More than 14 months after Intel released the second-generation X25-M solid-state disk, and details are slowly starting to trickle out about its successor. Intel's next generation SSDs will be based on fresh flash chips fabricated on a 25-nano process by the company's joint venture with Micron. According to AnandTech, these chips are currently sampling but likely won't be up to speed for production drives until the end of this year or early next.
6Gbps SATA is said to be off the table, at least while Intel lacks a core-logic chipset with native support. Regardless, the performance of these third-gen drives should be much improved. Sequential read speeds remain unchanged at 250MB/s, but sequential writes are up to 170MB/s. More impressive are the purported increases in random 4KB performance, which tops out at 50k IOps for reads and 40k IOps for writes. Greater flash endurance is promised, too.
Intel uses relatively small 32MB caches on its existing SSDs, but we could see more DRAM onboard with upcoming models. The next iteration of the X25-M line will reportedly offer a "power safe" write cache whose size has yet to be revealed. Expect more gigabytes overall; the new line is slated to scale all the way up to 600GB.
The SSD market has become considerably more competitive since the X25-M G2's release, and I'm curious to see how the new drives stack up. They'll have to be very fast to keep pace with the current performance leader, Crucial's RealSSD C300. Let's hope the 25-nm flash chips allow Intel to lower prices, too.
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