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Intel to launch 160GB Flash laptop drives in Q2

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Intel will ramp up its solid-state drive operation next quarter with the introduction of a range of notebook-oriented units running to 160GB of storage capacity.

According to Troy Winslow, Intel's NAND Products Group Marketing Manager, interviewed by News.com, Q2 will see the chip giant roll-out 1.8in and 2.5in SSDs with capacities ranging from 80GB to 160GB.

Intel currently offers a number of low-capacity, 2-4GB SSDs in a form handy for installation into compact handheld devices, like UMPCs. Moving up to laptop-friendly 1.8in and 2.5in drives will see Intel's SSD operation step up a gear and bring it into direct competition with Samsung.

In January, Samsung said it would offer a 2.5in 128GB SSD in Q2. The Korean company said its drive will use a 3Gb/s SATA interface and offer a write speed of 70MB/s – a record for this type of drive, it claimed - and a read-speed of 100MB/s.

Winslow didn't detail the specs of Intel's drives, but he did claim the products' read speed will be "much better than that".

Samsung isn't the only storage supplier driving SSDs hard. Toshiba has promised a 128GB 3Gb/s SATA SSDs in both 1.8in and 2.5in form-factors, all of them due to go into mass-production in May.

SanDisk is already shipping 72GB 1.8in SSDs and 64GB 2.5in SSDs, as is Samsung.

Price remains an issue, however, which is why SSDs are currently appearing primarily in pricey, executive-oriented thin'n'light laptops like the MacBook Air and the Toshiba Portégé R500.

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