Solid state drive technology is moving forward pretty quickly these days. 16 and 32 GB SSDs are fairly common now, and Kingston's just introduced a new, low cost 40 GB SSD. This drive isn't intended for storage, however. The idea, as Electronista states, is to put your operating system and key apps on the SSD, and have a second, normal hard drive for actual storage.
Solid state drives are much, much faster than traditional spindle HDs. The Kingston 40 GB has a 170 MB/s read speed and a 40 MB/s write speed. That's around four times faster than a traditional hard drive. Loading your OS and major apps onto an SSD will speed your machine up substantially.
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The price for this new drive is surprisingly reasonable. For just the drive itself, you'll pay $115. The drive, plus a 3.5" mounting bracket and extenders will set you back $130. This is definitely something to look into if you plan on building your own box any time in the near future.