Other World Computing has announced the release of the 6G Mercury Aura Pro Express, a replacement SSD for the 2011 MacBook Air that fully utilizes its SATA 3 (6Gbps) interface. Available in 120GB and 240GB capacities, the new drives combine a SandForce 2200-series controller with Tier 1/Grade A NAND memory to achieve up to 507MB/s read speeds and 454MB/s write speeds, which is about twice as fast as the stock drive in MBAs.

Apple ships its current MacBook Airs with SATA 3Gbps SSDs and doesn't promote SATA 6Gbps even though the hardware supports it. Since the ultra thin and light notebook uses a nonstandard SSD form factor, the typical 2.5-inch drives on the market can't be used as a replacement. OWC says that the new Aura Pro Express 6G SSD is the first and only 6Gbps SSD designed to work with both the 11.1-inch and 13.3-inch models of the new MacBook Air.

In addition, according to the company, it provides up to 100 times the data protection of an ordinary SSD by combining the highest level of Error Correction Code and SandForce RAISE technology, along with 7 percent overprovisioning.

The drive is available now at around $345 and $600 for the 120GB and 240GB models, respectively. A 480GB capacity model for the 2011 MacBook Air is supposedly planned but no date has been announced.