cent of total hardware failures.

"A solid state drive is an excellent storage technology for our mobile users," said Kevin Kettler, chief technology officer at Dell. "We are committed to leading the industry in delivering these new drives and will offer them across Dell's next generation of Latitude products."

SanDisk, which will supply the SSDs, said that Dell's decision to deploy them is highly significant.

"This represents an important milestone in the evolution of personal computers with the arrival of solid state flash memory as a durable, efficient alternative to the hard drive," said Eli Harari, SanDisk's founder and chief executive. "For those enterprise road warriors who rely on their notebook PCs, hard drive crashes with attendant loss of critical data will soon be a thing of the past."

The 32GB SSD is initially available in the Americas for $549, with Europe and Asia to follow "soon". The drive has the same shape and size as a HDD and uses the same connectors for integration into existing systems.

A number of computer makers already offer SSD-based laptops, including Sony, Samsung and Fujitsu.

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