Solid-State Hard Drives Go Mainstream


Two or so years ago, when computer hard-disk manufacturers began introducing solid-state drives (SSDs), the industry was ready for something new. These solid-state drives promised increased reliability (no moving parts), lower power consumption and more efficient storage.

Unfortunately, you couldn't store much on them. That's because they were much more expensive when compared to old-fashioned mechanical hard drives. They were slower, too.

A year or so later, second-generation drives were better. Prices started to come down and read-write speeds began to rise. Still, you had to pay a hefty premium to go solid-state (think Apple Air, for instance.)

All of this is why SanDisk's recent announcement is so interesting. The company (Stock Quote: SNDK) says its third-generation solid-state drives are not only faster than ever (and that includes faster than the fastest disk drives you can find) but prices have now come down from the stratosphere.

SanDisk's new lines of SSDs are called G3 and they're designed as drop-in replacements for hard-disk drives in notebook PCs. Available in standard 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch form factors they come in capacities of 60, 120 and 240GB, which correspond to MSRPs of $149, $249 and $499, respectively.

As for speed, these new G3s are more than five times faster than the fastest 7,200 RPM mechanical hard disk drives you can find. They're more than twice as fast as those solid-state drives that were shipping way back in the good old days in 2008. Here's the kicker: These new drives clock in at 40,000 RPM. Compare that to 7,200 RPM drives mentioned above and you begin to understand why I'm excited about all this.

I could give you lots more technical data like how much faster it actually reads and writes information but here's all you have to know: In addition to being faster and cheaper, these drives are more reliable. Actually they're much more reliable due to no moving parts inside. SanDisk says they should be good for more than 100 years of typical usage (whatever that means)!

Last week, we got a private showing of just what the new drives are capable of. Needless to say, I've never seen anything like it before. The same exact laptop -- except for the hard drives -- completed tasks like initially booting up in one quarter the time. Watch our video to see the results for yourself.

SanDisk's G3 SSDs should be available sometime mid-year. SanDisk 2.5-inch drive update kits are expressly for do-it-yourselfers. If you have an older laptop with an aging and ever-slowing hard drive, one of these SSDs may be all you need to get a few more years out of your trusty "old faithful."

We intend to try this for ourselves as soon as the third-generation drives come off the Japanese assembly lines.




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