Samsung Starts Mass Production of 256GB SSDs

Samsung Electronics has started mass production of 256G-byte solid-state drives, which could make their way into laptops in a few months, the company announced Thursday.

Solid-state drives, or SSDs, store data on flash memory chips and are often compared to hard drives, which store data on magnetic platters. SSDs consume less power and have no moving parts, making them less vulnerable to failure compared to hard drives. Growing adoption has erased initial concerns about SSD durability, but it has a lesser storage capacity and remains more expensive than hard drives.

The 256G-byte SSD is the highest-capacity to date for the consumer electronics market so this announcement is big for laptop users, said Gregory Wong, president of analyst firm Forward Insights. Most laptops today that have SSDs have 128G-byte drives.

The new SSD is available now, a Samsung spokeswoman said. She could not provide pricing information.

It could be about two months until the new SSDs are in laptops, Wong said. Companies that use Samsung SSDs include Apple and Dell.

The new SSD doubles sequential data transfers compared to Samsung's earlier SSDs, the company said. It offers read rates of 220M bytes per second and write rates of 200M bytes per second.

Sequential data transfers occur when PCs are booted or large files are copied, for example, Wong said. However, because most PC tasks are random rather than sequential it makes more sense to use random performance as a measure, Wong said, adding that random performance tends to suffer if the SSD is set up to measure sequential performance.

Samsung couldn't immediately provide the measurements of the SSD's random read and write cycle.

Users may initially pay a premium for the new SSD, Wong said. Potential buyers might also compare prices and realize that hard-drive capacities are increasing while prices are dropping and that could hinder adoption of Samsung's 256G-byte SSD.

"Even with NAND flash prices coming down, there will be a sequential premium compared to hard-disk drives," Wong said, with the new SSD costing more.

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