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Sandisk Debuts World's Smallest SSD Yet 222

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the itty-bitty-bits dept.
siliconbits writes "Weighing less than a paper clip and smaller than a postage stamp, Sandisk's iSSD comes in a tiny Ball Grid Array and boasts support for the SATA standard, which means that it can be soldered directly on motherboards."
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Sandisk Debuts World's Smallest SSD Yet

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  • SSD being soldered directly to a motherboard? I'm a bit torn about that idea...

    • by Going_Digital (1485615) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:09AM (#33302052)
      Would be pretty good if one was soldered on the main board of a laptop for the boot drive, still leaving space for a traditional hard drive for mass storage.
    • by v1 (525388) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:11AM (#33302078) Homepage Journal

      SSD being soldered directly to a motherboard? I'm a bit torn about that idea...

      ok, so you're saying my hard drive died. How much will that cost to replace?

      Excuse me?

      (they'd BETTER put it in a socket)

      • by Criliric (879949) <Shane.belaire@gmail.com> on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:13AM (#33302120)
        exactally, and if the mother board craps out, good luck getting your data back
        • by v1 (525388) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:17AM (#33302176) Homepage Journal

          heh, I hadn't even considered that, excellent counterpoint.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            You people.

            Did you even read the article? I don't think that 4-64GB will be replacing your hard drive.

            SHeesh.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Zerth (26112)

              Considering my netbook has 8 gigs of onboard storage, yes it could.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by gmack (197796)

              I just put a machine together for a Church's overhead display. Since they don't do much file storage on that machine I opted for a 32 GB SSD instead of going for a traditional drive since the price was roughly the same.

              The machine it replaced didn't have a drive much larger than that and after installing Windows 7, office and Easy Worship I still have 16 GB left on the drive so the upper end of that size range is easily enough to replace your hard drive.

              • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @02:02PM (#33304510)

                yes, but after a few months of windows updates (and the storage of all them, and the old files they replace being stuck in WinSxS) you'll have a 10Gb space left.

                I initially installed windows 7 in a 25Gb partition thinking 'no-one needs that much'. Then I found it got quite tight for space, so I increased it to 30Gb. Now I find its quite tight for space (2.2Gb free out of 29.2Gb). So I guess I'll have to increase it again.

                I wouldn't mind so much, but its obviously full of crap - as I install apps (especially big ones) mostly to my D drive to keep the OS backups small. At least its leaner than Vista was!

            • Well, no - but you could fit enough of the tiny SSD's into a hard-drive-sized case to make a decent-sized SSD-based RAID array.

              Maybe only Larry Ellison, Steve Ballmer, and Steve Jobs could afford to buy such a thing right now, but the concept is valid...

        • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:23AM (#33302276) Homepage Journal

          You *did* have a backup, right?

        • It would be an absolute pain in the ass but as it uses the SATA standard there should be a way of connecting up the pins and getting the data off somehow. I actually just sent an email, however, around the company I work for entitled "Imaging these will be a bitch" (digital forensics company).
          • by TheBig1 (966884)

            It would be an absolute pain in the ass but as it uses the SATA standard there should be a way of connecting up the pins and getting the data off somehow.

            True, but that would involve desoldering it first. BGA packages have the pins on the bottom, which means you can't just use probes on the side of the chip to get access to them. If it was in a socket, of course, it would be trivial, but the cost of a socket compared with the 1% of customers who will actually use it, chances are most manufacturers will

        • Well, if you use the soldered-in flash as the OS drive, you shouldn't need to worry about lost data? Maybe?

          Also, although I don't agree with what I'm saying here, there is a target device here that many people will consider disposable. Specifically, if the motherboard dies, remove your micro-SD card and buy a new cheap tablet for lost than the cost of repair.

          Except that you and I will use our toaster oven to reflow the SSD and/or remove it, perhaps.

        • God forbid you backup your data.

      • by Zocalo (252965)
        I think that directly soldering the device to motherboards is more likely to be restricted to devices that are more economical to just replace when they fail; stuff like MP3 players, phones and thumb drives[1]. Anything larger than that and you'd have to be a pretty dumb manufacturer or working to very tight space constraints not to see the potential revenue that might come from putting the chip on a daughter board to create higher spec systems and end-user upgrades.

