Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB Solid State Drive Review - HotHardware

Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB Solid State Drive Review

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Intel officially announced the new SSD 320 Series drives yesterday, which feature proprietary Intel SSD controllers paired to cutting edge 25nm NAND flash memory. This new family of drives, however, isn’t geared for ultra-high performance. While still fast, the overarching goals with the Intel SSD 320 series were increased reliability and security. In fact, despite being released after the SSD 510 series which we took a look at a few weeks back, these technically newer 320 series drives do not feature support for the faster SATA III 6Gbps interface and are SATA II 3Gbps only.

We’ve got an Intel SSD 320 series 300GB drive on hand and have run it through a complete suite of tests to gauge its performance versus competing solid state offerings. The full list of features and specifications of Intel’s newest drive are outlined below, along with some technical details and a few close-up shots of its internals. Take a close look at the pics and you’ll notice the new SSD 320 series drive we tested actually has something major in common with the X25-M that was first released in 2008.

Intel SSD 320 Series
Specifications & Features

Form Factors:
  • 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch
Capacity:
  • 80/160/300 GB (1.8-inch)
  • 40/80/120/160/300/600 GB (2.5-inch)
Components:
  • Intel 25nm NAND Flash Memory
  • Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Bandwidth Performance (Iometer QD32) 
  • Sustained sequential read: Up to 270 MB/s
  • Sustained sequential write: Up to 220 MB/s
Read and Write IOPS (Iometer QD32)
  • Random 4 KB reads: Up to 39,500 IOPS
  • Random 4 KB writes: Up to 23,000 IOPS
Latency (average sequential)
  • Read: 75us (TYP)
  • Write: 90us (TYP)
AES 128-bit Encryption

Power Management
  • 3.3 V (1.8-inch) or 5 V (2.5-inch) SATA Supply
  • SATA interface power management
  • OS-aware hot plug/removal
  • Enhanced power-loss data protection
Power
Active (MobileMark 2007 Workload):
  • 150 mW (TYP)
  • Idle: 100 mW (TYP)
Compatibility
  • Intel SSD Toolbox with Intel SSD Optimizer
  • Intel Data Migration Software
  • Intel Rapid Storage Technology
  • Intel 6 Series Express Chipsets
  • (with SATA 6Gb/s)
  • SATA Revision 2.6
  • ATA8-ACS
  • SSD-enhanced S.M.A.R.T. ATA feature set
  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ) command set
  • Data Set Management Command Trim attribute
Temperature
  • Operating: 0o C to 70o C
  • Non-Operating: -55o C to 95o C
Reliability
Uncorrectable Bit Error Rate (UBER):
  • 1 sector per 1016 bits read
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF):
  • 1,200,000 hours
Shock (operating and non-operating):
  • 1,500 G/0.5 msec
Vibration
  • Operating: 2.17 GRMS (5-700 Hz)
  • Non-operating: 3.13 GRMS (5-800 Hz)
Weight
  • 1.8-inch form factor: up to 49 grams
  • 2.5-inch 7mm form factor: up to 82 grams
  • 2.5-inch 9.5mm form factor: up to 88 grams


 

 
The Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB Drive

Here she is. The new Intel SSD 320 series drive in the flesh, so to speak. Externally, the drive looks very similar to the X25-M G2. The two share the same enclosure and curved decal design. Crank the drive open though and things look a little different. Inside the 300GB drive we tested were twenty NAND flash devices, for a total capacity of 320GB (the extra capacity is used for over-provisioning), along with an Intel SSD controller and some low-power Hynix DRAM. Note that the Intel controller used in this drive is actually the same one used in the G2. With the SSD 320 series though, Intel has completely re-worked the drives firmware and configured the NAND in such a way to expose all of the performance of the controller, which is now capable of up to 270MB/s reads and 220MB/s writes. That’s a huge step up from the 220MB / 100MB of the G2.

In addition to increasing the performance of the SSD 320 series over the G2, Intel has also incorporated a few new features to enhance reliability and security. Along with using the over-provisioned space to minimize write amplification and for wear-leveling and other drive maintenance, part of it is also used to store parity data to help prevent data loss in the event of a partial or full NAND device failure. The drive also has an array of capacitors that will supply a bit of power in the event of an outage so the drive can flush its cache and complete and pending write operations. The Intel SSD 320 series drive also offers AES encryption to help protect user data.

 

While discussing the features of the SSD 320 series, Intel was also keen to talk about the reliability of their drives and the work that was done to ensure the SSD 320 series was their most reliable drive yet. One of the slides above shows the miniscule failure rate of Intel’s solid state drive offerings in a variety of deployment scenarios. Intel hopes the SSD 320 series drives, despite the fact that they use 25nm NAND flash which is more prone to failures than 34nm NAND (as process geometries go down, NAND is more prone to errors), will be their most reliable yet. Of course, we won’t know until the drives have been shipping in volume for some time, if this turns out to be the case, but reliability was clearly a strong focus for Intel with this series of drives.

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I think the biggest thing here is anyone that gets an SSD is at least going to be somewhat of an enthusiast. That being said I also think most of the are going to realize the performance level of this drive is somewhat lacking. All the other features seem great, but it performs at a lower and in some cases much lower than say an OCZ Sata3 unit does. The price is almost the same as well I believe as well.

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300 gigs? Woah man, That high... pretty soon we'll be touching even higher number @ lower prices. Cant wait till the day I get to buy a 1tb ssd for ~$200. It will happen

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These prices aren't too bad. I want to see what OCZ comes up with now that they've bought their own SSD drive controller company. (much lower SSD drive costs being the thing we want to see,.......)

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All I can say is if this was sent to HH just to review, I hope yall handled it with car cause damaging this thing and having to pay for it would, you know only cost an arm and a leg

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We stopped worring about damaging hardware a LONG time ago. :) The first think I did when this drive arrived was rip it open and take pics.

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Do they blend?

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Hahaha I've had some terrible experiences getting to excited opening gifts and thing shipped through the mail, and being to harsh in doing so

It's commonly known as NINTENDO-SIXTY-FOURRRRRRR-Syndrome, in honor of the child who almost gave himself an aneurysm when receiving a N64 for christmas.

I can picture it in my head "300 GIGABYTE 320 SERIES INTEL ESSSSS-ESSSSS-DEEEEEE!!!!"

*rip, rip*, *snaps pictures*

Youtube link below :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFlcqWQVVuU

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You guys should do a test on a SSD to see how much they can take compared to a normal spinning HD. Ie, Drops; run over with car, Oven, ect... 

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risky move trading speed for security... i think alot of people wont be interested in this at all

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The big thing about SSD's versus a normal mechanical HD is no moving parts (were talking durability wise) As long as it is internally constructed well with sufficient padding (shock protection) it is basically a metal box full of memory chips on a PCB. If you drop a regular HD all kinds of bad things can happen with all the moving parts inside. With an SSD it would seem the risk of damaging it would be way lower.

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