Spinning magnetic disks are so last season! The new hotties are solid-state disks (SSD), powered by super-fast flash memory chips, and electronics giant Samsung (OTC: SSNLF.PK) is aiming to accelerate this revolution.

Samsung just announced a groundbreaking SSD model that will beat current SSD read and write speed records by about 60%, and blow top-notch magnetic disks like the Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) VelociRaptor out of the water. At 256-gigabyte capacity, it will also be one of the larger solid-state disks on the market, and the design might qualify the gadget for compactness records, as well.

The company has promised a disk like this for some time, but was sticking to a 2009 release as recently as two months ago. Now, there will be production samples available by September, and mass production will commence before the end of the year.

SSDs are a modest $155 million global market today, but market research firm iSuppli sees 124% average annual growth for the next five years as the technology matures and manufacturing becomes cheaper. That would create an $8.7 billion sales opportunity by 2012, so it's not hard to see why Samsung wants to grab market share early and often.

Traditional hard-drive makers are either working on their replies or shaking in their boots. As Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and AMD (NYSE:AMD) have driven computer processor speeds from 400 megahertz in 1998 to quad-core 3 gigahertz monsters today, memory speeds and computer platform chips kept pace. Hard drives just got bigger, and not that much faster. Consumer drives were spinning at 5,400 rounds per minute 10 years ago, and that top-of-the-line VelociRaptor only doubles that spin speed, cutting seek times in half. Flash drives do away with seek times altogether, with huge performance implications for certain workloads.

However, Samsung is a fat cat whose needle won't move very far on SSD success, and the stock trades on the pink sheets. For an investment choice with more oomph behind the SSD opportunity, you could take a look at specialists like STEC (NASDAQ:STEC) or SMART Modular Technologies (NASDAQ:SMOD), two small caps with serious SSD aspirations. I'd tread lightly around the old guard like Western Digital and Seagate (NYSE:STX), though.

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