Intel has announced a new family of SSD hardware aimed at business deployments with support for 256-bit AES encryption, the Trusted Computing Group's Opal management specification, and support for the vPro
features inside Haswell. This last is a bit of an inaccuracy -- while the new drives do apparently support some vPro capabilities for remote management, Haswell didn't actually include any new features for vPro that Ivy Bridge
doesn't support. Haswell's vPro implementation is supposed to be faster in certain circumstances, however.
With this new family, Intel
is talking up Trusted Computing and remote management capabilities, and emphasizing the fact that these products are designed to hit ultra-low power consumption targets and failure rates below 1% per year. Actual drive performance is typical for SATA
6G products, with sequential read/write speeds up to 540MB/s and 490MB/s for the new hardware. Power consumption in standard sleep mode is 5 milliwatts, with power consumption in DevSleep mode as low as 200 microwatts (0.2 milliwatts).
DevSleep, if you haven't heard of it before, is a new power-saving mode that's supported on Haswell
chipsets. The goal is to further lower SSD
power consumption while enabling smartphone style instant-on operation. Bringing power consumption down as low as 0.2mW in idle will help prevent the stealth battery drain that kicks in when a system is left in sleep mode for significant periods of time.
Intel's other major prong for this new series is the management and encryption capabilities. We know that interest in data encryption and security has jumped markedly since Snowden's leaks began to reveal the scope of the NSA's various monitoring programs, but continued concern over the scope and nature of those programs ironically casts doubt on the very encryption standards we might otherwise trust to solve the problem. Still, security-focused technology is on the upswing, even if the efficacy of such deployments is still a question.
These new drives are based on 20nm NAND, like much of Intel's current product line., They'll ship in a variety of form factors, including ultra-slim designs that cater to the latest ultrabook
configurations. These drives will be available in both conventional 2.5" form factors (as shown above), and in the M.2 card form factor below that. The M.2 designs are smaller than mSATA, at 52mm x 22mm x 2.75mm (single-sided) or 3.85mm (double-sided). That's a decrease of almost half compared to conventional mSATA, which fits Intel's goal of driving ever-thinner form factors for customer adoption.