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Intel Corp., who is a relatively minor player on the market of NAND flash, on Monday announced its entry into the market of flash-based solid-state drives (SSD). The first products by the company will target a rather lucrative market of handheld and will eventually be installed into Intel-based mobile Internet devices (MID).

The first SSD from Intel is Z-P140 PATA, which is smaller than a penny and weighing less than a drop of water, sports 2GB or 4GB capacities and can be extended to 16GB. The Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD offers read speeds of 40MB and write speeds of 30MB/s. Critical to mobile applications, its active power usage is 300mW, and only 1.1mW in sleep mode, which helps to extend a device’s battery life. The device features Parallel ATA interface.

The Intel Z-P140 is the smallest SSD in its class, making it attractive to designers and manufacturers of mobile and ultra-mobile devices. Comparatively, the Intel Z-P140 is 400 times smaller in volume than a 1.8-inch hard disk drive (HDD), and at 0.6 grams is 75 times lighter, Intel said.

“Our mission is to provide world-class non-volatile SSD and caching solutions that are designed, optimized and validated to enhance Intel Architecture-based computing platforms. Our customers are finding the Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD to be the right size, fit and performance for their pocketable designs. This is Intel's latest offering as we continue to expand our product line of reliable, feature-rich and high-performing SSDs,” said Pete Hazen, director of marketing for Intel’s NAND products group.

While Intel has been offering its USB-based SSDs for some time now, those SSDs cannot be installed into consumer electronics, as not all devices have USB controller inside. As a result, Intel had to offer a solution that could be plugged onto the place of a typical hard disk drive (HDD) without major changes done to devices’ designs.

The company has also demonstrated technology for future high-performance SSDs with a serial ATA (SATA) interface that will round out the full family of Intel SSD offerings. That technology is expected to be announced as a product line in 2008.

A comprehensive lineup of SSDs will let Intel offer the whole platform for mobile devices, which rapidly start to use NAND flash instead of low-capacity hard drives. Besides, offering SSDs in a bundle with other chips needed for a mobile device, will boost Intel’s competitive position on the rapidly growing market.

The Intel Z-P140 is currently sampling with mass production scheduled in the first quarter of 2008. The 4GB version will follow the 2GB product.

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