SanDisk has announced the release of its 32GB, 1.8-inch solid state flash memory drive for notebook computers.

The company is marketing it to enterprise customers at the moment, and believes it's the ideal replacement for hard disk drives as a more reliable form of storage.

Large-capacity flash-based drive have been used in the past by the military, aerospace and telecom industries because of their reliability in tough conditions.

The market is now at the stage where flash-based drives are affordable enough for the consumer, but the drives could add up to $600 on to the cost of notebook computers when they're first incorporated in the first half of this year.

The NAND flash used in the drive is reliable and doesn't spin into action or seek files the way hard disk drives do.

The SSD is also superfast, clocking in speeds more than 100 times faster than hard disk drives can achieve. In real world terms, this means that a SanDisk SSD can book Microsoft Windows Vista in as little as 35 seconds.

In addition, it only uses 0.4W of power during operation, compared to the 1.0W that most hard disk drives do. This means that using the SSD will extend battery life.