Intel has started shipping a new series of small-capacity solid-state drives (SSDs) that can be used in laptops to reduce boot times and load applications more quickly.
SSDs provide faster access to data than traditional hard disk drives, which means they can help to speed up boot times. But SSDs are also more expensive, and they currently have smaller storage capacities.
Offering smaller SSDs that act as a temporary storage cache to get computers started is a cost-effective way of getting SSD performance into laptops, said Jim Handy, director at Objective Analysis. Many PC makers are offering the smaller SSDs, while retaining the slower and more power-hungry hard drives as primary storage.
"It's fast boot and fast program launch," Handy said.
The SSDs should also improve battery life, Handy said, since their presence reduces the time the hard disk drive needs to be spinning.
Intel already offered a family of small SSDs, but it says the new models operate faster.
The new 313 series drives come in capacities of 20GB and 24GB. Intel has started shipping the drives to computer makers but has not officially announced them, an Intel spokeswoman said.
The new SSDs are also designed for use in ultrabooks. Intel wants ultrabooks to be always connected and more responsive, and SSDs play a role in enabling those features.
The SSD 313 works with Intel's Smart Response technology, which moves frequently used programs to the SSD for quicker loading, Intel said.
The SSDs also work with Intel's Smart Connect technology, which lets ultrabooks stay connected to the internet in a kind of "sleep mode" so that email and social network feeds can continue to be updated. The SSDs also reduce the wait time for computers to sync with the cloud, Intel said.
Intel already sold a similar line of SSDs introduced last year, but the new devices operate more quickly. The 20GB 313 model has a sequential read/write speed of up to 220MB per second, while the 24GB model can reach 160MB per second. The older 311 models topped out at 200MB per second.
The new SSDs are being made using a 25nm manufacturing process, while their predecessor was made using a 34nm process. The new drives are also single-level cell (SLC) drives, in which one bit of data is stored per cell. Intel says the SLC SSDs offer 10 times more endurance than multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs, in which bits of data are stored at multiple levels in each cell. Most of Intel's high-capacity SSD 500 and 700 series are MLC SSDs.
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