Windows Vista's architecture is actively hindering SanDisk's ability to roll out its next generation of solid-state drives, says company chief Eli Harari. In statements made just after his company produced disappointing quarterly results, the executive says that Vista is "not optimized" for using flash memory as its main storage and that the hardware managing data traffic needs to be redesigned to generate the expected performance; a patch for Vista itself would be ineffective.
"The next generation controllers need to basically compensate for Vista shortfalls," according to Harari. The official doesn't say what in Vista triggers the flaw, though SSDs are often best for random access to data due to their low lag times, rather than very large or continguous files that are often better-served by rotating hard disk drives. Netbooks and other very low-cost PCs don't suffer from this issue as they rarely hold more than 32GB of data and don't have very many programs to run, the SanDisk head says.
As a result of Windows' design limitation, SanDisk says its new technology, which uses dense multi-level cell (MLC) storage to increase capacity and reduce cost, won't be available in test samples until near the end of 2008 or early 2009 and won't enter mass production until sometime afterwards.
MLC drives are regarded as essential to driving the use of solid-state storage in ultraportable notebooks such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 and MacBook Air, where the drives are necessary for full speed disk access but also drive prices to as much as $1,000 more than a notebook with a larger-capacity traditional drive.
Other companies are already producing MLC-based drives ahead of SanDisk that will likely end up in shipping notebooks, including a just-shipped Samsung 128GB Flash SSD drive and an OCZ 128GB drive that costs less than $500.