Is the hard drive history?
Samsung Electronics said Tuesday that it will launch two mobile computers in early June that will do away with hard drives altogether, replacing them with 32 gigabytes of NAND flash memory. The notebooks will be the first to use flash memory as the main storage device.
The Samsung Q1, described as an "ultra-computing device," will be complemented by the Q30, a 12.1-inch notebook PC. The retail price for the Q1-SSD will be 2.3 million Korean won, (about $2,430), while the Q30-SSD will sell for 3.5 million won (about $3,700). Unfortunately for U.S. consumers, both will be sold in Korea only.
Magnetic rotating hard drives have typically been used inside notebooks and PCs simply because they can be manufactured more cheaply than flash memory, although the need to rotate the disc consumes more power than the solid-state flash chips.
Samsung's components division, however, is the largest manufacturer of flash memory in the world, and is already the chief supplier of the NAND flash found within the Apple iPod Nano MP3 player.
Solid-state disks have also been used in specialized enterprise applications. Samsung had said previously that it planned to develop a hybrid hard drive, using both magnetic storage and a "cache" of flash memory to decrease boot times.
The use of flash memory will allow the computers to enjoy several advantages, according to Samsung.
Perhaps the most significant, according to the company, is that the Q30-SSD will operate in complete silence, lacking the quiet chatter of the hard drive or even a processor fan. The Q30 will include a 1.2-GHz Intel Celeron M 753, which will likely be passively cooled.
In addition, the two devices will boot approximately 25 percent to 50 percent faster, reading and writing data at 53 Mbytes/s and 23 Mbytes/s, respectively, significantly faster than a typical 4,200-RPM hard drive. But faster magnetic hard drives, such as Seagate's 5,400-RPM Momentus drive, offer burst transfer rates of 57.6 Mbytes/s.
The NT-Q30-SSD will include the Celeron 753, a 12.1-inch WXGA (1280x768) display, 512 Mbytes of RAM, an Intel GMA 900 integrated chipset, an ultraslim optical drive, 56K modem, IEEE 802.11g Wi-Fi, internal sound, a DMB digital TV tuner, and either a 3-cell or a 6-cell battery, all in a 1.14-kg (2.51 pounds) chassis. The notebook will measure 287.7 x 197.5 x 18.0 to 23.8 mm.
The NT-Q1-SSD, meanwhile, will weigh just 751 grams. Inside the case the ultraportable will house a 900-MHz Celeron M 353 microprocessor, a a 7-inch 800 x 480 TFT-LCD, 512 Mbytes of RAM, a GMA 900 integrated chipset, a 10/100 Fast Ethernet connection as well as IEEE 802.11b/g wireless LAN, internal sound, a DMB TV tuner, and either the 3-cell or 6-cell battery. The NT-Q1-SSD will measure 227.5 x 139.5 x 24.5 to 26.5 mm, Samsung said.
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