Seeing the incredible consumer interest in “netbooks” — aka UMPCs, sub-notebooks, or “nettops” — Intel [NASDAQ: INTC] has announced it will begin production of solid-state hard drives with the “value notebook and desktop” sector in mind. The SSD drives, competitors of the recently-announced SanDisk SSDs, will be produced first in 8GB and 4GB versions, to be followed by a 16GB iteration sometime in Q4. The P-Z230 model drives are one-quarter the size of a standard laptop 1.8-inch laptop hard drive, and use drastically less power than conventional drives. Since Intel has not released pricing information about the P-Z230, there’s no way to know how the line’s introduction will either help or hinder the pricepoints of the future crop of UMPCs.
Part of the attraction of SSDs for UMPC manufacturers isn’t just their small form-factor and their low power consumption, but also their durability. Because many of these machines are oriented both at ultra-mobile users and school children — admittedly a tough pair of demographics to please simultaneously — the machines have to be rugged enough to withstand falls and bumps, but capacious enough to store a meaningful amount of data. That equilibrium hasn’t quite been met yet, but hopefully Intel’s entrance into the market will help bolster its arrival.