Falling prices of NAND memory are cutting Intel's margins but the firm is planning to address this by selling larger quantities of NAND in the form of solid state disks.
Intel's plan, which CEO Paul Otellini revealed when the margin forecast cut was announced, is to start putting out next-generation solid state disk products for notebooks and enterprise storage in the second quarter of this year. CNET blogger Brook Crothers followed up with Intel on the details and learned that Intel plans to launch a line of 1.8 and 2.5 inch SSDs at capacities from 80GB to 160GB.
As expected, the new drives will offer much higher speeds than the current generation of SSDs by taking advantage of the Open NAND Flash Interface 2.0. I described in a previous article the coming wave of ONFI 2.0 drives, which will offer 200MBps of sustained read throughput and 100MBps of write throughput and which were planned to enter production in the second half of this year. In light of recent developments, however, it seems that IM Flash, the Intel/Micron joint venture that will make the NAND chips used in the drives, has accelerated its production schedule just a bit.
I suggested in the earlier article that it will be some time before ONFI 2.0 SSDs make their way into portables like the MacBook Air and the Eee PC, because prices will have to drop first. But it looks like the recession's effect on the NAND market's supply and demand curve is taking care of that problem, so these SSDs may show up in portables more quickly than I thought.