Toshiba 512G-byte solid-state drives due soon

Toshiba said that it will offer samples of 512G-byte solid-state drives, which could be seen in laptops and other devices by the middle of next year.

Toshiba said Thursday that it will soon offer samples of 512G-byte solid-state drives, which could make their way to laptops and other devices by mid- or late next year.

Storage capacities of solid-state drives, or SSDs, are doubling every few months, but Toshiba's 512G-byte SSD is the highest storage capacity announced for SSDs intended for consumer devices like laptops. Most PC makers today offer 128G-byte SSDs for laptops, and competitor Samsung recently said it put into mass production 256G-byte SSDs, which will become available in a few months.

SSDs store data on flash memory chips and are often compared to hard drives. SSDs consume less power and have no moving parts, making them a good storage option for laptops compared to hard drives, which store data on magnetic platters. However, SSDs provide less storage capacity and are more expensive than hard drives.

Toshiba's new drive will be offered in a 2.5-inch form factor and is targeted at laptops, desktops and home entertainment systems, the company said. Samples of the new drives will be available in the first quarter of 2009, with mass production beginning in the second quarter.

The new Toshiba SSDs will be on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show to be held in Las Vegas between Jan. 8 and 11, the company said.

The drives offer a sequential read speed of 240M bytes per second and a sequential write speed of 200M bytes per speed, making them comparable to Samsung's 256G-byte SSDs. Random read and write speeds of the devices were not provided by the company. Sequential data transfers occur when running fixed tasks, like when a PC is booted. Random data transfers occur when data transfer tasks are launched at random times, like when starting a program. While sequential tasks are a good measure of an SSD's performance, analysts have said that random transfers are a better performance measure relative to PC tasks.

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