SanDisk bringing faster SSDs to consumers, PC makers

The new drives are based on the latest flash memory chip technology and will be available from this week

SanDisk is kicking off the new year with two new solid-state disk drives (SSDs) that should bring performance boosts for PC users.

Both the Ultra Plus, which is targeted at consumers, and the X110, which is targeted at PC and server makers, will be available from this week, the company said Sunday at the Storage Visions exhibition in Las Vegas.

The drives are based on 19nm flash memory chips. The 19nm number refers to the size of the smallest feature on the surface of the chip. In flash memory technology, 19nm is the current state-of-the-art production process in widespread use.

Each jump in production technology -- the 19nm chips succeed 24nm chips -- brings several benefits including lower power consumption and the ability to cram more storage on a single chip or reduce the size of a chip for a given capacity.

The Ultra Plus is targeted at the consumer retrofit market. SanDisk says switching out an older SSD or hard-disk drive can bring faster data transfer and better reliability.

It will be available in a cased form factor to match a 2.5-inch hard-disk drive in three capacities: 64 gigabytes (GBs), 128GBs and 256GBs. Sequential read speeds will be up to 530 megabytes per second (MBps) and sequential write speeds will vary between 155MBps and 445MBps depending on the model.

The Ultra Plus is available from Amazon.com and Microcenter.com at $75, $110 and $220 for the respective three capacities. Retailer Newegg.com carries the higher two capacity drives.

The X110 will be also be offered in a 2.5-inch form factor and additionally in customized sizes to match different applications.

Sequential read speeds of 505MBps and write speeds of 445MBps are quoted by SanDisk. In comparison, the company's U100 SSDs, which are based on older 24nm chips, offer read speeds of 450MBps and write speeds of 350MBps.

SanDisk, perhaps best known among consumers for its flash memory storage cards, is moving aggressively into the SSD market. It anticipates SSD products will account for a quarter of its sales in 2014, up from around 10 percent today.

As part of its SSD push, the company announced Monday plans to launch a new distribution channel called "SanDisk for Business," which will offer SSDs for value-added resellers, system integrators and direct market resellers.

The company's move in the SSD market has been fueled by acquisitions. In 2011, it bought enterprise SSD developer Pliant Technology and followed that with the acquisition of two SSD software companies, FlashSoft and Schooner.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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