Intel Issues Firmware Fix For X-25M / X-18M SSDs

A few weeks back, Intel took some flack for shipping its X-25M and X-18M SSDs with a syndrome that caused their performance to slowly degrade under certain conditions. Intel responded by saying it was highly unlikely that end users would be affected under real-world conditions, but they were still left wondering whether or not their solid state drive really was as durable and reliable as they were initially lead to believe.

After toiling away in the labs, Intel's engineers have just released a fresh firmware for the drives that addresses those very issues. Firmware version 1.1, dated 04/10/09, weighs in at just over 3MB and applies to the following devices:
  •     Intel X18-M Solid State Drive, 160GB SATA II 1.8in, MLC, High Performance
  •     Intel X18-M Solid State Drive, 80GB SATA II 1.8in, MLC, High Performance
  •     Intel X25-M Solid State Drive, 160GB SATA II 2.5in, MLC, High Performance
  •     Intel X25-M Solid State Drive, 80GB SATA II 2.5in, MLC, High Performance
According to Intel, the new software will enable those drives to "deliver the best performance in your PC." Within the Intel X18-M / X25-M SATA SSD 045C8820 Firmware Release Notes, dated 04/13/09, the company again vaguely affirms that "this firmware revision has several continuous improvement optimizations intended to provide the best possible user experience with the Intel SSD."

Intel still asserts that it's extremely unlikely that an average joe would ever run into any of these long-term, serious fragmentation issues, but given that you're not exactly the average joe if you're reading HotHardware, you'll probably want to give this link a visit for the download and corresponding installation instructions. If you've already been affected, be sure to return and let us know if you see a marked improvement or not.

We did some quick experimenting with an Intel X25-M 80GB drive using HD Tach.  We ran a couple of tests before flashing to the latest firmware, and after flashing...

Before Flashing...

...After Flashing.

As you can see in the HD Tach graphs above, performance is right in line with the new firmware.  Keep in mind, however, this firmware update isn't about increasing performance across the board under every test condition, but rather about eliminating a potential performance degradation issue that could crop up under certain conditions.  We're currently working on a SSD round-up which will be posted in the not too distant future. That article will feature a full suite of performance tests on the X25-M using this latest firmware update.

(Updated @ 9:19pm with new performance scores)