Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, Intel Ups The Ante

Introduction and Specifications

There's an old cliche' that certainly applies to commodity semiconductor and electronics technology, as well as many other competitive arenas; "go big or go home".  If you look at major semiconductor manufacturers, like Intel, AMD, Samsung and NVIDIA, you'll notice that they generally do not enter a new market lightly.  In addition, they almost never partially resource a new market penetration effort.  Timing is definitely key but it usually doesn't pay off to tread lightly when it's time to execute.  It's simply a question of doing the business case analysis, justifying the ROI and then placing your bets.  Go big or go home. It's all-in or sit on the sidelines and watch.  And you know, when Intel decides they want in, the stack of chips they're playing with isn't the kind you find at the cheap tables.

With that in mind, let's consider the future of the Solid State Disk market and where it's going.  We've said it before, the days of rotational media are numbered.  Though SSDs and spinning drives will likely coexist for  some time, traditional hard drive technology will eventually go the way of the dinosaur.  SSDs have no moving parts to wear out, they consume much less power, produce very little heat and their performance will continue to improve over time, with the kind of scaling that comes along with a semiconductor performance evolution curve.  Though the migration will be gradual, starting first at the consumer level, then moving into the industrial and enterprise space, it's a matter of time before the world literally goes solid state for its storage.  In the short term, especially at the consumer level, the SSD market is expected to have explosive growth over the next year or so, some analysts predicting well in excess of 100% annually.

And so it goes without saying, Solid State Storage is a safe bet.  Today Intel just bellied up to the table and dropped their chips down on the SSD market, and in typical Intel fashion, they're going in big.  The following is a full evaluation of Intel's new consumer-targeted X25-M Solid State Drive.  Is Intel playing to win?  You tell us...

Intel MLC Series Solid State Drives
Specifications and Features

Model Name

Intel X18-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive
Intel X25-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive


80GB and 160GB

NAND Flash Components

Intel® Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND Flash Memory
10 Channel Parallel Architecture with 50nm MLC ONFI 1.0 NAND


Up to 250MB/s Read Speeds
Up to 70MB/s Write Speeds

Read Latency

85 microseconds


SATA 1.5 Gb/s and 3.0 Gb/s

Form factor

X18-M: 1.8" Industry Standard Hard Drive Form Factor
X25-M: 2.5" Industry Standard Hard Drive Form Factor


SATA Revision 2.6 Compliant. Compatible with SATA 3.0 Gb/s with Native Command Queuing and SATA 1.5 Gb/s interface rates

Life expectancy

1.2 million hours Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF)

Power consumption

Active: 150mW Typical (PC workload)
Idle (DIPM): 0.06W Typical

Operating shock

1,000G / 0.5ms

Operating temperature

0°C to +70°C

RoHS Compliance

Meets the requirements of EU RoHS Compliance Directives

Product health monitoring

Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) commands plus additional SSD monitoring

As a precursor to this product overview and performance evaluation, if you have an extra cycle of bandwidth or two, we'd highly suggest checking out our recent 4-way SSD round-up article, located here.  This article steps through various aspects of Solid State Disk technology, including the different memory types and their advantages and disadvantages. 

Intel is actually launching two flavors MLC-based Solid State Disks today, the X18-M and X25-M.  We'll be looking at an 80GB X25-M drive that is built on a 2.5" form-factor, but Intel also has 160GB densities and 1.8" versions of the drive as well.  From there, this spec table is straight-forward.  Intel claims their drives are capable of a maximum read bandwidth of 250MB/sec and write bandwidth of up to 70MB/sec.  Intel also specifies read latency of 85 microseconds,which is of course a fraction of even the fastest spinning hard drives at 4ms. or so.  Intel also specifies a 1.2 million hour MTBF (mean time before failure), which is about on par with the average hard drive.  Power consumption on the other hand is again a fraction of what most spinning discs are measured at.  The average spinning drive weighs in with an active power consumption somewhere in between 8 and 10 watts, while most SSDs, including Intel's, offer sub-watt power consumption under "typical conditions", though as we'll show you in the pages that follow, that doesn't mean max power consumption is that low.  However, as you can imagine, when you read from or write to an SSD, you don't have to light up all the flash memory in the drive to get at the data.

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