Intel Ships 34nm 80GB/160GB X18-M & X-25M SSDs

They're here. After months of rumors that Intel was working up a new line of solid state drives based on sub-40nm technology, the chip giant has in fact today introduced two new SSDs that rely on 34nm process technology. Unfortunately, Intel hasn't made it easy to distinguish between the new models and the previous editions, but that's what we're here for.

For starters, you'll notice that the all new drives are labeled X25-M. If you're one for keeping tabs on Intel's wares, you'll realize that the previous version also boasts that same label.  In fact, Intel decided to not change the model name of these new 34nm drives, which is apt to confuse some of you who go out hunting for the new and improved version. Thankfully the company did make the new guys easy to spot, as they're solid silver as opposed to black.

New Lower Cost 34nm X25-M and X18-M Series SSDs

If you're wondering why the company didn't bother to give the new guys a new label, we think we know why: there actually isn't much of a performance difference between the two. Intel notes that "while many specs have been improved, we do not expect many noticeable gains on application-based benchmarks; targeted drive benchmarks and tests will show the differences however." In other words, you'll never notice the difference between these 34nm drives and the "older" 50nm drives in everyday use.

So, why should you care about a 34nm drive if there's no performance increase?  Well, if you look at the raw benchmarks, there is a difference--it's just not as marketable as Intel would probably like.  We haven't had a chance to bench-test this unit ourselves, though we're expecting one any day now.  According to Intel, the new MLC NAND-based SSD provides a 25% reduction in latency for quicker access to date compared to the 50nm X25-M, while random  write performance has increased 2x for the 80GB and 2.5x for the 160GB.  Furthermore, the 80GB model can deliver up to 6,600 4KB write IOPS, while the 160GB version can hit 8,600 IOPS. If you're looking for hard transfer figures, here goes: the new duo can hit a sustained sequential read rate of up to 250MB/sec, while the sustained sequential write rate still tops off at 70MB/sec.

Regardless of the actual speed increases, one thing we know consumers will appreciate is cost savings.  The new 34nm process lithography is cheaper to implement and of course die size itself on the NAND chips is smaller, so the cost savings are being passed on. As of today, 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. Of course, retail prices will vary somewhere, but hey, we'll take all the price drops we can get. We will say that we're a little disappointed that Intel didn't take this opportunity to break the SSD market wide open by announcing the oft-rumored 320GB SSD.

Giving users drives that are the same size as the ones we're used to seeing, won't stir up as much buzz in the market but the move to 34nm is a significant advancement for sure.  In fact, Intel is one of the few manufacturers that is able to ship volume production of any product at 34nm, though there are others like Micron that have announced as well.  Maybe the larger drives just aren't ready yet, but whatever the case, with 34nm in volume, you know they're coming.

Intel's Mainstream Solid-State Drives on 34nm is currently shipping in the 2.5" standard form factor (X25-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive), and will be shipping the 1.8" (X18-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive) later in the quarter; both units have the same performance specifications, which are detailed below.

Intel® X25-M and X18-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drives
34nm NAND Flash Memory Product Line

High-Performance Storage for Notebook and Desktop PCs
Intel® Solid-State Drives represent a revolutionary breakthrough that delivers a giant leap in storage performance. Intel Solid-State Drives are designed to satisfy the most demanding gamers, media creators, and technology enthusiasts. These new drives bring a high level of performance and reliability to notebook and desktop PC storage, at a fraction of the cost of the previous generation of Intel® SSD products.

Wait Less. Do More.

Why wait for a traditional hard disk drive to spin up? Unlike traditional hard disk drives, Intel® Solid-State Drives have no moving parts, resulting in a quiet, cool, highly rugged storage solution that also offers faster system responsiveness. And for notebook PCs, the lower power needs of Intel Mainstream SATA SSDs translate to longer battery life and lighter notebooks. Higher performance with more durability means you can be truly mobile with confidence.

Better by Design
Drawing from decades of memory engineering experience, and new, industry-leading compute-quality 34nm NAND flash memory manufacturing processes, Intel® Mainstream SATA SSDs are designed to deliver outstanding performance, featuring the latest-generation native SATA interface with an advanced architecture employing 10 parallel NAND flash channels equipped with multi-level cell NAND flash memory. With powerful Native Command Queuing to enable up to 32 concurrent operations, Intel Mainstream SATA SSDs deliver higher input/output per second and throughput performance than other SSDs on the market today—and drastically out-perform traditional hard disk drives. These drives also feature low write amplification and a unique wear-leveling design for higher reliability, meaning Intel drives not only perform better—they last longer.

Two Options. No Worries.
Intel® Mainstream Solid-State Drives are available in either 2.5¨ (Intel® X25-M) or 1.8¨ (Intel® X18-M) standard hard drive form factors. And all Intel Mainstream SSDs are tested and validated on the latest Intel-based notebook and desktop platforms for your peace of mind.