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4/16/2009
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Samsung Offers Self-Encrypting SSDs

Dell says it plans to offer the drives in laptops in the coming months.

Samsung Electronics on Thursday introduced what the company claims are the first hardware-based self-encrypting solid-state drives.

The 256-, 128-, and 64-GB SSDs provide full-disk encryption using Wave Systems' technology, which activates and manages the encryption. Computer maker Dell said it plans to offer the drives in laptops in the coming months.

Samsung claims the added security does not affect the performance of the SSDs, which will be available in 1.8- and 2.5-inch form factors. The company also claims to be the first to offer SSDs that incorporate hardware-based encryption.

Such encryption provides better security than the software alternative, because encryption keys and access credentials are generated and stored within the drive hardware, making it more difficult to hack, according to Samsung.

Wave's Embassy Trusted Drive Manager, which will come bundled with each Samsung SSD, will manage pre-boot authentication to the drive and enable administrators to set up users. The technology also enables backup of drive credentials.

In general, SSDs, which have no moving parts and use flash memory for storage, are more reliable and faster than hard disk drives. SSDs are also lighter, which is a plus for laptops.

However, the drives also have their problems. For example, review site PC Perspective found that Intel's X25-M SSDs degraded in performance with extensive use, a problem that has been said of other SSDs. Intel has said that the workloads used by the site did not reflect real-world use.

Along with degradation problems, SSDs also are considerably more expensive than HDDs. As a result, many experts advise using the drives only when their advantages are really needed.

Besides laptops, SSDs also are making their way in the data center as complements to hard disk arrays. Companies providing server-based SSDs include Fusion-io, Texas Memory Systems, and Super Talent.


InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around enterprise storage. Download the report here (registration required).

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