Intel's new X25-V is built on a five-channel architecture and has 10 4GB NAND flash chips. It has sequential read/write speeds of 170MB/sec. and 35MB/sec. With 4KB random reads, the drive can produce up to 25,000 I/O operations per second for reads and 2,500 I/O per second for writes.
Intel said the drive has a 1.2 million-hour mean time before failure (MTBF) rate, but most industry experts do not consider MTBF to be a reliable method of measuring drive longevity, preferring write/erase cycles instead. Most multilevel cell NAND flash memory products have a maximum of 10,000 write/erase cycles.
The X25-V has native command queuing as well as trim support to increase performance.
When it comes to price per gigabyte, hard disk drives are still far cheaper than SSDs. According to Yang, SSDs cost from $2.50 to $3 per gigabyte, while hard disk drives cost around 10 cents per gigabyte. "For less than $100, you get a hard disk drive with a terabyte of capacity," Yang said.
According to Gregory Wong, a flash memory analyst at Forward Insights, pricing for nonvolatile memory, such as the NAND flash used in SSDs, has remained flat or increased slightly over the past year, and adoption has likewise been relatively flat. The brightest growth for SSD is in portable devices, such as MP3 players and smartphones.
"I think what Intel and OCZ are shooting at is a price point for the consumer," Wong said. "And it's whatever capacity you can get for $100. In my discussions with Intel, they're seeing good uptake of their 40GB SSD, but it's not going to replace a hard drive in a notebook."
SSDs are far superior to hard disk drives when it comes to performance, power use and ruggedness. Unlike hard disk drives, SSDs have no moving parts, so there's less of a chance that they'll break due to impact, which makes them particularly good for use in mobile devices.
Hard disk drives have read/write heads on actuator arms that, like the arm of a record player, must move across a disk platter to access data. That takes time. SSDs can access data at the same speed no matter where it's stored in the flash memory, which makes them particularly good for retrieving random data.
For example, one of the fastest hard disk drives on the market today is the 10,000 rpm, 300GB, Western Digital VelociRaptor. In a Computerworld test, that drive had a 105MB/sec. average sequential read rate and a 100MB/sec. sequential write rate. The VelociRaptor uses 6.08 watts of power when reading or writing and 4.03 watts when idle.
In comparison, the X25-V uses just 1.5 watts when active and 0.75 watts when idle. However, as Wong points out, a hard drive only accounts for about 10 percent of a netbook or desktop's power consumption, so it will not greatly affect battery life or the user's electric bill.
A 300GB VelociRaptor drive sells for at least $199 at online retail sites like Pricegrabber.com. So for about half that price, you can get nearly twice the read performance with Intel's X25-V, and that translates into faster boot-up and application response times.
Intel claims that the X25-V is almost four times faster than a 7,200 rpm hard disk drive. "SSDs can replace or co-exist with traditional hard disk drives," Intel states in its marketing material. "Users keep their existing HDD as a means of higher-capacity data storage. This capability is commonly referred to as a boot drive, since the SSD accelerates boot or start-up time."