Intel SSD 510 Series SATA 6Gbps Solid State Drive

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The solid state storage market continues to bristle with activity. Over the last couple of weeks, we have shown you two hot new SSDs from OCZ—the Vertex 3 and the Vertex 3 Pro--that offer stellar performance, thanks in no small part to their next-gen SandForce SF-2000 series controllers with native SATA 6Gbs support. And now, it is Intel’s turn to make a little noise in the space with new drives that boast similar SATA 6Gbps support.

To coincide with the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the Intel Solution Summit that took place in Las Vegas this past week, Intel announced its brand new Solid State Drive 510 Series products. The new 510 Series SSDs build upon Intel’s successful X-25M series of solid state drives by offering native support for SATA 6Gbs interface speeds, with maximum reads in the 500MB/s range and write speeds of approximately 315MB/s—huge improvements over the previous generation. The features and specifications for the first two drives that will initially comprise the 510 Series line-up are as follows:

Intel Solid-State Drive 510 Series
Models SSDSC2MH120A2XX, SSDSC2MH250A2XX

Capacity: 120 GB, 250 GB
Components: Intel 34nm NAND Flash Memory
Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Form Factor: 2.5-inch

  • Thickness: 9.5 mm
  • Weight: 80 ±2 grams

SATA 6Gb/s Sustained Bandwidth Performance
(Iometer* Queue Depth 32)

  • 250 GB:
    • Sequential Read: Up to 500 MB/s
    • Sequential Write: Up to 315 MB/s
  • 120 GB:
    • Sequential Read: Up to 450 MB/s
    • Sequential Write: Up to 210 MB/s

Read and Write IOPS
(Iometer Queue Depth 32)

  • Random 4 KB Reads: Up to 20,000 IOPS
  • Random 4 KB Writes: Up to 8,000 IOPS

Latency

  • Read: 65 us
  • Write: 80 us

Power Management

  • 5 V SATA
  • SATA interface power management
  • OS-aware hot plug/removal

Power 

  • 380 mW (TYP)
  • Idle: 100 mW (TYP)

 

Compatibility
  • Intel SSD Toolbox
  • Intel SSD Optimizer
  • Intel Data Migration Software
  • Intel Rapid Storage Technology
  • SATA Revision 3.0
  • 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 10 to the 16th 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 (7-800 Hz)
  • Non-operating: 3.08 GRMS (7-800 Hz)

 


The Intel Solid State Drive 510 Series will be outfitted with 34nm Intel MLC NAND flash memory when introduced, although there’s a possibility future iterations will use newer, more advanced 22nm Intel NAND flash. Somewhat surprisingly, however, the drives will not be equipped with an Intel proprietary SSD controller, but rather a controller from Marvell, the 88SS9174 to be specific. This is the same controller that will be used in Micron's upcoming C400 series of drives and it's the same one used in Corsair's Performance 3 series products too.

It was somewhat surprising to hear that Intel wouldn't be using an Intel proprietary controller in this new series of drives, but the company has an explanation. In a Q&A document provided by Intel, they had this to say regarding the choice to use a third-party controller in their latest SSDs: “When Intel introduced its breakthrough SSD product line in 2008, the SSD controllers available did not meet Intel’s requirements, therefore Intel chose to develop its own proprietary controller in order to create a world-class line of compute quality SSDs. Since that time, third-party controller technology has improved considerably. Intel will consider using a third-party controller when it meets the needs of the product and Intel specifications and validation. In this case, we chose to use a third-party controller which met our needs.”

 

 
Intel SSD 510 Series 250GB Drive - Click to Enlarge

Intel's 510 Series solid state drives will initially be available in two capacities: 120GB and 250GB. The drive you see pictured here is the 250GB model. It uses the typical 2.5" form factor that's become commonplace in the mainstream SSD space and the internals are encased in a rigid, aluminum enclosure. With the drive disassembled, you can see the 16 34nm Intel MLC NAND flash memory chips, the Marvel 88SS9174 controller, and a 128MB Hynix DDR3 SDRAM which is used for caching purposes.

