Behold: the age of the Flash PC is upon us

[intro]Intel's new mobile computing platform, which ditches hard drives in favour of flash memory, is set to launch next month. Laptops are about to g

Intel's new flash-based mobile computing platform, codenamed Santa Rosa, is set to launch next month according to a report in Businessweek. It's based around the a next-gen dual-core mobile processor with built-in support for Wi-Fi and WiMax. It will also have built-in support hi-def video decoding.

But what's really exciting is that the Santa Rosa platform is that it supports Intel's flash-caching technology called Robson (sadly no word on a related technology codenamed Jerome, but we live in hope).

Robson will improve system performance, startup and battery life - and pave the way for entirely flash-based laptops and ultramobile PCs.

Of course, some flash-based systems already exist - both Samsung's ugly Q1 and Sony's slightly more beautiful UX1 (pictured) are available with flash memory instead of hard drives. But with a smaller chipset that makes the most of flash based technology – and, dare I say it, Apple's Multi-Touch interface – the golden age of mobile computing could finally be at hand.

The only bad news for Apple-fans like myself is that the new version of Mac OS has been delayed until October, which means we're unlikely to see a flash-based, Multi-Touch ultraportable before then - even if Intel's new chipset launches, as rumoured, in May.

Which gives the Windows-powered rivals a headstart.