Toshiba shows off small flash drives

CES 2011: mSATA and PCIe-ish form factors

toshiba Toshiba shows off small flash drivesTOSHIBA HAD SOME innovative flash products on display at CES, from large capacities to small form factors. Visiting them also solved one of the biggest head scratching questions of the show.

While there was nothing amazing or groundbreaking among the flash products on the Toshiba CES stand, the company is still pushing the boundaries by being vertically integrated. David Morgan went into the details here, basically Toshiba is using their own 24nm DRAMs and controllers.

 Toshiba shows off small flash drives

The lineup, conveniently spinning out of sync

From left to right, we have a 512GB 2.5″ SATA SSD, a 256GB 1.8″ case-less SATA SSD, and a 128GB half-slim SSD. Then we get a little out of the ordinary and get to a 62GB mSATA SSD, note that number, and lastly the same thing as drive #2 with a case, a 256GB 1.8″ not-case-less SATA SSD.

Production 512GB 2.5″ and 256GB 1.8″ drives are a good thing, but nothing to make headlines. They more or less follow the predictions of Mr Moore all those years ago. The 128GB half-slim SSD though is much more interesting, it is basically a half length 1.8″ SSD without a case. Most laptops don’t need much more storage space than that for anything but movies or music, meaning that the vast majority of users can get away with this form factor.

This is important because it gives laptop designers the freedom to spec tiny drive bays, reducing the cost, size, and weight of notebooks. The ripple effects of this, and probably the next generation, will be huge. It may not be Sandisk small, but it is likely much faster. Basically, this size/capacity drive hits the sweet spot for most users, and could drop the size of laptops quite considerably.

Last up, we have drive #4, the 62GB mSATA SSD. If you notice the form factor, it is, well, not SATA for the connectors, it is PCIe. Sort of. This drive uses a connector called SATA over PCIe, basically it uses SATA signaling over a PCIe physical connector. Other than to not have to tool up another connector, I can’t say I understand the logic behind this spec as SATA connectors aren’t exactly huge. That said, it appears to be a real spec-ish-like-thing-maybe.

This is the drive that solved a mystery. Remember the Oak Trail tablet Motion showed off? Remember I mentioned the 62GB drive that seemed really odd? Well, now you know where it came from, and it is indeed 62GB. Apple seems to be using something very similar in the new MacBook Air too. Toshiba people indirectly confirmed the Motion win by looking really stunned when I mentioned Motion as a customer. Aren’t trade shows fun?S|A

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 Toshiba shows off small flash drives

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.