By James Wells in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS: SanDisk will release a 1.8-inch 32GB solid state drive (SSD) using flash memory, which is targeted at the mass market consumer as a drop-in, replacement harddrive for the laptop.

Journalists at the SanDisk press conference applauded the introduction of the flash-based SSD by SanDisk CEO, Eli Harari, who has promised that this is the first in a range of solutions from the company that will bring flash media into the mainstream mobile PC market.

The drive benefits from a lack of moving parts, and it offers a sustained read rate of 62 megabytes per second meaning it can boot the new Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise in just 35 seconds.

SanDisk also claims the power consumption is less than half that of a traditional hard disc drive, providing greater battery life for notebook PCs.

“This is an important milestone for SanDisk in our relentless quest to create new large-scale markets for flash storage solutions for consumers in the personal computing space,” said Harari.

“The 32-gigabyte SSD that we are announcing represents the fifth generation of flash-based solid state drives developed by msystems, which we recently acquired. The 32 GB SSD has been made commercially viable through SanDisk’s technology leadership coupled with msystems’ tremendous experience and IP, which are captured in the high performance, low cost system controllers that distinguish this product.

“Once we begin shipping the 32GB SSD for notebook PCs, we expect to see its increasing adoption in the coming years as we continue to reduce the cost of flash memory. When these SSD devices become more affordable, we expect that their superior features over rotating disk drives will create a new consumer category for our retail sales channels worldwide,” said Harari.

SanDisk expects the 32GB SSD in a notebook could increase the end-user price by approximately $US600 in the first half of 2007.