        [1] This doesn't preclude sending the
        • by Zerth (26112)

          It would make a nice replacement for recovery partitions. That would be a fairly low-write and you wouldn't really miss it if your MB died.

      • What about the motherboard of an iPhone?
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Yeah and all that stuff that used to be on half a dozen controller cards, now it's all on the motherboard. How terrible. I just checked here in Norway and for the place of the cheapest nettop which is around 1900 NOK I get three hours of computer assistance at 640 NOK/hour - parts not included. And even if you repair an old laptop the other parts are worn and you get no new warranty.

        In short, it doesn't pay off. Deliver it at a recycling center and get a new one, they come off the delivery line at so low pr

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:13AM (#33302130) Journal

      It's a great Idea for Apple products. Because if it breaks, you just send it in to their support and they give you a replacement for the time being (ignoring the fact that you actually need your files right away) while they work on your computer for 4-6 months only to ship you a brand new one in the end. And when its time to upgrade, you just toss your computer out and buy a new one.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        Well, it probably wouldn't be a good idea for Dell then. Because if it breaks, you just call their support phone lines in India, they keep pushing you from person to person (ignoring the fact that your boss actually has to pay you for all that time wasted calling them) while they keep promising to call you back for about 4-6 months only to charge your credit card to ship you a replacement part that you have to fix yourself and if you don't send back the bad part they won't ever give your money back. And whe

        • I bought a Dell laptop for $700 that included a business warranty. I sent two tickets complaining about a screen defect, provided a picture, and the next day a technician was sent to my location and swapped out the part in less than an hour.

          If you don't want to spend the extra $100 on the business warranty, it might take a couple days to get a replacement part. But you can buy a machine with with a three year accidental replacement on-site warranty for far less than you can get a similarly specced Apple pro

        • Well, it probably wouldn't be a good idea for Dell then. Because if it breaks, you just call their support phone lines in India, they keep pushing you from person to person (ignoring the fact that your boss actually has to pay you for all that time wasted calling them) while they keep promising to call you back for about 4-6 months only to charge your credit card to ship you a replacement part that you have to fix yourself and if you don't send back the bad part they won't ever give your money back. And when it's time to upgrade, you just toss your computer out and buy a new one.

          You should spring for business-grade support. I call, punch in the number from the machine, get routed to someone in the US who overnights me the parts I ask for -no questions asked unless I ask them talk me through troubleshooting the problem. I swap the part, drop the old one into the box with the prepaid return shipping label. Done.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Here's how it could work: solder a 16GB version to the motherboard, make it fast, give it a dedicated SATA channel. Then write a storage driver for windows (or whatever) that masks space from the primary disk for the OS and moves the data to the SSD. Think of it as a lower level cache for the hard drive before going to RAM. Hell, you could keep a synced copy on your actual hard disk to remove the risk of losing anything at all. Bottom line is it's basically "readyboost done right" since it makes for a

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        This is is what some SAN companies do. One of them has SSD media that functions as a persistent cache. This way, data that is read/written to often goes off of the SSD, while other items end up being written directly to the array that can be made slower.

        The good about this method: Not having to worry as much about what tiers of storage, because the SAN head determines where data is placed.

        The bad: It might be that OS files end up there as opposed to what you want to have the great performance with. So,

    • by alen (225700)

      maybe not for PC's, but for HP server and probably Dell with the CD/DVD they provide to set up the server it's a good idea. more storage on the motherboard means you can put more logic into the scripted set ups that HP/Dell provide. and you can use it as a cheap storage for diagnostic data for servers

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I would like this myself. What this would be great for would be putting OS images on and having it be read-only. This way, if Joe Sixpack gets their computer compromised and trashed, it would be trivial to enable the boot device in BIOS and boot from it for a reinstall or a recovery mode. Well, more trivial than getting Joe to find the OS recovery media or buy another copy of Windows.

