Intel's Skaugen hints at PCI Express SSD launch

Intel veep Kirk Skaugen has hinted at the accuracy of rumours that the company will be launching a PCI Express-based SSD line under the codename 'Ramsdale' and to be known as the 720 Series.

During a question-and-answer session at the Intel Round Tablet event - held to launch Intel's exascale vision at the International Supercomputing Conference 2011 - a comment was made about a machine from SGI which used Intel SSDs to power an impressive data throughput speed.

SGI's Dr. Eng Lim Goh fielded the question, and appeared to indicate that the machine was using PCI Express SSD modules manufactured by Intel. Skaugen was quick to disabuse the assembled press of this notion, however: "Intel doesn't have a PCIe SSD," Skaugen confirmed, "and we're not announcing one today."

Skaugen stopped short of denying the possibility of a future product, however. "I think PCIe SSDs are interesting," he explained. "We could see them having potential in the future from Intel."

Skaugen's comments come after Computer Base, a German-language technology site, posted specifications of what it claimed would be Intel's next-generation SSD series. While the 710 - codenamed Lyndonville - represents a standard SATA-connected SSD with simple evolutionary improvements, the 720 - codenamed Ramsdale - is purportedly a PCI Express SSD.

If true, it would mark the first such product to wear an Intel badge. Although the company's chips have previously found their way into PCI Express devices from Micron, Intel has shied away from the technology itself.

It's hard to imagine why: with claimed performance of 2.2GB/s read and 1.8GB/s write, the enterprise-grade devices would help boost performance of Intel's server and HPC products immensely. The fact that Skaugen was willing to talk about the possibility at all suggests that the Intel 720 is both real and imminent.

Sadly, it's also likely to be out of most people's price range, with Intel likely to target the HPC and data centre markets first and foremost.