We met with Intel at CES last week to discuss the company’s plans for new solid-state drives in 2010. After a year that saw the X25 series make Intel the market leader in retail and e-tail, the chip giant is planning to lower prices with an eye towards moving greater SSD volumes in the mainstream market. A new generation of drives based on die-shrunk flash memory will apparently enable the next wave of discounts. Intel says its forthcoming batch of client and enterprise SSDs will use flash memory built on a 2x-nano process, although it wasn’t more specific about the fabrication tech.
While it didn’t reveal when those new drives will arrive, we can apparently expect higher capacities than are available with Intel’s existing X25-series SSDs. Support for the 6Gbps Serial ATA standard isn’t on the menu until 2011, though. That’s when Intel will have core-logic chipsets designed to take advantage of the higher transfer rates enabled by the new SATA spec.
Without a faster host interface, new Intel SSDs won’t be pushing more than 300MB/s. Intel did, however, say that it was concentrating on improving sequential write speeds to saturate the existing 3Gbps pipe. Sequential write performance has been a relative weak point for the last two generations of X25-M drives.
Since it’s focusing on mainstream adoption this year, Intel is also looking at making disk cloning easier for those who buy its drives. We’ve already seen Kingston bundle offer an easy upgrade kit that includes disk-cloning software, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Intel comes up with a similar retail kit of its own.