Intel 34nm X25-M Gen 2 SSD Performance Review

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A Closer Look At the 34nm X25-M

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Intel has just launched both 2.5" and 1.8" version of their SSD product line; we're going to be looking at a 2.5" variant today, which is what the mainstream market will use in desktop and most notebook applications. The drives will offer a lower ASP (Average Sale Price) using lower cost 34nm NAND technology. With the die size reductions and resulting yield per wafer improvements this technology brings, Intel is passing on cost reductions to the consumer. As of July 21, 2009, the channel price quoted for the X-25M 80GB is $225 (down from $595 at introduction one year ago) and the 160GB version is $440 (down from $945) for quantities up to 1,000 units.

As we mentioned previously the new drives offer faster random write performance and moving forward will also support the TRIM command so that the SSD will better maintain its performance throughout its usable life. This feature will be enabled with a firmware update, likely when Windows 7 is formally released.

Moving forward a Q2 2010 SSD product refresh from Intel will bring us increased performance and higher density 300G drives, as well as some level of encryption support, though we're not clear what algorithms will be implemented. Incidentally, the drive we'll be showcasing for you today is a 160GB 34nm variant with a formatted capacity of 149.05GB.


Intel Gen 1 X25-M In Black, 34nm Gen 2 X25-M In Silver

From a high level part number perspective, Intel's new line of 34nm SSDs are rather hard to distinguish versus their previous generation counterparts. That said, if you look closely at the model number line on the top of the drive, you'll note our 160GB is labeled SSDSA2M160G2GC. Note the "G2" at the end of the part number, which is the primary decoder ring tip you'll need to distinguish the drive in retail. Other than that, physically the new Intel SSDs look very different than the previous 50nm version drive, with a new silver casing and a top-mounted plastic ring that gives the drive more rigidity as well as a bit more mechanical shock/vibe protection. Intel claims this affords the drive a 50% increases in operational shock resistance.

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