Samsung tonight said it has started mass production of 128GB solid-state drives based on multi-level cell (MLC) technology that should dramatically reduce the cost of switching to flash storage in notebooks. By using a new implementation of the format, the Korean firm says it has managed to provide inexpensive storage without hurting the relative speed that would otherwise need a faster but expensive single-level cell drive: any of the new drives can read at 90MB per second and write at 70MB per second, making them faster than most any notebook-class rotating hard drive and faster than earlier SSDs.
While the new drives use typically less reliable MLC, the storage is also more reliable, Samsung argues. A typical example of the new drive should last 80 to 100 years on average compared to just four or five years for most spinning drives, which often die from accidental shock or from physical wear on top of the magnetic storage itself. These SSDs also consume little power at just 0.5W in active use.
The full 128GB is available in both a 1.8-inch Serial ATA II format for ultraportable notebooks and handheld devices, and a larger 2.5-inch format for more common notebooks. A 64GB drive is also available for less expensive systems, while Samsung's promised 256GB model is due towards the end of this year.
Ironically the company hasn't named customers or prices but is a regular supplier of SSDs for several high-profile notebook producers, including Apple for its MacBook Air, Lenovo and its ThinkPad X300, as well as multiple performance systems from Dell and its Alienware label. Samsung also regularly sells its SSDs as stand-alone upgrades through some dealers.