SanDisk makes miniature SSD

Svelte laptops and tablets won't have to make room for a full-size 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD in the future, thanks to a miniscule new SSD from SanDisk that weighs less than 1g.

Imaginatively called the iSSD, the new chip is the first flash-based drive to support the standard SATA interface via a ball grid array (BGA) chip socket. Manufacturers can effectively solder the chip straight on to the motherboard without even having to make room for a Mini PCIe connector.

The minute chip is smaller than a postage stamp, measuring just 20 x 16 x 1.85mm (WxDxH), but apparently offers similar capacities and performance to many 2.5-inch solid state drives. SanDisk says the chip can accommodate between 4GB and 64GB of storage space, and that its own internal tests show sequential read and write speeds of 160MB/sec and 100MB/sec respectively.

That's only 10MB/sec off the read speed of Intel's 2.5-inch X25-V, and almost triple the write speed of Intel's drive. Okay, so it's not going to challenge high-performance SSDs based on Sandforce controllers, but it's still going to be much quicker than your average laptop hard drive.

SanDisk's senior director of SSD marketing, Doron Myersdorf, said the new device heralded a "new category of embedded SSDs." According to Myersdorf, the new chip, "should enable OEMs to produce tablets and notebooks with an unprecedented combination of thin, lightweight form factors and fast performance."

SanDisk says it's already handing out samples of the chip to "top-tier" manufacturers, and that the price will be dependent on the quantity ordered.