Among the many miniaturized technologies that will condescend upon Las Vegas at CES 2007 next week like a star imploding, Samsung is gearing up to add to the mix the second generation of solid-state hard disk drives. This at a time while users even today continue to discover the first generation.
Since August of 2005, Samsung has been shipping solid-state drives (SSD) using 4 gigabit (Gb) and 8 Gb NAND flash memory components, in 1.8" and 2.5" form factors, and last June announced a new model with a 32 gigabyte (GB, with a big "B") capacity. This morning, Samsung upped the ante with its announcement that it is shrinking the lithography for its NAND flash memory from 65 nm to 50 nm, and will be shipping 16 Gb NAND flash components in this quarter.
The move is significant, because it paves the way for 64 GB SSDs and higher during this year, evolving into the capacity necessary for a very small portable computer (sub-notebook) to run not just Windows Mobile but Windows Vista, and even have some Office 2007 applications installed.
Vista also supports a new feature called ReadyBoost, which leverages portions of flash memory in SSDs and hybrid hard drives (also from Samsung) as a kind of data cache, increasing system performance by populating easily accessed locations with sectors before those sectors are specifically requested.
So during CES, rather than manufacturers showing samples of NAND flash under big spotlights and larger magnifying glasses, we may be seeing small computing components taking bigger advantage of flash memory-based components. Samsung is the world's leading flash memory producer by a substantial margin, and although it's also a hard drive manufacturer, Samsung drives are not noted for their high performance.
As Samsung pushes its solid-state philosophy, it doesn't stand to lose much in the field of magnetic media. Meanwhile, competitors Seagate -- the leader in the conventional HDD field -- and Toshiba continue to make strides in the miniaturization of their own devices.