Micron Tech to Enter Solid-State Drive Market

Memory chip maker Micron Technologysaid Wednesday that it was entering the market for solid-state drives for use in computer, server and networking devices, sending its shares up more than 6 percent.

Micron said its new RealSSD products varied in capacity from 1 gigabyte to 64 gigabytes. It said it was now sampling 1.8 inch and 2.5-inch drives and expected to be in mass production in the first quarter.

Solid-state, or flash, drives can operate 1,000 times faster than conventional hard-disk drives, use 10 times less power and offer greater reliability because they have no moving parts, Micron executives said.

"Hard drives crash," Dean Klein, vice president of memory system development, said at a briefing in San Francisco. "Flash fails gracefully.

"Between semiconductors and mechanical (drives), there's this huge gulf that exists," Klein added. "This is the gap that flash memory fills."

Flash-based drives have caught on in markets such as notebook and subnotebook personal computers and subnotebooks for businesses. They are also used in emerging categories such as ultra-mobile and tablet PCs.

Samsung Electronics, the the world's biggest memory chip maker, and SanDisk are among the larger players that already offer flash solid-state memory lines with up to 64 gigabytes in density.

Boise, Idaho-based Micron said it saw a variety of initial target markets for its solid-state drives, including subnotebooks for business travelers and networking equipment, high-capacity storage and compact blade servers used in corporate data centers.

Micron shares were up 50 cents, or 6.3 percent, at $8.44 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading, the best-performing stock on the 18-member Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.