Samsung plans to begin selling a 64GB solid-state disk (SSD) drive - double the capacity of its current highest-capacity drive - the company has announced.

Solid-state disk drives are intended as replacements for conventional hard-disk drives and use NAND flash memory rather than a rotating magnetic storage disk. They offer several benefits, including faster data read and write times, greater shock resistance and lower power consumption, but they are also more expensive.

The first SSDs began appearing last year as prices for flash memory dropped, making them realistic for use in products for the first time.

Samsung currently offers 16GB and 32GB drives and will begin shipping a 64GB model in the next quarter, it said at an event in Taipei. The drive is the same size as a 1.8-inch hard-disk drive and is intended as a direct replacement for a hard-disk in products such as laptop computers, multimedia players and portable navigation systems.

It will offer better performance than Samsung's previous models in addition to the higher capacity. The speed it reads data has been increased from 53 Mbyte/sec to 64 Mbyte per/s, while the write speed has been increased from 30 Mbyte per/s to 45 Mbyte per/s.

Samsung is a major manufacturer of flash-memory chips and stands to see its business benefit from greater use of the drives. It forecasts demand jumping from 2.2 million drives in 2006 to 173 million this year and 9 billion by 2010. The market was worth $56 million last year, and Samsung's demand projections mean growth to $218 million this year and $6.8 billion in 2010.

Samsung is not alone in pursuing this market. In January, SanDisk, another large flash memory chip maker, unveiled a 32GB 1.8-inch drive and earlier this month announced a 2.5-inch drive with similar capacity.