Windows Vista hurting SSD development, claims SanDisk CEO

Microsoft's Windows Vista is to blame for slowing down the progress -- and, in turn, adoption-- of solid state drives (SSDs), according to Sandisk Chairman and CEO Eli Harari.

"As soon as you get into Vista applications in notebook and desktop, you start running into very demanding applications because Vista is not optimized for flash memory solid-state disk," Harari said, during SanDisk's second-quarter earnings call on Monday.

"Unfortunately, [SSD] performance in the Vista environment falls short of what the market really needs and that is why we need to develop the next generation, which we'll start sampling end of this year, early next year," he added.

The next generation of SSDs will use multilevel cell (MLC) technology, which is generally predicted to lower costs and widen the availability of the SSD -- a drive without any moving parts -- as an alternative to typically less rugged traditional hard drives (HDs).

But MLC SSD drives will also require a sophisticated controller -- and according to Harari, that is entirely Vista's fault.

"We have very good internal controller technology, as you know," he contended. "That said, I'd say that we are now behind because we did not fully understand, frankly, the limitations in the Vista environment."

SanDisk is collaborating in a production joint venture with Toshiba, also a manufacturer of SSDs.

If manufacturers were producing low capacity MLC SSDs, traditional controllers would work for Vista, Harari suggested. "In very low-end, ultra low-cost PCs, existing controllers can get the job done for 8-GB, 16-GB, and 32-GB storage because these are relatively unsophisticated and demanding requirements."

But MLC SSDs with capacities of 120 GB and 180 GB are expected to show up in some manufacturers' notebook PC models by the end of this year.

With the higher capacity MLC SSD drives,, "the next generation controllers need to basically compensate for Vista shortfalls," according to the SanDisk CEO.

BetaNews has contacted SanDisk requesting further clarification and technical details of the problems caused by Vista, but has not yet heard back.

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