Intel announced today a new line of consumer-class SSD (solid state drives) based on its smallest 25 nanometer (nm) circuitry that replace the chip-maker's long-selling and most popular SSD, the X25-M.
The new 2.5-in. Intel Solid-State Drive 320 Series offers models that more than triple capacity over the X25-M and reduces price by up to 30 percent, or $100, on some models. While aimed at the laptop and desktop market, the consumer SSD has also been Intel's most popular model for servers in data centers.
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The SSD 320 more than doubled sequential write speeds from Intel's second generation X25-M consumer SSD to MB/sec.
With the 320-series, Intel has added native 128-bit AES encryption on the drives, which protects data while at rest on the NAND flash memory.
For data resiliency, Intel also included surplus NAND flash chips on the drive's board over and above the useable capacity. If the SSD's controller detects a potential chip failure, it automatically migrates data to the spare capacity.
Intel has also included small capacitors in its latest SSD, so that in the event of a power loss, data writes in progress to the NAND flash memory will be completed.
"We're talking about microseconds [of power] here, not seconds," said Kishore Rao, product line manager for SSDs. "There's just enough reserve current to complete any writes that were in progress."
Michael Yang, an analyst with market research firm iSuppli, called the SSD 320 Intel's "Honda Accord." Yang noted that Intel is not the first manufacturer to offer native encryption or data redundancy features on an SSD, but he said they have added what amounts of enterprise-class features to a consumer-class SSD.
For example, SSDs made with SandForce and indilinx controllers -- such as those from OCZ -- also come with native encryption.
"This is not a leadership product by any stretch," Yang said. "But, it's a good product, especially for a 25nm SSD."
Intel's legacy consumer SSD series, the X25-M, comes in 80GB and 160GB models. The new SSD 320 series comes in models ranging in capacities ranging from 40GB to 600GB.
Intel SSD 320 prices, based on 1,000-unit quantities, are as follows: 40GB at $89; 80GB at $159; 120GB at $209; 160GB at $289; 300GB at $529 and 600GB at $1,069. All models include a limited 3-year warranty from Intel.
By comparison, Intel's 160GB X25-M SSD sells for $367 on online retail sites such as Pricegrabber.com .
Gregory Wong, an analyst with Forward Insights, said while Intel has lowered its prices, it still amounts to about $1.80 a gigabyte. Wong expects mass adoption of SSDs by consumer won't accure until the price reached about $1 per gigabyte, sometime in 2012 or 2013.
According to Yang, sales of consumer SSDs last year totaled $996 million. That is expected to more than double to $2.2 billion by the end of this year, he said.
Intel SSD 320 also upgrades the serial ATA (SATA) connector from 1.5Gbit/sec to the 3Gbit/sec standard.
The SSD produces up to 39,500 input/output operations per second (IOPS) random reads and 23,000 IOPS random writes on its highest-capacity drive model.
The new SSD doubles sequential write speeds from its second generation X25-M drive to 220MB/sec sequential writes. The drive simply maintains the read throughput rate of the X25-M at up to 270 MB/sec, the company said.