Something the pictures don't convey is the firmware used on the drive. While there's nothing stopping other SSD manufacturers from using essentially the same set of components to build and SSD with similar specifications, the work Intel has done to the firmware on the 510 Series SSD will differentiate it from other drives. The 510 Series SSDs will also likely benefit from Intel's compatibility testing and qualification process. So while the 510 Series isn't rife with proprietary Intel technology from the controller on up, it will ultimately differ from other products that may use similar components.

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A big win for OCZ..... I can only see people choosing the 510 over the Vertex 3 because of the branding and specially because the previous gen Intel SSD's had rave reviews about their reliability. But times have change , OCZ has done an excellent job and that hundred dollar less price factor (and performance)is going to swing buyers to their product.

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Again OCZ is clearly the leader in the SSD space.

I am hoping prices will come in as the technology becomes more mainstream.

Great review Marco

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I have a 2010 uMBP with the 3Gbps how will this SSD perform on it? Will I notice any difference from my X25-M 160GB?

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I'm driven by availability and price,.......when I'm buying.

Most of these drives are close performance wise, and all of them are smokin' fast, so I'm not stuck on brand loyalty at all.

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Hey jwelsh just look at the write up on the vertex 3's with the benchmarks as it shows the difference on the same drive is Sata 3Gbps and Sata 6Gbps while it may not be double the performance I would bet it is somewhat close to that as the 2 interfaces are setup so. I think Sata 3 stops at 300, but generally performs at between 200 to 250 Gbps where Sata 6Gbps performs pretty close to it's name which would be at least double.

Either way as far as I see it this is going to finally start a price war. While we have seen minor ones really up until now this one looks different. The Intel drives write speeds are half if not less than half of the OCZ drives while the reads are close to the same. One way to rationalize this for easier understanding is the difference between downloads and uploads with your internet connection. If you up speed is low it in the end has a major effect on your total internet speed.

While of course upload speeds in the US at least are generally nowhere near the download speeds available even on a corporate account unless of course you pay dearly for it network communication is two way at all times. This is because networking in general has to let where ever the information was sent from know it was successfully retrieved. If this does not happen the sender keeps sending it over and over locking up the data flow.

While this is of course different that point is just for general understanding. Either way I bet Intel will have to lower there prices if competition becomes heated. They can of course to make a big first drop which I bet they will. OCZ then has much lower costs of operation than Intel so they match or beat them etc. Meanwhile everyone else has to come at least somewhat close to these prices. So I also hope this happens, but with the difference in general OCZ and Intel prices I cannot see how it will not, especially with a performance difference, if even on one side that is this significant.

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Random read/write, especially small block random read/write, is by far the most noticeable performance metric of an SSD in real world situations. What this means is that this drive is almost a step back for Intel.

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yeah intel's letting everyone down :/ for ssd, im gunna have to go with OCZ

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I'm still holding out on an SSD to see more price drops and more advances. In my mind it's still in it's infancy and is only going to get better and cheaper.  I'm fine sitting back and waiting.

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Hey Joma I would suggest you grabbing one of the cheaper smaller drives so you could see. I have a Kingston 60Gb which I know is one of the lesser of the brands, and of course 60Gb is one of the lesser of capacities to. You can grab one for cheap though. Then you can check it out for under $100, in may cases considerably under that $100. I will bet you, that you don't mind it in the least as even with the one I have it makes a significant difference. I would love to get a larger one but I am waiting for these new OCZ drives to actually get some competition (as OCZ has been pretty generous about dropping there prices) then I will grab a 120Gb I think.

This Intel drive you have to wonder why they rushed it though with the seen stats on it. I mean one side (Read or Write) is great it seems, while the other is median performance wise or ar least by what you would expect after seeing what the OCZ standard or pro can do. I bet it has lesser room to spare as well so that the one stat that matches the OCZ 500 Gps won't actually do it for lack of overhead consistently over time.

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I can see many brand in the SSD market , OCZ ,Fusion , RunCore , WD ,share the web with you : http://www.storagesearch.com/ssd-top10.html ...

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