|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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Intel announced their much anticipated, 3rd generation of SSDs earlier in March of this year ... the Intel SSD 320 series. It's based on their latest 25nm NAND flash technology and promised to be cheaper than their existing 34nm Intel SSD 510 series. Hard to believe ... but it's true. The Intel 320 Series SSDs are available in capacities of up to 600GB, the largest we've seen for a solid state drive.
The major difference between the 510 series and the 320 series of SSDs is the type of controller which they use. On the 510 series, you'll find a Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 SSD controller, which offers outstanding performance when connected via the SATA3 (6.0Gbps) interface. The 320 Series, on the hand uses Intel's own controller, comes with 32Mb of SDRAM cache and supports SATA2 (3.0Gbps) instead.
In this review, we'll be taking a look at the Intel SSD 320 series. From what we've gathered, the 320 Series is designed and aimed at the mainstream market and in time, will replace the X-25M SSDs. Like the 510 Series, the 320 Series is also based on MLC (multi-level cell) technology, but this time it uses 25nm NAND flash chips and supports the standard SATA2 3Gbps interface instead of the faster SATA3 (6.0Gbps).
According to the specifactions, the 300GB model offers sequential read speeds of up to 270MB/s and sequential write speeds of 270MB/s. As far as IOPS (input/output operations per second) is concerned, the Intel SSD 320 offers upto 39.5K IOPS in 4KB random reads, which is pretty good.
We've disassembled the SSD and found that it uses Intel's own SSD controller (PC29AS21BA0). According to certain reports, the performance of the 320 Series SSD is comparable to SSDs which use the very popular SandForce SF-1200 controller, however Intel has added something extra ... They've also included full data encryption, something which I think is pretty good, as it prevents people from accessing the data directly from the NAND flash chips.
One of the advantages of Intel's new 25nm NAND flash chips is the cost benefits. It's estimated that there's a price reduction of up to 30% over previous generations, plus it allows for larger capacities of up to 600Gb. What's more, Intel have also included 128-bit (AES) Advanced Encryption Standard capability on every drive, which helps to protect personal data in the event of theft or loss.
It will be interesting to see what kind of performance we'll be able to get with the Intel SSD 320 Series. As mentioned earlier, I'm expecting similar performance to SSDs which uses the SandForce SF-1200 controller. With so much competition out there, can Intel's new 320 Series attract the mainstream users? It's got the latest technologies and excellent data encryption/protection, but will it be enough? Well, if the price is right, then Intel should have problems selling the 320 Series ...
We'll be testing the Intel 320 Series SSD (300Gb) on our test rig which consist of an Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.3Ghz cooled by a Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 CPU cooler, a Gigabyte P67A-UD4 motherboard, a Geforce GTX 560 Ti, 4Gb Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1600 and a Adata HM-850W PSU.
OK, now let's take a closer look at the specifications of the Intel 320 Series SSD (300Gb) on our next page ...