SanDisk launches SSD on a chip

Prefers to call it an integrated SSD

MEASURING A MERE 16x20x1.85mm SanDisk’s new iSSD or integrated SSD as it’s also known as, is very possibly the world’s smallest SSD. It’s intended to be embedded in devices that support the standard SATA interface, such as tablets, smartphones and other portable computing devices.

SanDisk’s iSSD might be physically small, but with capacities ranging from four to 64GB there’s plenty of space on offer. Performance-wise the iSSD can’t quite compete with the latest generation of SSDs, but considering its size, it’s hard to fault sequential read speeds of 160MB/s and sequential write speeds of 100MB/s, as this is better than many of the budget SSDs that are on the market. There’s no mention whether the iSSDs use SLC or MLC NAND Flash, but we’d presume it’s the latter to keep costs down.

The iSSD comes in a BGA package and is intended to be soldered directly onto the PCB of whatever device it goes into. The upside of this is that the new iSSDs uses little to no space compared to even the most compact of SSDs with a SATA connector attached. It also means that there’s no extra cost for things like a secondary PCB and extra connectors needed to interface with a standard SSD. At less than 1g it also adds next to no weight, which is better than even the tiny extra weight that a traditional SSD would add.

With more and more ARM processors having support for SATA devices it looks like SanDisk might be onto a winner here. SanDisk didn’t mention pricing in the press release as the iSSD is intended for OEMs and ODMs rather than end users. It’s likely that iSSDs will price similar to standard SSDs so don’t expect to see a 64GB iPhone or Android handset any time soon with an iSSD chip inside, as we’d expect this to be a far too costly solution compared to standard Flash memory. Premium tablets and thin and light business notebooks seems like a far more likely target market for the large capacity iSSDs, although we wouldn’t be surprised if the lower capacity models end up in some high-end smartphones in the future.

Samples are shipping to OEM customers as of right now and are supposedly being evaluated by “top-tier manufacturers”. There’s no word on when volume shipments will start, but a wild guess would be later this year, just as every other new Flash memory product that have been announced over the past few weeks.S|A

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