SanDisk touts 32GB Flash hard drive

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US$600 replacement for mechanical disk.

SanDisk has unveiled a 32GB Flash memory unit designed to replace hard drives in notebook computers. 

The manufacturer expects the first consumer notebooks with the US$600 storage device to become available within the next six months.

SanDisk's Solid State Drive lacks any moving parts and operates more reliably than a regular mechanical hard drive. It also reduces power consumption by 60 percent. 

Flash-based storage has already been deployed in computers designed to operate in harsh environments for the military, aerospace and telecoms industries.

But as prices of the memory chips drop, the storage technology becomes a feasible alternative to traditional storage media.

The most famous example of a Flash-based consumer device is the One Laptop Per Child notebook, which will deploy 512Mb of Flash to store the device's Linux operating system, applications and user data.

SanDisk's Solid State Drive is based on technology that the company obtained through the M-Systems acquisition in July. 

Hard drive manufacturers are also looking at Flash memory to make faster and more power efficient drives. 

The memory in hybrid drives acts as a buffer that collects data before the disks start to spin.

Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Vista operating system uses Flash memory to store the state of the operating system when it starts to hibernate, allowing it to resume operations more quickly.
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