Intels New Cheaper Faster SSD
New technology for Intel's solid state drives...
Last week Intel released its new solid state drives which are cheaper and faster than previous SSDs. For example, the company’s X25-M SSDs, designed for laptop and desktop PCs, deliver almost double the write speed of their predecessors, according to Intel.
The new specification owes thanks to the new manufacturing process that lowered costs, and better software that enabled faster write performance.
Troy Winslow, director of marketing for Intel’s NAND explained how the new flash chips were manufactured using a 34-nanometer process, compared to 50-nanometers used for Intel’s earlier SSDs:
“The 34-nm move specifically benefitted our SSDs by shrinking the die of the flash memory and therefore reduc[ing] the cost, this allows us to reduce the price of our SSDs by 60 percent from their introductory price three quarters ago.”
Intel’s new 80GB drive performs 6,600 I/O operations per second (IOPS), double the speed of its predecessor. The 160GB version runs even faster at 8,600 IOPS. The read speed however, remains similar to earlier version s at 35,000 IOPS.
Another way the drives performance can be measured is by testing sequential transfers i.e. booting a PC or transferring a large file, by that metric, the performance of the drives remains unchanged.
However Gregory Wong, principal analyst at memory research firm Forward Insights, said random performance like retrieving user data and making changes to applications and documents. is a much better measure for normal PC activities.
“If you look at the spectrum of activities you are doing, most of the writes and reads are random in nature as opposed to sequential,”
The new drives are multilevel cell (MLC) SSDs. Intel also offers the X25-E line of SLC (single-level cell) SSDs, which offer better endurance but are very expensive. The write performance of the new MLC SSDs is twice that of Intel’s current SLC SSDs.
“It’s much harder to improve the random writes on MLC versus SLC,” Wong said, noting that Intel’s new manufacturing process could help further drive down the price of future SSD models:
“In a certain respect they should have a better cost position vis-à-vis the other [vendors], which has allowed them to reduce pricing,”
In an effort to keep up-to-date with competitors such as Toshiba and Samsung, both of which offer SSDs with capacities up to 512GB, Intel plans to double the size of its drives by next year.
The task of developing cheaper, faster and larger SSDs might not be an easy one however, as Intel shrinks its flash memory process, it could run into some fundamental physics challenges. With each new manufacturing process, fewer electrons are stored in each memory cell, leading to greater susceptibility to data loss, Wong said.
The drives released Tuesday may be the first available manufactured using the advanced 34-nanometer process, Wong said.
The X25-M SSDs come in 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch sizes. The X25-M 80GB SSD is priced at US$225 for quantities up to 1,000 units, while the 160GB version is $440.
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