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Samsung has introduced a new 32 GB NAND flash memory-based drive designed for notebook computers. While speculation has abounded that solid-state flash-based drives could replace traditional hard drives (HDD), this is the first marketable effort to do so.

The market won't shift so quickly, as flash memory remains far more expensive than hard drives (though NAND flash prices are dropping). But here are the very real advantages of the Samsung 'Flash-SSD' over HDDs, according to Samsung:

* Weight: half as much as a comparably-sized, 1.8-inch HDD
* Data read: 3x faster than HDD
* Data write: 1.5x faster than HDD
* Electric demand: 5% of HDD
* Sound: noiseless
* No moving parts

Following the announcement, Bear Stears analysts Andrew J. Neff, Bill Hand and Ted Chung sent a note to clients briefly describing the impact on the major HDD producers:

In a marginally negative development for HDD vendors, Samsung said it had begun offering 32GB flash memory-based disk drive for notebook PCs as a potential replacement for 1.8/2.5-inch HDDs; notebooks with flash memory drives are expected "later this year" -- but no comments on pricing. While HDDs continue to enjoy a significant lead in price/capacity (e.g., most notebooks drives start at 40 GB), and consequently, should retain their dominant share in notebooks, flash memory-based drives do have some advantages: they are smaller, weigh about half as much as comparable HDDs, have lower power consumption, and can access data up to three times faster. Samsung did not disclose PC OEM availability or pricing information. Stock impact: marginally negative for STX/MXO, WDC (potential competition).

Source: Samsung's High Capacity Flash Drives To Threaten Hard Drive Makers (STX, MXO, WDC)