Intel's next-gen solid-state drives have been rumored for some time, and now they're official. Rather awkwardly dubbed the X25-M on 34nm, the new SSDs predictably make use of flash memory chips built using 34nm process technology. Existing X25-M SSDs use 50nm flash.
The move to a finer fabrication process will allow Intel to offer these new drives at lower prices than existing models. The 80GB unit, for example, will cost just $225 in bulk quantities—much less than current derivative's $345 street price. A 160GB model is slated to cost $440, again much cheaper than an equivalent 50nm X25-M, which sells for over $600. Rumors had suggested that Intel would also add a 320GB model to its new SSD line, but there's no word on that capacity point in the press release.
In addition to lower prices, these next-gen SSDs also promise better performance than their predecessors. Intel claims the new drives have just 65 microseconds of read latency—20 microseconds less than the current X25-M. Random write performance has apparently doubled, as well. Somewhat surprisingly, though, an article over at AnandTech suggests that sustained transfer ratings haven't budged from the original X25-M's 250MB/s reads and 70MB/s writes. Anand also reports that these new models will gain TRIM support via a firmware update when Windows 7 is released. However, it appears that TRIM support won't be added to 50nm X25-Ms.
Intel's 1.8" X18-M family is also moving to 32nm. Those drives won't start shipping until later in the quarter, though. The new X25-Ms are apparently shipping now. Expect a full review just as soon as we can get our hands on one for testing.