Computer manufacturers will move to field hybrid flash-cum-hard disk drives in their machines by 2011, according to In-Stat.

The latest research from the company claims PC makers are accelerating their move to solid state memory, with hybrid drives being the early market entry choice.

"Although we expect the PC market to convert rather quickly to either Turbo Memory (also known as Intel's Robson technology) NAND HDD caches or to hybrid hard drives, we do not anticipate this to be high on the list of priorities of the computer-buying public," said Jim McGregor, In-Stat analyst.

Apple has long been rumoured to be working on a new Mac that integrates such solid-state memory. Some commentators had hoped for the announcement of such a product at Macworld Expo, San Francisco.

Recent In-Stat research has identified Microsoft, Intel and Samsung as being early movers to harness the technology, and predicts nearly 200 million hard drives integrating flash memory caches will ship globally by 2011.

The move to flash may be stymied by current demands for flash memory components. The world's largest flash memory manufacturers, Hynix and Samsung, are understood to have little flash memory stock in hand due to increased demand from contract customer, Apple.

Apple already employs flash memory in its iPod nano, iPod shuffle and iPhone products.

The research, NAND Speeds Up the PC Hard Drive offers forecasts for NAND (flash memory)-cached HDD unit shipments and disk sales in the PC market by type until 2011.