Fujitsu Gambles on SSDs for Ultra-Portable Laptops

Although expensive, Fujitsu believes that there is a market for these notebooks, which will now have the option of either a 16GB or 32GB solid state drive.

Fujitsu is betting that there is a growing market for laptops with solid state disks.

Starting on March 19, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company will begin offering SSD options on two of its ultra-portable notebooks: The LifeBook P1610 and the LifeBook B6210.

Fujitsu is gambling that the SSD options on these two notebooks will find a home within certain segments of the enterprise market. Paul Moore, the senior director of mobile product marketing for the company, said that SSDs are an option for specific verticals such as financial services, health care and sales.

With no moving parts, these NAND flash memory drives offer better stability compared to traditional HDDs (hard disk drives). The SSD-based notebooks also generate less noise and heat, and also allow for quicker boot-up time and better data transfer.

Then there is the issue of cost.

The 16GB SSD option will cost Fujitsu customers between $600 and $700 more than a notebook with a standard HDD. The 32GB SSD option will add approximately $1,300 to the base cost.

"We believe that we have found several markets that can benefit from this relatively expensive technology," Moore said. "We believe that it will find a home with financial traders who are worried about dropping machines while on the trading room floor, and we also think it will appeal to sales people who spend a good deal of time on the road."

/zimages/2/28571.gifFujitsu has a new AMD-based notebook. Click here to read more.

Moore said that SSD-based notebooks will cost a premium, but that Fujitsu believes there is a market for these laptops. In addition, he said that the cost of flash memory will continue to drop, making SSDs even more affordable.

The company has been selling notebooks with SSDs in Japan for more than six months, and Moore said the results, so far, have been favorable. Fujitsu is hoping that will translate into additional U.S. sales.

"We do think there is a need for this technology, and we do feel businesses will want it," Moore said. "There is a market for this. Its not a huge market, but there is a market."

Once only used by the military and telecom companies, SSDs have started to creep into the mainstream. In January, SanDisk announced that it would start manufacturing a 32GB, 1.8-inch SSD.

On March 7, two analysts with American Technology Research wrote in separate reports that Apple may start using more NAND flash memory in its products, including a new generation of iPods as well as a rumored sub-notebook.

In those reports, the two analysts wrote that the average price of flash memory has begun to fall, which could mean the technology now has a better chance for mainstream adoption.

For its part, Fujitsu has partnered with Samsung to manufacture its solid state drives.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Fujitsu and the storage market.

The LifeBook P1610, which weighs 2.2 pounds, and the B6210, which weighs 3.2 pounds, can still be ordered with a standard HDD that offers up to 80GB of memory.

The notebooks also feature Intels Core Solo ultra-low voltage U1400 processors, which offer a clock speed of 1.2GHz, 2MB of L2 cache a 533MHz front side bus.

The P1610 comes with a 8.9-inch display, while the B6210 offers a slightly larger 12.1-inch display.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.