      Even better would be the option of booting to recovery media, or having a recovery partition with tools to do offline malw

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:08AM (#33302024)

    I don't think that the SATA spec mandates a BGA interface be provided on motherboards. You couldn't really solder this directly on there any more than you could directly solder a USB device on a mobo that had no headers. You'd have to precision-solder onto the tracks on the board. I think what's meant is that this component can be integrated onto existing motherboard designs without adding a new interface. It can use the existing SATA controller.

    This opens the door to a mobo that not only has onboard graphics and sound, but onboard mass storage. That'd be pretty amazing in an "all my hard drives just ate themselves" scenario.

    • by v1 (525388)

      Our POS systems at the bars use a little card with a pair of little ROM chips on it, about the size of flash nand chips, and run windows xp embedded. If the storage fails, you just unplug it and plug in a new one. They'd be out of their minds not to socket this thing or otherwise jumper it.

      The obvious way would be to have a regular sata connector at a strategic location on the board, and have this ssd in a slightly larger package, and have it just plug into the connector and screw down with a couple tiny

    • I'm failing to see the benefit of soldered-on in this context as well. To me soldered-on means disposable and my data is anything but. (Yes, I do backup but why make it harder to recover for no significant return?)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sockatume (732728)

        It'd be guff as a data partition, but you could stick a Linux environment on there for basic tasks. Like those instant-on OSes, but user-accessable. Heck, they could market it as a built-in Readyboost drive.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        I'm failing to see the benefit of soldered-on in this context as well. To me soldered-on means disposable and my data is anything but. (Yes, I do backup but why make it harder to recover for no significant return?)

        No significant return? You just said yourself that if this thing is soldered on, you need to replace the whole motherboard if it dies, rather than just this tiny chip. That means more sales for the motherboard manufacturer.

        Or did you mean a significant return for you?

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        then what's the issue between storing your personal data on a traditional HDD (or whatever) and installing your OS on this thing? If the mobo craps on you, chances are you'll be re-installing everything anyway (new drivers, etc, required).

        Alternatively, format it as your temp/swap drive.

        I like the idea, mobos come with some instant-on Linus OSes, this would let them be pre-installed, and also run more dedicated PCs like a media server. After all, a 32Gb SSD isn't going to replace my movies, pictures, music

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      It's probably less for PCs and more for embedded platforms (which increasingly do have SATA interfaces - a MIPS board on my desk right now has TWO SATA interfaces).

      But it can be useful on a MID - 64GB storage without having to waste space for a 1.8" hard drive or SSD. This will enable smaller handheld PCs (literally - Windows 7 or Linux on a device the size of an iPhone). Or for tablet PCs, you can fill the space the hard drive left with battery and get easily another 20-100% more battery life by having the

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      Like the motherboard of the original Eee PC, or the Macbook Air?

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      You apparently have no idea how wires work. (i.e. they can be replaced by copper traces and soldered connections - it's pretty frickin easy)

  • mini-itx (Score:4, Interesting)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10link ... inus threevowels> on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:08AM (#33302032) Homepage

    I wonder if anyone will build a mini-itx board with one of these on? IDE is on it's way out and while you can get SATA disk on moudules a largish lump hanging out of a flimsy sata port doesn't seem like a very robust soloution. A board with one of these on would mean all you would need to add is ram to make a fully functional embedded PC.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Just be a lil more creative :). When I built my FreeNAS box I decided that I didn't want the OS on any of the hard drives. I just took a 2GB USB thumb drive with FreeNAS on it, hooked it via a cable up to one of the motherboard USB headers (some electrical tape wrapped around the drive/cable connection to make sure it wouldn't come out), and then zip tied the drive to the side of the case.

      Looks a little goofy if you pop the hood, but it works flawlessly and you can't tell at all from the outside. And for

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        "some electrical tape wrapped around the drive/cable connection to make sure it wouldn't come out), and then zip tied the drive to the side of the case"
        Amateur
        Pros use heat shrink tubing and double sided foam tape.

        .

        • And hot glue guns.

          • Christ. What is wrong with you people?

            Duct tape, all the way down.
            • Problem: You notice how on some Cisco gear and most servers how there isn't a proper latching mechanism to prevent your standard power cord from coming undone?

              Solution: Glue gun.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          Pfft, if you're going through all the trouble, why not just cut off the connectors and solder the USB drive directly to the internal USB headers?

