Toshiba will begin manufacturing flash-based solid-state drives for laptops early next year, which the company said will offer faster boot times and lower power consumption than hard-disk drives.

The drives, which use NAND flash memory rather than a rotating magnetic storage disc, will initially come in three capacities: 32GB, 64GB and 128GB, Toshiba said today.

High prices for flash memory has limited adoption of the drives so far, but Toshiba and other memory manufacturers such as Samsung are expected to ramp up production, which should lower prices and spur wider use. Solid-state drives are also said to be more durable than hard disks and make no noise.

Toshiba will start production of module Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives in the first three months of next year, it said. Production of 1.8in and 2.5in SATA drives will begin in May.

The maximum read speed for the drives will be 100MB per second, Toshiba said. The maximum write speed will be 40MB per second using a SATA II interface with a transfer rate of 3Gbps (bits per second). The drives' life expectancy is around 1 million hours, Toshiba said.

It will show the drives at the Consumer Electronics Show, which starts January 7 in Las Vegas.

Samsung announced last month that it had started producing sample 1.8in and 2.5in solid-state drives, but did not say when the drives would be commercially available. SanDisk is also making 1.8in and 2.5in solid-state drives.

Last month, SanDisk introduced a PCI Express card with flash memory that's used to boot a PC's operating system. The product, called Vaulter, comes in 6GB and 8GB capacities. The card works in parallel with a PC's hard drive to boost performance of the OS and applications.