The next wave of ultrabooks won't just get a performance and battery life boost from Intel's Haswell processors. They may also have substantially quicker storage, thanks to solid-state drives like Samsung's new XP941 SSD.
THe XP941 is a PCI Express solid-state drive. It's got a peak read speed of 1400 MB/s, which is more than twice the 600 MB/s maximum enabled by the 6Gbps Serial ATA interface. And this is no jumbo-sized solution: it has a scant 80 x 22 mm (3.2" x 0.9") footprint and weighs just six grams. To put things in perspective, Samsung says the XP941 takes up 1/7th the volume and weighs 1/9th as much as a standard 2.5" SSD.
128GB, 256GB, and 512GB versions are available. The XP941 has entered mass production and has been shipping to "major notebook PC makers" since "earlier this quarter," Samsung adds. That sounds like a roundabout way of saying shipments began some time within the past 17 days. The company doesn't talk pricing, but I assume the XP941 isn't quite as affordable as SATA (even mSATA) solutions.
This may not be the first speedy PCIe SSD to hit ultra-slim notebooks. As AnandTech reported a few days ago, Apple's Haswell-powered MacBook Air laptops boast PCIe storage that pulls off peak read and write speeds in the 700-800MB/s range. That's a fair bit slower than Samsung's claimed performance figures for the XP941, but it's still faster than 6Gbps SATA storage.