Intel plans to introduce 1.5in and 2.5in solid-state drives (SSDs) for laptops offering between 80GB and 160GB storage during the second quarter of 2008.

Intel had demonstrated the high-performance SSD prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. At the time, an Intel spokesman said the manufacturer had not decided whether to sell the drives directly to retailers or through laptop and PC makers.

The spokesman said in January that the solid state technology would be shown off again in April at the Intel Developer Forum, where some observers say it may be officially released.

Intel currently offers ultra-small low-power solid-state storage offerings for mobile devices. These include the 2GB Z-P140 PATA and the 4GB Z-U130 USB offerings. The company has made no secret of its desire to significantly broaden its solid state portfolio along with boosting flash performance for customers.

Last month IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture of Intel and Micron Technology, unveiled a new high-speed NAND flash memory they said offers data transfer speeds that are five times faster than conventional NAND technology.

An aggressive move into the laptop flash-disk drive business would catapult Intel into direct competition with hard-drive manufacturers such as Toshiba and Samsung, who are trying to spark demand before their SATA-based offerings are released in the coming months. Samsung said it will ship a 2.5in 128GB SSD in Q2, while Toshiba has announced plans to produce SSDs ranging in capacity from 32GB to 128GB for laptops by May.

Although analysts expect that businesses will begin to seriously consider the benefits of SSDs during 2008, the high price tag for the technology may keep sales in check for a few years.

See also:

Samsung: laptops to get 256GB SSDs next year

Low cost flash spurs innovation