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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese electronics conglomerate Hitachi Ltd said it and U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp would jointly develop solid state drive (SSD) memory devices, which are seen as a promising alternative to hard disk drives.

The move marks a strategic shift for Hitachi, the world’s third-largest hard drive maker, which until now has not made a commitment to SSD technology.

SSDs are increasingly being used as the storage device in laptop PCs, primarily because they are better at absorbing shocks and consume less power than hard disk drives.

Under the agreement, Intel will manufacture SSDs jointly developed by the two firms. Hitachi will sell the devices, with the first shipment planned for 2010, the companies said in a joint statement.

Hitachi said its SSD business would market the devices for business-use such as in servers and computer storage systems, and that it would not follow rivals like Toshiba Corp in targeting laptop PCs and other consumer-based applications.

Hitachi said it had not given up on hard drives, which it believes will continue to see demand growth in applications where large data storage is required.

(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Hugh Lawson)