Intel has started shipping new solid-state flash drives designed for servers, workstations and storage devices. Intel has tied up the deal with Sun, which pledged to deliver storage products using Intel's flash technology.

Earlier this year, Intel announced its collaboration with Micron Technology to develop NAND flash memory that's as much as five times faster than conventional NAND. This week, Intel said it now is shipping its fastest SSD, the X-25E Extreme Serial Advanced Technology Attachment Solid-State Drive, potentially accelerating enterprise adoption of flash technology. Flash is more expensive than spinning disk drives, also faster and more efficient.

Sun already had said it would make embedded flash drives an option for nearly all of its servers by year-end. Now Sun says it will deliver multiple storage products using Intel's solid-state drives, which are designed for computing operations requiring a high rate of input/output operations per second (IOPS).

Intel said its flash drives are 100 times faster than standard hard-disk drives, offering performance of 35,000 IOPS. "Solid-state drive technology will change the economics of enterprise data centres," said John Fowler, Sun's server and storage chief.

Intel's new flash drive comes in a 32GB capacity, and is priced at US$695 (£400) for up to 1,000. A 64GB drive is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2009. Intel previously announced 80GB and 160GB flash drives for laptop and desktop computers.