Encrypted USB stick maker IronKey is to offer a lower-cost version of its drive based on a cheaper type of flash memory.
The new D200 drive will use Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND memory rather than the Single-Level Cell (SLC) equivalent used in its established S200 drive designed for the demands of businesses. The two versions will otherwise be identical from the outside.
The advantage of MLC is cost, which translates into the ability to double the capacity offered at a set price point, while the disadvantage is longevity. MLC flash simply wears out more quickly, usually somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 write/erase cycles to SLC's nearly 100,000.
According to IronKey's vice president of marketing, John Jeffries, the reason for then move was simply that the company has identified two types of user. The S200 was definitely a product for demanding business users, but the D200's lower specification could help the product become more mainstream. This would include home users but also people working for companies that did not use flash storage intensively.
"Partially it's driven by budgets," he admitted. "The consumerisation of this technology [USB encryption] has driven people to consider it."
Businesses had less cash to spend on securing such drives, and a lower-cost, higher capacity product suited their needs, especially if they were looking at using them as authentication tokens.
According to Jeffries, the important aspect of the announcement was that businesses and individuals would now have a more affordable way to get their hands on a USB stick with integrated encryption and management that was FIPS-140 Level 2 validated. For casual use, the lower speed and longevity would not be noticed.
The D200 will retail for $79 (£53) for a 2GB unit, and will be available in increments capacities up to 32GB, double that currently offered for the S200.
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