          There's no reason not to, and the solder will make sure the connection never slips.

      • by owlstead (636356)

        It may be a lot cheaper, but it will also be a lot slower, smaller and most importantly, it will probably not do write leveling in the way higher end SSD's do. You may not need that for your NAS, but other builders should be aware of this fact.

    • Hell with mini-itx, I don't know why more manufacturers don't pump out nano-itx gear. NVidia already showed us it could be done years ago, but no manufacturer has really stepped up to the plate:
      http://www.google.com/images?q=nvidia [google.com] ion reference platform

      Sure there's the fit-PC2, which is cute... but still suffers from the crappy PowerVR video with limited driver support.

    • by owlstead (636356)

      These drives could indeed flourish in the (cheaper) netbook / NAS / internet appliance / TV-as-PC / tablet market and possibly the high end smart phone market as well. My Android just had a 70 MB upgrade to 2.1 and it took quite a long time for it to download and reboot. I'm betting part of that is the flash on the device. Especially netbooks are just made for SSD's. 2.5" drives currently have just one advantage over these kind of SSD's: capacity. All the other things are fully in the SSD camp. It's a shame

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually how about this for a solution. Take this chip and put it on a a PC-Board with an sata connector on the end.
      There you go. A small limp to hand off a sata port.
      I would also bet that you will see the same board with an esata connector on it for a next gen flash drive.

  • Summary++ (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:09AM (#33302046)

    The whole article is just about 5 times longer than the very short summary. I didn't read it very attentively, but the following 2 quotes should be informative and reading them, I think you won't need to spend the 30 seconds it would take to read the full article:

    "160MB/sec sequential read and 100MB/sec sequential write speeds being quoted."

    "will target the "fast-growing" mobile computing platforms such as tablet PCs and ultra-thin notebooks (and netbooks we presume); as expected, they won't be available to consumers directly but as an integral part of devices."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)

      "160MB/sec sequential read and 100MB/sec sequential write speeds being quoted."

      Which is the least interesting performance statistic, making me think the random access and IOPS is not that hot. Still, 64GB with reasonable performance, combined with a TB platter drive makes for one helluva laptop.

  • by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:26AM (#33302310) Homepage

    Possible Applications of 64 GB integrated into the motherboard.

    1. BIOS
    2. Hypervisor
    3. Drivers

    And that's right off the top of my head.

    • by PitaBred (632671)

      Operating System. Why such lightweight apps? You could do ALL of the things you listed with less than a single GB of NAND flash.

    • by owlstead (636356)

      But you can already do those with USB based flash components. The added write leveling and speed of an SSD is not really needed for those applications. Of course, that does not matter if the price is right, but I suspect that that might not be the case.

  • About the guy carrying a Sandisk SSD and postal stamp in his pocket who goes down the post office to mail a letter and then sticks the stamp in his smartphone.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      About the guy carrying a Sandisk SSD and postal stamp in his pocket who

      gets asked "Is that a postage stamp sized SSD in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" This is /. after all.

  • by iamhassi (659463) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:29AM (#33302358) Journal
    How is this much different from a MicroSD?

    --Smaller than stamp? Very much so, [wikipedia.org] Check!
    --4gb to 64gb? Check!
    --100MB/sec read and 160MB/sec write? Hmm... well not by itself, but if you Raid 0 a few MicroSDs it'd probably reach those speeds, and we're hoping the article is correct with the MB term meaning Megabyte and not Megabit because MicroSD's also offer 100 Mbit/s [wikipedia.org]

    So while this is announcement is nice, I still feel like they took the same thing we've been using for the past few years, put it in a new box and labeled it as a totally new product.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)
      They solder a MicroSD card to a MicroSD-to-SATA controller chip (really, to the IDE front-end chip: the whole integrated drive electronics thing can skip all the physical media management stuff like stepper motor control and an I/O subsystem, since we're using a tiny flash chip as backing storage with a flash controller built-in). So you get a SATA interface just like a SATA IDE drive (or an ATA interface like an ATA IDE drive, or a SCSI interface like a SCSI IDE drive), but with a flash back-end. The who
    • I really want to know how is this much different than a postage stamp?
    • by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:51AM (#33302622)

