Micron has unveiled the M500 solid state drive that uses Micron’s latest 20-nanometer multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash technology. Using the SATA 6Gbps interface, the M500 drives can deliver up to 80,000 IOPS with sequential read and write speeds topping out at 500 MB/s and 400 MB/sec, respectively.

The M500 uses what’s known as device sleep (DEVSLP) where the SSD draws an average of 150mW during use and just 5mW during sleep, meaning excess heat in cramped spaces shouldn’t be a concern. Other useful features include a small bank of capacitors designed to protect against data loss in the event your system loses power.

The drives also incorporate TCG Opal 2.0 + IEEE 1667, 256-bit AES hardware encryption should your system or drive be compromised by theft or loss. Furthermore, Micron says the M500 can wake up from sleep in just 0.2 seconds, or about five times faster than the previous generation.

The M500 will likely gain the most media attention based on the price tag that Crucial has pinned on the 960GB SSD – less than $600, or under $0.63 per GB. When you consider that most solid state drives in the 1TB range cost around $1,000 or more, you quickly realize why this drive will be a hot commodity when it hits the market.

The M500 will be available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities in the first quarter of 2013 as Crucial-branded drives. M.2 and mSATA form factors will be available in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities starting in Q2 2013. Units will also be available directly to OEMs under the Micron brand through their distribution network, we’re told.