|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: Intel SSD 320 Series 300Gb|
|Posted by Winston|
|Sunday, 01 May 2011 22:23|
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Verdict and Conclusion
I have to say ... the Intel SSD 320 Series wasn't bad at all. In fact, I was uniquely surprised to see how well the 320 Series actually performed when compared against other SSDs in its class. Looking at the results from the Everest Disk Test, the best results of course was produced by the faster Intel 510 Series... but the 320 Series didn't do too bad neither. With average linear read speed of 241.2Mb/sec and an average write speed of 207.3Mb/sec, it's definitely on par with SSDs which uses the SandForce SF-1200 controllers in terms of read speeds. However, the write speeds for SandForce based SSDs were slightly better.
As far as I'm aware, Intel and Micron are the only manufacturers to have announced the production of SSDs based on 25nm NAND flash technology. Surprisingly for once, Intel was first off the block and released a retail SSD product ... the Intel SSD 320 Series. For Micron (Crucial Technologies), they've already announced the imminent release their next generation 25nm SSDs in the form of the C400.
This new 25nm NAND flash technology may sound all exciting, and some people have been misled in believing it would bring a massive improvement over the orginal 34nm NAND flash techology. But the truth is ... you have to take into account the actual SSD controller on the PCB, and the type of SATA interface the SSD is using. In the case of the 320 Series, it uses a homegrown SDD controller from Intel and supports the standard SATA2 (3.0Gbps). It may not be the fastest, but it do a great job. So no real complaints here.
In short, SSDs using this new 25nm NAND flash technology will mean lower production costs and larger capacities. Hopefully, we'll be seeing SSDs in the 1Tb region by the end of the year. But what makes the 320 Series different to other SSDs, is that Intel have included their pre-configured with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128 bit encryption capabilities, which provides extra security in case of theft or loss. Any data you store on the SSD will be secured by advanced encryption technologies.
Intel and Micron maybe the first to take advantage of this new 25nm NAND flash technology, but I'm sure Samsung, Hynix, Infineon and other memory manufacturers are right behind them. The next issue for these manufacturers is to decide which SSD controller will get the best out of these new 25nm NAND flash chips ... Right now, out the top of my head, there are several makers of SSD controllers, these include Intel, SandForce, J-Micron and Marvell (there are others). But which of these would you choose?
Well, just to let you know ... for the past year, most of today's high performance SSDs use the SandForce SF-1200 SSD controller, they've been the choice of enthusiasts and performance users. This doesn't necessary mean the homegrown Intel SSD controller found on the 320 Series isn't any good ... in fact, as far as we're concerned, it did a great job and produced some very good scores. I have no problems recommending it.
For this review, we were given a 300Gb version, but the Intel SSD 320 Serie do come in various capacities including 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 300GB and 600GB. Searching through our Pricegrabber partner page, we found a price for the 160Gb version, costing around USD $320-330.00 (GBP 240), which I think is OK for the capacity. The 120Gb and 80Gb are roughly $250 and $180 respectively. If you go for the bare SSD (OEM), you can knock upto $20 off from the above price. Don't bother asking the price of the 600Gb ... you'll have a heart attack!
Final words. Overall, I think the Intel SSD 320 Series is a very good performer. It's comparable to other SSDs on the market, particularly those which use the SandForce SF-1200 SSD controllers. It's not ground-breaking, but it's definitely a solid performer.