      1: MicroSD only goes up to 32GB, and is actually the limit of MicroSDHC. The standard to go above that (expected to be MicroSDXC, based on SDXC) is yet to exist.
      2: The MicroSD interface is limited to 100Mb/s, so the 160Mb/s couldn't be had from MicroSD at all

      Other than that, yeah, it's just the same data chip as they probably already had but with a sata device-side chip integrated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      You won't get that level of write performance from a microSD card and I also assume this will come with much more sophisticated wear-leveling and TRIM support. There's a reason why manufacturers don't just put 8 microSD cards together and call it an SSD drive.

    • by PitaBred (632671)

      The article most certainly is correct. You haven't experienced NAND speeds, so you don't know what you're talking about. Flash is not anything like an SSD. It's not as reliable, it's not as fast.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Read/Write times are always in megabytes, bandwidth is in megabits. This SSD is in the 1+gbit/ per second range bandwidth, or about 9-10 times as wide as a MicroSD. This means to match this single chip's performance you need at least 10 microSD's. This is born out by the fact that the fastest SD cards I've ever heard of run at about 20mb/s write (160mbit/s).

      A 64gb microSD isn't going to come close to the performance numbers on this thing, to match the performance you'd want to use at least 8 class 10 car

    • by owlstead (636356)

      You forgot a few:
      - easy to solder on board [nope]
      - wear leveling [nope]
      - possibility to do TRIM [nope]
      - encryption? [nope]

      And in RAID:
      - boot (in RAID) [nope]
      - no drivers needed (in RAID) [nope]
      - cheaper than the proposed solution (in RAID) [nope]
      - smaller than the proposed solution (in RAID) [nope]
      - less than 15 needed for sufficient speeds [nope]

      Informative? Guy says that micro SD exists and could compete with this product? This is not the same product at all.

  • by MrMe (172559) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:46AM (#33302536)

    I chose SSD for my "thing" in 20 questions all the time, now Sandisk has ruined it!

    It's a thing.
    Q1: Is it smaller than a breadbox?
    Yes
    Q2: Is it around the size of a postage stamp?
    yes
    Q3: does it weigh less than a paperclip?
    yes
    Is it a SSD?
    Yes! Damn you Sandisk! You'll rue the day!

  • Awesome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thechemic (1329333)
    They basically took a MicroSD card and made it SATA compatible. Now stop farting around and put 10 of these in parallel (RAID0) for combinations of blistering speeds and decent sizes. Until then, I’ll stick to my MicroSD cards. At least I wont have to replace an entire mobo if my micro takes a crap.
  • When they boast about being SATA compliant, I don't think the point is that it could be used in {lap|desk}top motherboards, but more as a point of interest for embedded system designers who want onboard storage. Think of it rephrased as "hey, our chip uses that standard interface that your embedded ARM-based processor uses."
  • Thank you, Slashdot, for not noting the storage capacity of these tiny SSD's in the summary. I actually had to go RTFA to find out the information I wanted (4-64 GB).

    Er, it was a clever ploy to make Slashdotters read the article, right? It wasn't just coincidence that you left out this important piece of information?

  • I mean, the point of a hard drive is to have a filesystem on a peripheral bus.

    But if you're going to be soldering things to the board, why not just put them on the memory bus and use a flash file system?

    If you can do that, going through the SATA bus means you have to have a SATA bus you otherwise wouldn't need, and a couple of layers of data packaging and transfer. Slower, more complex, more stuff to implement. But you can use an OS that doesn't understand FFS (but really, is that likely?)

    This thing only

    • embedded devices (Score:3, Informative)

      by OrangeTide (124937)

      3. You manufacture a smartphone or smartbook/netbook and want something that is faster than current SD/eMMC solutions and about as cheap.

      Flash filesystems are a real pain. The open source ones have some pretty severe limitations (yaffs2), and the commercial ones are expensive and annoying to license (you get locked into them and can't get away). Also, SD/MMC sucks at doing fast reads, while the interface could push 50MB/s most implementations of the interface (not the flash, just the bus itself) can't eek o

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