Solid-state drives are continuing their march forward. On Monday, Samsung Electronics announced it has started to mass produce the first PCI-Express 3.0 SSDs for the new wave of Ultrabooks.

The thin Samsung XP941, available in 512 GB, 256 GB, and 128 GB sizes, will be provided to manufacturers for the next generation of slim notebooks. The new model provides a sequential read of 1,400 megabytes/second, which Samsung noted is the highest performance available using a PCIe 2.0 interface. The PCIe connection offers faster transfer speeds than SSDs using the SATA, or Serial ATA, interface.

This level of transfer speed, the company said, allows a drive to read half a terabyte of data Relevant Products/Services -- or 10 HD movies as large as 5 GB each -- in only 36 seconds. Samsung said that is seven times faster than a hard drive, which would require more than 40 minutes for the same tasks, and it's more than 2.5 times faster than the fastest SSD using an SATA interface.

Six Grams

The new drive is available in an 80mm x 22mm form factor, weighing 6 grams, or about one-ninth the weight of an SATA-based 2.5-inch SSD. In volume, the XP941 is about one-seventh the size of a 2.5-inch SSD drive, allowing more room in a mobile device for, say, a larger battery Relevant Products/Services.

Young-Hyun Jun, Samsung Electronic executive vice president for memory Relevant Products/Services sales and marketing, said in a statement that the company's shipment of the XP941 makes it "the first to provide the highest performance PCIe SSD to global PC makers so that they can launch leading-edge ultra-slim notebook PCs this year."

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said SSDs have been coming from SanDisk, Intel Relevant Products/Services, Kingston and others in addition to Samsung, which is the "largest flash Relevant Products/Services memory vendor in the world."

Classic Technology Adoption

He pointed out that large amounts of storage Relevant Products/Services on mobile devices are usually only needed for those users having media files they want to store locally, and that, "to an extent, we've been moving away from mass storage on a device" toward offloading some files to a local network Relevant Products/Services or to the cloud Relevant Products/Services.

The evolution of SSDs, Greengart said, is following a "classic technology adoption pattern," where the older technology -- in this case, conventional hard drive technology -- "doesn't truly die, but gets repurposed for areas" where it's still useful, such as in very large, multiple-terabyte RAID drives.

But hard drives' territory is getting smaller. Last week, for instance, Intel announced the new SSD DC S3500 Series, its most recent SSDs for data centers and cloud computing Relevant Products/Services. It touted the new line as "an ideal replacement for traditional hard disk drives," and said data centers have an "improved total cost of ownership," despite SSDs' generally higher hardware costs, because of lower power Relevant Products/Services consumption and smaller space requirements.