Fujitsu-Siemens Computers will start selling laptops with flash memory instead of hard drives this summer, bringing faster, lighter and more energy-efficient computers to the European mass market.

The head of FSC Germany said the company would bring out a version of its premium Lifebook Q series laptop with a 32-gigabyte flash memory, near the bottom of the 20-to-120 gigabyte range commonly available from laptop hard drives.

We will then also move relatively soon to 64 gigabytes, Hans-Dieter Wysuwa told journalists in Munich.

The flash memory-based, solid-state disc drive is made by Korean electronics group Samsung.

Until now, flash memory has mainly been used for consumer gadgets such as digital cameras, MP3 music players and USB sticks, but falling prices mean it is becoming more viable for applications that require more memory.

Wysuwa said FSC's new flash-memory laptops would cost around 500 euros ($688) more than the comparable hard-disc models, which retail for a recommended 2,800 euros.

Unlike DRAM memory, flash memory can store data when the power supply is off. It makes computer start-up, reading and writing faster, and solid-state drives are better at withstanding shocks than hard discs.

Japanese conglomerate Fujitsu, joint owner of FSC with German industrial group Siemens, already offers a 32-gigabyte solid state-drive laptop in the United States.

British luxury-goods maker Luvaglio offers a 128-gigabyte model for $1 million, and flash memory chipmaker SanDisk is working with computer maker Dell on a solid-state drive.