Intel has launched a low-cost, Flash-based hard drive, which is designed to perform at twice the speed and consume half the power of traditional mechanical hard drives.

The company predicts that the 4GB Flash drive will cost less than 1.8in mechanical hard drives, which are used in portable devices such as Apple’s iPod, within the first half of this year. By the end of the year, the new product will cost less than 2.5in mechanical models, Intel said.

The solid state memory links up via USB 1.1 or 2.0 and is shipping in 1GB and 2GB models. 4GB and 8GB models are expected in the next few months, while Intel also plans to produce 20GB and 40GB capacities by the second half of this year. 80GB and 160GB versions are planned for next year.

Intel’s Classmate PC, which is aimed at children in developing countries, will be the first computer to feature the solid state drive.