HP dives into flash drive world

HP has announced a flash solid state drive (SSD) version of its energy-efficient dc7800 PC. The flash drives provide faster response times and reduce energy usage. It is the industry's first solid state business desktop PC.

The dc7800 is a line of three energy-efficient PCs with Intel Q35 chipsets and Verdiem Surveyor automatic switch-off software. The models have an 85 percent efficient power supply, which uses less power than previous models.

The dc7800 can have a 16GB SanDisk flash SSD, which adds $300 (£150 at normal conversion rates) to the price. The PC's startup time is much reduced, applications load and execute much faster when disk access is needed, and the PC shuts down faster too. The SSD also uses much less energy than a spinning hard drive.

The SSD capacity effectively restricts the new PC's use to users needing repetitive and fast access to relatively simple applications, such as reception PCs for the hospitality industry. As SSD capacity increases then the application area will spread out.

HP expects SSD-equipped PCs to be a mainstream part of its PC products line by 2010 with the intervening period seeing capacity upgrades to first 32GB and then 64GB. The increasing use and capacity of SSDs will be driven by price decreases.

The new PCs have Intel's vPro remote management technology, which means they work with Verdiem's Surveyor software to be automatically switched off at user-selected times, such as overnight.

HP said it will have a version of Surveyor ready for its small and medium business (SMB) customers by the end of March.

The dc7800 is gold-registered on the EPEAT list of environmentally-friendly PCs.

Flash drives appeared last year in high-end notebook computers as a way to speed-up Microsoft's bloated Vista OS. EMC has just announced its first flash drive for enterprise datacentres.

An 80GB Hitachi hard drive can be bought for £29.99 ($60.00), at PC World. HP's SSD costs five times as much as this.

A 32GB SanDisk 5000 flash SSD costs $350 in volume but $1,899 singly. A 16GB SanDisk 5000 would cost $190 in volume - to HP - using the implied discount rate for the 32GB product.

The ultra-slim flash drive dc7800 is for the US only, is available now and costs $1,258 (about £630 pounds) at list price. European availability has not been revealed yet.

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