Electronic Design

Line Blurs Between Flash, Hard Drives

2008 INTERNATIONAL CES — The distinction between flash memory and hard disk drives are fading rapidly as the two storage mediums encroach one another's territory. Both types of storage announced significant advantages in Las Vegas on Monday. Makers of flash memory — known for its ruggedness, compact size and power efficiency — are introducing new, higher-capacity "solid state drives" for computers this week. Meanwhile, makers of hard drives — known more for monster capacity than portability — are touting new models about the size of a CompactFlash memory card. Flash drives have typically been used in portable gadgets like media players, cell phones and digital cameras. Samsung Electronics Co. showed off a slim, solid-state drive designed for laptops and desktops that has a capacity of 128 gigabytes. It'll be one of the beefiest — if not the beefiest — model when it becomes available the first half of this year. And flash-memory maker SanDisk Corp. unveiled a laptop drive with a 72 GB capacity that weighs about 30 percent less than a hard drive of the same dimensions. Neither company disclosed a prices. But the drives are being targeted at high-end ultra-lightweight computers because since solid state drives are still relatively novel and expensive. Samsung also unveiled 30 GB and 40 GB versions of a 1.3-inch hard disk that fits in a CompactFlash drive. That's a record-breaking capacity for a storage component that size, Samsung said.

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