Monday, September 17, 2007

Dell and Alienware Offer Samsung 64-GB SSDs

With Dell and Alienware now offering Samsung's 64-GB SSDs for selected notebook PCs, Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis West, said that at 64-GB capacity, there is enough storage for most business users' applications and documents, but he noted that 64 GB might not be enough capacity for the SSDs to catch on with consumers.

For those awaiting the day when solid state drives (SSDs) are commonplace options on desktops and laptops, the good news is that Samsung announced on Monday it is shipping its 2.5-inch SATA, 64-GB SSDs for Dell and Alienware notebooks. The bad news is that the drives are an expensive option.

They cost $920 when added to a Dell laptop. The 64-GB SSD is available initially on Dell's XPS M1330 ultraportable notebook, and, later this year, on other models in the XPS line, as well as on Latitude corporate notebooks and Dell mobile workstations.

For Alienware, users can choose dual 64-GB SSDs in RAID 1 or RAID 0 configuration, or a 64-GB SSD in combination with a magnetic drive for the Area-51 m9750 high-performance gaming notebook. Prices start over $1,000 for the SSD additions.

Currently, Dell and Alienware both offer the smaller-capacity 32-GB SSD as a less-expensive option.

Customers 'Demanding' More Reliability

Customers are demanding more reliable and durable mobility solutions, which SSDs can offer, said Dell's Tom Pratt in a statement. Industry analysts -- and SSD makers themselves -- have said that the pricey solid state drives are a good solution for road warriors and similar users for whom durability and reliability are worth the added cost.

With no moving parts, solid state drives are silent, generate little heat, and can handle shocks and vibrations more effectively than standard hard drives. Data transfer rates can be faster than hard drives, and booting a large operating system such as Windows Vista can be quick work for SSDs. In addition, SSDs consume less power compared to traditional hard drives, and are quieter and lighter.

Hard drives are still much larger in capacity, and their cost-per-gigabyte is a fraction of what it is for SSDs. But a report from research firm iSuppli has predicted that 60 percent of laptops sold by the end of 2009 will have SSDs, compared to less than one percent in the first quarter of this year.

Dell Has 'Broadest Range'

At 64-GB capacity, said Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis West, there is enough storage for most business users' applications and documents. Dell is taking a leading position in introducing SSDs, he noted, as it is currently offering "the broadest range of systems with SSD options of any computer maker."

As the largest corporate notebook provider, Dell's SSD options and relatively wide choice of systems could spur more sales among business users, said Bhavnani, who pointed out that SSDs for consumer machines might not have enough capacity to become popular. "It's still not enough capacity for your music and pictures," he noted.

But the steep price difference -- about $15 per GB for SSD and less than $1 per GB for hard drives -- could be worth it for some business users who want the shorter boot times, longer battery life, and added ruggedness, Bhavnani concluded.