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

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Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Performance Summary: A quick run-through of our benchmark data showed us that this new Intel Solid State Disk, in terms of standard synthetic benchmarks, offered exactly what its specifications claimed it would.  Read bandwidth of 225MB/sec and Write bandwidth of 74MB/sec on average was measured in a number of tests and the Intel SSD showed itself to be roughly twice as fast in terms of read performance and about on par with other MLC-based SSDs, in terms of write performance.  However, when it came to specific application usage models within our PCMark Vantage testing, the Intel X25-M SSD showed a performance lead well in excess of its specifications and what we saw in our synthetic benchmark testing.  In many cases the Intel SSD was two to three times faster than the fastest competitive SSDs in our test group.




What can we say about this new Solid State Disk product offering from Intel that our test data hasn't already clearly stated for you?  About the only aspect of Intel's new X25-M series of drives that we haven't covered is price.  Intel notes that the X25-M will begin shipping to OEMs and channel partners this week, so retail availability is imminent.  MSRP is set at $595 for quantities of up to 1K units.  Comparatively, competitive MLC-based product at 64GB densities, retail in the $200 range. If we look at it from a cost per GB standpoint, Intel's product weighs in at $7.43/GB for their 80GB drive, while competitive offerings from the likes of OCZ, Super Talent and others drop in at a little over $3 per Gig.  In short, Intel's new SSD is twice as expensive as the competitions, at least at launch time, though it wouldn't surprise us at all if street prices started falling in the next quarter or so.

Regardless, at least against the backdrop of the current competitive landscape, you certainly get what you pay for with Intel's new SSD.  Though it might be twice the price, in many applications, it offers more than 2X the performance of any other MLC solid state disk that we've tested to date.  Intel's most significant product differentiation, that can't be duplicated directly by any other manufacturer (though similar solutions could be developed obviously), is their proprietary adaptive memory controller that conditions the drive on the fly as new workloads are presented to it.  As we discussed, though Solid State Flash Drives are inherently fast with read performance, write performance has historically been a major bottleneck and compensating for NAND Flash erase/re-write latencies has become the holy grail, so to speak, for driving SSD technology into a wider range of storage applications.  As we were able to observe in our testing, Intel certainly seems to have a much better handle on this problem than other manufacturers at this point in time.

With that said, you can be sure other memory and storage manufacturers will continue to release faster and higher density product in the weeks ahead that will likely offer better competition for Intel's new line of high performance SSDs, and we're expecting new releases to arrive here shortly.  We'll provide continuing coverage of the SSD product landscape of course and keep you up to speed with what's HOT in Solid State Disk technologies.  In the mean time, in typical fashion, Intel has stepped up big behind SSD technology and once again upped the ante with a breakout product that literally leaves the current competitors folding at the table, at least for this round.

  

  • Fastest 225MB/s average reads
  • Blazing fast <1ms random access 
  • Fastest real-world write performance we've seen to date
  • Generally 2 - 3X faster than other MLC-based SSDs
  • 3-year warranty
  • Expensive versus other MLC SSD drives
  • Much more expensive versus standard hard drives
  • Max 80GB density currently


 


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