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Intel doubles capacity, drops price in refresh of popular SSD line

Solid-State Drive 320 series offers up to 30% drop in price; capacities increased by up to triple that of X25-M drives

March 28, 2011 11:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Intel announced today a new line of consumer-class solid-state drives based on its smallest 25 nanometer (nm) circuitry that replaces the chip maker's 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 prices by up to 30%, 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.

SSD 320 doubles sequential write speeds
The SSD 320 more than doubled sequential write speeds from Intel's second-generation X25-M consumer SSD, to 220MB/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 usable 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 to enterprise-class features on 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 offers 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 three-year warranty from Intel.

In comparison, Intel's 160GB X25-M SSD sells for $367 at online retail sites such as Pricegrabber.com.

Gregory Wong, an analyst with Forward Insights, said that while Intel has lowered its prices, it still amounts to about $1.80 per gigabyte. Wong expects mass adoption of SSDs by consumers won't occur until the price has reached about $1 per gigabyte, sometime in 2012 or 2013.



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