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Data Storage Portables Hardware Technology

Flash Memory HDD for Notebooks Launched 277

ukhackster writes "Traditional magnetic hard drive platters could be on the way out, thanks to SanDisk's launch today of a hard drive based on flash memory chips. The device can store 32GB of data and is meant for notebooks . SanDisk claims that using flash chips means faster access and better reliability, so less danger of a serious system crash wiping out all your valuable data if you drop your laptop. The downside, though, is price. At an extra $600 dollars, are price-conscious consumers going to be interested?"
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Flash Memory HDD for Notebooks Launched

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  • An extra $600? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:01PM (#17462324)
    " At an extra $600 dollars, are price-conscious consumers going to be interested?"

    Economy of scale will ensure that it's not $600 for long.
  • by PatHMV ( 701344 ) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:03PM (#17462360) Homepage
    Such a system is obviously not aimed at those for whom price is the main consideration. For those interested in performance, however, an extra $600 may well be worth it. I paid more than that to upgrade my laptop screen to a very high resolution, because it was worth it to me. I could definitely see myself paying an extra $600 for a system with this, though it would also need to have an actual, larger capacity harddrive, too, for my data.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:07PM (#17462452)
    Doesn't flash memory have a limitation on the number of writes
    that can be done before the memory becomes unable to store data?

    I acknowledge my familiarity with flash memory is at best cursory.
  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:19PM (#17462680)
    Yes, you're missing something. And yes, $40 is less than $500.
  • Re:nomenclature (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:33PM (#17462964) Homepage

    Can you stop calling them "flash hard drives"? They are precisely not hard drives, but flash drives. It is like saying "liquid crystal cathode ray tube" or "electric internal combustion engine".
    What's wrong with flash hard drives? They're flash, they're hard (I've yet to see a flash drive that was spongy), and they're drives. This is nothing like your other two examples because this one is still accurate. Now, if they'd called them "flash hard disks" or "flash magnetic disk" or something ridiculous you'd have a point. As it is, flash hard drive is both accurate and useful since by using the same terminology as current hard drives makes it easier for the average user to get their head around it's purpose.
  • Re:HD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mean pun ( 717227 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:35PM (#17463002)
    The transfer rate on most flash memory is slower than hard drives (sometimes much slower). Their only speed advantage is no seek time for random access.

    For this particular application that might not be a problem, since a lot of memory chips will be needed, and you can access them in parallel.

  • by llZENll ( 545605 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:43PM (#17463162)
    With these new disks would be a great time for manufactures to align their specs with the consumers mind. i.e. 1,000,000,000 bytes does not equal a GB. For once I would like to buy a drive and actually be able to use 34,359,738,368 bytes and not the crummy 32,000,000,000 they are selling.
  • by llZENll ( 545605 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:50PM (#17463278)
    Even if it were cost feasible your drive would die in a matter of months or years because flash, especially cheap flash has a limited number of write and read cycles, very small actually, 1000-10000 on some. If windows is churning at your swap file it would only take a day or so to do that many writes. Also the bandwidth of normal cheap flash drives is pretty crappy. The SSDs have special write algorithms in them which spread the writes out around the disk evenly, this extends the life of the memory gates much beyond normal flash memory.
  • Off-topic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by subl33t ( 739983 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @03:56PM (#17463384)
    I can't take it anymore!

    Attention taggers: "no" is not a tag, it's an opinion. Same goes for "yes" and "maybe". Submit it in a post or STFU.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:09PM (#17464706) Journal
    The question of whether people will be willing to pay an "extra $600" for this technology isn't really an issue.

    A little over a year ago, 1gigabyte flash drives were selling for over $100. If you go to Staples right now, you can still see some. But I bought a 1gig Sansadisk flash for $15 a few weeks ago. So a better question would be if people would be willing to pay an additional $80 for this new technology because that's what it'll cost a year or so from now.

    The answer is "effin' right!"
  • Re:HD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:31PM (#17465014) Journal
    My laptop hard drive can handle 30MB/s linear writes. In real-world usage, however, head movements mean that I am very, very unlikely to get more than 5-10MB. Don't underestimate the improvement that no-cost seeking could bring.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:11AM (#17470726) Journal
    Hard drives (and DVD-ROM drives, too) suck a LOT of power on a laptop.

    No. No they don't.

    Your backlight sucks a lot of power. Your hard drive is a barely noticable load next to the display. Your hard drive is probably near the bottom of power consumption for the whole system.

    (Note all the portable MP3 players with 1.8" HDDs, that last 30+ hours on one tiny battery.)

    Performance and reliability are the reasons to consider flash based storage in notebooks, NOT battery life.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."